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Library hosting its first free genealogy workshop

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Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library wants to help build Watertown’s family tree.

The library is hosting its first free geneology workshop from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday in response to the booming popularity of tracing family lineage.

The workshop will eventually become a genealogy and local history series where patrons can learn about more specific resources, such as cemetery records, according to reference librarian Yvonne R. Reff.

“We have a genealogy department here that has a lot of resources,” she said. “It can be overwhelming. Some people get intimidated.”

To make it easier for amateur genealogists, several volunteers will be available to give an overview of where to find microfilmed obituaries, how to look up information in online data banks and where old newspapers are located.

The library was also one of the first in northern New York to add the state’s index of vital records in 2007. Before that, north country residents had to travel to Syracuse to look up that information.

All people attending the workshop will be given a binder to put collected information in as they uncover the secrets to their family’s past. Depending on the number of people who show up for the free workshops, volunteers will help attendees either one-on-one or in small groups.

“When they get done, they’ll have a huge start on their family lineage,” said Ms. Reff.

She has had the idea of hosting a genealogy workshop for several years, but since reference librarian Suzanne C. Renzi-Falge was hired last fall, they have been bouncing the idea off each other for the past several months.

The two sat down to talk about turning the workshop into a series because the hobby has become more popular in recent years.

“Genealogy is becoming the number one hobby in the United States,” she said. “A lot of people from all over the country are stopping by here to find information about their family.”

Even Ms. Reff has gotten in on the hobby.

“I’m currently doing it for my mom’s side of the family,” she said.

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