Empower // Reinvent // Succeed


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Bringing the Past to the Present

Bringing the Past to the Present

Allow genealogical researchers to guide you in solving the mystery of your ancestors through our OLLI Getting Started with Genealogy program. With their education and experience, you will be able to find the answers to your questions and build your life story one ancestor at a time.

Joanne Schleier is an adoptee that was reunited with her biological family after almost 30 years, thanks to professional genealogists. Her husband, Chris Schleier, is a graduate from the University of Georgia who has been teaching genealogy since 2007.

Here, Joanne talks to us about our new course.

Q: Why did you choose Genealogy?

A: For the first 27 years of my life, I knew nothing about my biological family’s history, including nationalities, countries of origin, customs, military service and professions. The most common frustration adoptees face is the inevitable question at every doctor visit – family medical history.  Once I met my biological family, many of these questions were answered but I wanted to know more and discover the answers for myself. The first document I touched was in the Abbeville, SC, courthouse vault – a 1796 will of my 5th great-grandfather, a Revolutionary War patriot ancestor, with his seal and signature. I wept.

Q: What can students expect to learn in your class?

A: We teach them about fundamental national, state, and county records available to researchers online and replicated or abstracted into books at local libraries, archives, or historical societies which are rich with facts about our ancestors. We discuss our method of beginning our search with a specific question; yet when we find the documents, which answer that question, its contents lead us to more questions. The nature of our research is cyclical and requires both methodology and analysis of the information.

Q: How is this class different from using the resources on your own?

A: We have a hands-on computer aspect to our course, which sets us apart from other local classes. We include instruction and resources on how to record the found information – a key component for long-term success. We teach them how to build a life-story and not become “fact collectors.”

Q: Who can benefit from taking this course?

A: Anyone with a family can benefit from taking this course! Even if one has been handed a surname book that your relative wrote, unless there are footnotes of all the records they consulted, it could have errors. This is a new age of discovering our heritage – gone are the days of having to travel to ancestral hometowns or genealogy libraries to spend hours looking at hard-to-read microfilms and unhindered records. This is the digital age and records preservation is a large part of the impetus to get records online.

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