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Darien Library
Darien Library - Community Room
1441 Post Road (at Hecker Avenue)
Darien, Connecticut 06820
Phone: 203-655-1234

MGS Meeting Ideas

Vice President-Programs Mary Lavins welcomes ideas for future meetings.

Meetings of Other Organizations

Middlesex Genealogical Society


The Middlesex Genealogical Society holds five Saturday afternoon program meetings a year in conjunction with the Darien Library. Speakers make presentations on various topics of interest to all genealogists. Periodically, informal social hours or discussion groups are scheduled for an hour before the Saturday presentations.

Saturday meetings are in the Community Room on the first floor of the Darien Library. Presentations start at 2:00 pm. Informal social hours or discussion groups, when scheduled, start at 1:00 pm. Meetings are free and open to the public.

Upcoming Meetings

Saturday, October 5, 2019, 1:00 pm. Social Hour: Come Talk About Your Work.

This is an informal social hour with others who are interested in genealogy. The goal is to share experiences with fellow genealogists and hopefully gain new insights. Think of the most important question or issue that you have about your genealogy. It may be a brick wall that you are facing with one of your ancestors, a question of wanting to know where to find a particular resource, or a success that you are dying to share with the rest of us.

Book Exchange. This is also a good time to bring in genealogy books and periodicals that you are no longer using and make them available to people who can make use of them.

Saturday, October 5, 2019, 2:00 pm. To be announced.

Saturday, November 9, 2019, 2:00 pm. To be announced.

Saturday, February 1, 2020, 2:00 pm. To be announced.

Saturday, March 21, 2020, 2:00 pm. To be announced.

Saturday, May 16, 2020, 2:00 pm. To be announced.

Past Meetings

Toni McKeenToni McKeen
Saturday, May 18, 2019, 2:00 pm. “Digging up Cemetery Records." Presented by Toni McKeen.

Toni discussed tips on how to find your buried ancestors: when and where they were buried, various helpful internet sites and data bases providing possible clues and then what to bring to the cemetery for a successful outing. In addition, she had developed two helpful charts that she will share: one to help you record your cemetery information, and the other to keep track of who is buried in which cemetery. Handout

Toni has been doing genealogy research on her own extensive Italian and her husband’s Irish family for the last 29 years. She now has more than 9,100 of her closest family members entered in her Family Tree Maker program. Toni has identified relatives on extended branches who married into the family including those from various immigrant ethnic groups as well as others who have been here long enough to practically have greeted George Washington when he arrived. She is a member of several genealogical organizations.

March 23, 2019. "Do the Write Thing for Genealogy." Presented by Marian and Wally Wood.

Marian WoodMarian Wood
Wally WoodWally Wood
Whether you know a lot about your family tree or you've just embarked on your genealogy journey, you can begin to write your family's story right now! Get practical, creative ideas for planning, organizing, and writing a personalized family history that focuses on one ancestor or family, one heirloom or photo, or one occasion. Learn how to look for the dramatic moments and descriptive details that reveal turning points and show the context of your ancestors' lives. You'll be inspired and encouraged to tell your family's story with a clear, engaging narrative and finishing touches like old photos, timelines, and maps. Handout.

The speakers were Marian Wood and Wally Wood. Marian is a popular genealogy presenter and the author of the best-selling family history book, "Planning a Future for Your Family's Past." Wally is a professional writer and editor who has authored or coauthored 23 business books and three novels. Together, they will demonstrate proven techniques for planning, organizing, and writing family history, with sample write-ups on display to serve as idea-starters.

Marian Wood is a textbook author, an avid family history researcher for 20 years, and a frequent speaker at genealogy conferences and clubs. With a B.A. from City University of New York and an M.B.A. from Long Island University, she is also the author of the best-selling genealogy book, "Planning a Future for Your Family's Past.” Marian’s Genealogy Blog

Wally Wood followed up a career as a magazine editor by writing or coauthoring 23 business books on topics such as marketing and social media. Wally holds a B.A. from Columbia University and an M.A. from City College of New York, and he is currently working on his fourth novel.

Edwin W. Strickland IIEdwin W. Strickland II

January 26, 2019. "More than Metes the Eye: Using Land Records in Your Research." Presented by Edwin W. Strickland II.

We opened with a discussion of land ownership from the right of the king through royal charters, grants and proprietor’s records to individual ownership. After reviewing the differences between metes and bounds and rectilinear survey systems, we examined several case studies that show how the land records can answer some of your genealogical questions. Handout.

Edwin W. Strickland II comes from true yankees on one side (use it up, wear it out, make do or do without) who did not move from the same land for over 200 years and pack-rats with a wander-lust on the other. With both sides of the family being devoted to their history, he grew up surrounded by his past. He began his own research at the age of 24. Being self-taught, he tells his students that he knows every mistake they can make – because he has made it!

He is a past-president of Connecticut Society of Genealogists, charter member, past-president and genealogist for the Descendants of the Founders of Ancient Windsor, and charter member of the Connecticut Professional Genealogists Council where he is a regular consultant for their Ancestors Road Shows. He has written for CSG’s The Connecticut Nutmegger, the Foote Family Association of America (Volume III), and many books in DFAW’s Some Descendants of … series.

Since 2005, he has turned to lecturing and teaching and has appears at the University of Hartford, Connecticut Society of Genealogists, New England Genealogical Regional Conference, and several libraries and societies in Connecticut.

Ronald BlanchetteRonald Blanchette
November 10, 2018. "Beginning French Canadian Genealogical Research." Presented by Ronald Blanchette.

The presentation examined the record types available in French Canada, on line and print resources available for accessing those records, and the ways in which French Canadian genealogical research differs from research on other nationalities. We further explored:

  1. The kinds of records that exist, how to locate them, and how they differ from similar comparable records in the U.S.
  2. Unusual types of research problems common to French Canadian research.
  3. The organization of standard print and online source materials and how to read and use them.

Ronald Blanchette is a member of the Board of Directors of the French-Canadian Genealogical Society of Connecticut.

October 6, 2018. "Y-DNA and Genealogy." Presented by Peter Biggins.

Discover your paternal ancestry, or that of any male in your family tree. The Y chromosome passes almost unchanged from father to son. Male ancestors carried their Y-DNA line along their migrations, allowing you to trace your paternal ancestry by Y-DNA testing. Last November, we looked at all kinds of DNA testing. This presentation focused on just Y-DNA. It sought to explain the ways that your Y-DNA, or that of a relative, can help you in your genealogical research and expand your horizons. Included was information on types of Y-DNA tests and how to select a testing organization based on your objectives. Y-DNA is no substitute for genealogical research, but the presentation showed how it can be helpful. Y-DNA can confirm or deny your genealogical research. It may be able to break down a brick wall. It can explain a surname. It can take your genetic pedigree back thousands of years. It may connect a modern pedigree with an ancient pedigree. Handout.

May 19, 2018. "From Clues to Conclusions: Applying the Genealogical Proof Standard." Presented by Marian Wood.

To go from clues to answers for your toughest family history challenges, learn to apply the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). This presentation will demonstrate how to arrive at a solid conclusion by defining and researching the question, citing sources, analyzing and correlating data, resolving conflicts, and answering the research question. Once you see the GPS in action, you’ll have practical new ideas for turning clues into real conclusions. Handout.

Sue KrieteSue Kriete
March 10, 2018. "NYPL Genealogical Resources." Presented by Susan Kriete.

In this talk, Reference Librarian Sue Kriete helped researchers learn how to navigate the rich genealogical holdings of NYPL's Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy. In addition to highlighting some of NYPL's unique resources, this presentation outlined research strategies that family historians can use to locate relevant records, whether held at NYPL or elsewhere.

Sara Lyons DavisSara Lyons Davis
January 27, 2018. "National Archives Resources in NYC." Presented by Sara Davis.

Sara presented an introduction to genealogical research at the National Archives, specifically focusing on both online resources and the holdings of the National Archives at New York City. The program discussed their three most often requested family history resources: 1. Federal census records, 2.Passenger arrival records, and 3.Naturalization recordsSara also gave brief introductions to other records of genealogical importance (ie. military records, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, Federal Court documents). Handouts: Ancestral Chart, Family Group Sheet, Federal Census Records, Naturalization Records, New York Passenger Arrivals, Research Tools and Ways to Search Online.

November 18, 2017. "Understanding DNA in Genealogy." Presented by Peter Biggins. Handout.

October 14, 2017. "Using Ancestry.com Like a Pro." Presented by Toni McKeen.

May 13, 2017. "Free or Fee Genealogy: Finding Free Records, Deciding When It Makes Sense to Pay." Presented by Marian Wood. Handout.

March 11, 2017. "Irish Genealogy." Presented by Jonathan Shea. Handout.

January 21, 2017. "Finding Foreign Records from Home." Presented by Tony Lauriano.

November 12, 2016. "Planning a Future for your Family's Past." Presented by Marian Wood. Handout.

Phil HayesPhil Hayes
October 1, 2016. "Digitizing and Managing Your Photo Collection." Presented by Phil Hayes.

May 14, 2016. "Acquiring Italian Records – Italian Genealogy." Presented by Toni McKeen. Handouts: Glossary of Italian Terms, Italian Websites.

March 12, 2016. "Using Facebook for Genealogy." Presented by Marian Wood. Handout. For a full listing of Facebook genealogy groups, go to Social Media Genealogy.

January 30, 2016. "Intermediate Genealogy." Presented by Tony Lauriano.

November 14, 2015. "Researching Your German Ancestors." Presented by Joseph Lieby. Handout.

Janeen BjorkJaneen Bjork
October 3, 2015. "Historical Newspapers - Read about Your Ancestors." Presented by Janeen Bjork. Handout.

Mary Ann West attended this meeting and wrote about it in the Huffington Post. She mentions her discussion with Don Cavett prior to the meeting when they realized they were distant cousins via the Virginia Randolphs. Jane Randolph Jefferson (1721-1776) was the mother of Thomas Jefferson.

Laura CongletonLaura Congleton
May 16, 2015. "Civil War Research." Presented by Laura Congleton.

March 14, 2015. "Putting Flesh on the Bones of Your Ancestor." Presented by Toni McKeen.

November 15, 2014. "Discover Your Polish, Ukrainian, and Eastern European Ancestors." Presented by Prof. Jonathan Shea and Matthew Bielawa. Handout. Also, see summary on page 4 of the MGS Newsletter for December 2014.

October 4, 2014. "Googling for Genealogy." Presented by Phil Hayes. Handout. Slides.

August 19, 2014. A Tour of the Godfrey Memorial Library.

May 17, 2014. "Case Study: Searching for Persons of Color." Presented by Virginia Banerjee. See summary on page 3 of the MGS Newsletter for September 2014.

March 15, 2014. "Finding Elusive Females." Presented by Toni McKeen. See summary on page 4 of the MGS Newsletter for May 2014.

January 25, 2014. "Fire Up Your Research...The Digital Genealogist Is Here." Presented by Philip Hayes. See summary on page 4 of the MGS Newsletter for March 2014.

November 16, 2013. "Difficult Case Studies." Presented by Tony Lauriano.

David MordyDavid Mordy
October 5, 2013. "Find Your Fabulous Ancestor." Presented by David Mordy.

May 18, 2013. "Blogging Your Genealogy." Presented by Philip Hayes. Handout.

March 16, 2013. "Cruising Long Island Sound—Tracing Its Early Families with a Regional View." Presented by Fred Hart. Handouts: Some Resources for Long Island Sound Region Families; Political Affiliations of Towns in the Long Island Sound Region.

January 26, 2013. "Military Records Research." Presented by Tony Lauriano. See summary on page 4 of the MGS Newsletter for March 2013.

November 10, 2012. "Probate Records." Presented by Virginia Banerjee. See summary on page 3 of the MGS Newsletter for December 2012.

October 6, 2012. "Review of the 1940 Census, and Using the Steve Morse Website to Research Difficult Cases." Presented by Toni McKeen.

May 12, 2012. "Family History for the Whole Family." Presented by Virginia Banerjee. Handout 1. Handout 2.

March 17, 2012. "Exploring the 1940 Census." Presented by Christopher Zarr, Education Specialist at the National Archives facility on Varick Street in New York City.

January 21, 2012. "Letting the City Directories Work for You." Presented by Toni McKeen.

November 19, 2011. "Sources for Irish Records." Presented by Donna Moughty, a former president of the Middlesex Genealogical Society.

October 1, 2011. "Effectively Using Ancestry.com in Researching Your Family." Presented by Toni McKeen.

May 14, 2011. “Genetic Genealogy." Presented by Nora Galvin.

March 19, 2011. "Beyond Names and Dates: Uncovering Your Ancestors' Stories." Presented by Leslie Albrecht Huber. See summary on page 6 of the MGS Newsletter for May 2011.

January 29, 2011. "A Walk Through the New FamilySearch.org " - new and improved with images and new technology. Presented by MGS President Lloyd Sturgis.

November 20, 2010. "Research That Makes My Eyes Cross." Presented by Toni McKeen. See summary on page 4 of the MGS Newsletter for December 2010.

October 2, 2010. "How to Test Your DNA and Why." Presented by Peter Biggins. See summary on page 3 of the MGS Newsletter for October 2010. Slides. Handout.

May 15, 2010. The Story of DARIEN Connecticut. Presented by Kenneth M. Reiss. About the book

March 20, 2010. "Maximizing the Use of the Census." Presented by Virginia Banerjee. See Joan Rinaldi's summary on page 3 of the MGS Newsletter for May 2010. Handouts

January 23, 2010. "Uncle Sam Wants You! - 20th Century Military Research." Presented by Larry Fermi. Outline

November 21, 2009. "Navigating Ship Manifests: Researching Immigration Records Like a Pro." Presented By Toni McKeen. See Joan Rinaldi's summary on pages 4 and 5 of the MGS Newsletter for December 2009.

October 3, 2009. "Getting the Most Out of HeritageQuest and Ancestry." Presented by Toni McKeen.

May 16, 2009. "Crossing The Pond: Finding Your Immigrant Origins." Presented by Larry Fermi. Outline

March 21, 2009. "Effective Use of the Internet for Genealogy." Presented by Kathy Lenerz, Ph.D., Genealogical Lecturer. Slides

February 21, 2009. "Getting Started in Genealogy." Presented by Virginia Banerjee and Pete Kenyon, both members of MGS. Banerjee article