Getting Started | Volunteers | Meetings | Newsletters | Links | Publications | Library | Membership | Member Pages | DNA | Contacts | About Us | Home

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, January 26, 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.

Edwin W. Strickland IIEdwin W. Strickland II

Saturday, January 26, 2019, 2:00 pm. "More than Metes the Eye: Using Land Records in Your Research." Presented by Edwin W. Strickland II.

We will open 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 will examine several case studies show how the land records can answer some of your genealogical questions.

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.

Saturday, March 23, 2019, 2:00 pm. "Do the 'Write' Thing." Presented by Marian Wood.

Saturday, May 18, 2019, 2:00 pm. To be announced.

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

Ronald BlanchetteRonald Blanchette
Saturday, November 10, 2018, 2:00 pm. "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.

Peter BigginsPeter Biggins
Saturday, 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.

Peter Biggins started tracing his and his wife's family histories after he retired in 2002. In 2004, he took a course in Website Development at Norwalk Community College and started a family history website called In 2008, Peter had his Y-DNA tested at Family Tree DNA. In 2010, he made a presentation at the October MGS meeting in Darien on "How to Test Your DNA and Why." In 2011, he made a presentation on Clan Colla Y-DNA at FTDNA's 7th Annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy in Houston, Texas. In 2017, he made a presentation at the November MGS meeting in Darien on "Understanding DNA in Genealogy." Peter administers seven projects at FTDNA, including one for MGS member DNA to help members understand their testing results and suggest avenues for further testing. Peter is MGS President and Webmaster.

Marian WoodMarian Wood
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.

Marian Wood is a textbook author, an avid genealogy 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 a popular genealogy book, "Planning a Future for Your Family's Past."

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.

This presentation sought to explain the ways that your DNA or that of a relative, when compared with others, can help you in your genealogical research and expand your horizons. Included was information on types of DNA and tests: autosomal, mitochondrial, and Y chromosome. Various testing organizations were discussed, including the types of tests they offer and importance of their databases. How to select a testing organization based on your objectives. How you interact with the testing organization. DNA is no substitute for genealogical research, but the presentation showed how it can be helpful. How DNA can confirm or deny your genealogical research. How it can be helpful to those who have adoptions in their histories. How it may be able to break down a brick wall. How it can identify distant cousins. How it can suggest ethnic make-up. How it can explain a surname. How it can give you your genetic pedigree back thousands of years. How it may allow you to connect a modern pedigree with an ancient pedigree. Handout.

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

In this lecture Toni McKeen showed how to research efficiently and successfully using this powerful site. Toni shared helpful tips on finding those elusive relatives, which parameters to use, and how to prevent looking at thousands of names in search of the one person you are trying to find. Also included were often overlooked options and the newest cool features that have just been added.

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

Birth, marriage, death, obituary, naturalization, and military records are the backbone of our genealogical research, but paying for every record can be costly. Expand your research strategy by learning to record-strip and by exploring free and low-cost records not just on Family Search but also via Linkpendium, genealogical and historical societies, government sites, even Facebook. When does it make sense to pay for a record? Criteria include the value of timeliness, the value of specific data in the record, and the uniqueness of the record within your overall research plan. Handout.

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

This lecture provided a comprehensive introduction to conducting family history research in both the US and Ireland. American sources were examined that will hopefully lead to the identification of the family’s point of origin in Ireland. These include passenger lists, naturalization records, church records, voting records, gravestone inscriptions, business directories, newspaper sources and others.

Church and civil records of birth death and marriage in Ireland were also discussed and viewed as well as probate records, land valuation sources, census records, cemeteries, national school records, court records and miscellaneous other record collections. Internet sources and digitized collections of Irish records were also covered.

The complicated system of Irish administrative divisions was also presented as the correct identification of the proper registration district is essential in locating appropriate vital records. Handout.

Prof. Shea has on site research experience in various archival repositories in Ireland and is the grandson of immigrants from Co. Mayo and Co. Offaly who settled in Hartford.

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

Provides detailed information on obtaining genealogy records from Europe, Great Britain, Israel, and more. The lecture includes websites, private search firms, and more. All from your home. Tony is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, a graduate of the University of Florida and St. Francis College, New York. He has been lecturing on genealogy since 2007 and has published numerous articles on genealogy in the Italian Genealogical Group newsletter

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

Ancestors’ photos, stories, documents, and heirlooms deserve to survive for many years to come. As part of your family’s past, they belong to your family’s future. This presentation demonstrated how to organize, inventory, index, and analyze your genealogy materials; find good homes for duplicate or unneeded photos, collectibles, and memorabilia; and pass what you know to the next generation. Handout.

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

Phil Hayes returned to present the following:

  • Scanning Your Photographs
    • What are the basic strategies of scanning photos, slides and oversized photos?
    • Should I consider outsourcing the digitization of my photographs to Costco or other service provider?
    • How do I digitize daguerreotype photos?
    • What scanner should I use? Aren’t they al the same?
    • What resolution should photo’s be scanned at?
    • What format should photos be stored in?
  • Managing Your Photograph Collections
    • What is Adobe Photoshop Essentials and Adobe Lightroom and how can I use them?
    • How can I fix the brightness or color balance of a photo?
    • How can I repair a damaged photograph
  • Home Movie Conversions

May 14, 2016. "Acquiring Italian Records – Italian Genealogy." Presented by Toni McKeen.

In this program, Mrs. McKeen will walk you through four possible methods of locating foreign documents, what you will need to know before “hopping the pond,” how to read them, translation tips, and how to determine what these documents really tell us.  The research principles are also valid for other nationalities.

Handouts: Glossary of Italian Terms, Italian Websites.

March 12, 2016. "Using Facebook for Genealogy." Presented by Marian Wood. Facebook is home to more than 5,700 genealogy groups researching specific areas (like ancestors in New England, Indiana, and the British Isles) and specific groups (like Jewish genealogy and Irish genealogy). Using Facebook, we can not only connect with relatives and family friends, we can also connect with local historians and researchers, post genealogical queries, ask questions, get advice quickly, and share information easily. This presentation will show, step by step, how to use Facebook for your family history research. Handout. For a full listing of Facebook genealogy groups, go to Social Media Genealogy.

January 30, 2016. "Intermediate Genealogy." Presented by Tony Lauriano. This meeting was postponed from Jan. 23. Tony showed us how to search for secondary records and sources, to go beyond the basics, and to learn more about our ancestor’s lives. We explored:

  • Naturalization records
  • Military records
  • Church, cemetery, and funeral records
  • Social Security records
  • Newspaper articles
  • School records and yearbooks
  • Foreign records (in your ancestor’s home land)
Tony is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, a graduate of the University of Florida and St. Francis College, New York. He has been lecturing on genealogy since 2007 and has published numerous articles on genealogy in the Italian Genealogical Group newsletter.

Joseph LiebyJoseph Lieby
November 14, 2015. "Researching Your German Ancestors." Presented by Joseph Lieby. Finding our German ancestors' European origins may be difficult, but is usually possible. What tools will you need? Joseph Lieby helped us trace our ancestors using tools and techniques based on what we know about them. Knowing where our German ancestors lived in Europe, and when they came to America, should be the goal of anyone interested in their family history.  Finding out when they came can usually be determined using research tools we already know.  Their European origins may be more difficult to find, but is usually possible using those same tools.  Tracing our German speaking ancestors beyond that will call for a new set of research tools that need to be acquired, including some German vocabulary, ability to decipher German script, and a little about German geography. Handout. Joseph Lieby is the current President of the Palatines to America National German Genealogy Society. He retired as a school district administrator, and has over twenty years experience in genealogical research in New York and New Jersey. He has spoken at national and regional societies and has published articles on his research interests in his Palatine Notes blog, and in the New York Palatines newsletter of which he is the editor.

Janeen BjorkJaneen Bjork
October 3, 2015. "Historical Newspapers - Read about Your Ancestors." Presented by Janeen Bjork. Janeen will told us what is available through the major collections of digitized newspapers that can be accessed online. Newspaper articles reveal information about people that may not appear in other public records. This information may include details about births, marriages, social events, sporting events, church activities and affiliations, occupations, legal notices, land sales, taxation, military service, businesses, tragedies, heroism, letters to the editor, and advertisements. We learned strategies for finding newspaper items about our ancestors. These included not only looking in newspapers where and when they lived, but also in places hundreds of miles from where they were and decades after. 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 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 " - 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