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Stake's seminar a 'first': Genealogical societies, family history buffs pool research, resources for benefit of all

Several Rhode Island genealogical societies and family history buffs experienced a "first" recently, according to the family history director in the Providence Rhode Island stake.

"Nobody has ever tried to pull all the state's genealogical organizations together in one place before and tried to pool their knowledge and resources," said Claire V.B. Banks, an organizer of the Providence Rhode Island Stake's Family History Day."Each society works on its own to do its part and all of a sudden, we brought them all together for the same cause. Instead of working separately, we're working together and combining our research, our resources, and our knowledge."

More than 210 people attended the April 8 seminar, which included workshops on researching in the national archives, acquiring information from Rhode Island cemeteries, and seeking out English ancestry. Speakers from several of the state's genealogical societies made various presentations and the keynote speaker was the state's Speaker of the House, Kathleen Connell.

"She has been instrumental in the attempt to get a facility built to house all the state's genealogical materials together in one place," Sister Banks explained.

Two of the state's main genealogical societies, the Rhode Island Genealogical Society and the Roger Williams Society, cancelled their day's activities and encouraged members to attend the stake activity, which was held in the stake center, said Sister Banks. "I would guess that close to two-thirds of those who attended were non-members."

Plans are already being made for next year's Family History Day and the Rhode Island Genealogical Society has offered to co-sponsor the event. "We were surprised and thrilled with the support that we received from everyone," Sister Banks said. "It was a gratifying experience."