Prior Membership Meeting Speakers

Membership meetings are held the second Monday of each month between September and May.
They begin at 1:30 and end at about 3:00 pm.
The meeting place is the First Presbyterian Church located at 12225 N. 103rd Ave., Sun City, AZ.

(click here for map)


The meetings are open to the public as well as members. Below is a list of recent past speakers. You can click on the handout link to see the meeting handout.

Feb 10, 2020

Kathleen Ackerman

Kathleen Ackerman’s interest in family history work began about 15 years ago when she lived in Maryland.


She realized that one branch of her family had lived in New Jersey prior to 1800 and wanted to learn more about them. With four young children, she found very little time to pursue her newfound interest.


She has since started her own genealogy business, Finding Ties that Bind, and finished her Bachelor’s Degree. Kathleen graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of General Studies: Family History degree in April 2012.


She is currently working on a Master’s Degree in Genealogy, Paleography and Heraldry from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland.


Kathleen is the director for the Cave Creek Arizona Family History Center. She loves to help others as they learn about their family history.


She has also served as the Treasurer and British Institute Director for the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History.


Besides her volunteer and school work, she spends most of her free time either working on her husband’s English and Scottish lines or playing with her granddaughter.


The Mysterious Love Letter


Written almost 110 years ago on 20 February 1910, this letter was a mystery. It was found by my mother among my paternal grandparents' papers.

No one knew or remembered anything about it.


During this fun Valentine’s presentation, I will tell the story of the love letter and how I was able to figure out to whom and by whom it was written.


I’ll share research techniques I used to verify the information and lessons I learned about researching.


As with any good love story, there is a plot twist. Join me find out the whole story!



Jan 13, 2020

Bonnie Belza

Bonnie Belza is a Family Historian and Genetic Genealogy DNA researcher whose work in Gerontology (the study of Aging) led her to Genealogy research. 


She has attended I4GG (International Genetic Genealogy Conference), Roots Tech, SIG and many national and local conferences.


She teaches the DNA Kindergarten class at WVGS and presents on DNA Genealogy with a focus on simplifying how to use DNA information.      



Tools for Researching
your DNA Matches


What do you do with all those DNA matches you got from testing your DNA?


They don’t have your surname and you don’t recognize them! 


We’ll delve into some tips and tools for researching your matches to figure out where they fit in your tree and what new connections they can provide to break down brick walls. 


DNA Tools Handout

DNA Match Tracking spreadsheet

DNA Match Research Log

Dec 9, 2019

Kathleen Stewart Goodrich, M.Ed.

.Kathleen Stewart Goodrich earned a Masters of Education degree from Northern Arizona University and has taught all ages in three different states. 


Her strong teaching emphasis is evident throughout her entertaining classes and lectures.  Kathleen’s hands-on style encourages audience participation by giving everyone opportunities to problem-solve and practice new skills. 


She was a staff member for many years at the (now closed) Buckeye, Arizona Family History Center, and is currently the administrator for the Facebook group, A is for Ancestor. 

When Kathleen was sixteen years old, her father handed her the family bible, then dropped her off at the Los Angeles Family History Library. 


Sitting at a microfilm reader for hours and scanning the census effectively inoculated her against the genealogy bug for years.  That all changed dramatically when she accidently found her grandmother’s wedding ring. 


Kathleen vowed once and for all to learn the truth about her family’s tradition of gold mines and racehorses. 

The research journey into her grandmother’s past was not only successful, but life-altering. 


Kathleen now dedicates her time to helping others discover the hidden lives of their ancestors.  She is a frequent presenter at genealogy conferences and workshops in Arizona. 

Kathleen is currently writing two memoirs.  We Fly at Dawn is the story of how her father survived WWII as a young tail gunner on a B17 bomber. 


She also shares her own story of endurance in the autobiographical, I am my Jewish Mother.              



Maybe I'm Amazed:
My love affair with Family History


Learn how a combination of skill, serendipity, and listening to that "still small voice" can help create a treasure trove of Family History stories that will inspire and strengthen your family now ---and for generations to come.

Oct 14, 2019







Sisters will share a video they made and speak about how they conducted their research; “The Abandoned Bride”




Dr. Deborah Havens has focused her careers in both education and television broadcast. She has taught high school language arts and TV production in Florida and Michigan, as well as Grand Valley State University.


In between, she built a career as an award-winning radio news reporter and TV producer/on-air host starting in Grand Rapids at WZZM-TV. She has worked as Programming Consultant to client television stations in small to major markets across the United States, servicing national corporate clients including Walt Disney World.


In 2004, she founded Traveling Moon Productions as a clearinghouse for her screenplays and documentaries.


Her passion for women's history and politics led to her service as Chair of the Education Committee for Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm's primary run for office and prompted a return to academia to pursue her doctorate degree in Education Leadership.


Most recently, she led the planning team for the first ever conference of women governors in partnership with the Hauenstein Center and the National Governors Association.


She received the 2017 Hyperion Award for leadership from the media production community. She has served in non-profit leadership roles as Founding Chair of the Board of Directors of the West Michigan Film Video Alliance and Korean Connection.


She and her husband have two sons and three grandchildren, and currently live in Grand Rapids, Michigan.




Married 45 years, mother of 2, grandmother of 2, Lynette Doele retired from a nearly 40 year career as a Registered Nurse in 2012. Since then, she has enjoyed spending time with her family and friends, as well as the pursuit of her hobbies, reading, hiking, biking and travelling, her camera at the ready.


Stacks of journals and photograph albums document years of experiences. The joy of discovering new places, ideas and cultures has been enhanced by taking on a partnership in film-making with her sister.


Learning about research, writing and film production has been a challenge that has expanded her knowledge and led her to places previously unexplored intellectually and geographically.


Part of the pleasure of travel is the return home, where her greatest joy is absorbing the beauty of her South West Michigan lake house with her husband, Harry.


Following the footsteps of family yarn-spinners, in these peaceful surroundings ideas bloom and stories blossom.




“The Abandoned Bride”
A Documentary Video


Traveling Moon Productions; film makers,


Dr. Deb Havens &
Lynette Doele



Twenty years after their Grandfather Del Havens died, two sisters in Grand Rapids discovered a secret that stunned their entire family: a box of pictures and post cards from their grandfather’s post-World War I service in Europe.


Among them were sad messages from a mysterious woman named Dora Gallner, claiming
to be his abandoned bride.


"The Abandoned Bride" documents the dramatic tale as the sisters traced the clues they found in Del’s personal papers and photographs to
conduct historically-based genealogical research.


Sept 9, 2019



Jody Johnson

.Jody came to Arizona with her family in 1959 to save her older brother’s life due to asthma.


The family settled in Kearny where her father worked in the open-pit copper mine, owned by Kennecott Copper at that time.


When her parents divorced in 1967 she moved to Scottsdale and graduated in the top 5% of her class. She graduated from Arizona State University with a BS in Elementary Education and an MA in Early Childhood Education.

Jody worked in the fire department and dealt with industrial injuries and line-of-duty death papers as well as other tasks. Upon retiring from the Phoenix Fire Department she embarked on the challenging discovery of her family’s genealogy.


The many discoveries included Revolutionary War patriots, a Mayflower ancestor, and many Wing cousins who descended from the head of the church in The Hague.


One of the Mayflower ancestor’s was the surgeon with Captain Miles Standish.

Jody has published family stories in the OWL, the Wing family’s annual publication. OWL stands for Our Wing Lineage.


The Wing family was one of the families sent from Saugus (Lynn), Massachusetts to settle Cape Cod.


Her direct ancestor, Stephen Wing, lived in the Wing Fort House which is owned by the Wing Family of America.

Her presentation to the West Valley Genealogical Society tells of her father’s WW II experiences as a Japanese POW captured on Wake Island, December 23, 1941 and his release in September 1945.

Topic Description:


Her presentation to the West Valley Genealogical Society tells of her father’s WW II experience as a Japanese POW captured on Wake Island, December 23, 1941 and his release in September 1945.

May 13, 2019



Tori Johnson

.Tori Johnson grew up tagging along with her mom on weekly trips to family history centers.


She watched her order microfilms, fill out family group sheets, and send many self-addressed stamped envelopes all throughout her childhood and completed her first four-generation pedigree chart when she was eight-years-old.


Tori has a bachelors degree in Microbiology with an emphasis on Clinical Laboratory Science, although she took every genealogy class offered at the time on BYU's campus without declaring it as her major.


She obtained a Family History Research Certificate from BYU-I and is currently enrolled in the BYU-I Family History Research Associate's degree program with an emphasis on British Isle research.


She attended DNA Day at the Southern California Genealogical Jamboree in 2018. She attended the first SLIG Academy for Professionals: DNA for the 21st-century Professional class this past January.


She is a member of the National Genealogical Society, International Society of Genetic Genealogy, and Utah Genealogical Association.


She is currently serving as the monthly speaker specialist for WVGS and is the reminder facilitator for the Avondale/Glendale Chapter of the Family History Society of Arizona.


She is also currently serving as a church service missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, working with the Virtual Remote Operations Center for FamilySearch.


She is the mother of four children with two in college and two in high school. Her favorite quote is her grandfather's senior quote that she found in his Scottsdale High School 1934 yearbook. "How dull would life be without laughter."

Topic Description:


The Future of Your Family History


If available, please bring your smartphone or tablet with Ancestry's "We're Related" app and FamilySearch's "Family Tree" app installed and logged into your account.

April 8, 2019



Wendy Wilson Spooner

.Wendy is a professional Genetic Genealogist helping people find their roots through DNA testing and genealogical research.

Wendy earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology and went on to obtain a post-graduate diploma from the International College of Interdisciplinary Sciences in Genealogy, Heraldry, and Documentary Sciences - post-nominals Licentiate Genealogist (Lic. G).

Wendy also earned a post-graduate diploma from the University of London's College of Teachers in Genealogy, Heraldry, and Documentary Sciences - post-nominals (LCoT). She is a former assistant lecturer for the International College of Interdisciplinary Sciences in Genealogical studies.

As well, Wendy has earned advanced certificates in the fields of both Forensic and Genetic Genealogy.

Wendy is a member of:
- Association of Professional Genealogists,
- International Society of Genetic Genealogy,
- National Genealogical Society,
- Arizona Council of Professional Genealogists,
- International Society of Family History Writers and Editors,
- Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy.

Wendy previously served as Secretary-Treasurer for Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, and as Registrar for Daughters of the American Revolution.


She currently serves as chairman of the advisory board for Century Vital Records based in Bangalore, India, and just accepted a national appointment for the DAR to be announced at Continental Congress in Washington D. C. this coming June.

Topic Description:


Intermediate DNA Research for Unknown Parentage Cases


Mar 11, 2019



Kim S. Harrison

.Kim S. Harrison has been doing genealogy since 1974, and in 1998 was fortunate to turn her passion into her vocation. 


She has had the privilege of working in the library community by representing some of the big online providers of information (Gale,, ProQuest, NewsBank and Ancestry) before relocating her consultant business to Arizona. 


Her genealogy membership since 1970’s has been NGS and Ohio Genealogical Society, as well as being past President of the Michigan Genealogical Council and founding member of the Grand River Trails Chapter of the DAR (Michigan).

She currently serve as President of the Arizona Genealogical Advisory Board (AzGAB). 


During the 1980’s she lobbied the National Archives to stop the destruction of the Railroad Pension Application files.  Later she wrote a grant for the preservation of the investigation into the Sultana Disaster, which is now available (free) on Fold3.


Her most interesting ancestor was Lot Little and being able to join the DAR under his service.  Lot was a freed slave from New Hampshire.

Topic Description:


Library Research: Have A Successful Game Plan


·Back ground on the workings and understanding on how libraries work. 

This knowledge will help the researcher develop a successful game plan.


·Understand the library’s collection. Could your answers be in another department of the library? Tip that library staff knowledge priceless!


·Preparation tips will be explored.



Feb 11, 2019

Michelle Roos Goodrum



Michelle Roos Goodrum is a member of the teaching team for Boston University's Genealogical Research Certificate Program and Genealogy Principles course.

Her genetic genealogy journey began when Michelle attended the first ever week-long DNA class. It was offered at the Genealogy Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) in July of 2014 and taught by Debbie Parker Wayne, Blaine Bettinger, and CeCe Moore. She regularly attends genetic genealogy courses both online and in person.

Involved in genealogy since 1994, she is the caretaker of 140 years of her family's papers. Michelle loves land records, genetic genealogy, photography, and attending genealogy institutes and conferences.



DNA Tools and Tips




Jan 14, 2019



Becky Higgins -- Becky is being rescheduled, she was not able to attend the January meeting.


A scrapbooking industry legend, Becky Higgins is an author, writer, teacher, and product designer who combines a passion for living well and documenting life.


In 2009, Becky launched Project Life®, an innovative and easy-to-use memory-keeping system being used and appreciated around the world.


Project Life is also available in digital format, as well as the Project Life App.


Her online courses have helped countless people get a grip on where to begin and how to move forward with documenting and memory keeping in the simplest format.


Her new podcast, “Cultivate a Good Life” inspires listeners in so many areas of life — way beyond memory keeping.


You can find all things @BeckyHigginsLLC on social media, and visit


Becky and her husband David and 3 kids live in Peoria, Arizona.


Topic Description:


"Cultivate a Good Life

and Record It"



Dec 10, 2018



Kathleen Stewart Goodrich, M.Ed.

.Kathleen Stewart Goodrich earned a Masters of Education degree from Northern
Arizona University and has taught all ages in three different states.


Her strong teaching emphasis is evident throughout her entertaining classes and lectures.

Kathleen’s hands-on style encourages audience participation by giving everyone opportunities to problem-solve and practice new skills.


She was a volunteer for many years at the recently closed Buckeye, Arizona Family History Center, and is currently a member of the Utah Genealogical Association.

When Kathleen was sixteen years old her father handed her the family bible, then dropped her off at the Los Angeles Family History Library. Sitting at a microfilm reader for hours and scanning the census effectively inoculated her against the genealogy bug for years.


That all changed dramatically when she accidentally found her grandmother’s wedding ring. She vowed once and for all to learn the truth about her family’s tradition of gold mines and racehorses.

The research journey into her grandmother’s past was not only successful, but life-altering. Kathleen now dedicates her time to helping others discover the hidden lives of their ancestors. She is a frequent presenter at genealogy conferences and workshops in Arizona.

Kathleen is currently writing two memoirs. Emergency Rations is the story of how her father survived WWII as a young tail gunner on a B17 bomber.


She also shares her own story of endurance in the autobiographical, I am my Jewish Mother.

Topic Description:


"Everything I Know About My Family's History I Learned From Nancy Drew"


Handout 1


Handout 2


Handout 3


Handout 4

Nov 12, 2018



Katie Gertz

.Katie is currently serving as the President of the East Valley Chapter of the Family History Society of Arizona, and Secretary for the Family History Society of Arizona. 


Katie became her family historian in 2008.


She has attended many genealogy workshops and seminars and began giving presentations to genealogy clubs and societies in 2011.


Katie has been selected to be a guest presenter at the Annual Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank, California both 2017 and 2018.


Her genealogy research has taken her back to her 7th great-grandparents. Like her passion for technology, genealogy presents intriguing puzzles to solve.  


She owns and operates a home-based business called Kate’s Computer Clinic. She repairs, installs and teaches personal computers, both Windows-based and all Apple products. She is a certified Apple Product Professional and a Microsoft Partner




Topic Description:




"Using City Directories to Trace Your Ancestors"


City Directories are a valuable source of information that will provide you with useful information to tell your ancestor's story. 


City directories can show you year after year where your ancestors lived, what they did for a living, where they may have worshipped or gone to school.


Census records are a valuable resource, but they are only every ten years whereas city directories are an annual resource of your ancestor's movements.


Oct 8, 2018



Kersti Canon

.Stemming from a family of educators, Kersti was instilled with the love of history and travel.


This love was enhanced when at 18 she read a family biography of her great-great-grandfather; so intrigued by this, she has dedicated 39 years to this passion for genealogy and all the history and mystery that makes us who we are.


After 10 years in the Air Force and 25 years in the corporate world, Kersti shifted to what makes her truly happy and that is merging Ancestry and Travel.


Her belief is our past makes us unique and who we are today; what better way to learn about where you came from, then to walk the path and branches of your family tree.


Her passion is to make dreams a reality; giving her clients the ultimate gift of knowing where they come from. Taking your family stories and scratch bits of paper and put them together in a family tree.


Take that tree and sculpt the ultimate family or personal trip, bringing the past forward so you can immerse yourself in your DNA.


Touch and taste your way across the old country and feel what it's truly like to live the past.

Topic Description:



"Heritage Travel - Walk Their Footsteps”


Taking your family tree and turning it into the trip of a lifetime. Learn how to take the notes and memories and turn them into an amazing adventure.


Crafting out the perfect trip, including genealogy meet and greets, self-drive or guided tours of the towns and villages where your ancestors came from.


Learning how to trace your family tree to the desired locations, churches, graveyards, etc. and if possible include meets and greets with actual family members.


Taking what you have heard about all your life and turning it into an educational dream of bringing the past into the present.


Sept 10, 2018



Carla Rideout

.Arizona resident, Carla Rideout, is a professional genealogist who has been researching part-time for others during past five years, but the interest in genealogy goes back to childhood. 


She was appointed the Editor of West Valley Genealogical Society’s publication The Desert Tracker.


Currently, she is participating in the ProGen 37 Study Group. 


Carla studied Art History at Arizona State University and completed the intensive Boston University’s Genealogical Certificate Program in 2017. 


She has attended many conferences and week-long institutes, such as the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), Genealogy Research Institute of Pennsylvania (GRIP), and the So. California Genealogical Society’s JAMBOREE. 


Carla is a member of National Genealogy Society, Association of Professional Genealogists, West Valley Genealogy Society (WVGS), as well many other state genealogical societies. As the owner of Global Roots Genealogy, she helps other interested in genealogy to break through their brick walls.

Topic Description:



"Uncovering the Stories That Make a Difference"


Carla Rideout handout

May 14, 2018



Bo Patrick

.Born and raised in Phoenix, Bo Patrick is a third generation Arizona native.  He literally grew up around antiques!


Following in his father’s footsteps, he started working at the auction house at the age of 5 and was the sales slip runner until the age of 14.


He then started to take the stand and became the ring man of the auction, with his father calling the sale. Not long after, he was handed the mic and became a full-fledged auctioneer right then and there!


At 19, Bo Patrick flew off to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he began to study for his Appraiser’s License, and continues his education every year, keeping up on the latest industry rules and regulations.


His company is Fidelity Estate Services, specializing in appraisals, estate auctions, estate sales, and brokering fine antiques and jewelry. 


His specialties include jewelry, coins, glass and silver, but there is no personal property he cannot handle, including china, furniture, artwork, guns, and more. 


You might recognize Bo from the hit TV show "Arizona Collectibles" on PBS Channel 8, where he has been a featured appraiser for 4 seasons.

Topic Description:



"Arizona Collectibles"

April 9, 2018



Jean White

.Jean is a native of the Chicago, Illinois area and has been actively doing genealogical research since 1974.  She holds a BA degree in education from Monmouth College, and taught third grade in the Chicago suburbs.

Prior to moving to Arizona in 1990, Jean taught genealogy and lectured in Indiana and Kansas.  She was also an assistant librarian at the Midwest Historical and Genealogical Society Library.

Jean has served as president of West Valley Genealogical Society, editor of their quarterly publication, and chair of the collection development committee. She teaches classes at their library.

Jean is also past president, editor and archivist of The Castor Association of America (a surname organization with 400 members). She is editor of their newest book, The Descendants of Paulus and Gertrude Kusters of Kaldekirchen, Germany and Germantown, Pennsylvania.

Recently, she wrote a section on the Cranson family, which is published in Western Massachusetts Families in 1790 by the New England Historic Genealogical Society.  There are also additional Western Massachusetts families that she researched posted on the NEHGS website.

She has also served on the Board of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG). Her current memberships include NEHGS, RIGS, Illinois State Genealogical Society, WVGS and the Arizona Council of Professional Genealogists.

Topic Description:


The Old Northwest Territory: not Oregon and Washington, nor Canada




The Old Northwest Territory is actually located in the Midwest, which was an area settled very early by the french fur trappers and voyeurs.


Find out what happened when this area became part of the United States.

Mar 12, 2018



Howard Mathieson

Mckell Keeney

Howard Mathieson is a retired University of Winnipeg Geography Instructor and Administrator. 

His combined interest in geography and genealogy have led him to focus his interests in surname research, analyzing the origin and distribution of surnames through time and space.


Over the years his research has expanded to include a wide range of English, Scottish and Irish surnames.


Howard is a member of the Manitoba Genealogical Society and the Guild of One Name studies. He has published numerous articles in the Journal of One Name Studies. 


He maintains “The Geography of Surnames” Website ( and administers several Facebook groups including the Surname Distribution Map group, and the Ulster Scot, Scots Irish, and Google Earth for Genealogists Facebook groups.


The Geography
of Surnames


The development of surnames in the British Isles was a complex process.


Historically, successive waves of Angles, Saxons and Danes left their imprint on the landscape of Britain in the form of a rich tapestry of place names. These place names in turn laid the foundation for tens of thousands of English surnames.


The presentation will demonstrate the approach used by surname researchers to trace a surname to its origin.


Attention will then focus on the underlying regional character of the English landscape, examining the pattern of Saxon and Scandinavian place names and the distinctive surnames which resulted. 


Surname case studies reflecting the regional geography of England will conclude the presentation.


Examples will be drawn from the woodlands, as well as the agricultural and textile industries.



Feb 12, 2018



Mckell Keeney

Mckell Keeney

Mckell Keeney is an enthusiastic genetic genealogist who uses DNA test results to build family trees as a "search angel" (volunteer) for those with unknown parentage.


She also uses DNA results to solve research questions and extend family trees past brick walls.


She has successfully helped dozens of people who were adopted, or who had a parent or other relative with unknown parentage, with their searches.


She enjoys teaching people about using their DNA results, from reviewing health information to connecting with "new" cousins researching the same family lines.


Mckell lives in Tempe with her husband, Dave Keeney.


She has attended:


- the Institute for Genetic Genealogy (i4GG) conference in San Diego in 2016 and 2017, led by CeCe Moore and Blaine T. Bettinger, two of the top genetic genealogists in the country,

- DNA Day at Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in 2017,

- and a weeklong DNA Boot Camp in 2017 with CeCe Moore and Paul Woodbury at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) in 2017. 


For more information, please visit her DNA blog at



DNA Power!




Did you take a DNA test and get results, and then do little with your results?


Find out many ways to use your results and get responses from matches.


Learn about building genetic networks and about easy-to-use DNA tools to help with your DNA match organizing.


You will be amazed at the power of DNA to solve research questions, and extend your family circle!



Jan 8, 2018



Dave Poling


Dave Poling was born in Akron, Ohio and earned a B.S. in American History and an M.A. in Secondary Education from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.  


Dave also completed one year at the Harvard Law School and additionally received the C.L.U. designation (Chartered Life Underwriter) in 1968.  He served 2 years in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

Dave spent three years teaching American History in the Arlington Hts, Illinois H.S. District. This was followed by 8 years with the Travelers Insurance Co and 22 years in the air express business with Emery Air Freight and DHL Express. He reached the Sr. Vice President level at both of these companies. He then spent two years as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Transcontinental Airlines  in Ypsilanti, Michigan and wound up his career as a Principal and  Senior Consultant with the worldwide consulting firm Arthur D. Little, Inc. based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he specialized in transportation and general management issues.

Dave has served as President of the Rolling Meadows Jaycees; lay leader of two large Methodist Churches in Michigan and Arizona, and as President of his Homeowners Association in Novi, Michigan.


He recently retired as President of the Northwestern University Alumni Club of the West Valley after 5 years in that position. 


Dave is credited with growing the PORA Adult Learning program from 23 courses in 2009 to over 200 for the Spring 2018 semester.  He currently serves as Vice President on the PORA Board of Directors.

Dave has been teaching in the Adult learning programs in Sun City West and Sun City Grand since 2009 specializing in Writing Your Autobiography as well as How Do You Rank Our Presidents. Thirty of his students have actually published their autobiographies.


Dave has published his own Autobiography, What a Great Ride It Has Been (2010) and has published two modern day political novels  The Inner Circle, a Modern Political Novel (2010) and A New Dawn Is Breaking, Independents Now Have a Voice in Washington (2017).  He is currently working on a book on How to Write Your Autobiography.

Dave has 4 children, 8 grandchildren and has been married to his wife Caroline for 56 years.

Autobiography Writing, a 1st cousin to Genealogy



Dec 11, 2017



Carolyn H. Brown


Carol has been researching her family since 1979.


Carol is the founder, newsletter editor and past president of the Bouse Genealogical Society, Bouse, AZ.


She has been presenting genealogy seminars and workshops for over 35 years.


She was elected to Who’s Who of American Women in 1989. She is the recipient of the 2012 Arizona Genealogy Advisory Board Founders Award and the 2013 National Genealogical Societies Award of Merit.


Carol has written and self-published seven family history books on her and her husband's ancestors. She is a member of the Arizona Genealogy Advisory Board and Association of Professional Genealogists; and a past member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants and the General Organization of United Daughters of the Confederacy.


Jump Start Your Research with DNA




This is a presentation on my personal experiences with DNA and several members of my family:


I have proved the research I have been doing on one early ancestor was correct, even when the paper trail was very thin.


I have proved my husband last name was changed by his grandfather and what the original surname is.


I have proved that my granddaughter has a 1/2 sister she never knew about.


I have proved that all of the years I have searched for my husband's Indian ancestry was for nothing.


I have discovered which man was my great-grandson's father.


With Christmas coming on, some people may want to give a DNA test to a family member and this may help them decide.

Nov 13, 2017



Robert M. Wilbanks IV

Robert M. Willbanks IV Robert M. Wilbanks IV has had a deep interest in history since early childhood and discovered genealogy at age 12 while watching Alex Haley's Roots. 


He has worked in a variety of local libraries since 1982, earning an associate's degree in Library Technical Services in 1990 and a B.A. in History from Arizona State University in 1992. 


He has been a professional genealogist for 29 years, to include writing, speaking, and teaching many classes including an Irish-American Genealogy Class for the Phoenix Irish Cultural Center. 


He is currently the President of the Arizona Council of Professional Genealogists and Chief Genealogist & Historian for The Caledonian Society of Arizona. 


His areas of genealogy and history expertise include US Military History & Records, the American Civil War, the Old South, Colonial Virginia, and the British Isles.




Genealogy in Chaos:  Getting & Staying Organized


Handout Link

Before getting started, or before getting too far along, every aspiring genealogist needs an effective and efficient organization system, from filing cabinets to software, from researching to a presentable end product to share. 


This presentation will explore some tools, example filing systems, numbering systems, and methods for organizing the research process that can help you stay focused and organized.

Oct 9, 2017



Janna Larson


Janna Larson is a professional genealogist who is co-owner of Genealogy One-on-One.  She been doing genealogical research since 1981.


She has ancestors who were English, Irish, Scottish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch and German. Some came to the United States in colonial times; others came in the 1880s.


Janna specializes in New England research, but has abundant experience with many areas of the United States and with foreign countries.

She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She has been a member of the Family History Society of Arizona, where she has held many offices, since 1982. 


She is currently Secretary/Treasurer of the Arizona Council of Professional Genealogists.

In 2002, Janna authored a scholarly article in The American Genealogist titled “Identifying Abigail, the Wife of Daniel Cressy, of New Genealogical Record, and has compiled and edited several other genealogical publications. Hampshire.


She has since written several other scholarly articles published in the New Hampshire

Writing for Publication: Identifying Abigail, the Wife of Daniel Cressey.   


So you've discovered something on your family that you feel is important to share?  Do you sit down and write an 800 page book? Or do you write an article for publication in a scholarly journal? 


Solving difficult genealogical puzzles is seldom the result of the lucky discovery of a single record. Often the path to success is through a maze filled with dead ends.


This case history outlines the speaker's strategy when dealing with research problems and writing decisions, and leads the audience along the twisty path to find the clues that, when finally put together, proved Abigail's parentage and disclosed two former husbands!

Sept 11, 2017



Connie Sheets

.Connie Sheets earned a Master's degree from the University of Missouri and is a retired social service professional with experience in staff training and development. 


For more than 30 years, she has been researching her family; all branches of which have lived in America since at least the time of the Revolution.


She holds a certificate from the Boston University Genealogy Research Program, and has attended advanced genealogical courses at the Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. 


She currently serves as Secretary of the Arizona Genealogical Advisory Board and Director of Education at the West Valley Genealogical Society. 


She has been lecturing about and teaching family history and genealogy since 2012.

"Tips for Finding and Using the Best Free Genealogy Websites"




 There are more ways to discover your ancestors online than 


This presentation will highlight some of the most useful free sites such as:

FindAGrave, FamilySearch, Internet Archive, those provided by public libraries, national and state archives, county governments, and a few others you may never have heard of.


May 8, 2017

Jeanne Koniuszy

.Jeanne Koniuszy was born in Pennsylvania, but was raised in Arizona.


She has been interested and active in family history for over 35 years and in April 2016 received a Bachelor’s Degree in Family History from BYU-Provo.

She enjoys assisting patrons with their family history and loves teaching family history to others.


She is the wife of Tom Koniuszy and the mother of three children and seven grandchildren. She has been serving as a Temple and Family History Consultant in her church organization for the past five years. Jeanne has been a Service Missionary at the Mesa FamilySearch Library since May 2014.


This online genealogy database has one of the best searching algorithms in the industry. 


Library Edition User Guide


This class will help you become familiar with the record collections, record searching, and record matching capabilities within the millions of records in this website as well as other important features they offer. 


You will learn about the "Record Detective" and its powerful search technology. 


This website adds incredible depth to your research and connects you with "cousins" all around the world.

April 10, 2017

Mike Fisch

.Mike is a native Minnesotan and started his newspaper career in high school, and continued on through college.


He worked at newspapers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Connecticut, California, Hawaii and New York State. He was the president and publisher of newspapers in California, Hawaii and New York as well as being president of Gannett Pacific.


His interest in genealogy started in the 1960’s along with his love of history. He is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, active in the Saguaro Chapter serving as chapter genealogist and newsletter editor.


He and his wife Nancy live at Trilogy in Peoria where they moved after Mike

retired in 2013.


"Mining Newspaper Archives to Find Stories of Your Ancestors"




Finding that special piece of information from a newspaper article takes some understanding and skill on how newspapers have evolved over the decades.

Our speaker worked in the newspaper industry for over 40 years and will share tips and tricks on how to mine those hidden pieces of gold.

March 13, 2017

Suzanne Young Brayer

.Suzanne is an educator, researcher and avid genealogist. She graduated with degrees in history and education from Arizona State University.

She is past President of the Family History Society of Arizona, a member of the West Valley Genealogical Society, The Federation of Genealogical Societies, The Indiana Historical Society, The Arizona Council of Professional Genealogists, and the National Genealogical Society. She has taught genealogy classes and spoken to numerous groups in Arizona.


"Immigrant Stories"


Where did they come from? What port did they enter? Where did they settle?


These are the questions we wish answered.

We also want to know their stories and every immigrant has a story. The fate of the girl whose betrothed stood her up at Ellis Island, the Russian who walked the Siberian Railroad tracks to Japan to board a ship for San Francisco, the starving child who scavenged in the trash from first class.

These are a few of the stories we will hear from Suzanne.

February 13, 2017

Representatives of several organizations will discuss the purpose, activities, and membership requirements of each organization.


Lineage societies, family associations, and first family or pioneer organizations commemorate our ancestors and provide and opportunity to come together with others with similar interests and heritage for social activities or charitable purposes.


Some lineage societies can also assist in our research.



Representative organizations:


Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)

Sons of the American Revolution (SAR)


National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century


National Huguenot Society


National Society United States Daughters of the War of 1812


and more!


January 9, 2017

Denise Crawford


Denise Crawford was born in Ft. Bragg, California and has resided in Arizona since 1980.  She has been actively researching her family since 1993.


Denise has been on the staff at the Mesa Family Search Library since 2001.  Denise is a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, National Genealogical Society and First Families of Knox County, Ohio.


Her favorite online database is the Historical Records Collection on and she loves contributing to Find A Grave.  

Research in England


Learn the kinds of records available to find ancestors in England and Wales:

Census, Civil Registration, Church and Probate. 


Also discussed are several websites that offer records online.

speaker handout


December 12, 2016

Richard Young

Richard Young


Richard Young has been working with genealogy for over 40 years. He is a retired technology specialist with the federal government.


He authors several blogs, including, which investigates technology and genealogy.


Richard has taught genealogy courses at the local community college, has been a presenter at FHExpo, Rootstech 2014, and Family History Society meetings across the greater Phoenix/Mesa area, and a FGS Ambassador in 2015, and Rootstech 2016 Ambassador.


He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Family History Society of Arizona, is a delegate and webmaster to the Arizona Genealogical Advisory Board, and a Rootstech 2017 Ambassador and Speaker.



Richard Young's handout



November 10, 2016

Emily Garber

An archaeologist by training, Emily Garber has been researching her Jewish ancestry since 2007 and holds a certificate from Boston University's Genealogical Research program.


In 2013 she visited Ukrainian archives and family villages.


An experienced speaker on genealogy, Emily blogs at, chairs the Phoenix Jewish Genealogy Group and owns Extra Yad Genealogical Services.


"Beyond the Manifest: Applying the Genealogical Proof Standard to Confirm One’s Ancestral Origins"

When several communities in Europe have similar names and/or names that have been changed over the years, we may find it difficult to unambiguously identify our family’s town of origin.


Considering the investment in time and energy in researching our family, it’s imperative that we conclusively identify its community of origin. With application of the Genealogical Proof Standard and a well-designed research plan, we assure that out findings are robust and our conclusions not easily challenged.

October 10, 2016

Steve Packer

Steven L. Packer was born and raised in Utah, where he graduated from the University of Utah.


His mother was a German immigrant, and his father's family traces to Ireland in the 1600s. He was introduced to genealogy by his father who in the 1970s researched the Packer family.


He has served at the Mesa Family Search Library since 2007 and spoken frequently on several genealogy topics, including particularly German research, immigration, and using DNA in family history.

"Using DNA for Family History Research"

With all of the advertising and hype on DNA tests on TV, many individuals take the test with unrealistic expectations. This presentation will attempt to give the attendee a realistic expectation on the results, what you will learn from the test and how to use the results. We will address who should take the test, who should avoid the test and which tests are available.

September 12, 2016

Dr. Melanie Sturgeon

Melanie Sturgeon is the Director of the Arizona State Archives. She has a Ph.D. in history and has taught family history classes for many years. She works closely with Arizona’s state and local government agencies to identify and preserve their permanent/historical records. She recently served as a Board member of the National Association of Government Archivists and Records Administrators, and is currently a Board member for the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame, the Arizona Women’s History Alliance, the Arizona Women’s Heritage Trail and the Arizona Genealogical Advisory Board.

"I Do! I Don't! I Died! Using Court Records in Family History Research"

Many of our ancestors appear in records created by the courts, yet few family history researchers use them. Criminal and civil cases, marriages, divorces, land partitions, water disputes, naturalizations, inquests, guardianships and probate cases can be rich sources of information that cut across class, race, gender and economic situation. Learn about courts and the information held in their records that might just help you break down that proverbial brick wall.

May 9, 2016

Dr. Reba Grandrud

Reba Wells Grandrud is a former AHC board member; and has enjoyed being on the Speakers Bureau for a number of years. In addition to working as a historical consultant, she continues her own research and writing while serving as a volunteer for a wide range of nonprofits, including the Partnership for National Trails System, Old Spanish Trail Association, Historical League, Arizona History Convention, Inc., Westerners Corrals, Pioneer Cemetery Association, and Sunnyslope Historical Society.

In Their Own Words: Overland Diaries of 19th Century Westering Women

What was it like to be a woman traveling on the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, or the Southern Route to California in the mid- 19th century? Who were these women and how did they feel about uprooting their lives?

April 11, 2016

Dr. Barbara Vander Leest

Dr. Vander Leest, noted anthropologist and archaeologist, is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin. She has also served as a member of the faculty at this University.

Researching Collateral Lines

Dr. Vander Leest will cover researching our collateral relatives such as: cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles to help open up new areas and sources of information about our ancestors that was not previously examined in our direct lineage research..

March 14, 2016

Sharon Atkins
As an avid genealogist since 1980, and after a life-time career in marketing and sales, in 2012 Sharon Atkins focused her energies on launching "It’s All Relatives". Today, she is a genealogist passionate about genealogy research and sharing the excitement of the pursuit of family history to help people find “their personal connection to history.”

She has authored genealogy-related educational materials including GenBiz Solutions™ Guides Creating a Marketing Plan, Creating a Sales Process and What's Your Brand? She has also authored Legacy QuickGuides™ Unraveling Brick Wall Mysteries, Cemetery Research and Understanding US Vital Records.

Sharon is also a popular speaker and teacher of “how to” genealogy classes. She is a member of APG (Association of Professional Genealogists), NAGS (Northern Arizona Genealogical Society) and the immediate Past-President of AzCPG (Arizona Council of Professional Genealogists).

Ephemera: Genealogy Gold”.

Ms. Atkins will be giving examples of what ephemera is, and what we can learn from all those pieces of paper we have stashed away.

February 8, 2016

Mary Booth Bowden

Mary E. Booth was born in Buffalo, NY. She earned a degree in Mortuary Science from Hudson Valley Community College. She worked in the communications industry for 24 years. She was a licensed real estate broker. She moved to the southwest in 1998 where she received an advanced certificate in Behavioral Health from South Mountain Community College and a certificate from Azusa Ministry Training Institute.

B.F. Booth: The Legacy

Mary E. Booth Bowden is Benjamin Franklin Booth’s granddaughter. As a child Mary heard family stories about her grandfather. He had been born into slavery in 1858 but was determined to get an education – despite having to continue to work on farms to help his mother support the family after his father died. He became a teacher, principal, and a successful lawyer.

January 11, 2016

Members of WVGS

Members of the West Valley Genealogical Society and Library will be the program presenters at the January Monthly Meeting.

Overlooked resources in the WVGS Library

The program will cover areas such as Filby’s Passenger and Immigration Lists, obituaries, maps, periodicals, and surnames. Please join us as individual members share their special area of expertise.

December 14, 2015

Michelle Goodrum

Michelle Roos Goodrum is a researcher, speaker, educator and writer with a passion for research in land records, DNA, organization and photography. She mentors and administers the Gen Proof Study Groups studying Mastering Genealogical Proof; is a Facilitator for Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program; and regular attendee at genealogy institutes and conferences.

Michelle is the author of the book, Digging for Ancestors and pens the column, Timeless Territories, for the monthly digital magazine, Going In-Depth. She also regularly writes for The In-Depth Genealogist blog and her personal genealogy blog, The Turning of Generations where she writes about various family history topics.

Digging for Ancestors at the Bureau of Land Management

Using land records is another way to find our ancestors. Michelle will be sharing her secrets to finding records through the BLM.

November 9, 2015

Dave & Connie Troxell

Dave and Connie have been married 43 years, having met while classmates at Geneva College. They have 5 sons, all married and 12 grandchildren. After having lived their whole lives in Pennsylvania they moved to Sun City West in the fall of 2014.


Dave and Connie have been active in American Revolutionary War for over 16 years. Dave has served as Adjutant and Commander of the First Pennsylvania Regiment 1775 and also served as Board Member at-large and as Adjutant General of the Brigade of the American Revolution, an international Revolutionary War reenacting organization.


Dave currently serves as Adjutant of the Cumberland County Militia, 5th Battalion. Dave and Connie have participated in the 225th Anniversary of the Yorktown Victory and Surrender, the 225th Anniversary of Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware, Battle of the Hook, the 225th Anniversary of the Battle of Rhode Island and numerous other reenactments.

American Revolutionary War

Dave and Connie will be displaying uniforms, clothing and weapons of the Revolutionary War as well as stories of the war and reenacting experiences.

October 12, 2015

Click HERE for speaker's handouts.
Jennifer Barber
Jennifer Barber is the Archivist for the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church. She has Masters degrees in History and Library Science with a specialization in Archives and over 10 years experience in genealogy.

Preserving the Stuff of our Ancestors

If we're lucky our ancestors left us with boxes of stuff, including books, papers, photographs, albums, quilts and so much more. Learn how to preserve these items so that future generations may also enjoy them.

September 14, 2015

Bonnie McCulley

. Bonnie attended Samford University - Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, in Georgia. She attended numerous genealogy seminars. She has personally researched in many of the larger genealogy repositories in the U.S.


She is past instructor, for the Family History Society of Arizona - Paradise Valley Chapter. Was Chapter Registrar for the DAR Grand Canyon Chapter, for four years and past Arizona State DAR Lineage Chairman and past Governor (President), for the Mayflower Descendants in the State of Arizona.

Witchcraft from pre-midieval times to New England in 1692

Included is what brought the horrible Witchcraft hysteria to the people of Danvers, Mass. (Now Salem, Mass.)


Many had relatives who endured and were part of the Witchcraft trials, including some who were put to death. Some had to pay 100 or more gold pieces to the English Crown to get their loved ones out of jail – for the crime of witchcraft. A horrible time in American history.

May 11, 2015

Katie Gertz
Katie serves as Secretary for the Family History Society of Arizona and as President of their East Valley Chapter. She became her family historian in 2008 and her research has taken her back to her 5th great grandparents.

Populating the U.S. Colonies With Convicts

Combined with a great need for cheap labor in the Colonies, and unprecedented levels of crime in Britain, the British Parliament passed an act commonly referred to as the Transportation Act of 1718. This act gave the courts the option of sending the convicted felons to the Colonies.

April 13, 2015

Susan Smith
Susan is an experienced family history researcher and instructor. She was a long time employee of the Maricopa County Library District's Surprise branch where she taught numerous genealogy classes.

Using Libraries for Genealogy Research

Ms. Smith's lecture will focus on using the Maricopa County Library system, as well as other area libraries, for the most effective use of resources while researching.

February 9, 2015

James Jones

James Jones became interested in the role the Buffalo Soldiers played while a student at University of Texas – El Paso (UTEP).


After he played pro football - for the Pittsburg Steelers – he worked in the law enforcement and security fields. He worked at the Republican National Convention in 1976.


As a bodyguard he provided security for many people – including Angelo Dundee and Mohammed Ali.

Buffalo Soldiers

In honor of Black History Month, Sgt. Major “JJ” Jones will be telling us about The Buffalo Soldiers of the Indian Wars – 1866 - 1890.


He will be presenting information about the often overlooked contribution that the Buffalo Soldiers made to the settlement of Arizona and the southwest. The importance of the Buffalo Soldiers during the Indian Wars is often neglected in our history books. They were often assigned the duties that no one else wanted in out-of-the-way places where no one else would go. James Jones will tell us the Buffalo Soldiers’ story.

January 12, 2015

William Kane

Mr. Kane is an accomplished genealogist and author.


Among his many publications, Bill wrote Journeys Taken; a documentation of his family research providing a history of New France from its beginning in 1605.


Currently, he serves on the Canadian Committee of the Mesa Family Library Center and is Vice President of the Society of King’s Daughters and Soldiers of the Carignan Regiment.

Genealogy - More than Names

This lecture will focus on getting to know your ancestors by uncovering the who, why, where and when of their stories.

December 8, 2014

Cindy Patricki
Cindy Patricki is currently a genealogist at the McClelland Irish Library in Phoenix’s Irish Cultural Center. She has been doing family history research for the past 20 years and has had her own genealogy research business since 2010. Cindy completed the ProGen6 Professional Genealogy program in 2011. She has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from ASU and previously worked as a computer analyst. She is currently a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the National Genealogical Society, the AZ Council of Professional Genealogists, and the Family History Society of AZ, where she serves as the Program Chairperson for the Paradise Valley Chapter.

The McClelland Irish Library
Ms. Patricki will be telling us a little bit about her job as Professional Genealogist at the Library. She will concentrate on what resources are available to us and how to use the Library.

November 10, 2014

Dr. John W.Kohl & Dr. Joye Kohl
Dr. John Kohl, pictured, received his master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Oregon. Following a successful career in higher education, Dr. Kohl retired from Montana State University as Professor and Dean Emeritus. Dr. Joye Kohl is a graduate of the University of Wyoming, receiving a master’s degree from American University and her doctorate from Montana State University where she also taught. She is an accomplished genealogist and writer of family histories. The Kohls have spent many years researching the Civil War service and visiting all the sites and battle fields along the route of the Wisconsin C-3 Voluntary Infantry of John Christian Kohls--great-grandfather and Jacob Cumley--great-great grandfather.

“What Were Your Female Ancestors Doing During the Civil War--The Role of Women During the Civil War”

October 13, 2014

Robert M. Wilbanks IV
Mr. Wilbanks is an accomplished historian and is a graduate of Arizona State University. He has also attended the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University. In addition to authoring four books, he has served as editor of numerous family history newsletters and teaches several genealogy classes

Researching the Passed: Death Records and Cemeteries:
Mr. Wilbanks will help family researchers on their hunt for ancestors.

September 8, 2014

Carolyn H. Brown
Ms. Brown has been researching her family since 1979. She has published seven family history books and three genealogy guides. Ms. Brown is the founder, chairman, and newsletter editor of the Bouse Genealogical Society, Bouse, Arizona. She has been presenting genealogy seminars and workshops for over 25 years. Carolyn was elected to Who’s Who of American Women in 1989. She is the recipient of the 2012 AzGAB Founders Award and the 2013 NGS Award of Merit.

Finding the Poor: Researching people who are listed as poor and generally didn’t own land. Many moved frequently. Including freed slaves, displaced Civil War victims, orphans and those who had fallen on hard times for a short periods of time.

May 12, 2014

James L. Tanner
James is actively involved in genealogical research and is the blogger for Genealogy's Star Blog. He’s been a featured blogger at RootsTech 2011 and 2012, and is on the support staff of the FamilySearch Research Wiki and is Moderator for Arizona and Utah and the author of The Guide to FamilySearch Online. James is the social media coordinator at Family History Expos.

Mr Tanner will be talking about the new Family Tree which has replaced the New Family Search program and other new happenings at the Family History Library.

April 14, 2014

Leonard Marcisz
Leonard currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Historical Society, a state chartered body that oversees 16 museums and historic properties in Arizona. Marcisz has also served as Vice Chairman of the City of Scottsdale’s Historic Preservation Commission. He served on the Board of Directors of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy from 2005 through 2011, and is a former Chairman of the Board. He is also a contributing author for the Field Guide to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. His articles regarding the history of the McDowell Mountains have appeared in several local periodicals. He is the scriptwriter and narrator for the Scottsdale City Cable Channel 11 historical series “Scottsdale Yesterdays.”

Mr. Marcisz will discuss the creation, use and rediscovery of the Stoneman Military Road. The Road was created in 1870 and ran from Fort McDowell, near the present-day site of the Fort McDowell casino, to Fort Lowell near Prescott. The road was a communication, commercial and logistical conduit from 1870 until 1890, and was of critical importance during the US Army's winter campaign of 1872-1873 against the Yavapai and Apache in central Arizona.

March 10, 2014

Daniela Moneta
Daniela received her Masters of Library and Information Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1980. Daniela became interested in genealogy in the late 1980s and worked as the Genealogy Librarian at the Arizona State Library from 2000 to 2005. She became a Certified Genealogist in 2007 and a Certified Genealogical Lecturer in 2012. Daniela taught family history research as an academic subject at ASU for 5 years. She has had a genealogy business, Genealogy One-on-One, with Janna Larson for the past 10 years.

Today genealogists use DNA to help them locate the homeland of their ancestors and contact cousins and distant relatives. How to use DNA testing, how to contact distant cousins, and which test to take, and how to interpret the results will be the topic of this presentation.

February 10, 2014
Carolyn O'Bagy Davis

Carolyn is a fourth-generation descendant of Utah pioneers, has written ten books on the history of archaeology, quilting, and western history. She earned her B.A. degree in Anthropology from the University of Arizona in 1971. Carolyn lectures extensively to history, archaeology, and quilting groups around the country, and has curated many traveling museum exhibits. Carolyn was the founding president of the Tucson Quilter's Guild (1976) and also Old Pueblo Archaeology Center (1994). She has served on the board of the American Quilt Study Group, the Treasure Hill Foundation (Mimbres Culture preservation), the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society, and was recently inducted into the Society of Women Geographers (the women's association affiliated with the Explorer's Club; she was profiled in They Made Their Mark: An Illustrated History of the Society of Woman Geographers). Davis has appeared on Simply Quilts, a feature program on HGTV, American Quilter on Lifetime, and assisted with a film documentary on the history of Hopi Indian quilting produced with support from PBS. In September 2010, she was inducted into the Arizona Quilter's Hall of Fame.

Carolyn will be talking about Goldie Tracy Richmond, a quiltmaker from the Tucson area and how quilts can integrate with family history.

January 13, 2014
Diane M. Freilich, JD

Diane is a duly licensed attorney in the State of Michigan since 1972. In 1997 she became active in family research, finding family members throughout the United States, United Kingdom and all the way to Zimbabwe. Diane has been a guest lecturer on several topics since 2005. These lectures have been presented to local genealogical societies, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and at conferences for International Association of Jewish Genealogical Associations and the Genealogy SIG of the Sun City Grand Computer Club as well as the DAR National Society, Sun City West, Estrella Chapter. Diane sits on the Board of her local Genealogical Society in Michigan for the past 15 years.

Legal records are often overlooked as a valuable source of family history. The purpose of this lecture is threefold: 1) to eliminate intimidation of the legal system 2) to discuss availability of public documents in the courthouse and 3) to motivate the researcher. The focus will be on the following aspects of the legal system [predominately at the state level]: Civil records including family law and criminal law; Register of Deeds including deeds and plats of land; Probate records with an emphasis on wills and estates.

December 9, 2013

Holiday Traditions in Other Lands

Various members of our society will be giving three to four minute talks about how the holidays are celebrated in other lands.

November 11, 2013
Suzanne Brayer

Suzanne attended Indiana University and received her BS and MA degrees from Arizona State University. A member of West Valley Genealogical Society, Suzanne has also held offices in the Family History Society of Arizona where she is the current president and where she also volunteers and gives talks. Suzanne has been active in the genealogy field for more than 25 years.

Suzanne will talk about the Wills and Probates process and the mother lode of clues left to aid our trek along the ancestral trail. Decedent's date of death, names of spouse and children, in-laws, places of residence, land ownership, religion, and military service are just a few of the juicy tidbits these records can reveal. Click here for the handout.

Election of Board Members.

October 14, 2013
Dr. Eduardo Pagan

Eduardo Pagán, began his college career at Mesa Community College. His many degress include an M.A. from the University of Arizona, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University. Dr. Pagán is currently a co-host of History Detectives on PBS. He has served as a panelist for the Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Arizona Humanities Council.

At ASU's West campus, Dr. Pagán teaches classes including "Constitutional History of the U.S.," "The Hispanic Southwest," "American Indians," and "Historical Methods."

Sep 9, 2013
Duane Roen

Duane Roen is Professor of English at Arizona State University, where he serves as Assistant Vice Provost for University Academic Success, as well as Head of Interdisciplinary and Liberal Studies in the School of Letters and Sciences.

He is the coordinator of the Project for Writing and Recording Family History (  He has published nine books, and he has authored more than 250 articles, chapters, and conference presentations. Click here here for handout

Duane has compiled a database with more than 32,000 family members.
He will discuss the family experiences that offer rich material for writing and will share strategies for beginning, including a hands-on activity that will get participants writing about a memorable family member, place, or event (so please bring paper and pen)

May 13, 2013

Chuck Filteau

Chuck Filteau is a self-taught family historian whose research has produced 11,000 direct descendants of Pierre Filtreau and 90,000 people who are the inlaws of the Filteau (and other spelling variations) families in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and France. Chuck works with the WVGS Computer Equipment Committee and also teaches classes at WVGS.

Click here for Meeting Handout.

Discover the variety of records and material that are available for Canadian research!
You'll learn many French surnames were Anglicized as phonetic variations or as a transformation of the French word into English.
Chuck will enhance your detective skills when confronted with records written in another language which may contain errors that hinder your efforts.

April 8, 2013

Daniela Moneta
Daniela is the Genealogy Head of the McClelland Irish Library in Phoenix. She has a Master of Library Information Studies from the University of California, and holds Certified Genealogist and CG Lecturer designations.
Click herefor Meeting Handout.

 Daniela will present a review of the Library content and the various collections, including a photo tour of the premises, and description of the Library's activities. Learn what resources are available to do genealogical research on your Irish ancestors.

March 11, 2013

Dr. John Kohl (AKA Jacob Cumley)
Dr. Kohl retird as Dean and Professor Emeritus at Montana State University. Dr. Kohl is active with the Sons of Union Veterans-Picachio Peak Camp, the Sun Cities Civil War Round Table, the Scottsdale Civil War Round Table, and other organizations.
Click here here for handout

 Dressed as a Civil War soldier, Dr. Kohl will be Private/Hospital Stewart Jacob Cumley as he continues the story of the remainder of the war from the viewpoint of the ordinary soldier.

February 11, 2013

Bruce Nelson
Mr. Nelson grew up in Mesa, is an artist and performer throughout the theater & film industry in AZ. Mr. Nelson is part of the Arizona Legacy Project.

 Mr. Nelson will enlighten us with stories of growing up in the Washington Park neighborhood of Mesa.

January 14, 2013

Jean White

Jean is a life member, past president and one of our teachers

 Have you found that you can't access vital records or there are no vital records for the time period your ancestors lived? Do you wonder what your ancestor's did for entertainment? You'll find this information and more in the local newspaper.

December 10, 2012

Goffrey D. Rasmussen
Mr. Rasmussen is a Brigham Young University graduate with a degree in Genealogy and Family History, former Director and Vice President of the Utah Genealogical Assocation, developer of the Legacy Family Tree software program and host of the Legacy Family Tree webninar series, and recently in receipt of the Distinguished Presenter Award at the Salt Lake City RootsTech conference.

 Cemeteries Go Digital
Mr. Rasmussen will demonstrate how to search and contribute to the best cemetery sites online--Find A Grave, BillionGraves, and Resting Spot. New technology for mobile devices(tablets and smart phones) contribute to these online mega-sources.

November 12, 2012

AAUW Suffragists
Presented by the Northwest Valley Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW)

First person accounts of 5 women who where instrumental in pursuing the right to vote.

October 8, 2012

Don Shields
Shields grew up in Hoopeston, Illinois, a rural community much like that in which Governor Hunt was raised in Missouri. He graduated from Eureka College with a degree in Theatre and went on to successful careers in teaching, coaching, and broadcasting.

"Reenactment of Governor Hunt”

September 10, 2012













Betty Cook

Betty was born and educated in Southwestern Wisconsin; she has been researching fourteen family lines for the past thirty years.


She teaches and lectures on several genealogical topics. She is past President of several genealogy organizations and is currently the President of the Arizona Genealogical Advisory Board.

Vital Records Alternatives

WVGS is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit, (tax ID #23-7420438) organization; gifts are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.