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30 March 2019 all-day
Ridgewood Public Library
125 N Maple Ave
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
Sara Kiefer, Ridgewood Public Library

GSBC Special Event + Open House

Saturday, 30 March 2019
Ridgewood Public Library Auditorium and Bolger Heritage Center
FREE—All are Welcome. Bring the Family. Bring a Friend.

Have you been curious as to who might be in your family tree? Intrigued about DNA testing? Wondering what family treasures may be at your fingertips? Join the Genealogical Society of Bergen County as we present a special day of family history fun—and experience how interesting researching your family can be.

You don't have to have Bergen County ancestors to join us! We help researchers studying their ancestry—wherever it takes them—offering hands-on research help, educational and entertaining programs, and resources and advice. We are thrilled to welcome new family researchers and help everyone grow their knowledge and research skills. (Warning, researching your family can be addictive!)

In addition, we help support FREE resources at the Ridgewood Public library, including access to subscription websites such as, hands-on Genealogy Consultants, books and research magazines and materials, programs and events, tech classes, and more.

Whether you are curious about your family, are already researching, want to boost your skills, or be inspired by new ideas—don't miss this exceptional event. We have an entire day of interesting talks, free consultations, and introduction to resources to jump-start your research and inspire you.

  • Five presentations in the Ridgewood Public Library Auditorium—representing some of our most popular, interesting, and helpful topics and speakers. Talks include Getting Started, Heirloom Genealogy, DNA Testing, Apps and Technology, and Immigration through Ellis Island.
  • Free one-on-one genealogy consultations (up to 30-minutes each) with expert genealogists to answer your questions and help you with your research.
  • A tour of the Bolger Heritage Center resources—including publications, technology, microfilm, original research materials, local histories, photographs, and one-of-a-kind treasures in the archives.
  • Family-friendly worksheets and activities to get your family talking about their history.
  • Networking with experts and other researchers so you can build your knowledge and connections (and you might find some cousins, too!).
  • Free and open to the public—all are welcome.

The Genealogical Society of Bergen County, NJ, (GSBC) is an educational non-profit dedicated to helping people discover their family history and grow their research skills. Since 1973, our Society has been providing educational events, collecting original research, managing research resources, and publishing information and "how-to" resources about genealogical research.

Presentation Schedule + Bolger Library and Archives Tour

Join us for the whole day so you don't miss a thing! (Schedule may be subject to change—please check back.)

Time Topic
11:00 am
Ridgewood Public Library

Beginning Your Genealogical Journey—Don't Start with Ancestry! Believe it or not, there is much more about your family out there than what you will find on! Join professional genealogist and GSBC Vice President Lauren Maehrlein as she provides tips to make a strong start with your family history research—drawing on decades of experience in researching her family, in the old country and new, and, in her professional capacity, researching for others around the world.

[30 minutes; 15 minute Q&A / coffee break between sessions.]

11:45 am
Ridgewood Public Library

Heirloom Genealogy—Family Treasures Can Tell a Story A piece of china. A string of pearls. A family Bible. The precious items we inherit from our ancestors can tell us a lot about who they were and how they lived. Professional genealogist and GSBC Vice President Lauren Maehrlein will show some family treasures that "speak" to her and help you understand what your heirlooms might mean.

[30 minutes; 15 minute Q&A / coffee break between sessions.]

12:30 pm
Ridgewood Public Library

DNA Testing—What's It All About? You've seen the commercials. You've heard about the controversies. Can DNA testing really help you find your family? Join professional genealogist and GSBC Education Chair Fred Voss as he walks us through the world of DNA research—what it can do, what it can't, and which tests should be used with different family members. Whether you are new to DNA, just curious, or already testing, the field is always changing—and this talk is vital to keeping up with it. 

[30 minutes; 15 minute Q&A / coffee break between sessions.]

1:15 pm
Ridgewood Public Library

Getting Your Family Into Family History—There's an App for That! Collecting your family's stories can be a lot of work. There always seems to be documents and photos to scan, people to contact, things to look up, and cousins to connect with. Professional genealogist and GSBC President Barbara Ellman will show you how new technology—which those youngins are so adept with—can help you capture your family's stories, organize what you have, and share it with the world. 

[30 minutes; 15 minute Q&A / coffee break between sessions.]

2:00 pm
Ridgewood Public Library

So, Grandma Came through Ellis Island? When not teaching, professional genealogist and GSBC Education Chair Fred Voss changes hats, literally, serving as a Hard-Hat Tour Guide at Ellis Island. Over the years he's heard dozens of stories about those who came through Ellis Island—and the joys, sorrows, and hardships they experienced along the way. He'll share some of these stories while providing a peek into what the immigration process was really like, and how the records created can help you unlock your ancestor's story. 

[30 minutes; 15 minute Q&A / coffee break between sessions.]

3:00 pm
Bolger Heritage Center and Archives
Ridgewood Public Library

Treasures at the Bolger Heritage Center—Library and Archives Tour Did you know that you have a world-class genealogy and local history library and archives right in Ridgewood? Since 2011, the Ridgewood Public Library has been home to the Bolger Heritage Center—a collection of materials about Bergen County, its towns, history, and people. Additionally, the Bolger also holds guides to assist with all kinds of family history research, original research materials (found nowhere else), maps and directories, and other wonderful resources waiting to be discovered.

Bergen County Historical Society Trustee and Local History expert Peggy W. Norris, who also served as the Bolger's librarian until her recent retirement, will give small groups an exclusive look at the resources and materials in the Bolger's archives. (Note that additional tours may be added to accommodate guests—so please RSVP so we can gauge interest and plan accordingly.) 

Please RSVP (for space-planning purposes) >


Lunch Options

Please note that lunch is on your own and plan ahead. You can bring a bagged lunch with you or visit the shopping plaza across the street from the Ridgewood Public Library where options include: Ridgewood Hot Bagels (and deli), La Bella Pizza, and to-go sandwiches and salads at King's Food Market. Cafe tables and a vending machine are located just outside the auditorium. (Additional seating is also available outside—great for a warm day!).

We will also have complimentary hot coffee and tea, water, and cookies on hand throughout the day.

Please limit food and beverages to the auditorium and welcome area. Absolutely no food or drink is permitted inside the Bolger Heritage Center or Tech Room. Thank you for your cooperation.


Genealogy Consultations

Get advice on your tree, research resources, or ideas for breaking through your brick-wall problems with FREE one-on-one help.

All our consultants can help beginners as well as experienced researchers, guide you in the use of the Genealogy and Local History Reference collections at the Bolger Heritage Center, and help you break through your brick-walls. If you need assistance with a specific area not listed, contact us and we will match you as best we can with an expert in that area.

Note that consultants are regularly available at the Bolger Heritage Center for additional consultation or advice follow-up. Please see the calendar at

Time slots are limited to 30-minutes per person on the day, are booked in the order they are requested, and time will be at the discretion of the researcher and depending on their schedule and other commitments. Please limit your request to one consultation time slot.

Consultation Time 
11:00 am–11:30 am @ Bolger Heritage Center
11:30 am–12:00 pm @ Bolger Heritage Center
12:00 pm–12:30 pm @ Bolger Heritage Center
12:30 pm–1:00 pm @ Bolger Heritage Center
1:00 pm–1:30 pm @ Bolger Heritage Center
1:30 pm–2:00 pm @ Bolger Heritage Center
2:00 pm–2:30 pm @ Bolger Heritage Center
2:30 pm–3:00 pm @ Bolger Heritage Center


Press Contact

Michelle D. Novak,

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