Welcome you to the website of the Fairfax Genealogical Society (FxGS)! The Society provides education and training for family history researchers in the Fairfax County, Virginia, area. Although based in Fairfax, many of our members are not native to the area and so our research endeavors are not restricted to local genealogy. Indeed our interests are national and international in scope as may be reflected in the breadth of our varied Special Interest Groups (SIGs). We invite you to join us for our next program and, of course, we would love for you to consider membership in our Society.
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Early Bird Registration Closes Soon!
Early bird registration for the 2020 FxGS Spring Conference closes on March 1, 2020! For more information, visit our conference page
If you are an FxGS member, don't forget to log-in to the Member's Only section
to obtain your discount code! Additional information will be posted to FxGS.org very soon!
A Letter from the President
I am writing to you about two key topics that the Board has been focusing on recently: increasing our membership and improving our finances. The two subjects are related, of course. The more members we have, the more we take in from membership dues. Attracting new members can require expenses that we need to be sure our financial situation can support.
Our membership numbers haven’t changed much in recent years while our expenses have increased, especially for our large spring conferences. These conferences have been losing money for us consistently over the last ten years. Facility costs, in particular, have risen quite a bit, and attendance has not increased to make up for that. We have reached a point where we can no longer absorb these losses. Do we raise the cost of membership? Do we increase the price of conference attendance?
If you follow genealogy news, you know that many other Societies are having similar challenges. Just last year, the Southern California Genealogical Society announced that it was going to re-evaluate the future of its annual Jamboree. There are probably lots of reasons for this trend. Foremost is the internet, which provides a wide variety of educational platforms such as genealogy websites, YouTube videos, webinars, and Facebook groups. Many of these are available for free.
Societies have responded to the declining financial numbers in conferences with different strategies: In New England, many organizations are working together to put on a large conference. Other organizations are reducing or cutting out their large conferences. Because the NGS conference will be held in Richmond in May 2021, the Board has already decided not to put on a large conference that Spring. We will take advantage of this hiatus to evaluate what kind of events we should organize.
There are lots of options to consider: we could reduce the scope of our conference or perhaps hold a series of events like our Fall Fair instead; we could join with other groups such as the Mount Vernon Genealogical Society in staging these events. We can look for other venues besides hotels to save money. Do we alternate years for holding larger events? All of these are under consideration.
In addition, if we are to continue holding large events, we will need someone to come forward to lead these efforts. Pam Moore is stepping aside as Conference Chair after this year’s conference. We greatly appreciate the work she has done in the past few years.
As we are considering how to change our approach to conferences, we will look for other ways to improve our income. Our members have been very generous to the Stern-NARA fund and the Virginia Room. We will also be encouraging people to give directly to the Society.
Of course, we will continue to look for ways to reduce expenses. For example, we are considering whether to transition to the electronic distribution of the Newsletter, as some other societies have done. The cost of printing and mailing the newsletter is not insignificant.
Most importantly, we want to support and build our membership by enhancing your experience with the Society. We want to offer a wide variety of exciting and informative programs. We also want to make sure there are plenty of ways for you to get involved with the Society, including our Special Interest Groups, our new initiative to scan Civil War Pension files at the National Archives, even the Cemetery Preservation project that you heard about at the January membership meeting.
The Board is very interested in hearing your thoughts on these two very distinct but related issues: how to make your membership more worthwhile and how to improve our finances so that we can be around for many years to come! Feel free to contact me
or any of our Board members with your thoughts.
President, Fairfax Genealogical Society
February 2020 FxGS Programs
Join us for our upcoming meetings!
Friday, February 21, at 7:30 p.m.
Dunn Loring Volunteer Fire Station Hall, 2148 Gallows Road, Vienna, VA
Charles S. “Chuck” Mason, Jr. will present "The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). The GAR was a fraternal organization for men who served in the Union Military during the Civil War. Founded in 1866 in Springfield, Illinois, hundreds of local posts were founded predominately in states loyal to the Union. Peaking in 1890 with more than 490,000 members and was finally dissolved in 1956 with the death of the last member. GAR records, such as those available on FamilySearch
, consists of registers, lists, minute books, account books and descriptive books of local posts (chapters). The descriptive books include the town of residence, military unit, date of enlistment, date of discharge, age and birthplace.
Saturday, February 22, at 10:30 a.m.
City of Fairfax Regional Library, Conf. Rm. A/B, 10360 North Street, Fairfax, VA.
(NOTE: This meeting will begin 30 minutes later than usual on account of the library's 10 a.m. opening time.)
Renate Yarborough Sanders, genealogist, will present two sessions. The first is "Researching Enslaved Ancestors." It’s often said that “there’s no such thing as a slave record”, however, many records which document the lives of the formerly-enslaved, do exist! The presenter will share several commonly-used documents for slave research and will model how to locate and extract information about the formerly-enslaved. The second session is titled, "Finding Calvin: Following my Formerly-Enslaved Ancestor." In this case study, Yarborough Sanders demonstrates, step-by-step, how she first discovered her ancestor's status as enslaved, and then, using exhaustive research techniques, followed him through 25 years of enslavement with four different owners. Participants will learn to use specific documents for identifying and documenting the lives of formerly-enslaved individuals.
FxGS's Char McCargo Bah Named to Reparations Team
Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) announced on September 5, 2019, that it would begin a reparations program targeted specifically towards descendants of enslaved persons who worked on the campus and of African Americans who were employed by the seminary during the Jim Crow era. VTS has put together a reparations research team to locate descendants of those who worked at the Seminary from 1827 to 1951. In the fall of 2019, three professional genealogists were added to the team: Char McCargo Bah, Nathania (Nay) Branch-Miles, and Elizabeth Drembus.
Bah is a native Alexandrian who worked on the Alexandria Freedmen Cemetery Project and who is working on the Ramsay Homes’ Descendant Project. She is a member of FxGS and the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS), and they are chapter members of Prince George’s AAHGS. In addition to conducting archival research with the aim of documenting descendants’ connections to VTS, the team will be reaching out to descendants in order to research their families’ records and oral traditions regarding their ancestors’ experiences at the Seminary. For additional information on this program, you can read the full release at https://www.vts.edu/news-detail?pk=1304648&fromId=219659
(Photo from vts.edu.)
Rest in Peace, Chuck Novak (1947 - 2019)
It is great sadness that the Fairfax Genealogical Society shares the passing of longtime member Chuck Novak
on December 13, 2019. Chuck was a fixture for many years on the FxGS Board of Directors, most recently serving as Conference Chair. Beyond his tangible contributions, his humor, positive spirit, and love of genealogy made the Society a better organization.
Born on October 21, 1947, in Charleroi, Pennsylvania he was the son of the late Charles Anthony Novak, Sr and the late Hannah Ann Hoffman-Novak.
Chuck worked as an IT Manager for the Federal Government for 35+ years. More recently he was an election officer with Fairfax County Office of Elections. Prior to his time with the government, Chuck served his country as a member of the United States Navy from 1967-1971 where he received a National Defense Service Medal. He enjoyed spending time and vacationing with this family as well as gardening and landscaping. He was also actively involved in the National Genealogical Society where he was a past president of the Virginia Chapter. Chuck also was instrumental in the creation of Reston Youth Baseball where he served as its inaugural commissioner in 1976 and leading that organization in the following years. He was a faithful servant of Christ and a long-time member of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Herndon, VA holding titles such as Clerk of Session and Elder. He also had an unbridled passion for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pirates and Penguins and the West Virginia Mountaineers.
He was predeceased by his parents, Charles Anthony Novak, Sr and Hannah Ann Hoffman-Novak. He is survived by his wife Candace; his children, Alan Novak (Jan) and Erin Novak Ritter; his grandchildren, Stacy, Benjamin, Jackson and Nathan; his siblings, Michael Novak (Susan), Pam Andrew (Butch) and Debbie Bailey (Ron). He is also survived by many other aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, family, and friends.
A final memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 21, 2019, at 11 AM at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 651 Dranesville Road, Herndon, VA. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Trinity Presbyterian Church Memorial Fund.
African American Genealogy is Newest FxGS SIG
FxGS is pleased to welcome the African American Genealogy Special Interest Group, started by the Virginia Room of the City of Fairfax Regional Library, into the Society as the newest Special Interest Group. The SIG will explore areas of research unique to the African American community, including how using census records, Reconstruction and Freedman Bureau records, plantation records, slave schedules, and other record groups can reveal information about African American ancestors.
The African American Genealogy SIG will meet from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Centreville Regional Library, 14200 St. Germain Dr., Centreville, VA. Meetings begin on March 16 and will occur on the 3rd Thursday of every other month (complete schedule here). For more information, contact SIG leader and Virginia Room librarian Laura Wickstead at email@example.com.
Image source: Ritton, E. D., photographer. (ca. 1880) African American baseball team, Danbury, Connecticut. Connecticut Danbury, ca. 1880. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2008677253/.
January 2020 Newsletter Available
The January 2020 issue of the FxGS newsletter is available in the Member's section
. This edition contains some wonderful news and stories from FxGS events and our Special Interest Groups. Included in this issue:
- Thank you to our volunteers!
- FxGS Donations to the Virginia Room
- A remembrance of our friend, Chuck Novak
- Information on the Spring Conference
If you have research, a story, a trip report, or a photograph that you'd like to share with your fellow members, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you shop on Amazon.com?
Did you know that the shopping you do on Amazon.com can benefit the Fairfax Genealogical Society? Amazon.com operates AmazonSmile that lets customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on Amazon.com. The difference is that when customers shop on AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com
), the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the Fairfax Genealogical Society or another registered charity of your choice.
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Fairfax Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 2290
Family History Writing SIG
03/04/2020 - 7:00 pm
Genetic Genealogy SIG: AncestryDNA’s ThruLines
Kilmer Middle School, Room H-108, 8100 Wolftrap Road, Vienna, VA
03/09/2020 - 7:00 pm
FxGS Executive Board Meeting
Kilmer Middle School, 8100 Wolftrap Road, Vienna, VA 22027