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SEMINAR - Family History 101

Saturday, October 14, 2023, 9:00 AM until 2:30 PM Pacific Time (US & Canada) (UTC-08:00)
VGS Learning and Research Centre
209 - 4475 Viewmont Avenue
Victoria, BC  V8Z 6L8

Additional Info:
Event Coordinator(s):
Mark D Thompson
Seminar Coordinator
Registration is required
Payment In Full In Advance Only
Please arrive 15 minutes early to get settled, so the event can start on time.
Available Slots:

Get your family history journey off to a great start!  Join four experienced family historians on an engaging half-day journey through the most important topics and tools in family history.  They will help you build good habits early that will set you up for success for years to come. 

This seminar is designed specifically for people new to family history and for people returning to family history after a break from their research.  No prior experience is required. 

Water, Tea, Coffee, and Snacks are provided. 

Lunch is not included with the seminar.  There are several conveniently located food outlets, and a grocery store, within easy walking distance of the genealogy centre.  You may bring your own food or beverage if you wish. 

This is an in-person only event with a maximum of 15 registered attendees.  No recordings will be made of this event.  It will be held at our VGS Centre, located on the second floor. Doors open at 8:30 am, and the seminar will begin at 9:00 am.  Speakers will also be in-person. 

Attending non-members, who also register as VGS members on the day of the seminar, will be given a one-time $20 discount off their annual membership. 

This seminar includes four 1-hour sessions, with 10-minute breaks and a 45-minute lunch break between sessions.  

Session-specific handouts, prepared by each speaker, will be provided at the beginning of the seminar as a handout. 

Session Descriptions 

Session 1: Start Your Family History Research Off Right – Pat Acton - 9:10 am

Pat will cover the most important topics you need to know to get your family history research started in the right direction. 

Session 2: Find and Use the Most Important Genealogy Records – Gerry Poulton - 10:20 am

Vital records are the cornerstone of successful family history research projects.  Gerry will introduce you to key examples of vital records and show you how to find and effectively use them in your family history research.   

Session 3: Organize Your Genealogy Information for Success – Sarah Hamster - 12:05 pm

Keeping you and your records organized will be a critically important part of your genealogy success.  Sarah will show you how to organize your family history information so that it is at your fingertips when you need it most. 

Session 4: Use DNA To Help Build Your Family Tree - Mark Thompson - 1:15 pm

One of the most useful clues to figuring out your family history is inside of you right now.  Mark will introduce you to DNA testing and show you how this cutting-edge technology can help you shed light on your family histories and mysteries. 

Speaker Bios

Pat Acton
Pat Acton is the current President of the Victoria Genealogical Society. Her genealogical journey spans over 20 years and covers research from Saskatchewan to Scotland and Ireland to Prussia. Patricia has exceptional knowledge to share, bolstered by her completion of about 50 classes from the Institute of Genealogical Studies, associated with the University of Toronto. Beyond her formal education, Patricia also shares her insights and discoveries through her blog,, and has penned several family histories.

Gerry Poulton 
Gerry Poulton began genealogy research over thirty years ago in the days of microfilm. Gerry is now a member of several genealogical societies and volunteers at the Victoria Genealogical Society’s Learning and Research Centre. Gerry has presented workshops on a variety of genealogy topics for more than fifteen years. Gerry’s research specialties are the lands where his own ancestors hailed from: England, Ireland, Germany, and Ontario. Gerry was born and raised in Saskatchewan and taught Chemistry at the University of Victoria for nearly 40 years. 

Sarah Hamster
Sarah Hamster is a veteran genealogist with over 30 years of experience. She has been an active member of the Victoria Genealogical Society for over 20 years. Sarah is recognized for her expertise in organizing genealogical records, helping bring order to the often-chaotic pursuit of family history. Currently, Sarah is elevating her skills by pursuing a certification in Eastern European genealogy from the International Institute of Genealogical Studies.

Mark Thompson 
Mark is a professional genealogist, the Vice President of the Victoria Genealogical Society (VGS), and the chair of the VGS DNA Special Interest Group. He is also a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists.  Mark uses genetic and traditional genealogical research methods, combined with a deep understanding of information technology and analysis, to help his clients shed light on their family histories and mysteries.  Mark speaks regularly on a variety of genealogy-related topics.  Mark’s blog can be found at