Genealogy may be about very old information but the modern Internet is helping to make that information more and more accessible, says Central Alberta family history specialist Peter Darby.
Darby, and his wife Linda, teach classes in genealogy and help people discover their family history. Both are active members of the Red Deer Branch of the Alberta Genealogy Society, which along with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is sponsoring the Red Deer RootsTech Family History Fair on April 8.
Free genealogy workshops and instruction are available from 9:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. that day. Local family history educators and pre-recorded speakers will be offered at the Family History Centre, which is located at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Red Deer at 3002 47th Ave.
Bit-by-bit, more and more historical information is becoming accessible through the Internet, Darby said. In what he calls a “breakthrough”, Alberta recently put indexed vital statistics — including birth, marriage and death records — online through the Provincial Archives of Alberta.
To protect the privacy of people, birth records aren’t available until 120 years after a birth, 75 years after a marriage, and 50 years after a death, Darby said.
There is a very special feeling that comes when people learn about their family history and solve family mysteries, he said. “You want to know about your family.”
Darby became interested in genealogy in 1969 when he was still in England and wanted more information about his grandmother. He never knew his father’s mother who died while his father was away fighting in the Second World War. His father couldn’t tell him when she died or where she was buried.
The last name is very common in parts of England and it took him almost 20 years to find her grave.
The upcoming Family History Fair already has about 100 registrants. Register online at rdroots.wordpress.com.