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05 November 2015

Meet the Genealogy Teacher: Maureen Hanlon

 Get to know our instructor, Maureen Hanlon, who is teaching the Census Records class in our on-going, 4-part Beginning Genealogy series.

Why did you start researching your genealogy?
During her last few years, my mom was housebound, so when I visited her (and to avoid watching golf tournaments on television with her) I started asking her questions about her family.  She wondered aloud as to what had happened to her grandmother’s four sisters.  They all came to San Francisco with their parents in the 1850’s from Ireland via Australia.  I started talking to some other relatives, found a few census records and got totally hooked.

What did you need to learn?
I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so I just plunged in and made many mistakes, mostly not tracking what I’d found.  So I duplicated a lot of effort.  In fact, I must have looked at some records three or four times.  “I wish I’d found CGS sooner, taken Vinnie Schwarz’ beginner class, learned about setting a discrete goal and documented, documented, documented...” 

What were some of your first experiences with the California Genealogical Society?
In 2008, I attended their event, “A Day of Irish Information”, with Nora Hickey of County Cork, Ireland.  I met Jane Lindsey and several others there and thought, “I really like these people! They talk my language.” 

So what did I do?  I joined the California Genealogical Society that day.  It turned out that the library was a few blocks from where I worked, so I visited and then volunteered for Desk Duty.  I’ve learned so much doing it and you never get the same question twice.  “You know what’s great about the place?  After joining, I realized my initial impressions of the people were spot-on and I’ve made a lot of new friends.”

What do you hope someone new to genealogy research will get from your Census Records class in the 4-part Beginning Genealogy series?
We’re really trying to help everybody get off to a great start and avoid the pitfalls some of us have had to learn the hard way.  We want new genealogists to know that there’s some discipline involved, as well as motivate them with the excitement and satisfaction of finding the right records.  “It’s always satisfying to add a new layer to your family tree.”

Any last thoughts on genealogy?
It has really expanded my world...literally.  “I took a course in Northern Ireland this past September and without the genealogy impetus, I wouldn’t have seen that beautiful part of the world.”

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