Irish History Courses in September

The Irish Cultural Center is linking up with Irish historian Sean Murphy to present live, weekly online Irish history courses that will begin in September. The courses will be presented using Zoom which means you can participate from the comfort of your home.

Follow this link for more information:

Please contact Sean directly for information or to enroll in his course(s) – send an email to or call 508-790-0438.   

A Message from WMARE

August 1, 2020

Since the pandemic shows no sign of abating any time soon, we’ve been having some discussions about the short-term direction of Western Mass Roots. We have to assume that classroom training won’t be available to us for the foreseeable future and though we are seeing some cautious reopening of some libraries and city and town record offices, access remains limited for onsite research. Since we have largely been an “in person” group primarily focused on classroom training and publicizing local genealogy events via our newsletter, this leaves us with very little to do. Therefore, after an afternoon of brainstorming, we have decided to temporarily move our focus from “in-person” events to research.

So how will this work? Since there are just a few of us we have to pace ourselves to make sure that we don’t get overwhelmed and can actually fulfill any research requests that we receive. Obviously in the beginning our research will be done online, but we’ll expand into onsite research as facilities open and circumstances allow. We will start with our current mailing list, sending out an email with full details and a research request form to a dozen or so email addresses at a time, inviting people to submit their research requests. The email will include all the information needed to take advantage of our services, but here are general answers to some of the questions you may have:

How much will this cost? We will charge a flat fee of $25.00 per hour for research. You can purchase the research in blocks of time down to the 30 minute level. But here’s the catch: You won’t be paying us. Instead, we are going to ask that you donate your fee to a local charity that provides services to folks in Western Massachusetts. Our “payment” will be a copy of the receipt for your donation. We will provide a list of suggested charities in the forthcoming explanatory email mentioned earlier, but will also happily consider your favorite local charity as well. As a bonus, your donation may be tax deductible.

What will I receive for my donation? We will provide you with PDF copies of all documents we uncover including a PDF of any tree we construct during our research. If construction of a tree is involved, we will also provide you with a GEDCOM file which is the standard format for family tree files and which can be uploaded into most family tree software. A GEDCOM file can also be uploaded to, AncesTrees (from NEHGS), and to

When are you going to send your first email inviting research requests? We are hoping to begin by mid to late August.

So, no more genealogy research classes? Only for now. We plan to resume teaching again as soon as circumstances permit. That’s the core function of our group and we are anxious to resume classes as soon as we can. Until then, we hope we can be of service in a different way by helping folks with their personal research.

What about the WMARE monthly newsletter? We are still working on that one. Without classes or in-person genealogy related events taking place, there is very little to include in a newsletter at the present time. But we promise as soon as we decide on a temporary alternative we’ll let you know. Though we may revamp the format and content a bit depending on long-term circumstances, we have every intention of resuming our newsletter as soon as there is something worthwhile to include.

In the meantime, watch your inboxes for our research request form and explanatory email. We look forward to assisting many of you with your research.

Freedmen’s Bureau Transcription Project

Are you good at reading other people’s handwriting?  Put your skills to the test by helping with the Smithsonian’s transcription of the Freedman’s Bureau Records. These records of the United States Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands tell the story of the post-Civil War transition of enslaved people to freedom. Once transcribed, these letters, contracts, censuses, and marriage and hospital records will be keyword-searchable, giving future generations a chance to reclaim their history.

Anyone can start transcribing; a tutorial and reference documents are provided. You don’t need an account on the site unless you’d like to help review other people’s transcriptions. The activity is addictive, so be prepared to stay up late and miss some Netfix time. These records about post-Emancipation family life will draw you in and give you a unique view of social conditions in the South after the Civil War. Learn more about the project or browse volunteer opportunities.

American Ancestors Library Databases From Home

In addition to the hundreds of databases published by NEHGS and available on, there are databases published by other organizations which NEHGS subscribes to and makes available for its Research and Contributing members to access from home. These databases can be accessed by logging in with your AmericanAncestors username and password.

If you are a member of American Ancestors, this “perk” available during the COVID-19 pandemic could provide a significant addition to your research opportunities.

Check out what’s available at the following link:

Irish Language Classes – Elms College Fall 2020 Semester

Elms College  and the Irish Cultural Center of Western New England are once again offering a variety of Irish Language Classes beginning in September.  This year, however, all classes will be taking place via Zoom instead of in a classroom setting.   This could prove to be advantageous for anyone who might have wanted to take the classes in the past but were reluctant to make the necessary trips to Elms College in Chicopee.

If you’re interested, visit the following link for further information and registration:

Got some time on your hands?

It seems like we all do these days and if you are like us here at WMARE, you are always happy to discover something genealogy related to do.  If you’re interested in a little online genealogy training, check out the webinars available at Legacy Family Tree at the following link

Most are free for a limited period of time, and an annual membership of $49.95 provides access to their entire (and huge) on demand library of previously recorded webinars.

Be sure to check out their listing of upcoming webinars.  All are free to watch “live” and for several days following the broadcast.