Presenting local family history

The Crook County Genealogical Society hosts monthly events where local families present their history in the community


by: KEVIN SPERL  - Bowman Museum Collection Care Manager Brittany Shunk explains how she manages the archival storage room at the museum.

Nancy Noble admits to visiting the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' family history library in Salt Lake City once a year and easily getting lost in its archives.

“The problem with that library, is that it is so overwhelming and the amount of information there is so huge,” said Noble, a volunteer with the Bend Genealogical Society. “My legs turn to jelly and I drool when I enter the door. My brain goes completely soft and I start running around wildly. I waste a lot of time because I haven’t organized my search and planned ahead for what I am looking for.”

Noble admits that she should know better since she teaches others how to be prepared for embarking on such a genealogical journey. She will speak to the subject at the August meeting of the Crook County Genealogical Society at the Bowman Museum.

For 10 months of the year, excepting July and December, the society invites experts in the field of genealogical research to speak to its members and the public.

Society Vice-President Jim Dutchuk said that the meetings are a forum for local residents to share their family's history.

“We look for people who have lived here a long time or have a past history with Crook County,” he said. “ We want to hear about their forebears.”

Nobel, a long-time genealogist who volunteers her time assisting historical writers with their research, will provide pointers for those seeking information about their ancestors.

“Anyone who wants to go to Salt Lake City and do research at the LDS library should try to attend,” she suggested. “I will talk about how to prepare for on-site research. If you are traveling, you can have your ducks in a row before you leave.”

Noble explained that the LDS library is the largest library of its type in the world, with five floors of information from around the world.

“It pays to know, before you go, what it is you hope to find and where it will be located,” she said. “There are online maps of what is on each floor and the catalog is online as well. Anytime a researcher goes to the library, it behooves them to check the catalog to see what they have.”

Bowman Museum Collections Care Manager Brittany Shunk is scheduled to speak to the society in September and will explain how the museum manages its historical collection.

Shunk is responsible for the care of all items in the museum, whether they are on display or in storage.

“I am part of a committee that sorts through items we receive to decide if they will become part of the collection or go back to their owners,” she said. “ If approved, we take the items through a process of getting them logged into our accession book.”

With thousands of items in storage and the same number on display, Shunk keeps track of donor names and items received via specialized museum software, storing items not on display using archival materials.

Shunk also supervises museum volunteers, training them to handle artifacts and manage the museum's ongoing computerization project.

“We now have about 25 volunteers, which is a fairly large number for this size museum,” said Shunk. “But, we are about 10 years behind on our digitization project and can always use more help.”

Shunk is also hoping to implement a cross training program so that research and collection volunteers can help out in either area.

“People get sick or are not able to make it, so I want all volunteers to have a basic understanding of each department.” she said.

Shunk already has her eye on Veterans Day, when she hopes to build a display from the museum's extensive collection of WWII military uniforms, much like her feature of historic weddings gowns currently underway.

Dutchuk hopes both speakers generate interest in the community for joining the society.

“We could use some new members,” he said. “We are getting rather low on our membership list.”

The LDS Family Library catalog is available at familysearch.org/catalog-search.

The Genealogical Society meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Community Room at the Bowman Museum. Memberships are available for $10 for a single membership and $15 for a couple. For more information, contact the museum at 541-447-3715 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For information about volunteering at the museum, contact Brittany Shunk at 541-447-3715 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




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