The Importance of Genealogy Workshops

Attending a genealogy workshop can

  • reignite your research.
  • provide you with more contacts of individuals with similar interest.
  • introduce you to new resources.
  • expose you to new methods of researching.

Have you heard of TL:DR? This is what may happen when confronted with a long dissertation to read in your family history research. It is TOO LONG therefore DIDN’T READ.

Attending a workshop on a specific group in your family line can give you a more personal connection and some specifics you may have missed due to TL:DR.

  • you may find a new friend and/or a new to you cousin.

This past week my husband and I spent three days in Leavenworth Washington attending workshops on “The Volga Germans”, presented by Concordia University Center for Volga German Studies (CVGS).

Leavenworth Washington
Leavenworth Washington

Leavenworth is situated on the eastern side of the Cascade mountains on US Hwy 2. It was a very appropriate setting for our German Heritage workshops since the picturesque town is styled like a Bavarian village.

This year is the 250th anniversary of the beginning  trek of many immigrating Germans to the Volga River area in Russia. CVGS is puting on 9 events around the country as a celebration for this auspicious anniversary. They have four  more coming up between June and the end of October. For more information visit their website at  I suggest if you have any Volga Germans in your family tree you should try to attend one of these upcoming events. This particular workshops gave

  •  an overview of the History of why our ancestors may have made the decision to accept “Catharine the Great’s” invitation to immigrate to Russia in the 1760’s.
  • What the geography of the region tells us.
  • A sampling of the food that our ancestors traditionally made.
  • The Volga Germans of  South America.
  • the 1941 Deportation.

I had read several books on the Volga Germans and done some research on my own in libraries and online in addition to asking my mother-in law questions. I was very interested in the history and the family connections to this remote region in southwestern USSR even though the connection is my husbands maternal grandparents. It was to me very interesting, yet I was not seeing the interest and enthusiasm when I shared what I learned with my husband Roy.

Last year I did  blogs on Johann Christoph Bender  and Nicholas Schneider. These were Roy’s original immigrants to the Volga River region. I was able to trace the lines through the 1857, 1834 and 1764-67 census’ for the Kratzke colony. These census provided some great information but unfortunately few maiden names. So I had gone to the workshops hoping to discover a means of determining the maiden names in these lines.

At this conference I not only learned  a great deal more from an expert on the Volga Germans, but my husband, who is not a genealogist and has limited interest, was an enthusiastic and captivated participant.  The whipped cream on this dessert was that we met several distant cousins. Now the cherry on top was the main speaker Dr. Brent Mai.

Dr. Brent Mai
Dr. Brent Mai

Dr. Mai sat down with us and shared his family research where it tied into my husbands line. He had some of those maiden names that I was looking for and footnotes indicating an 1897 census as a source. That census was after our Benders had left Russia but not all of the family left for America. Another reminder that there is more to be found in an area even once your family has moved on.

I had the family lines back six generations and Dr. Mai has two lines back 14 generations. Not a Schneider or a Bender but I now have more clues  and lots more to work on in this very interesting branch that has developed into a huge segment of the Bender family tree.