Telling Your Family’s Story: A Beginner’s Workshop at NHM


New Haven, Conn. (March 8, 2021) – Every family has stories of past generations’ triumphs and hardships, joys and sorrows. Those yearning to collect and share their family’s history are invited to join Connecticut author Jill Marie Snyder for the New Haven Museum presentation of “Telling Your Family’s Story: A Beginner’s Workshop” via Zoom on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, at 6 p.m. Register here.

A follow up to Snyder’s popular New Haven Museum (NHM) lecture, “Dear Mary, Dear Luther: A Courtship in Letters,” the free workshop offers a step-by-step guide to genealogical research and the documentation of past generations. Snyder says she understands many people have an interest in doing research but find it daunting, and don’t know how to begin. She adds, “Others say they’ve visited Ancestry.com and printed a lot of ‘stuff,’ but they don’t know what to do with it.”

To demystify the process, Snyder will share tips and insights she developed while researching her own complex family tree, and the eventual publishing of her award-winning book. She will also demonstrate how she used her family tree and DNA results to solve a long-standing family mystery.

Snyder’s guided workshop begins by defining simple goals. Do budding researchers want to simply build a family tree or they long for a deeper understanding of the life experiences of their ancestors? Subsequent steps include getting organized; developing simple journaling processes; interviewing living relatives; creating a research plan and working with selected resources and DNA data. Along the way, Snyder provides a host of valuable resources and techniques for getting started.

The second half of the workshop examines ways of sharing one’s family history, from a presentation to distribute to family members, to developing a private family Facebook group, to the ultimate genealogical communication—publication of a book.

Snyder’s genealogical journey followed the passing of her mother, Mary, in 2007. Snyder transcribed her parents’ letters in order to fulfill her mother’s wish to someday publish them. Then, to give readers the full context for her parents’ relationship, she began digging for details. led to a better understanding of her parents’ emotional connection, and some surprising discoveries, and it has become her post-retirement mission to show other African Americans the value, and the methodologies, of researching their own family trees.

Snyder notes that the research process and then writing her book led to a deeper understanding of her parents’ emotional connection; both were descended from African Americans who likely escaped enslavement. Her most surprising discovery, Snyder says, was finding her great-great grandfather, Henry Jones’ obituary, which documented his enslavement. “I knew as a person of African descent that I had ancestors who were enslaved,” Snyder says, “But to have a name and a location (Winchester, Virginia), and to learn that he escaped, was very moving.”

Snyder’s recent lecture at NHM, “Dear Mary, Dear Luther: A Courtship in Letters,” can be viewed on the museum’s YouTube page at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKktc5agye4


About Jill Marie Snyder

Retired from a corporate career, Jill Marie Snyder has a B.A. in urban studies from the University of Connecticut and an M.A. in communication from Fairfield University. In addition, she has completed Boston University’s Principles of Genealogy course. Since its founding in 2006, Snyder has served on the board of the Community Healing Network, Inc., supporting Its mission to “mobilize Black people across the African Diaspora to heal from the trauma caused by centuries of anti-Black racism, free ourselves of deadly stereotypes and reclaim our dignity and humanity as people of African descent.” Snyder is currently researching prominent African Americans living in New Haven, Connecticut in the 1800s.

About the New Haven Museum

The New Haven Museum has been collecting, preserving and interpreting the history and heritage of Greater New Haven since its inception as the New Haven Colony Historical Society in 1862. Located in downtown New Haven at 114 Whitney Avenue, the Museum brings more than 375 years of New Haven history to life through its collections, exhibitions, programs and outreach. As a designated Blue Star Museum, the New Haven Museum offers the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, free admission from Memorial Day through Labor Day. For more information visit www.newhavenmuseum.orgor Facebook.com/NewHavenMuseum or call 203-562-4183.

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