The History Center of Lake Forest-Lake Bluff has been home to the community’s stories for more than 45 years. And now, with their state-of-the-art technology that was unveiled last fall, the community can come together to celebrate who we are and how we are connected.
To kick off 2019, the History Center launched, “From Inspiration to Impact,” a genealogy series designed to help people trace, document, and preserve their own family histories.
“We knew that by this year the History Center would be ready to have visitors come in and scan their family photos, as well as write and record their personal stories,” explains Lake Forest’s Katie Hale, board member and director of programming for the center. “We’re planning several scanning days and building a recording studio to capture oral histories, too. Our staff will then edit this information and upload it to our constantly evolving permanent collection. We have so many plans for our new History Center and 2019 is our year to help discover and share each other’s stories.”
Gail Lukasik, author of White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing, opened the History Center’s genealogy series this winter. In her book, Lukasik explores her mother’s decision to hide her mixed race, and the price she paid for choosing to be white. Haunted by her mother’s fear and shame, Lukasik embarks on a quest to uncover her mother’s racial lineage, tracing her family back to 18th-century colonial Louisiana. In coming to terms with her decision to publicly out her mother, Lukasik changed how she looked at race and heritage.
“The History Center provides a place for people to dig a little deeper into their pasts as Gail did,” Hale adds. “In addition to to our online resources and our permanent interactive exhibit, our new Research Center offers unique access to maps, personal papers, documents, club and organization records, and our vast photo collection.”
Last month, the History Center dwelcomed Dr. Daniel Hubbard for a crash course on “Understanding DNA in Family Histories: From 23 and Me to Ancestry.com.” Dr. Hubbard explored the role of DNA in genealogy: what does DNA show? What are the different tests? Why do they tell us different things? Where do the different components of our genetic heritage come from? Who should be tested? How can DNA be used to attack genealogical problems?
The “From Inspiration to Impact” series will continue on Thursday, May 2 with Kenyatta D. Berry, host of PBS’s Genealogy Roadshow and author of The Family Tree Toolkit: A Comprehensive Guide to Uncovering Your Ancestry and Researching Genealogy. The book is designed to help people navigate the sometimes overwhelming, treacherous, and exhilarating waters of finding ancestors. From how and where to begin, and what records are available online and in repositories—to what to do once you find the information, how to share your story, and, or course, how DNA fits in.
“Over the summer, the center’s genealogy programming will be led by our long-time board member, author, former reporter, and friend—Lake Forest’s Mike Conklin,” says Hale. “He’s going to facilitate the ‘Story Project’ where he’ll delve into how to write our personal histories and the best practices for organizing your individual or family stories. There is so much happening at the History Center. If you’ve never stopped by, this is a great time to come see what we’re up to.”
Registration for the genealogy series programs and all other programs and events is available at lflbhistory.org or by calling 847-234-5253. The History Center is located at 509 E. Deerpath Road, Lake Forest.