Classes offer hints for capturing family history

Edith C. Webster

Fond memories of a family tradition have Eve Kirk excited about the upcoming series “Thanks for the Memories: Saving Family History.”

“We’ve had a family reunion every Thanksgiving for 84 years,” said Kirk, director of the Cherry Valley Public Library District, which is presenting the series, along with Ida Public Library of Belvidere and Loves Park/Roscoe’s North Suburban Library District.

The free programs, made possible by an Illinois State Library grant, present a variety of ways to record family history.

Cherry Valley Public Library clerk Ruth Bumgardner, for example, will lead sessions on scrapbooking. Other programs focus on storytelling, memoirs/journaling, photojournaling, interviewing/recording and songwriting/poetry.

“Genealogy is one thing, but genealogy is just sort of the skeleton,” Kirk said. “The stories — whether you capture them through storytelling or pictures — that’s what people are curious about.”

Here is the “Saving Family History” schedule, with the experts and multiple locations for each:


Chicago Emmy Award-winning storyteller Jim May illustrates how to turn family heritage and experience into stories.

2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, Cherry Valley

1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, North Suburban-Roscoe

2 p.m. Saturday, April 5, Ida Public, Belvidere


Carrie A. Meyer, an instructor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., shares her experience in saving farm journals and personal diaries from the Winnebago County farm she grew up on.

10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, North Suburban-Loves Park

2:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, Ida Public, Belvidere

2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13, Cherry Valley


Bumgardner, who created a scrapbook for Cherry Valley

Library’s 25th anniversary celebration, teaches how to build effective layouts.

2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, Cherry Valley

2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, North Suburban-Loves Park

10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, Ida Public, Belvidere

1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 8, North Suburban-Roscoe

Photo journaling

Award-winning photographer Fredric M. Johnson, an expert in photo restoration and digital Photoshop, offers advice on preserving family history through images.

2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, Cherry Valley

10 a.m. Saturday, March 15, Belvidere

6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, Roscoe


Veteran TV news anchor Alan Jones shares insight into how to use interviews, words and images.

2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, Belvidere

11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, Loves Park

2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, Cherry Valley


Illinois Arts Council artist-in-residence Jim Kanas, who has performed classical and jazz guitar with jazz legends Pat Metheny and George Benson, gives musical examples of creating family history.

2 p.m. Sunday, March 2, Cherry Valley

2 p.m. Saturday, March 15, Loves Park

7 p.m. Thursday, March 27, Belvidere

Call ahead to reserve a space, as participation is limited.

— By Edith C. Webster

‘Thanks for the Memories’ locations

Cherry Valley Public Library District, 755 E. State St., Cherry Valley; 815-332-5161;

Ida Public Library, 320 N. State St., Belvidere; 815-544-3838;

North Suburban Library District,; Loves Park branch, 6340 N. Second St., 815-633-4247; Roscoe branch, 5562 Clayton Circle, 815-623-6266