Genealogy Day

8:00 AM – 12:30 PM


General Admission $50.00
San Diego History Center Members $40.00
San Diego Genealogical Society Members $40.00


8:00 am: Check-in begins

8:00-8:40 am: Continental breakfast, exhibitors available

8:45-9:45 am: Keynote presentation with Dawn Parrett Thurston

10:15-11:15 am: Session #1

11:15-11:30 am: Break

11:30 am-12:30 pm: Session #2

12:30-1:00 pm: Exhibitors available

2017 Exhibitors:

San Diego Genealogical Society
We are on Facebook at San Diego Genealogical Society

Civil War Round Table

Sons of the American Revolution, San Diego

Chula Vista Genealogical Society

San Diego Family History Center



Unearthing your family’s unique story is like solving a puzzle. Whether you have been researching your family’s history for years or you are just getting ready to start, we have a special program to guide your efforts.

The San Diego History Center and San Diego Genealogical Society are partnering to present the third-annual Genealogy Day on Saturday, October 21, from 8:00am-12:30pm, at the History Center. Dawn Parrett Thurston, author and family historian, will be the keynote speaker. Her topic: “Breathe Life into Your Ancestors: Turn Your Pedigree Chart into Fascinating Family Stories”.

Participants will have the opportunity to choose breakout sessions for both beginning and advanced researchers. The program will also include a continental breakfast and an exhibit hall full of experts to answer your questions on the process of researching your family tree. 


Dawn Parrett Thurston “Breathe Life into Your Ancestors: Turn Your Pedigree Chart into Fascinating Family Stories”

Some family histories merely recount the facts of their subjects’ lives, telling what they did, but revealing little about who they were. This presentation will teach research and writing techniques to help you put flesh and bones on your ancestors and show what it was like to walk in their shoes in places readers can visualize.

Session Titles and Presenter Bios for Genealogy Day 2017:

Dawn Parrett Thurston “Be a Good Ancestor: Write Your Own Story”

Many of us would like to write about our lives so our descendants will know who we are, what we experienced, and how we felt about the important issues of our time. We want our stories not only to be informative, but also compelling. This class will show you how to structure your narrative, reveal yourself and your era through your story, and write honestly about sensitive issues.

Dawn Thurston’s family history writing courses have been called “life changing,” and “the class I’ve long been looking for.” She helped hundreds of students write and publish their life stories and family histories at Santiago Canyon College in Orange, where she taught for 18 years and received the “Faculty Excellence Award” in 2008. She has also shared her expertise with students at the University of Utah and Brigham Young University, and at national conferences like the Association of Personal Historians (in Valley Forge, Salt Lake City, Nashville, Sacramento) and the Story Circle Network (in Austin). Dawn’s students repeatedly win top prizes in family history writing competitions. In 2007 Signature Books published her book, Breathe Life into Your Life Story:  How to Write a Story People Will WANT to Read, a compilation of ideas and writing techniques she teaches in her classes. She also published a multi-generation family history of her paternal ancestry, The Parrett Migration, which won first prize in the history division in the Indie Excellence Book Awards. Raised in Orange County, where she still resides, Dawn earned her bachelor’s degree in English from UCLA and a master’s in communications from Cal State University, Fullerton. 

Randy Seaver “Discovering Jane’s Roots in California, Australia, and England”

In this presentation, Randy will explore the research journey to find the ancestors of his wife’s great-grandmother, Jane (Whittle) McKnew (1847-1921). She married in Gold Country, had a family of 11 children, survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and died in San Francisco. Jane was born in Australia to parents who were born and married in England. Most of the research was done with online resources and in a collaborative environment. Come watch Randy unveil a fascinating family history worthy of a “Who Do You Think You Are?” television episode.

Randy Seaver is a 4th generation San Diegan. His ancestry is mainly colonial New England and Upper Atlantic, with some colonial German, French and Dutch forebears, and several 19th-century English immigrants. He has been pursuing his elusive ancestors since 1988, and has been online since 1992. Randy is a former President of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society (CVGS), and is currently the Newsletter Editor and Research Chair. He speaks to Southern California societies, libraries and groups, and teaches “Beginning Computer Genealogy” adult classes at OASIS. He is a member of the National Genealogical Society, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Southern California Genealogical Society, San Diego Genealogical Society, and CVGS. Randy blogs daily about genealogy subjects at Genea-Musings ( and the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe (

Peter Steelquist “Researching Local Libraries: Your Guide to Success”

This presentation will cover how to effectively research genealogy library collections and what local libraries and archives have to offer the genealogical researcher.

Peter Steelquist, past President of the San Diego Genealogical Society, has been actively pursuing his family history for 29 years. His family arrived in San Diego in 1868 and homesteaded Pine Valley. A career banker, he has a keen interest in local history and that of the trans-Mississippi west.

Del Ritchart “GENSMARTS–Using Artificial Intelligence to Assist with Your Research”

GENSMARTS is a software program that analyzes most popular Genealogy programs to detect missing data and suggest sources for finding the information.

Del began researching his family history in 1994. He has served in leadership positions in several San Diego genealogy organizations; including President, Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego. Del has given genealogy presentations to numerous groups in the Southern California area, including the San Diego Genealogical Society, Escondido Family History Fair, North San Diego County Genealogical Society, our own Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego and others. He published his family history, “Breathing Life Into My Family Ancestors” in late 2011.