Who Are You? Tracing Your Family History

Director GlennaRae White explains her families "fan chart" at the Valencia California Family History Center in Valencia on Wednesday. 012622. Dan Watson/The Signal
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By Alicia Doyle

Sunday Signal Staff Writer

If you have an interest in your genealogy—in other words, where you came from—the Valencia Family History Center offers information about your roots for free.

“We’re open to the public and we help people do family history research,” explained Scott Stratton, one of many volunteer consultants at the center located at 24443 McBean Parkway in Santa Clarita.

Walk-ins are welcome on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The center is also open on Saturdays by appointment only.

“We cover the entire Santa Clarita Valley, so anyone in valley, or anywhere else for that matter, is welcome to pop-in,” Stratton said. “We love doing family history.”

In addition to providing personal assistance, the center offers computers with free access to premium websites, microfilm and microfiche readers with access to more than two million rolls of microfilm, printers, scanners, and a book library.

Consultant and Spanish speaker, Oscar Degadillo reads a letter in Spanish as he searches 1880 death records from Mexico at the Valencia California Family History Center in Valencia on Wednesday. 012622. Dan Watson/The Signal

Many people have a true desire to connect with their ancestry, “so we can help them make that connection,” Stratton said. “We have some excellent tools that are all free that people can use to build their family trees. We help them do research and give them ideas about ways to do that better, or connect them with people who might be able to help them.”

The Valencia Family History Center is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; for members of this church, learning about one’s family history is more than just a casual endeavor. Latter-day Saints believe families can be together after this life, therefore, it is essential to strengthen relationships with all family members—both those who are alive and those who have died.

“We have a fundamental belief that we should look after our ancestors and learn about them—so it stems from fundamentals within our church,” said Stratton, adding that folks do not need to be a member of the church to utilize the family history center.

“We know that many others in the community have a similar desire to want to connect. We’re open to the public, so we have lots of people coming in, and everything is free,” he re-emphasized. “We just feel passionate about our own family histories and creating family trees…and we know that others feel the same way.” Plus, “it’s a way to reach out to the community and help.”

Stratton noted that prior the pandemic, the center hosted an in-person Family History Fair.

“We’d have maybe 300 people—but that’s all virtual now,” he said. “Last year’s virtual event reached a million people world-wide. This year’s going to be way bigger, so anyone in the world can connect.”

On March 3 through 5, there will be three full days of classes at every level of family history interest. Registration is now open at https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/next/.

“It’s absolutely free,” Stratton said. “It will feature every nationality, every culture.”

For more information about the Valencia Family History Center, call 661-259-1347.

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