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UNLOCK YOUR HISTORY! Heinz History Center Affiliates FREE Workshop: Explore Your German & Scandinavian Roots

Posted 09/18/19

Calendar Event Photo

Bring Your Treasures!

It’s time to dig out those yellowed, hand-written letters that Great Aunt Katharina in Old Europe wrote to Grandma over here in the USA!

On Wednesday, October 23, 2019 the Ohio County Public Library (OCPL) in Wheeling, WV welcomes presenters from the Heinz History Center and Affiliate member, “Unlock Your History.” Museum professionals and experts in history, hand-written documents and preservation, along with those in attendance, will explore and discuss how heirlooms, genealogy, translation and history all come together to demonstrate the importance of your personal story. Your story matters!

Click here to register

Unlock your German or Scandinavian History at our Free Workshop!

Learn about the documents that might be in your attic, and how you can better understand their contents. Our presenters will discuss how anyone can decipher clues hidden within documents, and they will provide guidance about when to get more help. We’ll also hear about options available to care for your personal artifacts.

Our presenters will dig into the #1-claimed heritage in the US (per 2000 Census), German, with insight into the genealogical history and some of the unique challenges in understanding these letters and other documents.

As a special opportunity for Wheeling, WV and patrons of the OCPL, the workshop will include an offering of free, brief reviews of your Germanic and Scandinavian family letters, postcards and other documents. If you think you have something written in German, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, or Norwegian, now is your chance to discover what they are all about. Be sure to bring a sample for a quick review at the end of the session.

NOTE: Toward the end of the day, we will raffle five sets of (2) free admission passes to Heinz History Center (a $36.00 value!). Five winners of two tickets each!

Click here to register


10:00 am: Arrive at OCPL, located at 52 16th Street, Wheeling, WV
10:00-10:15: Welcome / Opening Remarks
10:15-10:45: History – German Immigration & Language
10:15-10:30: History of German Immigration on a global scale [Unlock Your History]
10:30-10:45: Local History Expert [Sean Duffy, OCPL Programming Director]
10:45-11:15: History of Language & Artifact Analysis (examples led by Unlock Your History)
11:15-11:45: Collection Care (led by Robert Stakeley)
11:45-12:15: Research & Documentation (such as online translation, etc.)
12:15-12:30: Your Story Matters: How Your History is THE History
12:30-1:00: Lunch Break [brown bag or on your own]
1:00-1:15: Transition time
1:15-1:30: Q&A/Next Steps/Conclusions
1:30-2:00: Show & Tell – Quick Assessments of your Written Troves
2:00-3:00: Guided and/or self-tour of the Wheeling Room; a show & tell of a selection of OCPL archival collections; and a sneak preview and explanation of the Wheeling in 250 Objects exhibit.

NOTE: Toward the end of the day, we will raffle five sets of (2) free admission passes to Heinz History Center (a $36.00 value!). Five winners of two tickets each!

Please register by clicking here

For questions, please contact Sean Duffy, at 304-232-0244 or [email protected]


Pamela Israel

Surrounded by genealogy from a young age, Pamela has long appreciated the richness that learning about your heritage and ancestors can bring. After years of travel around the world and marketing everything from cat litter, theme parks, frozen food and 3D printing kiosks, Pam leveraged her own family stories (and heirlooms) to launch “Unlock Your History” to help people with their own family history, specializing in translating their heirloom family documents from German and Germanic languages. She creates personalized Journey Books that focus on storytelling and maintaining the emotional connection that family documents inspire and deserve. Having learned much throughout her own career, Pamela finds great satisfaction in helping others understand and grow their businesses. She continues to consult and mentor and has an interest in supporting young businesswomen.

Stefan Israel

Stefan Israel started translating old family letters in German and Danish as a college student and picked up the old German form of cursive as a teenager. He went on to earn a Ph.D. to become a professor in Germanic Linguistics focused on German and its dialects, Dutch, and all the Scandinavian languages. His years abroad have included visits to southern Bavaria, Freiburg near the French and Swiss borders, Kiel in northern Germany and Schleswig near the Danish border, as well as Finland and Iceland. He turned to translating full time and has worked specifically as a translator for over fifteen years, which he enjoys greatly.

Robert O. Stakeley

Robert is the History Center Affiliates Program (HCAP) Coordinator at the Senator John Heinz History Center (History Center), where he provides various levels of instruction and guidance for a diverse patron or member audience. He oversees the Affiliates Program (HCAP), a program that assists more than 400 historically minded organizations, including historical societies, museums, libraries, preservationist groups, community councils, churches, theaters, etc., in achieving their goals by helping them in various capacities through advocating best practices. Previously, Robert had served as the Docent Program Coordinator at the History Center, which involved providing training for the more than seventy-five History Center docents (teachers or tour guides). Robert is a former librarian, archivist, and educator who has extensive experience in collecting, preserving, and providing access to collections. This work has included delivering reference services; conducting research; accessioning, processing, digitizing, and cataloging collections; publishing research, including articles, digital stories, oral histories, and transcriptions; and the proper handling and displaying of collections. As a life-long educator and learner, Robert enjoys working with people of all ages, especially students, in providing access to primary and secondary sources. His approach to history and in “bringing collections to life” is simple – establish a connection and make it fun.

NOTE: Toward the end of the day, we will raffle five sets of (2) free admission passes to Heinz History Center (a $36.00 value!). Five winners of two tickets each!

Please register by clicking here

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