In February 1989, the following members formed what is now known as the Pastfinders Genealogy Society of South Lake County. They had come together as a group in the Cooper Memorial Library, which, at that time, was located on Desoto Street downtown Clermont. Originally, the Genealogy Room had one shelf of books. The library later moved to the corner of Montrose and Lake Avenue. Since 2009 Cooper Memorial Library has been located on the Lake Sumter State College Campus at 2525 Oakley Seaver Drive, Clermont, Florida. We were provided with a room for our Genealogical collection consisting of over 1500 books, several periodicals and four computers. The computers at the library can be used to access Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, AmericanAncestors.org, and HeritageQuest.com for free. We acquired our non-profit status in 2013. In 2018 Pastfinders hosted their first two day conference bringing in a record number of new members totaling 99 by the end of that year. Pastfinders held their second two day conference in February, 2019 which brought in a record number of attendees.
Pastfinders of South Lake County; Genealogical Society is a group of people who are interested in preserving family history through the science of genealogy. They dedicate their time to preserve family history and to educate others on how to do their own family research. Pastfinders assist local groups from Scouts to senior homes as well as the general public, and people seeking to build their family tree or break thru a brick wall they have come upon. Pastfinders has been helping people find their ancestors in countries such as France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States for over 25 years.
Specific Goals of Pastfinders are the following:
- Present programs of genealogical and historical interest to the members and the community.
- Encourage the research and preservation of genealogical and historical information.
- Educate members and others in the proper practice of research and documentation.
- Advocate and support the use of computers and the Internet in genealogical practices.
- Provide genealogical and historical resources to the Cooper Memorial Library in Clermont, Florida.
Pastfinders Monthly Meeting
SECOND THURSDAY OF THE MONTH
Our regular monthly meetings are held on the second Thursday of the month for eight months which are September, October, November, January, February, March, April and May. We meet in Room 108 at the Cooper Memorial Library from 4:30 to 7:00 PM. Subjects generally deal with history, genealogy, member experiences or other appropriate subjects. Meeting are free and open to the public.
Computer Users Group Meetings
THIRD WEDNESDAY OF THE MONTH
The Computer Users' Group meets at 1 PM on the third Wednesday of the month in Room 221 at the Cooper Memorial Library. Our goal is to present information on using and maintaining computers, to find sites where genealogical information may be found and to make the most of the marriage of computers and genealogical research.
The primary Computer resources used by members of Pastfinders are Family Tree Maker, Roots Magic, Ancestry.com, familysearch.org, My Heritage, Findmypast.com, and Findagrave.com. The CUG tries to provide demonstrations of usage for most of these resources.
Pastfinders Help Sessions
HELP SESSIONS - BREAKING THRU THE BRICK WALL
The Genealogy Room is staffed by Pastfinders members who are volunteering their time to provide training for beginners and to help the more experienced people seeking their roots.
There are weekly open help sessions that do not require an appointment. Be sure to bring you family history files with you.
There are also specific training classes for the basic forms used to collect and document your family history. To get started in Genealogy only requires information that you already know (at least true for most people), that being your father and mother, grandparents, when they were born and where they were born. Discovery begins there.
Genealology Beginners Classes
Classes are to be attended in order, please do not attend Class 2 first.
Class 1 presents the basics of genealogy, where to begin, what information is needed for family history; where and how do I record and organize this history; what sources are available to find more ancestors; and how do I document my information.
In class 2, you use a computer database to record the information that you already know, information about you, your parents and your grandparents. That data includes full name, when and where born, when and where married, full name of spouse, full names of children, etc. Since your known records may only go back several generations, you will need to start looking for the ancestors further back in your history.
Saturday Genealogy Special Events
One-on-One Help/ Photo Scanning/ Conference/ Computer Software Classes
Several times a year, Pastfinders holds a special event on Saturday morning. These events are held at Cooper Memorial Library periodically thru the year. Please check the Event Calendar on the menu bar for more details.
Pastfinders volunteers will provide one-on-one help for beginning and experienced genealogists. Bring your records either printed, on a USB or on a tablet. Here is some of the information needed for beginner genealogists: Names of parents, grandparents, birth dates and birth locations. Please call to make an appointment for the One-on-One sessions.
Photo Scanning is done by Pastfinders in order to help preserve the past for future generations. The photos you have of your great grandparents and parents might discolor and fade over time, documents of birth certificates might tear and get lost. By digitizing photos, negatives, documents and slides, these precious memories can last generations. The volunteers at Pastfinders use a Flip-Pal to scan photos of all sizes. Please bring your photos along with a storage USB to transfer your valuable treasures.
The Mid-Winter Conference is a new addition to Pastfinders calendar of events. For several years Pastfinders held an open house at the library to present genealogy to the public. Since 2018 Pastfinders has replaced the open house with an educational conference featuring guest speakers to help further the education of those already participating in the science of genealogy.
A Computer Software Class is part of the CUG calendar. These classes will help researchers further their knowlage of how to use the different programs that will help organization of family history. Classes are held for beginner users as well as experienced computer users. Different programs are discussed as well as various websites and applications. Preservation and organization of documentation and photos are also part of these classes. Look in the calendar section under Computer User Group for dates.
Pastfinders Annual Holiday Dinner
Pastfinders traditionally has a holiday gathering during the month of December. This is a wonderful time for members to get together share a drink and enjoy good company. Guest and family are welcome to attend the dinner, participate in a fun gift exchange and to mingle with one another.