Genealogical Society’s website earns best in state honor
By CANDACE ALLEN
South Whidbey Record Special to the Record
September 21, 2012 · Updated 4:18 PM
The Genealogical Society of South Whidbey Island won the 2012 Best in State award for its website.
Forty societies competed for the honor, which was presented at the Washington State Genealogical Society’s annual convention on Sept. 8 in Port Townsend.
Web designer Nancy Hepp of Clinton created the site’s design using sepia colored 19th and early 20th century photos, many from Genealogical Society members’ family collections. Bob Richardson, president of the society, added much of the site’s functionality.
“I wanted the site to be easy to read and attractive, generating with people a curiosity and engagement with the past,” Hepp said. “Use of the photographs and related stories lends itself naturally to getting people to ask, ‘What about my family?’”
For Hepp, genealogy is more than lists of names and dates. It’s the stories that bring it alive.
The society has collected and scanned virtually all obituaries of Island County residents from the 1890s through December 2010, at which time the local newspapers began publishing obituaries online. Search access to the collection of 23,447 obituaries is available at www.gsswi.org. The website uses phonetic matching of names, which increases the user’s chance for a successful search.
“Based on the user’s responses and PHP coding, we’re able to access the database and create web pages on the fly,” Richardson said.
The website, www.gsswi.org, has more than 100 pages, including information about genealogical activities and resources from the local to national level, tools for research, and special aids for researching family tree members from Island County.
The award plaque is on display at the Freeland Library.
The Genealogical Society of South Whidbey Island’s monthly meetings feature educational programs and are open to the public. Anyone interested may attend the second Monday of every month from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Trinity Lutheran Church’s Chapel and Community Building.
In addition to monthly meetings, more than 110 members participate in field trips, classes and interest groups. Ancestral history is alive and accessible at the Genealogical Society of South Whidbey Island.