GSP Explores Family Secrets at the First Person Arts Festival - Sunday November 13th - 1 - 4 PM at Christ Church in Philadelphia

Oct 31, 2011



GSP Explores Family Secrets During First Person Arts Festival

Some genealogists may be genealogists before they know it.  Public historians, ethnographers, and oral historians all generally have an interest in family ties and historical stories about the human experience, but they may not identify themselves with the word genealogist.


One of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania’s recent goals has been to identify some of these like-minded groups and reach out to them for potential collaboration. To that end, GSP will be presenting a workshop with First Person Arts at the First Person Arts Festival on November 13 called “Family Secrets Revealed.”


First Person Arts is a Philadelphia non-profit who believes in the power of memoir and oral history, and who hosts workshops and storytelling events throughout the year, as well as an annual story-sharing festival.  Now in its 10th year, the festival’s mission is that “everyone has a story worth telling, and that sharing our stories connects us to each other and the world.”   The event includes plays, performances and workshops to offer venues for people to share their personal histories with their audiences. 


GSP’s workshop invites participants to submit a unique family story and allow members of the GSP staff and board to help begin to uncover the truth (or myths) behind them.  Part Antiques Roadshow and part This is Your Life, the day provides participants the opportunity to dig into tales that may have been passed down through their family for generations, and learn some research techniques that they can build on to try to discover their validity.


Participants are asked to submit the stories prior to the day, and then using census records, passenger lists, obituary searches and other genealogy tools, researchers will review them, explain some basic genealogical principles,  and help create a suggested research plan to allow the attendees to begin to search for answers.   A genealogy room will be set up at the workshop with reference books, finding aids, and computer terminals so that the participants can begin to investigate with additional help.


In addition to GSP’s workshop, some other events during the festival that may be of interest to genealogists are “Finding Your Voice: Memoir Writing with Lori Tharps”, “Staging Your Life,” where you can learn to take your family history and create your own one-person show, and “Humanizing History”, where you can tour the archives of Christ Church and learn more about the amazing resources their repository holds.


To register for the GSP workshop and learn more about the First Person Festival and First Person Arts, visit


--Joyce Homan