Announcing our First Online Fall Speaker Series!

Often Overlooked St. Louis Resources

Saturday, 17 October and Sunday, 18 October 2020

1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. (Central) each day

Featured Speakers:

  • Viki Fagyal, StLGS treasurer and author
  • Nicholas Fry, curator, John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library
  • Scott Holl, manager, History & Genealogy Department, St. Louis County Library
  • Becky DiFilippo, Dan Fuller, Dorris Keeven-Franke, and Michele Thomas, Bellefontaine Cemetery staff and volunteers

Each fall the society presents a Speaker Series, a one-day seminar focused on a specific topic. This single concentration provides a wonderful opportunity to hear a series of related presentations in detail, while also being able to share information with others interested in the same topic.


All of our featured speakers are experienced presenters with expertise in unusual resources for researching St. Louis ancestors. They will guide you to a better understanding of the following topics:


  • Orphanage Care in St. Louis (Viki Fagyal): There have always been orphans in every society, although how orphans have been cared for varies. The first orphanage in St. Louis can be traced to about 1828. Learn about the history of orphans and orphanages in St. Louis.


  • The Railroads of St. Louis (Nicholas Fry): St. Louis built its livelihood on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. With the coming of the railroad, the city’s economic engine would be split between the rivers and the rails, changing the region forever. This talk will cover the arrival and development of railroads in the region and the transformations they caused.


  • Discover Your Family’s History in the St. Louis County Library History & Genealogy Department (Scott Holl): History & Genealogy at St. Louis County Library is a nationally recognized genealogical research destination and home to several major collections. Learn about what is in the department and how you can access information remotely.


  • Cemetery Use for Genealogical Purposes (Becky DiFilippo, Dan Fuller, Dorris Keeven-Franke, and Michele Thomas): Beautiful, peaceful, and overflowing with genealogical information, Bellefontaine Cemetery is one of the finest examples of what was known as a rural cemetery. Our speakers, dedicated staff and volunteers, will give us a glimpse of the treasures to be found in this and similar cemeteries.


For information about the history of the StLGS Speaker Series, click here.


Biographical Information on the Speakers:

Rebecca “Becky” DiFilippo was born in St. Louis and lived here most of her life. She was a medical practice manager in St. Charles, Missouri, before she retired. She became a volunteer at Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum in the summer of 2016. In that role, she has been studying cemetery iconography, learning to do genealogical research, and appreciating the history of her hometown.
Viki Fagyal is a lifelong St. Louis resident who has been researching her family for more than thirty years. A writer, genealogy instructor, and lecturer, Viki has served StLGS in many official capacities, including her current job as treasurer. She is the author of the authoritative book on St. Louis orphanages, Researching Orphans and Orphanage Care in St. Louis, available in our online store. In addition, Viki has written one family history book and is currently working on her second.
Nicholas “Nick” Fry has been curator of the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library since 2012. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland-Baltimore and Drexel University. Before his present position, he worked at various government jobs, including at NASA, where he was an outreach specialist for their collection of scientific and technical reports. He has managed the archives of the B&O Railroad Historical Society and its research archives and has published articles in the Encyclopedia of American History. He has been researching the history of the railroads of Pittsburgh and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad during the Civil War.
Dan Fuller has been researching his own family history since 1997, going back to the 1840s in St. Louis and to the 1640s in Europe. Learning about his family has given him particular insight into the everyday lives of people in historic St. Louis. In addition to being volunteer coordinator at Bellefontaine Cemetery, Dan is a docent at Henry Shaw’s house in the Missouri Botanical Garden and for house tours in the Shaw, Lafayette, and Compton Heights neighborhoods. He is a certified member of the Professional Tour Guide Association in St. Louis and a Master Guide.
Scott Holl has been with St. Louis County Library since 2007; prior to that, he was at the Newberry Library in Chicago and archivist and librarian for Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves. Under Scott’s leadership, the History & Genealogy Department has flourished. Scott is the creator and editor of the department’s electronic newsletter, PastPorts, and has designed and edited many of the department’s research guides and finding aids. As a specialist in German genealogy, Scott has grown the department’s collections of Ortssippenbücher (local family genealogy registers) and Deutsches Familienarchiv books and overseen the acquisition of several new collections focusing on Europe.
Dorris Keeven-Franke began researching her family history when she was just seven years old, and her love of genealogy grew from there. She currently volunteers as the head archivist at Bellefontaine Cemetery, lectures on German emigration and local history, and teaches genealogy for the city of St. Charles schools. She has published several books on Missouri history, curated international traveling exhibitions from Germany, and is the executive director of the Missouri Germans Consortium. Her next book, in progress, will be a biography of Archer Alexander.
Michele Thomas was born in Belgium to a Belgian mother and a U.S. soldier shortly after the end of World War II. She grew up in Detroit, Michigan, but has lived in five other states. Because of her family background, Michele has become an expert on war brides and is the historian for the WWII War Brides Association. She has been documenting their stories for the past thirty years. She was vice president and is now editor of their newsletter, The Courier, and serves as the group’s archivist. Michele is an experienced genealogist who volunteers at Bellefontaine Cemetery, where she specializes in cemetery iconography.

Last modified: 04-Feb-2021 10:14