By JANICE R. KIASKI
Herald-Star community editor
STEUBENVILLE - As families come together this Labor Day weekend to celebrate summer's last hurrah, local historian Sandy Day herself is ironically celebrating a "labor" of love involving family.
YOU CAN DO IT — Genealogy librarian Sandy Day recently completed the “Day Family History,” a more than 300-page work that spans 400 years of family history on her husband’s side. People who have toyed with the idea of researching their family should know there’s no time like the present to get started, and Day can offer help in that area. She’ll be teaching yet another beginners genealogy class from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 14 at the Schiappa branch of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County.
-- Janice R. Kiaski
It took 30 years of research, not to mention two years of writing.
The end result is "Day Family History" - a family history that spans 400 years from 1617 to 2013 and includes the immigrant ancestor who came to the New World, the United States, in 1635.
It's all documented, all name indexed, and peppered with more than 200 color and black and white photos in the 300-plus-page book.
Tackling a family history, though, was never on her to-do list, admits the genealogy librarian, who appropriatedly has added a copy of it to the place that's her home away from home - the local history room of the Schiappa branch of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County where Day has worked the past 18 years and helped hundreds of researchers with family history inquiries.
In restrospect, it wasn't even a glimmer on her remember-when radar, however, to do a Day history.
"I kept waiting for someone else in the Day family to write a book, but no one did," she said, in explaining how the effort began.
Two years ago, in 2011, it occurred to Day that she had enough research, enough photos, enough documents and enough gumption and interest to write her own version, so she did.
And she discovered it to be a near effortless process.
"Once I got started, the book just seemed to flow very easily," Day said.
"Day Family History" is in book form, the only format, and it's a mix of the names, dates and places kind of information, but there are the anecdotal stories, too.
"I have already mailed copies to immediate family members all over the United States," Day said. "I would think that only those persons connected to the Days who are mentioned in the 'Day Family History' would be interested in purchasing a copy. It is only available on Amazon.com.," she said.
"I chose Createspace.com as the publishing company knowing that the finished product could be available on its website or on Amazon.com, which owns Createspace. I did not want to go the usual route of publishing, order X number of copies and hope that people would buy that many so that I could sell them all," she explained.
"The way I have published it, I am completely left out of the ordering process; however, I can go on the website and find out how many have been purchased," Day said.
While Day's book was three decades in the researching end, most family researchers have spent about five to 10 years on theirs.
"My mother-in-law, Luana Day, handed my husband, Greg, the Day Family Bible in 1982, and this was my inspiration to learn about the family mentioned in the recorded pages inside the Bible," she said. "When I teach genealogy classes, I mention to people that it is important to keep track of your family history. It is also fun to find out information and stories on the more recent family members. It helps us to know about our families in the past and how they lived and where they lived. My opinion is that we need to know where we came from to know where we are going," Day said.
"Anyone who has been thinking about researching their family, there is no better time than today to start," she said.
"Have you ever hoped someone would write your familiy history but never did? Here's a tip - write it yourself," said Day, who encourages anyone interested to visit her at the Schiappa branch for some assistance.
Plus, she'll be teaching a free beginners genealogy class there on Sept. 14 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Those interested in participating should register by calling the library branch at (740) 264-6166.
"It is really not that hard to do research these days with all of the free websites available on the Internet," Day said. For people who may not have a home computer, they can use the computers at the various branch locations free with a valid Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County library card.
"This hobby is so much fun once you get hooked," Day said, noting the library also has many how-to books to assist people in beginning their family research.
Day pointed out that just because the book is about her husband's family and not her, it's still important. " I married into the family 43 years ago, and this is now my family, too - plus this is my children's and grandchildren's history."
Aside from the typical vital statistic information you'd expect in a family history, Day added some reading flavor to the recipe.
"Over the past 18 years working at the library, I have seen untold family histories donated to the Ohio Room," Day said of the more than 300 available there. She decided early on that she wanted hers to include stories that would "add flesh to the bones" of a family history.
"I also included some Ohio history in one chapter that I felt was relevant to the families from Connecticut coming to Ohio when it was referred to as 'New Connecticut' and the new Ohio land was also referred to as the Firelands," she said.
The personal research project brought to light many interesting facts about the Day family tree and its branches.
"One interesting item is that my son's wife's family is from the same town in Vermont that my son's family is from," she said. "My son was born in Ohio but moved to Massachusetts and now lives two hours away from the site where the original immigrant Anthony Day settled in 1645. This was a neat side story. Going back almost 200 years, I located a U.S. president in the Day family tree - Millard Fillmore. I also learned about an ancestor's wife whose mother was hung for witchcraft in Massachusetts during the Mass hysteria in 1692," she said.
Completing the family history taught Day a lot about herself.
"At first, the concept scared me," she said. "I soon found out there was nothing to be afraid of. It was really a great feeling to have the finished product in my hands. There is no way to describe that feeling. I now feel even more confident that I can and will write more family histories. The next one will be my maiden name - Hudnall. I already have much information on that family," Day said.
But that project deserves a temporary spot on the back burner, especially on this Labor Day weekend of rest.
"That story will have to wait a year or two as I need time to recoup from this project."
(Kiaski can be contacted at email@example.com.)