19 May 2010

Remembering Birdie Holsclaw

By Julie Miller, CG

Birdie Monk Holsclaw, CG, FUGA, well-known and loved genealogical researcher, writer, lecturer, editor, passed away peacefully, surrounded by her family, on Thursday, 13 May 2010. Roberta "Birdie" Joann Monk was born 23 August 1948 in Staunton, Virginia, the daughter of William W. Monk and Arliss Schaffer. She married Russell Holsclaw on 22 November 1980 in Greeley, Colorado. Birdie, Russ and their son, Will, lived in Longmont, Colorado, for many years.

Although her achievements were many (listed below), it was her exuberance for life that set Birdie apart as the unique and special person that she was. She had a passion for learning and was an artful communicator. Whether you were a student in one of her classes, a colleague working on a project, or a complete stranger sitting next to her at dinner, Birdie was genuinely interested in engaging and listening to each person in her company.

Birdie was a role model and mentor to many genealogists. She encouraged, coached, and guided countless fledgling researchers, writers, and lecturers. When others saw an unknown, inexperienced, or hesitant newcomer, Birdie always saw promise and possibility. She was generous and had a special way of sharing her knowledge, never forcing her opinions on others, always reaching out and asking good questions. She inspired others to succeed.

Birdie loved genealogy and she loved technology. When she made a new discovery in her genealogical work or found a technical tool to help with genealogy, she couldn't wait to share it. And her enthusiasm was contagious. It was impossible to resist the smile on her face and the excitement in her voice as she explained the new idea or device. Birdie was a friend to all genealogists in the truest sense because she had no expectation of reward or recognition. She was truly an amazing woman!

Birdie's achievements were many and spanned over 35 years in genealogy. While there are too many to list, some of the highlights are:

2004, winner NGSQ Award for Excellence
2004, ASG Scholar Award
2003, winner NGS Family History Writing Contest
President, Colorado Genealogical Society (1987-1990)
Editor, The Colorado Genealogist (1992-1996)
Founding member, Colorado Genealogical Society Computer Interest Group
Colorado Council of Genealogical Societies Parliamentarian and longtime delegate
1997, Fellow Utah Genealogical Association
APG Trustee (1989-1992, 1994-1995)
2000, APG Grahame T. Smallwood, Jr. Award of Merit
Instructor, Samford University Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR)
NGSQ indexer (1989-1996)
Awarded first FGS Delegate Award for her work as editor of the Delegate Digest (1993)
Frequent lecturer at NGS and FGS Conferences.
Contributor to the NGSQ, APGQ, Genealogical Computing, The Colorado Genealogist, Boulder, Genealogical Society Quarterly and others.

Birdie will be missed, but definitely not forgotten. She continues to live on through her writing, lectures, and most importantly, through the many lives that she touched and the many people who love her.

A memorial fund has been set up through the Colorado Council of Genealogical Societies (CCGS). Contributions can be sent to the CCGS with a notation specifying Birdie Monk Holsclaw Memorial Fund, and mailed to P.O. Box 40270, Denver, Colorado 80204-0270.


  1. What a loving and beautiful tribute for the loving and beautiful person that Birdie was.

  2. We were newcomers to genealogy when we met Birdie at a Colorado Genealogical Society meeting. In the twenty+ years since, she was our mentor, colleague and friend. We will miss her.

  3. Thank you, Julie, for a beautiful and fitting tribute.

  4. I first met Birdie through my involvement with Gentech conferences. Not sure which event or conference. She was always sharing her latest tip or software find. I will definitely miss her smiling face at conferences!