Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review of Genetic Genealogy for Professional Genealogists

As part of my continuing series on genealogical institute courses, I asked my friend Mary Kathryn Kozy to share her perspective on the most recent course offered by the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research. "Genetic Genealogy for Professional Genealogists" was taught by Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD, and will soon be available for purchase and download.

Review of "Genetic Genealogy for Professional Genealogists"
By Mary Kathryn Kozy

Webinars are a terrific way to increase our knowledge and help us in our personal and professional genealogical pursuits. The Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research (VIGR) is offering wonderful courses by leaders in many genealogical fields. I recently attended Genetic Genealogy for Professional Genealogists taught by Blaine Bettinger, a well-known leader in genetic genealogy. Since I teach classes on DNA topics in my community, I was anxious to learn a little more about what professional genetic genealogists do, and I can’t recommend it highly enough! 

If you’re unfamiliar with the format of VIGR’s courses, the first half is typically offered in two 90-minute presentations with a short break in between on the first day. Homework is then assigned that will be reviewed during one of the two remaining lectures the following week. Some courses have a different schedule, and are taught one presentation per week for four consecutive weeks. Blaine’s course also allowed students to purchase a “plus” session which included a further homework assignment that could be anonymously reviewed during an additional one-hour webinar.

Here are just some of the topics included in this great four-session course:

  •  Why become a professional genetic genealogist? 
  •   Ways to incorporate DNA services into your professional genealogical practice
  •   Issues you will face as a genetic genealogist
  •    Client contracts and avoiding conflicts
  •   Finding clients
  •    Educating yourself and your clients
  •    Writing client reports

What this class didn’t cover was the basics of DNA testing. It was assumed that students already had that knowledge. For those who want to delve more into autosomal DNA, there’s another VIGR course taught by Blaine entitled (Finally!) Understanding Autosomal DNA.

Now I’m not currently a professional genealogist, but I do want to be one when I grow up! So even though this course dealt with aspects of adding DNA to one’s professional practice, there was still plenty of terrific information for genealogists like me. While I might never have a paying client, the suggestions given for how to create a contract, as well as the information on how to educate a client about their results was invaluable. In working with DNA results, it’s a sure thing that we will inevitably face sensitive and unexpected results. Blaine provided great counsel on how to handle these situations. The additional “plus” session gave students a chance to evaluate a client’s test results, write a basic report, and get feedback from Blaine on those reports, which was also indispensable. I particularly enjoyed this session, since it allowed me to learn from the other great genealogists in the class.

If you’ve even considered adding DNA testing analysis or other DNA services to your professional practice, then you will definitely want to take this course. By the end I had not only had some great “aha!” moments, but I’d also received a boost in confidence that perhaps I can do this one day!

Mary Kathryn Kozy is a rabid genealogist of long standing. She has a B.S. in Zoology and a B.S. in Information Systems and Technology. She has recently completed the Mastering Genealogical Proof study group and is working her way through the ProGen Study Program in ProGen 24. She enjoys lecturing on a number of genealogical topics, but is most frequently requested to speak on DNA. Mary has served on the board of several genealogical societies and is the recent past president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

SLIG's Advanced Evidence Practicum: Are you up to the challenge?

I invited Nicole LaRue to write a guest post on the Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum course at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, as she has taken the course before, and she is registered again in 2016. Why would someone take the same course twice? She will tell you in her review below. There are still two seats available in this course if you would like to join her in January 2016. Registration information below.  
So you've taken the advanced genealogical courses at the big institutes. You're comfortable with solving complex research problems. You may even take paying clients. What's next for someone who is looking for a new genealogical challenge? Where can you test your skills? How about expanding your knowledge? Good news! You can find all of that in one 5-day course during the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy in January 2016: the Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum.
Imagine being in a room with prominent professional genealogists, all with different areas of expertise and all are willing to share a case study with you.  In addition, you’re  not just hearing about different case studies from the experts, you also get to participate.
First, you are given the background of a case and get the research problem you are going to attempt to solve.  Next, you are set loose in the Family History Library to work some magic in their innumerable books, microfilm reels, databases, etc. The following day, you come back to hear how the experts solved their problems and to find out about the research plans of your peers before you are presented with a new case for the next day. What you end up with at the end of each day is a room full of genealogists discussing their approach to a research problem with the presenters, who are just as eager to hear how others came to a resolution. And no one's eyes are glazing over (like they would be at my house in such a situation)!
You may be thinking, "this sounds great, but I've already taken the Practicum." Simply put, it doesn't matter. There are new experts with new case studies to share every year, making each experience unique. You could come every year for 10 years and learn something new every single time. In fact, there are five students to do attend every year. My first year in the Practicum, there were experts specializing in the Southern U.S., Maryland and African American research, French-Canadian immigrants, and the Midwestern U.S. 2016 will be my second time in the Practicum and the lineup for the coming year has expanded to include experts in Irish research, federal land research, forensic research, Southern research, and New England research, among others.
So often we, as genealogists, tend to get comfortable in our "bubbles" and lack exposure to work in areas outside our comfort zone. The Practicum allows you to not only learn a bit about several different areas, but to be able to learn through practical application. It's one thing to sit in a lecture room and be talked at for five days on a single topic, but it's a very different beast to actually be working on projects covering several topics day after day. That kind of hands-on learning is what drives home all of the education you've been collecting through other courses. And there's simply nothing else like it. Anywhere. So if you're ready to be challenged, to engage with other professionals, and to immerse yourself in learning more about your field, the Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum is where you need to be.
For more information on the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy click  here. To register for a course, including the Practicum which is course #13, click here.
Nicole Gilkison LaRue is originally from Illinois and currently lives in Maryland, where she works as a professional genealogist. She has a B.A. in History and has completed courses at IGHR, SLIG, and GRIP, as well as the ProGen Study Program and Mastering Genealogical Proof.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

2015 NARA Virtual Genealogy Fair Schedule

Mark your calendars for October 21 & 21, 2015 so you don't miss the NARA Virtual Genealogy Fair. The schedule has been released, and is listed below. These free classes will be live broadcast via YouTube, and you can send in your questions for the presenters. If you do miss the live sessions they will be archived for viewing later. 

Handouts and session descriptions can be found here.

Day 1: Wednesday, October 21 (Eastern Time)

Session 1 at 10 a.m. ET
Introduction to Genealogy at the National Archives by Claire Kluskens.

Session 2 at 11 a.m. ET
Preserving Your Family Records:  Conversation and Questions by Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler.

Session 3 at 12 p.m. ET
Personnel Records of the National Archives– St. Louis. By Bryan K. McGraw. 

Session 4 at 1 p.m. ET
It’s in the Cards: Finding Family Members in National Archives–St. Louis’ Card Series by Daria Labinsky & David Hardin. 

Session 5 at 2 p.m. ET
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Personnel Records by Ashley Mattingly.

Day 2: Thursday, October 22 (Eastern Time)

Session 6 at 10 a.m. ET
Where’d They Go?  Finding Ancestral Migration Routes by Jean Nudd.

Session 7 at 11 a.m. ET
Access to Archival Databases (AAD): Looking Down, From Above, to Look it Up!  by John LeGloahec. 

Session 8 at 12 p.m. ET
Finding Your World War I Veteran at the National Archives at St. Louis by Theresa Fitzgerald. 

Session 9 at 1 p.m. ET
Women in War Time Civilian Government Employment by Cara Moore.

Session 10 at 2 p.m. ET
Broke, But Not Out of Luck: Exploring Bankruptcy Records for Genealogy Research by Jessica Hopkins. 

Watch live video stream on YouTube US National Archives YouTube Channel

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Announcing the Adventures in Genealogy Education Facebook Page

I am excited to announce that I have created an "Adventures in Genealogy Education" Facebook page.  See

This will be a companion page to the "Adventures in Genealogy Education" blog. I will use the Facebook page to post press releases and announcements about opportunities in genealogy education, including webinars, conferences, institutes, books, articles, and much more. I will reserve this blog for longer posts reviewing genealogical courses, books and programs.

This summer was very busy for me and I did not have time to write many blog posts. Here is what I have been up to:

June -- Coordinating the Intermediate Genealogy course at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University

July -- Teaching in the Advanced Research Tools: Land Records course at the Genealogy Research Institute of Pittsburgh

August -- Featured speaker at the Northwest Genealogy Conference in Arlington, Washington

August -- My oldest daughter got married (this kept me the most busy of all)

September -- I will be teaching a course on Digging in Federal Land Records for the Virtual Institute of Genealogy Research on September 19th and 26th. See

I hope to be able to write more blog posts soon, but in the mean time I will keep you up-to-date with opportunities in genealogy education on Facebook.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Registration Now Open for RootsTech 2016

I received the following press release today:

SALT LAKE CITY, 15 September 2015—FamilySearch announced today that registration for RootsTech 2016 is now open. RootsTech is a highly popular and growing global conference where people of all ages celebrate family and are inspired to share their memories and connections. The annual event attracts tens of thousands of participants worldwide. RootsTech 2016 will be held February 3–6 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The website for registration is

Attendees can expect a full lineup of inspirational keynote speakers, over 200 educational classes, exciting hands-on activities in the expo hall, and entertaining evening events, all designed to help celebrate families across generations! Exclusive early bird discount pricing is available now for full passes starting at just $149 and $169 for the RootsTech plus Innovator Summit pass.  Passes for the Getting Started track start at $19 for a limited single day and $39 for a limited 3-day.   

An exciting change comes to the class schedule for RootsTech 2016. Classes will now start earlier in the week, on Wednesday February 3, with the first class beginning at 1:30 p.m.

For RootsTech 2016, attendees can now use a new scheduling tool to build, edit, and print their class schedule at All RootsTech and Innovator Summit classes, including speakers, class titles, and descriptions, are now available within the scheduling tool. Attendees can begin to create and edit their schedules, and continue to edit them after registration. The online tool will sync with the mobile app available later this year.

As part of RootsTech, the Innovator Summit returns to offer developers, business leaders, and entrepreneurs access to the latest content and resources that provide insight on family history data, services, and inspiration for current and future projects. 

Along with the Innovator Summit, the Innovator Showdown also returns to RootsTech 2016 and is even bigger than before. Innovators of all kinds in any industry are invited to compete with their latest hardware and software apps and services. The top six finalists will be invited to demo live onstage for over 23,000 people. The audience and a panel of renowned judges will decide the winners!

Registration for Family Discovery Day is also now open. The event takes place on Saturday, February 6, 2016, and is designed for families and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of the LDS Church are invited to register as families and  groups up to 10 at a time. . This free one-day event includes devotionals, classes, interactive activities, and entertainment to help families and members discover, preserve, and share their family connections. Event details, including speakers and classes, will be made available soon at 

About RootsTech
RootsTech, hosted by FamilySearch, is a global conference celebrating families across generations, where people of all ages are inspired to discover and share their memories and connections. This annual event has become the largest of its kind in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants worldwide.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

New Course on Federal Land Records

I  am very excited to be teaching a course on “Digging in Federal Land Records” for the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research. This course will be held on two consecutive Saturdays: September 19th and 26th. There will be four 90 minute sessions that will allow us to dig further into these records than the typical lectures on the subject. 

Millions of Americans obtained land from the federal government either by purchase, donation, military bounty, or homesteading. The records created by these land transactions can be valuable for locating an ancestor in a particular time and place, and may also contain useful family information. Some land files include a detailed description of improvements made to the land, evidence of military service, proof of naturalization, and/or testimony from neighbors. 
This course will cover the distribution of land in the thirty public land states to individuals from 1798 to 1976. The sessions will take an in-depth look at the process for obtaining land, the records created, and the genealogical value they contain. Students will learn about the surveying process and legal land descriptions, the Acts of Congress authorizing different types of transactions, the process for applying for land, and what can be found online and only onsite at NARA. 
The unique format of four 90 minute sessions will allow time to dig deeper into these records and look at not only typical files for each type of transaction, but unique circumstances as well. The “plus” version of the course will also include feedback on the homework assignments and an extra session for asking individual questions about federal land records. 
Saturday, September 19th
Session 1: Background: History, Land Descriptions, Laws and Records
Session 2: Locating Records: BLM Website, Tract Books and Finding Aids
Homework assignment given

Saturday, September 26th
Session 3: Homesteads, Land Entry Papers and Military Bounty Land
Session 4: Case Studies Using Federal Land Records

To register for the course visit
The cost is $69.99 for all four sessions, or $99.99 for all four sessions plus feedback on the homework and an additional sessions where you can ask any questions you may have on the course content or on federal land records. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Family History Library Hosts Free Classes

The Family History Library Announces Free Classes for September 2015

These classes and workshops are designed to help individuals and families find their ancestors and teach others family history techniques. 

Sep 3              11:00 A.M. British Resources on findmypast
                         1:00 P.M. British Resources on
Sep 5                1:00 P.M. Recursos en línea además de
Sep 10              1:00 P.M. United States Civil War Records
                          6:00 P.M. Descendancy Research Webinar
Sep 17            11:00 A.M. British Resources on
                       11:00 A.M. Czech Online Church Records Webinar
                         1:00 P.M. Key Websites for British Research (Besides the “Big 3”)
Sep 19             10:00 A.M. Boy Scout Genealogy Merit Badge (1½ hours)
                         1:00 P.M. Conozca el sitio PARES
                         2:00 P.M. Protocolos notariales
                         3:00 P.M. ¿No hay otros registros?
 Sep 22             1:00 P.M. Newspaper Research
 Sep 24             6:00 P.M. United States City Directories Webinar

Click on this link to access the Live Online Classes.  Or go to; click on Search; select Wiki. Type Family History Library andchoose the top entry. Click on 2.2 Live Online Classes for details; scroll to find the desired class.

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Guests may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.