Sunday, March 1, 2015

Registration Open for 2016 British Institute

The International Society for British Genealogy and Family History (ISBGFH) is pleased to announce that registration is now open for the 15th Annual British Institute. The Institute will be held September 21-25, 2015, at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel, conveniently located in the center of historic downtown Salt Lake City and next door to the Family History Library (FHL).

This year’s Institute features four renowned genealogists from the British Isles — Else Churchill and Alec Tritton from England, Fiona Fitzsimons from Ireland, and Bruce Durie from Scotland. They will be joined by board-certified genealogist Melissa Johnson, who specializes in writing and publishing. The instructional format includes plenty of time to research in the nearby FHL.

The amazing course line-up includes:

Researching Your English Ancestors” — Else Churchill and Alec Tritton

Else is the Genealogist at the Society of Genealogists in London and a former member of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on National Records and Archives. She writes a regular column for the UK Family Tree Magazine and has been featured on BBC Radio 4 programs as well as the popular UK television shows Who Do You Think You Are and Find My Past.

Alec is a former chairman of the Federation of Family History Societies and the Guild of One-Name Studies, as well as vice-chairman of the Society of Genealogists. He has lectured extensively in England, presented at Who Do You Think You Are Live and the Society of Genealogists centenary conference, and specializes in burial grounds and obscure non-conformist sects.

The course will explore English records, resources for London ancestors, and solutions to seventeenth century research problems.

Tracing Your Irish Ancestors” — Fiona Fitzsimons

Fiona is a popular columnist for History Ireland and contributor to Irish Lives Remembered. She is founder and Director of Eneclann, a Trinity College Dublin Campus company; coordinated the Genealogy Advisory Service in the National Library of Ireland; developed workshops for the National Library of Ireland; and contributed research to Who Do You Think You Are (UK), Faces of America, and Finding Our Roots.

This course will focus on building the knowledge, skills, and confidence necessary to research Irish ancestors using records available through the Family History Library and Irish repositories.

Everything You Need to Know about Scottish Genealogy . . . and Then Some” — Bruce Durie, Ph.D., FSA Scot, FIGRS

Bruce founded the post-graduate program of Genealogical Studies at the University of Strathclyde and served as Course Director for six years. He is probably best known for his BBC radio series Digging Up Your Roots and A House with a Past. He has authored 30 books, co-organizes ancestral tours, and co-manages the Scottish DNA Project. He was recently elected to the prestigious Académie Internationale de Généalogie, the only member from Scotland.

This course will demonstrate how to explore, understand, and use the best-preserved, most complete and accessible sets of records on the planet, available through Scottish repositories.

Elements of Genealogical Writing, Editing, and Publishing” — Melissa Johnson, CG

Melissa’s work has been published in numerous journals and magazines. She has written and edited family histories, biographies, narratives, and case studies and is experienced in layout and design. She serves as the Reviews Editor of the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (APGQ) and Editor of the GSNJ Newsletter for the Genealogical Society of New Jersey.

This course will cover the principles of genealogical writing and the skills needed to turn your research into a well-written genealogical work in a variety of publication formats.

Registration Information: Participants who register by August 15th will receive a discount of $65 off the regular registration fee of $495. Registration, lodging, and other information may be found at Once you have registered, you will receive an “I’m Attending” info-graphic to share on your favorite social media platforms.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

RootsTech Live Streaming Schedule

If you are like me and are unable to be in Salt Lake City this week for RootsTech, then you may like to watch some of the sessions LIVE on the internet. Here is the schedule of sessions that will be streamed live on the home page of After the conference, recordings of these sessions will be posted on the website for a limited time.

Class Title
8:30 a.m. -10:00 a.m.
Thursday General Session

11:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m.
30 Pieces of Tech I Can't Live Without
D. Joshua Taylor
1:30 p.m. -2:20 p.m.
You've Mastered the Census and Basic Search, What Next?
Karen Auman
3:00 p.m. -4:00 p.m.
What's New at FamilySearch
Devin Ashby
4:30 p.m. -5:30 p.m.
Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy
Diahan Southard
10:30 a.m. –11:30 a.m.
Innovator Summit Challenge Event

1:00 p.m. -2:00 p.m.
Building a Genealogy Research Toolbox
Thomas MacEntee
2:30 p.m. -3:30 p.m.
Bring Your Ancestor Back to the Future
Anne Leishman
4:00 p.m. -5:00 p.m.
The Write Stuff. Leaving a Recorded Legacy: Personal Histories, Journals, Diaries, and Letters
Valerie Elkins
8:30 a.m. –10:00 a.m.
Saturday General Session

10:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m.
Finding the Living among the Dead: Using the Internet to Find Your Living Cousins
Amy Archibald
1:00 p.m. -2:00 p.m.
Family History on the Go Using Phones and Tablet Apps
Crystal Beutler
2:30 p.m. -3:30 p.m.
Personal History Triage: How to Tell the Best Ten Stories of Your Life
Alison Taylor
4:00 p.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Finding Your Family on
Peter Drinkwater

Streaming Help
The stream will automatically refresh at the beginning of each session. If it does not, you will need to refresh the page manually by clicking the Refresh button on your browser.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

National Institute on Genealogical Research Appoints New Director

National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) Board of Directors Appoints New Director

The board of directors of the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) is pleased to announce the appointment of Malissa Ruffner, J.D., CGSM as director of the institute, effective immediately. She will assume responsibility for future programs, the next to be held in July 2016. The National Archives has expressed strong support for the continuation of NIGR and will work with the new director to assure the institute’s success in future years.

Malissa, a resident of Baltimore, Maryland, earned a Bachelor of Arts from Goucher College and a law degree and a Master of Library Science degree, both from the University of Maryland. In addition to genealogy, she has worked as a lawyer, and in schools, libraries and archives. Her genealogical pursuits include client work, writing and blogging, lecturing, and participation in conferences and institutes, including NIGR, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University, the Genealogical Research Institute at Pittsburgh, Forensic Genealogy Institute, ProGen Study Program, and “Come Home to New England” at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Malissa currently serves on the Maryland Genealogical Society Board of Directors and on the Intellectual Property Committee of the Board for Certification of Genealogy.

Note: In view of the recent death of NIGR’s former director, Patricia Shawker, the July 2015 institute has been postponed for one year. Additional information will be forthcoming.

Nicki Birch
NIGR Board of Directors

Creating an Effective Research Plan Workshop

I am excited to be a part of the Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society (MAGS) Spring Workshop this year. We will spend three hours discussing how to create an effective research plan, and then have time for hands-on practice where participants create a research plan for an ancestor they are working on. The planning method taught will include thinking through the research problem, creating a profile of your ancestor, analyzing documents collected, identifying resources available for the time and place, and creating a written plan to guide your research. I hope to see some of my local reader there!


The Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society (MAGS) will host a workshop and meeting on Friday and Saturday, March 20th and 21st, 2015.

Angela Packer McGhie will be leading participants in a “Creating an Effective Research Plan Workshop.” It will be held at the Holiday Inn – Laurel West on Friday, March 20th from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Efficient research takes planning and this workshop will highlight a process for focusing your research objectives and identifying sources most likely to answer your research question. The cost prior to March 10th is $35 for members and $40 for non-members. After March 10th the price increases by $5 for both categories. For registration, see

On Saturday, March 21st, MAGS is hosting their Spring Meeting, entitled “Bringing Your Family’s World to Life.” Rebecca Whitman Koford, CG, will be presenting four lectures designed to help you uncover your ancestors’ lives. Topics include cemetery and funeral home research, newspaper research, researching female ancestors and writing the family narrative. The meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn – Laurel West. The cost prior to March 10th is $45 for members and $50 for non-members. After March 10th, the price increases by $5 for both categories. For additional details on the topics and to register, see

Seats are limited, so register now for this two-day genealogical event!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Minnesota Genealogical Society Webinar Series

The Minnesota Genealogical Society has a great lineup of webinars for 2015! These are FREE and begin at 7:00pm on the dates listed below. For more information, or to register, visit the Minnesota Genealogical Society website at . The press release below is shared courtesy of GeneaPress.
Minnesota Genealogical Society announces its 2015 Webinar Series:
  • February 4thGenealogy Do-Over™: A Year of Learning from Research Mistakes – Thomas MacEntee. It isn’t often that we get a “do-over” when it comes to stuff that matters in life. When you first got started researching your family history, did you do some things that now are just plain “embarrassing” such as name collecting, not citing sources and more? Well, now there’s hope since genealogists from beginner to advanced are employing new research methodologies and documentation practices. Follow genealogist Thomas MacEntee as he basically starts his genealogy research from scratch but includes sound research practices and methodologies as well as new templates, tools and the latest technology to create a better body of family history research.
  • March 4thMidwestern & Plains State Level Census Records – Paula Stuart-Warren. Many Midwestern and Plains states have superb state census records. Learn about the indexes, the many personal details these censuses include, locating the censuses, and alternate sources. The lecture includes many specific examples from these enumerations, provides an overview of state censuses for Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, and indicates where they may be found. The personal details vary but may include names of children, maiden names, military service, religious denomination, mother of how many children, occupation, value of real estate, and other helpful details.
  • April 1stFind Your American Ancestor Using Canadian Records – Kathryn Lake Hogan. When you can't find your ancestor's birth, marriage or death registration, or their name on a ship list or immigration record at Ellis Island, then it's time to consider your ancestor may have been in Canada. Whether your ancestor was here for a day or for many years, he/she left behind records. When you hit a brick wall in your research, it's time to consider Canada. Even if you think your American or immigrant ancestors were never in Canada, discover eight reasons why they actually may have been there. Learn how and where to find the Canadian or provincial records that will help you fill in the missing pieces of your ancestors' lives.
  • May 6thResearching Your Swedish Ancestry in the 21st Century – Ginny Sharp Sommarstrom. Researching your Swedish-American ancestors has become much easier in the last ten years, thanks to the availability of numerous Swedish and American resources in digital format, all accessible from the comforts of your home. This presentation will provide a framework for tracing Swedish- American ancestry that is based on four essential questions that must be answered. Resources for answering those questions are illustrated and discussed. With answers to those four questions in hand, we will delve into U.S. immigration, Swedish emigration, and Swedish church records. Clear step-by-step examples will help the listener find their own ancestors in these records.
  • June 3rdGenealogy and GIS: A Beginner’s How-To – Jennifer Alford. When you dig into genealogy, a repeated lesson is to know your location. We’ll uncover how using GIS can connect geospatial history with your family history research. In this session, we’ll cover the exciting historical geospatial information that is now available for use in Google Earth and the many other tools available online. I’ll present the many options and databases that could be an invaluable tool in your research. We’ll discuss the importance of historical context and the kinds of data that can be used to further your genealogical research.
  • August 5thA Guided Tour to Cyndi’s List 2.0 – Cyndi Ingle. This begins with a brief history of Cyndi's List, followed by an overview of how to navigate the site and how to tell when the site is updated. Learn how to effectively use this valuable resource tool as your jumping-off point onto the Internet.
  • September 2ndGenealogical Research Using Facebook’s 4,000+ Genealogical Pages & Groups – Katherine R. Willson. Facebook is quickly becoming a favorite resource among genealogical researchers for its vast networking capabilities. With many thousands of regional and surname-specific genealogy groups, researchers are discovering relatives, sharing photos, finding obituaries and breaking down brick walls that have blocked them for years - often within 24 hours of posting a query! This presentation introduces members to Facebook as a genealogical research tool and guides them through the process of efficiently utilizing Facebook for specific genealogical needs. Participants are also given the link to the 120-page PDF file listing 4,000+ genealogical pages & groups on Facebook.
  • October 7thEngaging the Next Generation – Shannon Combs-Bennett. The youth are our future is stated many times through different organizations. Genealogy is no different. Today there are children and young adults you know who want to learn more. Most people, however, do not know how to do it. In this presentation, I will go through ways to engage, interact, and teach the youth in your life about family history. Not all of them may grow up to be professionals but through education they will develop an appreciation for what their ancestors did and where research can take them.
  • November 4thResearch Logs and Plans for Every Genealogist – Lisa Alzo. Whether you’re a beginner, or an experienced genealogist, learn how create and maintain research plans and logs to maximize your research time and increase success. Through examples, you will discover how simple it is to develop easy-to-use research plans and logs you can access no matter where you are. Session will demonstrate key steps such as deciding on a format (Excel spreadsheet, Google Drive, or Evernote), creating the columns you'll need, designing the document, entering information, and using and maintaining the database.
  • December 2ndPassenger Lists: A Boat-Load of Records, 1565–1954 – Valerie Eichler Lair. There truly is a “boat-load” of records on passenger lists! Learn what you need to know before searching, how to find these valuable records and available resources, and really cool information you’ll get about the ancestors who took the journey across the “Big Pond.” In addition to researching for passenger lists, we’ll cover a bit about immigration records.
All webinars are held at 7:00 pm Central. Visit the Minnesota Genealogical Society website at for more information.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh Registration Details

I am excited to be teaching in the land course at the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) this June! Here are the details from GRIP co-director Elissa Powell on registering for the programs this summer:

Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) is a very popular “summer camp for
genealogists” that is held on the campus of La Roche College, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Last year 205 students from 40 states and 3 countries attended seven classes in Pittsburgh. Having fun while learning about genealogy in the company of friends and like-minded classmates is why students return year after year. Not to mention the course coordinators and instructors who are tops in the field! GRIP is happy to provide two separate weeks for learning opportunities this summer, each with its own opening registration date.

Registration for the first week of GRIP is coming quickly on Wednesday, February 4, at Noon Eastern. A countdown timer has been installed on the registration page which will go automatically at the “zero hour” to the registration page. There is no need to watch the clock, hit refresh, or otherwise fear that you will miss the “opening bell.” In fact doing any such action will interfere with the automatic transition and slow your computer down. All you have to do is pick out your course from the list below and read the Registration page completely to prepare your registration answers. Descriptions of the 18 lecture sessions for each course are detailed on the GRIP website.

See you this summer in Pittsburgh!

These six courses to be held June 28 to July 3, 2015 in Pittsburgh have registration beginning February 4:
§  Writing Your Immigrant Families’ Stories: From Research to Publishing with John P. Colletta, Ph.D. and Michael Hait, CG
§  Determining Kinship Reliably with the Genealogical Proof Standard with Thomas W. Jones, PhD., CG, CGL and Karen Mauer Jones, CG, FGBS
§  Researching New York State with Karen Mauer Jones, CG , FGBS
§  Problem Solving with Church Records with Rev. Dr. David McDonald, CG
§  Advanced Research Tools: Land Records with Richard G. Sayre, CG, CGL and Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL, Angela McGhie, and Judy G. Russell, CG, CGL
§  Practical Genetic Genealogy with Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, CeCe Moore and Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D.

These six courses to be held July 19-24, 2015 in Pittsburgh have registration beginning February 18:
§  Intermediate Genealogy: Tools for Digging Deeper with Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA, Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS, and Debra Mieszala, CG
§  Advanced Research Methods with Thomas W. Jones, PhD., CG, CGL, Judy G. Russell, CG, CGL, Rick Sayre, CG, CGL, and Pam Sayre, CG, CGL
§  Refresh, Rebuild and Recharge Your Genealogy Career with D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS, Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA, Judy G. Russell, CG, CGL, and Debra Mieszala, CG
§  Pennsylvania: Research in the Keystone State with Sharon Cook MacInnes, Ph.D. and Michael D. Lacopo, D.V.M.
§  Practical Genetic Genealogy with Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, Patti Hobbs, CG, and Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D.
      §  Law School for Genealogists with Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL and Richard G. “Rick” 
      Sayre, CG, CGL, Marian L. Smith

Sunday, January 18, 2015

IGHR Registration Opens Tuesday! Are you ready?

I know there are lots of genealogists who would love to attend the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR). They have their eye on a course, and want to be among the first to register and ensure their spot. Well, the fun will take place this Tuesday, January 20th beginning at 11:00a.m. Eastern (10:00am Central).

If you have not registered for IGHR before, you will want to visit the IGHR 101 page to familiarize yourself with the process and have your information typed out and ready to copy into the registration form. There is a video guide on how to register or get on the waiting list if a course is full. You will want to do this. There are cancellations every year and some of those on the waiting list get into their course of choice.

In order to accommodate the rush on the IGHR online registration system, the courses have a staggered opening for registration. Here is the schedule:

11:00 AM Eastern (10:00 AM Central):
#3. Advanced Methodology & Evidence Analysis, coordinator Judy Russell
#9. Genealogy as a Profession, coordinator Elissa Powell
11:30 AM Eastern (10:30 AM Central):
#4. Writing and Publishing for Genealogists, coordinator Thomas W. Jones
#6. The Five Civilized Tribes: The Records & Where to Find Them, coordinator Linda Geiger
12:00 PM Eastern (11:00 AM Central):
#8. Research in the South: The Colonies of the South, coordinator Mark Lowe
#10. Virginia’s Land & Military Conflicts, coordinator Victor Dunn
12:30 PM Eastern (11:30 AM Central)
#2. Intermediate Genealogy & Historical Studies, coordinator Angela McGhie
#7. Land Records: Using Maps, coordinator Rick Sayre
1:00 PM Eastern (12:00 PM Central):
#1. Methods and Sources, by Pamela Sayre
#5. Military Records II, by Craig Scott

I wish each of you the best of luck in getting in to the course of your choice!!