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.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Research Plan Template

While speaking at the Northwest Genealogy Conference in Arlington, Washington I promised to post a link to my Research Plan Template. All the details on using the template are in the syllabus material shared at the conference. This is the link to the template in Word. Feel free to download it and us it on your own computer.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Two Gen Proof Study Groups to Begin in August

The Gen Proof study groups are organized to study the book Mastering Genealogical Proof, byThomas W. Jones. This is an exceptional textbook detailing the application of the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). The exercises will help you develop the skills you need to be comfortable applying the GPS to your genealogy work. This study program will consist of small groups of approximately 15-20 members and a mentor who will guide the discussions and answer questions. 

Registration is now open for two groups beginning in August:

Group 42 with Melanie Holtz, CG as mentor begins August 3rd. This is an ADVANCED group.

Group 43 with Cafi Cohen as mentor begins on August 17th. This is a Beginner/intermediate group.

Thanks to an arrangement with ProGen, the Gen Proof Study Groups now have the opportunity to use Basecamp as a platform. Basecamp is a project management platform that allows students to pose questions, participate in discussions and upload assignments. The group will not meet at a designated time but have ongoing discussions throughout the week. The mentor will log on each day to answer questions and highlight certain concepts, and participants should check in daily also. Basecamp is the same platform used for the ProGen Study Groups so some of you are already familiar with it.
There will be no expense involved to participate (other than the cost of the book). Each Gen Proof Study Group has their own private Basecamp group where they can ask and answer questions, submit assignments and examples and discuss the book content and assignments.

Commitments -- Please take into account any travel plans or large time commitments before registering for a study group. You should plan to fully participate in all of the group discussions and so should wait for a future group if you have a vacation coming up or large projects you are working on.

Completion Certificates – In order to encourage full participation throughout the course, we are now offering completion certificates to those who fully participate and complete the mentoring program. In order to qualify you must participate in each of the discussions and complete the exercises. In order for the group to be successful we need full participation from each group member. 

IF you are prepared to make a commitment to the study group, then please copy and paste the following into a new email (not a reply) to with the subject heading “Registration.”
Placement in discussion groups is on a first come first serve basis.
Gorup mentored by:
City, State:
Preferred Email Address:

Once you have been assigned to a group you will receive a confirmation email. After your group fills, you will be contacted and given access to the private Basecamp community for your group discussions.

BEFORE the start date of you group you should do the following:
1.     Begin reading Mastering Genealogical Proof. In particular read the preface, chapters 1 and 2.
2.     Read the two articles in Appendixes A and B. These articles will require multiple readings in order to absorb the information and do the exercises related to these articles. While the exercises don’t begin until chapter 2, you will need the extra time to digest these articles.
3.     If you are not familiar with the short article by William M. Litchman, CG, for learning how to read a National Genealogical Society Quarterly article, you will find his method helpful. The articles in Appendix A and B originally appeared in the NGSQ. The link to the Litchman article is 

The discussions begin on the date designated. The first week / discussion will begin right off discussing the preface and chapter one. The second week / discussion will cover chapter 2 including the reading and exercises, and will continue with one chapter per week, according the schedule set by the mentor.

Each group will discuss key points in the reading and there will be opportunities to ask questions on the reading material, exercises, and answers to the exercises. Each mentor will highlight points they think are important and guide discussions on the Genealogical Proof Standard and other content in each chapter.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask your mentor, or email Michelle Goodrum at

Michelle Goodrum
Gen Proof Study Groups Administrator

Sunday, June 28, 2015

New Certificate Program Available for British Research

The following announcement was written by the Society of Genealogists:

Friday 26th June, 2015:

The Society of Genealogists & Pharos Teaching & Tutoring today announced a new joint programme of education, the distance learning Certificate of Family History Skills and Strategies (Advanced).

The Society of Genealogists, in conjunction with Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd has been running its popular Intermediate distance learning programme since September 2010. The Advanced Certificate builds on this. It brings a two-year programme of assessed education online starting on 1 October 2015, consisting of taught modules and special stand-alone tutorial sessions. Pharos and the Society are working with the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA) to enable students to reach the standards necessary for membership application should they wish to work as professional genealogists in the future.
Taught modules are:
  • Old Handwriting – An Introduction to Secretary Hand
  • Manorial Records for Family and Local Historians
  • Church & Community 1540 – 1800; Selected Records
  • Researching Online for Advanced Genealogists
  • An Introduction to Medieval Genealogy
  • Researching in Archives for Advanced Genealogists
  • Land and Legal Records
  • Advanced Reports and Methods
Each module is monitored by the Society to ensure excellent standards of content and teaching.
The Advanced Skills and Strategies Certificate course is open to those who have successfully completed the Intermediate programme and are now looking for advanced instruction and the chance to undertake a family history project under supervision and in an early time period.
Students who have not completed the Intermediate course may, alternatively, choose not have work assessed and may take any module as a stand-alone option. Courses taken individually without assessment cost less.

To find out more or sign up for this great learning opportunity, visit Information abut the course and a link for bookings can also be found on the Society of Genealogists’ website at

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Registration for the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy opens Saturday

Set your alarm and get to your computer early Saturday morning, because registration opens for the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) at 9:00am Mountain Time (11:00am Eastern time). There are thirteen courses to choose from for SLIG 2016 including everything from land records to advanced methodology to genetic genealogy. There is a great line-up of instructors, and about 300 of your best genealogy friends to hang out with for the week. 

The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy will be held January 11-15, 2016 at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center.

Here is a listing of the 2016 courses offered at SLIG. For more details and a schedule for each of the courses click here.
  1. Resources and Strategies for U.S. Research, Part 2 with Paula Stuart Warren, CG
  2. Research in New York with Karen Mauer Jones, CG
  3. Research in the South with J. Mark Lowe, CG
  4. Corpus Juris: Advanced Legal Concepts for Genealogy with Judy Russell, JD, CG
  5. Early U.S. Church Records with Rev. Dr. David MacDonald, CG
  6. Advanced Research Tools: Land Records with Richard G. Sayre, CG and Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG
  7. Beginning Genetic Genealogy with Blaine Bettinger, JD, PhD
  8. Getting More Out of Genealogy Genealogy Research: Intermediate to Advanced DNA Analysis Techniques with Angie Bush, MS
  9. Solving Problems Like a Professional with Michael Hait, CG
  10. Advanced Genealogical Methods with Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL
  11. Writing a Quality Family Narrative with John Colletta, PhD
  12. Problem Solving with Luana Darby, MLIS
  13. Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum with Angela Packer McGhie

Friday, June 5, 2015

Family History Library Sponsors Free Webinars on U.S. Research

The Family History Library is offering 15 free webinars as part of it's week-long seminar on U.S. research. The event will be held October 12 - 16, 2015. The classes at the Family History Library are full, but the webinars are free and open to the public. The focus of the sessions is on U.S. research including different types of records and various FamilySearch resources. For full details on the seminar you can download the brochure. There is no need to pre-register for the webinars, just use the links below to attend. 
(Photo credit: Claudia Heaston)

Webinar Schedule and Links

12 October, Monday: (Times listed are Mountain Time Zone)

13 October, Tuesday:
14 October, Wednesday:
15 October, Thursday:
16 October, Friday:


Danielle L. Batson, AG, MLS spent 13 years working as a U.S. and Canada Reference Consultant at the Family History Library and her current assignment is working on content projects in the FamilySearch Research Wiki. Her research experience includes African-American research, the Midwest, South, and Mid-Atlantic States. She has also taught genealogy research classes at the Family History Library as well as various genealogical conferences including FGS in San Antonio and BYU’s Conference on Family History and Genealogy.

David Dilts, AG has been employed with the Family History Library since September 1975 first as a cataloger of German, Austrian, Swiss and Polish records then reference consultant. He earned his Master’s degree in Library Science from BYU and completed three years of doctoral work in history at the University of Utah. He is accredited in German and LDS research and has great experience in researching, writing and lecturing on genealogical topics.

Jason Harrison, CG is Supervisor of the Family History Library’s United States & Canada Research Specialists. He received his B.A. in Family History from Brigham Young University, is a Certified Genealogist, former New England Historic Genealogical Society intern, and National Genealogical Society conference lecturer. His research specialties include New England, Mountain states, and LDS research.

Joan Healey, AG is a native of Salt Lake City and earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah. Joan worked with the U.S./Canada/LDS Reference of the Family History Library since 1976, taking a short break to be the record attendant supervisor in British and European Reference She nurtures an interest in American Indian and African American research, and has contributed information to the FamilySearch Research Wiki.

Joni Kesler, BS, AG has been with the Family History Library for 30 years She has worked in the United States, British, Hosting and VIP units. Besides spending personal time on her own family history, Joni helps individuals in her ward to find ancestor’s names to take to the temple. She also enjoys spending time with her family of four daughters, four granddaughters, and one grandson. She loves reading and spending time with her family.

Nathan W. Murphy, MA, AG a United States and Canada Senior Research Consultant at the Family History Library, has been quoted by History Detectives, How the States Got Their Shapes and The Generations Project have sought his expertise for their TV shows. He has completed four years of Ph.D. studies in Colonial American and English history at Leicester and the University of Utah. Nathan is passionate about tracing immigrant origins and promoting DNA. He has published articles in scholarly genealogical journals in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Ken Nelson, AG is a collection manager for FamilySearch, and member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and Society of Civil War Historians.

Tim Bingaman, AG has worked at the Family History Library since 1990 acquiring his AG in Mid-Atlantic States in 1991. A member of the Historical Society of Berks County, Pennsylvania and the Berks County Genealogical Society, Tim has made numerous trips to Pennsylvania where he spends a great deal of time visiting societies, courthouses, cemeteries and the neighborhoods where his ancestors lived.