Wednesday, April 27, 2016

NGS Conference Recording Packages

Are you attending the NGS Family History Conference next week? I am excited to be there in person, but I always miss some excellent sessions because I can only be in one place at a time.

Are you unable to attend the NGS conference in Florida? Would you like to hear some of the conference sessions from home? Well, here are your options.

Option 1 --
There is still time to sign up to watch the live-streaming of ten of the sessions on Thursday and Friday, May 5th and 6th. If watching live does not fit into your schedule, you will have three months to watch the sessions at your convenience. Here is the link to register.

Option 2 -- 
You can purchase a pass which will include audio recordings of ALL 140 sessions of the conference! See the three package options in below, and click here to order online from PlayBack. This is a great deal, and if you act fast you can save $100 on the package by ordering before May 7th. After that date the prices go up.  

Option 3 --
If you just have a few sessions you are interested in, you can order them individually for $10 each. Click here to see a listing of all of the sessions by topic or presenter. I have ordered individual recordings of my favorite sessions for each of the last eight years. It is a great way to hear some of the best presenters in genealogy while you drive to work or take your daily walk. 

I hope you enjoy these options for continuing your genealogy education!


Monday, April 18, 2016

Space Available in ProGen Study Group

Have you been thinking of joining a ProGen Study Group to work through the manual Professional Genealogy with other genealogists? Do you have a friend that you would recommend for the course? There is an unusual opportunity right now to skip the waiting list and join a study group starting June 1st. 

If you feel you have the time and the experience requisite for the challenge of the ProGen Study Program, please see our website for details and then submit your application to the waiting list at

The study groups that have current openings will meet the first week of the month for a 60 minute discussion, once a month for 18 months, at the following times:

Friday, 11:00am Pacific, Noon Mountain, 1:00pm Central, 2:00pm Eastern

Sunday, 7:00pm Pacific, 8:00pm Mountain, 9:00pm Central, 10:00pm Eastern

If these do not work for you, then you can join the waiting list and hold off for the next study group to form in October.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Swing Through the South at SLIG

This is part of my ongoing series featuring guest authors writing reviews of the courses offered at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. I am excited to to have these friends share their perspective on the institute and the education they received. 

Review of "Swing Through the South" 
By Charmaine Riley Holley

In Womenfolks:Growing Up Down South [Houghton Mifflin (Trade) (July 26,1984)] Shirley Abbott wrote: “Besides its content and methods, the cuisine devised by squaws and hillbilly women, as well as slave women, had another thing in common, which was the belief that you made do with whatever you could lay hands on--pigs' entrails, turnip tops, cowpeas, terrapins, catfish--anything that didn't bite you first.” 

In the 2016 SLIG (Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy) course, Swing Through The South, we may not have discussed historical Southern cuisine, but we discussed geography, military, research methodology, and much more. We most definitely missed course coordinator J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA, but the course co-coordinator Kelvin L. Meyers and course instructors Deborah A. Abbott, Ph.D, Ann Gillespie Mitchell, and Michael Hait, CG, took us through a whirlwind tour. 

There were several presentations on general research methodology such as “Wills, Estates and Guardians” and “Essential Federal Records (Non-Military)”. Anne Gillespie Mitchell taught us how to be super searchers in “ Where Do I Go Next? Essential Search Skills”. Michael Hait shared the concept that “Everything happened in a place.” in “Maps, Atlases, and Gazetteers”. 

Kelvin, master of all things Texas, presented several of Mark’s lectures but truly shined when sharing his knowledge of researching the Lone Star State, as well as church records (“How Great Thou Art! Essentials of Church Records”). We covered seven major time periods in Texas history from 1519-1865. Kelvin does an excellent job of using his family and client case studies to exemplify the use of specific records. I hope that at sometime in the future one of the institutes has him do an entire session on Texas. 

In “Finding Records Through the South” Michael Hait reminded us that, not only do we need records, but we need to know who created the records. Next, we need to ask where are the original records now. Thanks to Michael and ARCHIVEGRID ( ) I found a Woodford County, KY slave record at Pennsylvania State University in their Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection. 

Anne Gillespie Mitchell is an energetic presenter and covered “Uniquely Southern Military Records” and “Farming and Other Occupations” along with being our tour guide for North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. During her class on “Strategies of the South” she reminded us to start with a solid research plan and to consult with fellow researchers. We were also provided with many tips on doing online research along the way. 

Dr. Deborah Abbott presented one of the most outstanding case study based lectures I have heard. Her love of using maps, manuscripts, and special collections was evident in “Learning about Neighbours, Family and Friends Through Manuscripts & Special Collections” and “People, Places, and Connected Records” (“black records that white people should look at”- Dr. Abbott), but “Follow a Case with Land” was mesmerising. Her tenacity and use of maps was extremely enlightening and the case was fascinating as presented. 

Homework assignments were reasonable and instructive, as were the short sessions we had with Mark Lowe when technology cooperated. I left SLIG with new knowledge, a 188 page syllabus full of information (thanks Luana Wentz Darby for great hard copies!), and a truism and admonition from Mark Lowe: 

Truism : “People die where they are.” (M Lowe) 

Admonition: “We should know our ancestors so well that we recognize them without their name tags.” (M Lowe) 

Charmaine Riley Holley has been a family historian and genealogist for more than thirty years. She is 100% Colonial Southern on her maternal side and has one “Yankee” line (Massachusetts Bay Colony) on her paternal side. Fascinated with incorporating DNA, Charmaine has recently been hired to do contract genetic and non-genetic genealogy research with a major company. She has attended many institute programs and hopes to attend many more as a great believer in continuous education.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Advanced Genealogical Methods - A Legend at SLIG

This is part of my ongoing series featuring guest authors writing reviews of the courses offered at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. I am excited to to have these friends share their perspective on the institute and the education they received. 

A Review of the "Advanced Genealogical Methods" course

Course coordinator - Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS
Review written by Victoria Kinnear

Tom Jones’s Advanced Methodology class is something of a legend at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. There are tales of excessive homework and the overall difficulty of the class. For many students, there is even a certain amount of apprehension about taking the course but when graduated students were asked about their experiences and if it was worth it, have all replied affirmatively and that the course has made them better genealogists.

In the course prerequisites, the class is described as being “intense” and for “high intermediate” genealogists with experience in having taken an intermediate genealogy course and have experience researching original records including probate and land. There are appropriate descriptions of the course and the necessary skills for getting the most out of it. Without solid research experience, students would be, for the most part, lost.

Before the course, several articles were provided to the class and were required to be read before the class began. This material should be studied and known very well in order to get the most from the class. A casual reading of the articles will not serve a student well as they are examined in great detail in the class during the week.

On the first day of of the class, the students introduced themselves and discussed why they were taking the course. Everyone was an experienced researcher who wanted to improve their skills, hopefully break down some brick walls, or were considering certification.

The class was a mix of a genealogy “how to” reviews and exploring several methods of research.  Much of the content reminds experienced researchers how to logically and completely research a question. An examination of the research process, developing a hypothesis, planning research, and the types of evidence were covered. Additionally, resolving conflicting evidence and research correlation were discussed. All were solid reminders of how to approach problems logically and with discipline and focus rather than getting excited and chasing squirrels in the middle of researching a problem.

Among the research topics covered were Archival Research, Probate Records, Military and Pension Records, Transcriptions and Abstractions, Land Records (including Federal), Maps, and Immigration and legal issues.

In addition to Tom Jones, Judy Russell, along with Pam and Rick Sayer were additional lecturers in the class. Each of the instructors were able to present information to the class that they had years of experience in performing as well as having a clear passion and depth in their lecture topics.

What I found to be most helpful was that I was able to examine where my strengths were as well as confirming some areas where I wanted to spend more time working to improve my skill levels.

Tom and the other instructors exhibited great patience and answered all of the classes questions thoughtfully and thoroughly. Tom even took the time to answer the questions after class and during breaks.

There was optional homework every night, some of it more challenging than others. It was all geared toward obtaining results if the time and effort was put into the tasks. For those who took the time to at least attempt the homework, positive and reinforcing results were learned.

Overall, the class is well worth taking for a serious genealogist and those wanting to go on to the next level of certification. It reinforced the things that I know and confirmed some areas that I need to work on to become a better genealogist.

Victoria Kinnear

Victoria Kinnear is the owner of My Ancestors Lived Here and has researched for television shows including Finding My Roots and Genealogy Roadshow. A strong believer in continuing education, in addition to completing the BU Certificate course in Genealogy and NIGR (Now GENFED), she attends GRIP, SLIG, IGHR, NGS, FGS, and OGS annually. She has deep Maryland roots and is the current President of the North Capital Area Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists Chapter and serves on the Executive Board of the Maryland Genealogy Society. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Family History Library Free Webinars for March 2016

The Family History Library Announces Free Webinars for March 2016

These webinars can be viewed online through (see directions below). All times listed are Mountain time.

Mar 2 --  10:00 A.M. Spanish Records Indexing Workshop (1½ hours)

Mar 5 -- 1:00 P.M. Improve Your Search Results in FamilySearch Hispanic Records

Mar 8 -- 1:00 P.M. Mid-19th Century England Case Study and Brainstorming Session

Mar 9 -- 10:00 A.M. Portuguese Records Indexing Workshop (1½ hours)

Mar 9 -- 1:00 P.M. Learning to Read German Handwriting (2 hours)

Mar 10 -- 10:00 A.M. Cousin Research

Mar 15 -- 2:00 P.M. America to Norway: A Case Study Finding Your Ancestors’ Place of Birth

Mar 16 -- 10:00 A.M. Italian Records Indexing Workshop (1½ hours)

Mar 17 -- 11:00 A.M. Where Is That? Finding and Understanding Places in Ireland

Mar 17 -- 1:00 P.M. Ireland Census and Census Substitutes

Mar 18 – 11:00 A.M. Ireland Catholic Church Records

Mar 18 -- 1:00 P.M. Irish Protestant Records

Mar 19 -- 1:00 P.M. Más allá de los registros indexados

Mar 23 -- 10:00 A.M. French Records Indexing Workshop (1½ hours)

Mar 24 -- 1:00 P.M. British Virtual Specialist Q&A Session

Mar 24 -- 6:00 P.M. Understanding United States Land Records

Mar 30 -- 10:00 A.M. Dutch Records Indexing Workshop (1½ hours)

Mar 31 -- 2:00 P.M. Using Swedish Household Exams and Parish Registers, Part 1

Mar 31 -- 3:00 P.M. Using Swedish Household Exams and Parish Registers, Part 2

Webinars can be accessed by going to; click on Search; select Wiki. Type Webinars and choose the top entry. Click on 1.1 Monthly Class Schedule, then the name of the month; scroll to find the desired class.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Corpus Juris: Advanced Legal Concepts for Genealogy

This is part of my ongoing series featuring guest authors writing reviews of the courses offered at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. I am excited to to have these friends share their perspective on the institute and the education they received. 

My Experience With SLIG's Corpus Juris Course
By Debra Hoffman

As genealogists researching and compiling the history of our families, we need to understand the time and place in which they lived. A crucial part of that understanding is learning about the laws that were in effect and their impact on our ancestors.

One of the best ways of receiving a comprehensive education on legal records is to take Judy Russell’s courses at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. She is the coordinator for a two-part curriculum. The first part, The Family History Law Library, will be offered in 2017. You can access more information here. In 2016, I attended the second part, Corpus Juris: Advanced Legal Concepts for Genealogy.

Besides Judy being a knowledgeable and entertaining speaker, the course contained substantial information to assist genealogical researchers in their encounters with legal records. To briefly summarize, the topics included: an overview of the legal system, research tools and strategies, statutes, session laws, probate records, court records, debt records, criminal records published materials, canon law, and civil law. As you can see from the topics, it was a jam-packed week!

One of my favorite parts of the course was the visit to the University of Utah Law Library. R. Lee Warthen, JD, MLS treated us to a personal tour of each floor of the library pointing out all the relevant resources that were available. It was a special treat to see the collection of old law books that were available to researchers. We also had the opportunity to do hands-on work at the library and a chance to put our new knowledge to the test as we worked through the exercises. I located a 1799 case that referenced a family with land in both Maryland and Virginia. The digest provided insight into the particulars of the case and it was amazing how many genealogical details could be gleaned from the summary. It is exciting to think about how much information might be available in the court records!

R. Lee Warthen, JD, MLS, leading the tour of the University of Utah Law Library

I also enjoyed the hands-on exercises that Judy incorporated into the course. From the ones at the law library to the documents that were reviewed during the lectures, it was beneficial to see actual documents that illustrated the concepts and provided for critical thinking and analysis. Best of all with the Family History Library right down the street; I was even able to put my new knowledge to work when conducting personal research.

One evening at the FHL, I was reading circuit court minutes for Hawkins County, Tennessee. I came across a writ of Scire Facias. Luckily, that was one of the topics that Judy had covered that day. It was satisfying to be able to apply my newfound knowledge! For those unfamiliar with that term, it is a “judicial writ, founded upon some matter of record, such as a judgment or recognizance and requiring the person against whom it is brought to show case why the party bringing it should not have advantage of such record, or why the record should not be annulled and vacated.”[1]

As a genealogical researcher, the benefit of taking this two-part series will be realized in the increased knowledge you will gain and the ability to apply that knowledge to understand and appropriately analyze legal documents in the future.

Specializing in Maryland and German research, Debra A. Hoffman is a professional genealogist and the owner of Hoffman Genealogical Services. She has a certificate in Family History from Brigham Young University and, since 2009 she has completed courses at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. Debra is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and serves on the boards of several genealogical societies. She belongs to the William Winchester Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution as well as many other state and local genealogical societies.

[1] Henry Campbell Black, Black’s Law Dictionary: Definitions of the Terms and Phrases of American and English Jurisprudence, Ancient and Modern with Guide to Pronunciation, 4th ed. (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., 1951), term “Scire Facias.”

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Early U.S. Church Records - SLIG Course Review

This is part of my ongoing series featuring guest authors writing reviews of the courses offered at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. I am excited to to have these friends share their perspective on the institute and the education they received. This one is written by Valerie Elkins.

SLIG Course: Early U.S. Church Records Review

By Valerie Elkins

Class Coordinator: Rev. David McDonald, CG
Instructors: Michael Locopo, Lisa Arnold, Warren Bittner, CG

This course was new to SLIG, and much anticipated. The Reverend Dr. McDonald covered the history of numerous religions found in early America, some basic beliefs of the faith and what records were available and where they could be located. Especially helpful was knowing the changes in the different faiths, migration and map locations through periods of time.

As Doctor of Divinity, David McDonald is an excellent and very qualified course coordinator. His presentations were through, thoughtful and well planned. His humor and wit are a plus.

Michael Locopo was very well versed in the Mennonite religion and also gave a class on the religious newspapers and periodicals available. Michael is not only a knowledgeable instructor, a seasoned presenter, but he was very generous in his offers to assist the students.

Lisa Arnold has a great love and understanding of the Quaker faith and that was respectfully communicated in her presentation. I enjoyed her and appreciated her presentation.

Warren Bittner offered a class on the many records available for those searching for records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All the instructors provided excellent handouts and syllabus material.

Church records are an invaluable resource and may provide the records and information that cannot be found elsewhere. I recommend this course who wants to be a better researcher in Early American records. Very well done and I personally gained some insight into my own family history.

I would have liked to have more information on where records were located and lesson information on the religion’s founding and history, while interesting, I really wanted to delve into l more location of records, especially more lesser known sources.

Religions Dr. McDonald covered were:

·      Catholicism
·      Episcopalian/Anglican
·      Presbyterians
·      Puritans/Pilgrims
·      Lutherans
·      Huguenots
·      Dutch Reformed
·      Jewish
·      Christian/Disciple of Christ
·      Methodist
·      Baptists

Michael Locopo covered Mennonite as well as Religious newspapers and periodicals.
Lisa Arnold taught about the Quakers, while Warren Bittner covered The Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints.

The course did provide a great general understanding of Early US Churches, which is what I was hoping for. I would recommend this course for others, especially those with early US ancestors.

Inline image 1  Valerie Elkins is a professional researcher, specializing in Japanese ancestry, and is a frequent presenter and speaker at national and regional conferences. CEO and founder of Advantage Genealogy, she blogs about all things related to family history at Valerie serves on the Association of Professional Genealogists' Board of Directors and has worked at the Family History Library as an International Research Consultant.