Monday, March 25, 2013

Genealogical Research in Ireland - Advanced Methodology

As part of my continuing series featuring genealogical institute course reviews, here guest author Barbara McTygue Scanlon shares her experience with David Rencher's course at the  British Institute. This institute takes place in October and is sponsored by the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History.  

Review of "Genealogical Research in Ireland - Advanced Methodology"
taught by David Rencher

Have you reached a brick wall with an Irish ancestor? The British Institute offers a chance of a lifetime experience!

The British Institute is a week-long experience. The Institute format is instruction during the morning and guided research during the afternoon. The instructor for the Irish class is David Rencher. David is employed by the Family History Department in Salt Lake City as the Chief Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch. A professional genealogist since 1977, he is an Accredited GenealogistCM with ICAPGenSM in Ireland research and a Certified GenealogistSM with the Board for Certification of Genealogists®.

I have attended the following classes taught by David Rencher:
2010 “Making the Transition from Irish Church Records to Irish Land Records”
2011 & 2012 “Genealogical Research in Ireland - Advanced Methodology”

David covers two or three topics each morning. During the week you will have a one hour consultation with David at the Library. He will give you feedback and advice on where to look for additional records. This consultation with David is priceless! The classes are small, this allows
everyone to get to know one another. On Monday the Family History Library closes at 5:00pm. The rest of the week it is open until 9:00pm. This gives you a chance to really spend time researching your family.

While researching my Irish ancestors for many years and I have been to Ireland several times. However David Rencher provided more information about researching Irish records that you can get anywhere else. I am looking forward to another opportunity to learn and research my Irish ancestors. This years class will be “Irish Land Records and Fragmentary Evidence Correlation.”

If you really want to learn about your Irish ancestors join me this October at the British Institute in Salt Lake City.

Barbara McTygue Scanlon - I love Irish genealogy. I started asking questions about my family in 1962. I didn’t know what genealogy was, but I had to find out about my family. Even though I have been doing genealogy for a long time, I have learned so much about my family in the past 4 years. My father is 100% Irish with Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic ancestors. My mother has three Irish lines, Roman Catholic, Irish Quaker and a new branch of Scots-Irish Presbyterians I discovered in January of 2013. My first trip to Ireland was in 1990 when I discovered that I had family still living in Tullamore.

In 2002 a group of friends started the Kansas City Irish Fest. We have almost 100,000 people attend each year. I developed the genealogy area for the festival. I have been a member of the Irish Fest Committee for the past 10 years. I am also on the Board of Directors for the Kansas City Irish Center. We celebrate, support, preserve and promote Irish heritage and culture. Last fall I started taking an Irish language class.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Unexpected Lessons from Tom Jones - Part 2

While I learn something every time I listen to Tom Jones speak, the unexpected aspect came during the question and answer period at the end of his presentation on "Variables in Professional Genealogists' Approaches to Research" at the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) Professional Management Conference (PMC). Here is some of the advice he shared.

[This is part two of my post on "Unexpected Lessons from Tom Jones." Lessons one through three can be found by reading part 1 of this post.]

The fourth lesson was on the importance of peer review of our work. The results of the research study highlighted in the presentation suggested that people were not very good at self-identifying their skill level. Tom stated that this was because they were not "objective." He believes that a third party evaluation is the only way to know for sure how advanced your genealogical skills are. The first option for peer review in genealogy comes through the credentialing organizations, The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) and The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen). These organizations have skilled genealogists giving impartial judgment on the work submitted to see if it meets current standards.

The second option for peer review is submitting your work to be considered by the editor of a genealogical journal. Tom said that writing articles for the NGS Quarterly  and being edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills was his doctoral in genealogy education. It taught him how to document his work and how to organize a proof argument. He says everybody could learn valuable lessons by being edited.

The fifth lesson came in response to a question from someone in the audience at the PMC. The individual said that he had believed that the apex of his genealogy education would be taking the Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis course from Elizabeth Shown Mills at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University. After he took the course he realized that it was just the beginning. [I also took this course and realized the same thing.] In this course Elizabeth works very hard to change her student's mindset and the way they approach solving genealogical problems. The questioner now teaches at several of the genealogy institutes and therefore does not have to option to take additional courses, so asked what he should be doing to improve his level of understanding.

In response Tom gave a list of four suggestions for continual improvement of advanced genealogical skills:

1) Researching
2) Reading
3) Writing
4) Teaching

Tom stated that like in other advanced academic fields you continue learning by researching and writing. We need to continually be researching as experience is the best way to hone any skill.

We need to be reading and studying the top genealogical journals including the the NGS Quarterly, The American Genealogist, The Genealogist, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record and The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Tom says reading these journals teaches us how to think genealogically, how to use a variety of sources, how to document, and how to write. It does not matter if there is never an article on any of our ancestors, we learn from the substance of the article including the sources and methods used.

We need to write up our research findings. As mentioned above, writing articles can teach skills in documenting research and organizing findings. Writing also has been shown to identify holes in our research and point out where further investigation is needed. This is an essential part of the Genealogical Proof Standard.

And when we have developed skills and areas of expertise then we teach others. Tom says you learn best by teaching and that the learning curve never ends. He has been climbing it for many years and can still not see the top. He is continually learning and that is what keeps him going.

I continue to ponder on this advice and the importance of research, reading, writing and teaching as the best methods to gain advanced genealogical skills. I welcome your thoughts as well.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Unexpected Lessons from Tom Jones - Part 1

First I will share what I learned, and then I will tell why it was unexpected.

Today I participated in the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) Professional Management Conference (PMC) virtually. I was unable to get to Salt Lake City for the conference but fortunately for me APG partnered with FamilySearch to live stream four of the presentations. The first one was today on "Variables in Professional Genealogists' Approaches to Research" given by Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS.

After the presentation Tom Jones took questions from the audience on the application of the lessons learned from the research presented. As most of you know I have a heavy focus on genealogy education and so Tom's comments on this topic were of particular interest to me.

First, he said that genealogy education is moving in the right direction by:
1) providing more advanced education, and
2) making it available to many more people.

He recommended the genealogy institutes as "higher level education" including the Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) which has been providing instruction since 1964, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), and the new Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP). He also mentioned the Boston University online Certificate Program in Genealogical Research and emphasized that it has now been accredited for three hours of graduate level credit. 

He highlighted genealogy webinars for making educational programs available to many more people, as well as FamilySearch advanced online video presentations and courses. Ten years ago most genealogy education was at community colleges or library beginner courses, except for IGHR at Samford and SLIG. Now there are better offerings.
Second, he made a distinction between genealogical "skills" and "knowledge." Skills refer to methodology and research techniques. Knowledge refers to known facts about records of a certain locality. Skills are harder to acquire. It is easier to learn the records of a new area if you are already well versed in research methodology. If you do not have good research skills then you will not be as successful in using the records you learn about.

Third, one of the participant brought up the point that ten years of experience in genealogy may not all be equal. A year in 1980 when it took much longer to locate and use census records is not the same as accessing them today in just a few minutes online. Tom agreed with her premise, but mentioned that he learned thinks in 1980 that genealogists today have little exposure to. Cranking microfilm page after page after page is a very different experience than putting a name in a search engine and going directly to a hit. He cited an example of when a person thought an index was wrong because it gave a different city for port of arrival than was printed at the top of the form. From his experience with scrolling through microfilm he knew to go back to the first page of the record and indeed the city indexed was correct as it was handwritten on the first page. He suggested that education needs to include the contextual information on records and lessons learned from previous methods of research.

The last few lessons learned will have to wait for part 2.

Now, the reason that these lessons were unexpected was because the presentation was on research that Tom and I had conducted together. He was reporting on a study that we did involving the students in the Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum course at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy in 2012. I was familiar with the subject matter as I have reviewed his presentation last week, and he did a great job with the presentation. It was during the question and answer period at the end that I was pleasantly surprised by the comments and insights Tom shared on the state of genealogy education, and his recommendations for advanced study (see the second post tomorrow).  

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mastering Genealogical Proof - The Newest "Must Have" Book

I am so excited for the release of Tom Jones' new book Mastering Genealogical Proof. He has written a "textbook" with explanations and practical exercises on how to understand and apply the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). He breaks down the GPS with a thorough discussion of each element and then invites the reader to practice the skills taught with real problems and answers. I think this immediate practical application of the knowledge gained is an excellent educational process.

You can pre-order a copy of Mastering Genealogical Proof  here.  The ship date is listed as approximately May 20th, but I assume that there will be copies available at the National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference in May, as NGS is the publisher of this new book. I will be organizing groups to study this new text and will post information as soon as the group format and registration process are established. If you are interested in mentoring a study group, please send me a message. If you are interested in participating in a study group, please wait for further instructions.  

Tom Jones is a masterful teacher and I am very excited for more genealogists to learn from him as they study this new book. For more information on the book, a link to the full table of contents, and a sample exercise, click here.

Table of contents for the book:
  • Preface 
  • Chapter 1 - Genealogy’s Standard of Proof
  • Chapter 2 - Concepts Fundamental to the GPS
  • Chapter 3 - GPS Element 1: Thorough Research
  • Chapter 4 GPS Element 2: Source Citations
  • Chapter 5 GPS Element 3: Analysis and Correlation 
  • Chapter 6 GPS Element 4: Resolving Conflicts and Assembling Evidence
  • Chapter 7 GPS Element 5: The Written Conclusion
  • Chapter 8 - Using the GPS
  • Chapter 9 - Conclusion
  • Appendix A - Pritchett Article
  • Appendix B - McLain Article
  • Glossary
  • Reading and Source List
  • Answers to exercises

Monday, March 11, 2013

Genealogists Gather in Las Vegas

The National Genealogical Society issued the following press release. I am excited to attend the conference in Las Vegas and hope to see many of you there! I will be hosting the ProGen Study Group breakfast on Thursday, May 9th and speaking on Federal Land Records on Saturday, May 11th. If you have not already registered you have a few more days to get the early bird discount.

March 11, 2013

Have you registered for the NGS Family History Conference in Las Vegas yet? Only eight days until the 19 March deadline for the early bird discount and ordering a print syllabus. After that date, the NGS member price will increase from $195 to $230 for all four days, the non-NGS member price will increase from $230 to $265, and only the flash drive syllabus will be available. You really don’t want to miss this year’s exciting conference program from 8–11 May at the LVH-Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. For conference information and to register, go to

Space is still available for all conference social events including the Tuesday bus tours, luncheons, and breakfasts.

Breakfasts, Luncheons, and the NGS Banquet 
Participating organizations sponsor several breakfasts and luncheons during the conference, and the NGS Banquet is an event not to be missed! Make your reservation by the deadline, 22 April, at Tickets for social events will not be sold on-site. Breakfasts are $28; luncheons are $32; and the banquet is $51. Menus are in the registration brochure at

Las Vegas Area Tours
There’s still time to sign up for three exciting Las Vegas area tours on Tuesday, 7 May. Tour tickets are available only until 22 April 2013.

Hoover Dam and Ethel M. Chocolates Tour: This six-hour tour allows participants to explore the rich history of the Hoover Dam, enjoy a buffet lunch, and tour a chocolate factory and botanical garden.

Museum Tour: Tour the 30-acre Clark County Museum and the National Atomic Testing Museum in this five-hour tour.

Night Tour: Experience the full brilliance of neon Las Vegas in a five-hour tour of the Las Vegas Strip and Downtown!

For more information, please see Las Vegas Area Tours at

Add Items to an Existing Registration
To add meals to your current registration, log on at, click on My Account, select My Events, and then click to Add Sessions. To add pre-conference events and tours, click on My Account and then select Upcoming Events.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Salt Lake Insitute of Genealogy Courses for 2014

The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) sponsored by the Utah Genealogical Association has announced their courses for 2014. It looks like a great line-up! There are some favorite courses returning, and some new ones that look very interesting. This institute will be held at the Radisson Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah on January 13-17, 2014. Registration for these courses will open on June 2, 2013.

Which course would you like to take if you could make it to SLIG in January of 2014?

2014 Courses and Coordinators:

American Research and Records: Focus on Families
Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FUGA 

New York Research
Karen Mauer Green, CG

Research in the South
J. Mark Lowe, CG

Scottish Research
Carolyn Barkley, MLS

Advanced Research Tools: Land Records
Richard G. Sayre, CG and Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL

Comprehensive Photo Detecting
Maureen Taylor, MA

Producing a Quality Family Narrative
John Philip Colletta Ph.D., FUGA

Researching in Eastern Europe
Kory Meyerink, AG

Advanced Genealogical Methods
Thomas Jones Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum
Angela McGhie and Kimberly Powell

Credentialing: Accreditation, Certification, or Both?
Apryl Cox, AG and Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

Problem Solving
Judith Hansen, AG, MLS

Thursday, March 7, 2013

2013 Speaking Schedule

If you would like to hear me speak here is my schedule for the next five months.

Frederick County Genealogical Society (Maryland)
Saturday, March 9, 2013
"What's New at FamilySearch?" 

Washington D.C. Family History Center Conference
Saturday, May 4, 2013
"Read All About Your Ancestors by Locating Historic Newspapers"
"Exploring the FamilySearch Wiki" 

National Genealogical Society 2013 Family History Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada
Saturday, May 11, 2013
"Researching in Federal Land Records" 

Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama
Monday, June 10, 2013 and Wednesday, June 12, 2013
"Federal Land Records" in the Intermediate Genealogy and Historical Studies course
"Using Tract Books" in the Understanding Land Records course

Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) at La Roche College in Pittsburgh, Penn.
Tuesday, July 23 and Wednesday, July 24, 2013
"Land Entry Files" and "Using Tract Books" in the Advanced Land Research: Locating, Analyzing and Mapping course

Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) co-sponsored with The North Hills Genealogists (of Pittsburgh)
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
"Read All About Your Ancestors by Locating Historic Newspapers"

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Constructing Database Searches: A Short Course

I received the following announcement about an online course Michael John Neill is conducting this month. It looks like an interesting course and I like the format that includes lectures, assignments and group discussions. If you are interested in participating register right away as it begins on Thursday.
Constructing Database Searches:
A Short Course
With Michael John Neill
March 2013
(scroll down for specific schedule)
Typing names into search boxes does not solve all your genealogical problems. We will see how to construct searches, organize searches, and problem-solve and troubleshoot when individuals are not located easily. Our discussion will concentrate on those instances when people are difficult to find. We will not be concerned with "easy" searches. We will use FamilySearch,, and other databases. The only fee-based database that will be used will be and attendees must have their own access to as it is NOT provided in your course registration. The course will consist of three lectures (topics and schedule below), problem assignments, virtual follow-up discussions, group discussion board interaction, and student submission of work (optional). There is no assigned grade—you get from this what you put into it. Students will also be able to share their work and ideas with other students.
If you were registered for a previous session and did not get to attend, please email me to be added to the course at no charge. Do not re-register.

Our lectures will be somewhat different--we will go through specific examples and situations and explain the different types of searches, wildcard, Boolean, string-based, etc. within the context of an example. That may seem like "diving in," but people tend to learn best by just doing. There will be reference information provided and time for discussion and commentary in the followup sessions and bulletin board interaction.
Citation of sources is important, but lectures will not focus on citation theory.
Students will need to choose someone they cannot find in a US Federal census and two other online databases (free ones).
Course registration is only $30. Class size is limited to 30 to encourage group interaction. Attendees will need to register by 8 PM Central Time on 6 March 2013. Class starts on 7 March 2013. Registration is limited and is on a first-come, first-served basis only.  Register here.
  • Assignment/Study 1Organizing Your Searches--The basics of any search strategy is search-tracking and organization. We'll see why when you are stuck most of your work is done away from the website. Students will then create search strategies based upon their own problems. 
  • Assignment/Study 2Troubleshooting & Determining Best Options--We will discuss ways to tweak your search based upon unsuccessful results, ways to get around incomplete or missing "help," pages, and determining what other databases contain the same information. We will also discuss when a manual search of the records may be necessary.
  • Assignment/Study 3— Discussion and Analysis of Student Problems--We will look at all (or most) student problems that were submitted, concentrating on those that highlight problem areas or situations not already discussed in detail.

Lectures will be recorded for those who are unable to attend or have audio/video issues.
Lectures and discussions will be via GotoMeeting.
Want to register? Registration is only $30 and can be done using your PayPal account or a major credit card (just process your order as a PayPal “guest.”).Register here. Email Michael at with questions. 
« March 2013 »
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

1 2
3 4 5
6 7
LECTURE-2:30-3:30 PM CST
8 9
10 11 12
Short virtual discussion 2:30-3:00 PM CST
13 14
LECTURE-2:30-3:30 PM CST
15 16
17 18 19
Short virtual discussion 2:30-3:00 PM CST 
20 21
LECTURE-2:30-3:30 PM CST
22 23
24 25 26
Short virtual discussion 2:30-3:00 PM CST
27 28
Wrap-up  2:30 PM CST

Virtual PMC for APG Members

If you are a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) and are unable to travel to Salt Lake City to attend the Professional Management Conference (PMC) then you will be interested in the following announcement from APG about a new virtual participation option:

March 5, 2013

Are you unable to attend our upcoming APG Professional Management Conference (PMC) in person? We are excited to announce a virtual option for a selection of the lectures. APG has partnered with FamilySearch to offer streaming for the following lectures:

Tuesday afternoon, 19 March 2013, 3:30-5:00 p.m., MDT
Variables in Professional Genealogists' Approaches to Research
Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

Wednesday afternoon, 20 March 2013, 1:30-5:00 p.m., MDT
Client Reports: Dos, Don't, and Maybes
Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

More Than the Begats: Using the Law to Spice up a Research Report
Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG

The Best Educational Plan for You: The Workshop
Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

The virtual option is available for APG members only. Pricing is $30 for Tuesday's lecture and $65 for Wednesdays lectures. The lectures will available through the APG website as a live stream, with recordings accessible for one week. Log in to the APG member site and register at For those interested in attending APG 2013 PMC in person in Salt Lake, 19-20 March, register at .

We look forward to your participation!

NEW Legacy Family Tree Webinar Memberships

I received the following press release this morning and am excited to share the news about one of my favorite educational opportunities. Many of you have participated in live webinars with Legacy Family Tree and now you can have access to the whole collection through a new membership option.

March 5, 2013 

New Annual/Monthly Webinar Memberships Provide Anytime-Anywhere Access to Entire Webinar Archives and Handouts
Genealogists and family historians can now have anytime, anywhere and unlimited access to the nearly 100 recorded genealogy webinars and more than 350 pages of instructors’ handouts that have been part of the Legacy Family Tree Webinar series with our new website at
Access to the complete archives (over 136 hours of classes) is now available through an annual or monthly Webinar Membership at the introductory price of $49.95 (annually) or $9.95 (monthly). Watching the live, weekly webinars continues to be free (36 more are scheduled in 2013), and visitors are free to view recordings for one week after a live presentation. For Webinar Members, new recordings and handouts will be added monthly at no extra cost.
That’s 1 year of unlimited access for just $49.95.
To take advantage of this special introductory price visit:
A leader in online genealogy education, the Legacy Family Tree Webinar series has been attended by researchers in more than 100 countries. “I’m excited to bring quality genealogy education into the homes of genealogists world-wide,” said Legacy Family Tree Webinars host, Geoff Rasmussen. “Genealogists from the most remote parts of the world have been able to learn from some of genealogy’s  finest instructors because of these webinars. It’s been fun to help pioneer this technology for our industry.” currently features 36 of genealogy’s leading educators including Megan Smolenyak, Thomas MacEntee, Barbara Renick, DearMYRTLE, Marian Pierre-Louis, Maureen Taylor, Geoff Rasmussen, Lisa Alzo, and Karen Clifford. Click here for the complete list. Subjects include:
  • Google
  • Organization
  • Photographs & Digital Images
  • Researching in United States, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, Germany, Eastern Europe
  • Brick Wall Solutions
  • DNA
  • Genealogy Technology
  • Many more
Register for upcoming webinars for free.
Click here to register for future webinars.
Become a Webinar Member
  • Annual Memberships – introductory price of $49.95/year – complete access to webinar archives and handouts for one year
  • Monthly Memberships – introductory price of $9.95/month – complete access to webinar archives and handouts for one month

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society Spring Meeting

On Saturday, April 6, 2013, the Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society (MAGS) is hosting their "Germans from the South" Spring 2013 meeting at the Holiday Inn Laurel West located in Laurel, Maryland. 
Dr. Kenneth Heger will present his lectures entitled "Those Other Germans: Introduction to the Hapsburg Empire" and "Austrian Germans: Bohemia." Dominic McDevitt-Parks will present "Using Wikipedia for Family History," and John Deeben will present "Documenting the War of 1812 Army Service."  
If you register before March 23rd, the cost is $40 for members and $45 for non-members. After that date the cost is $45 for members and $50 for non-members. Registration includes lunch. The brochure can be found at Register now to enjoy an interesting and educational event!