Thursday, January 30, 2014

SLIG Announces 2015 Offerings

I am excited about these new institute courses! At the banquet for the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) the director Christy Fillerup revealed the course lineup for 2015. There are so many new options that I think it will be hard to choose from among them. There are courses on family history and the law, DNA, writing proof arguments, and finding immigrant origins.

The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy has some of the best genealogy instructors willing to share their expertise with you. Mark your calendars for January 12-16, 2015 and also for June 7th of this year for registration. Many course sell out quickly, so you will want to be ready to log in promptly. For now, evaluate you own educational needs and choose the class that is right for you.

2015 SLIG course lineup:
1. The Family History Law Library (Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL and Rick Sayre, CG, CGL)

2. Researching in Original Resource Repositories (John Colletta, Ph.D., FUGA)

3. Advanced Genealogical Methods (Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS)

4. Finding Immigrant Origins (David Ouimette, CG)

5. Advanced German Research (F. Warren Bittner, CG)

6.  Advanced Research Tools: Post-War Military Records (Craig R. Scott, CG, FUGA)

7.  Resources & Strategies for United States Research, Part I (Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FUGA, FMGS)

8.  From Confusion to Conclusion: Writing Proof Arguments (Kimberly Powell & Harold Henderson, CG)

9. Getting Started with Genetic Genealogy (Debbie Wayne, CG, CGL)

10. Diving Deeper into New England (Advanced) (D. Joshua Taylor, MA)

11. Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum (Angela McGhie and Kimberly Powell)

12. Problem Solving (Judi Hansen, MLIS, AG)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

RootsTech Sessions to be Streamed Live

I am excited about the RootsTech announcement about 15 of their sessions being streamed live over the internet. I just returned from Salt Lake City last week where I attended the APG Professional Management Conference and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. As much as I would like to attend RootsTech in person, I cannot leave my family again so soon. I will be watching some of these sessions from home, and hope that you are able to as well. Thank you FamilySearch!

SALT LAKE CITY - January 29, 2014  

RootsTech, the world's largest family history and technology conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 6-8, 2014, announced today that 15 of its popular sessions will be broadcast live and complimentary over the Internet. The live broadcasts will give those unable to attend in-person worldwide a sample of this year's conference content. Interested viewers can watch the live presentations at The fourth-year conference has attracted over 10,000 registered attendees in-person, and leaders expect over 20,000 additional viewers onli

The streamed sessions include a sampling of technology and family history presentations. Following are the broadcasted sessions and speakers. All times are in mountain standard time (MST):
Thursday, February 6
10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Top 10 Things I Learned About My Family from My Couch by Tammy Hepps
1 p.m. to 2 p.m., FamilySearch Family Tree: What's New and What's Next by Ron Tanner 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Intro to DNA for Genealogists by James Rader 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Genealogy in the Cloud by Randy Hoffman
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sharing Your Family with Multimedia by Michael LeClerc
Friday, February 7
10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Storytelling Super Powers: How to Come Off as Your Family's Genealogy Hero by David Adelman
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., Tweets, Links, Pins, and Posts: Break Down Genealogical Brick Walls with Social Media by Lisa Alzo
2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Getting the Most Out of by Crista Cowen
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Finding Family and Ancestors Outside the USA with New Technologies by Daniel Horowitz
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Do It Yourself Photo Restoration by Ancestry Insider

Saturday, February 8
10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Become an iPad Power User by Lisa Louise Cooke
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., Information Overload: Managing Online Searches and Their Results by Josh Taylor
2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., A Beginner's Guide to Going Paperless by Randy Whited
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., How to Interview Yourself for a Personal History by Tom Taylor
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Five Ways to Do Genealogy in Your Sleep by Deborah Gamble

About RootsTech
RootsTech is a global family history event where people of all ages learn to discover and share their family stories and connections through technology. The first annual conference was held in 2011, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hosted by FamilySearch and sponsored by leading genealogical organizations, the conference includes hands-on demonstrations and forums to provide a highly interactive environment and accelerate learning. Content is geared to young and old, beginner to advanced levels.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Making Progress in Virginia -- More Letters Needed

We are making progress in Virginia in the quest to restore access to 19th century county and city order books. There is another need for researchers to write letters, as explained in the following letter forwarded by Barbara Vines Little.

Dear Genealogical/Historical Researcher,

Thank you for your help in contacting members of the Virginia General Assembly to urge passage of a bill to restore access to 19th century county and city order books.

I contacted you earlier this week, asking that you write members of the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee to support HB 100, which will cure that problem.

Thanks to your support, I am pleased to report that HB 100 was unanimously reported out of the House subcommittee yesterday afternoon, and out of the full House Committee this morning.  Committee members reported receiving numerous messages supporting the bill.  The bill has been amended to make it clear that actual concealed carry permits and applications will remain closed, but order books will be open after 5 years.  HB 100 should be routinely approved by the full House in the next week or so, and sent to the Senate for action.

I now need your help with a parallel Senate bill, SB 600, offered by Senator John Cosgrove.  While not required, parallel House and Senate bills are often used by proponents in case one bill runs into problems.

SB 600 (also opening order books to the public after five years) will come before the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, probably next Wednesday afternoon.

Please email the members of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee (whose email addresses are below), with the following suggested message (revise as you deem appropriate).  I will keep you advised on the progress of both bills.

Thank you for your support of access to Virginia’s records!

Peter E. Broadbent, Jr.
Former President, Virginia Genealogical Society

       *                 *                *
Here is the list of email address for the Virginia state senators, and a sample letter:

Dear Senator:

I urge you to support SB 600 of Senator John Cosgrove, now before the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.  This bill will cure an unintended consequence of prior legislation which has denied researchers access to Virginia historical public records going back to the 1700’s.

The Library of Virginia has had to withdraw 222 reels of microfilm from research access.  Local clerks have been compelled to deny researchers access to county order books and indices covering the 1800’s. 

Please cure this barrier to genealogical and historical research in Virginia by passing SB 600.

[your name and address]

Monday, January 20, 2014

New IGHR Intermediate Genealogy Course

I am excited to be the new coordinator of the Intermediate Genealogy course at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University. This year IGHR will be held June 8 - 14, 2014 and registration opens tomorrow, January 21st. There are some new elements to the course such as online search strategies, evaluating genealogical evidence, and using DNA as a research tool, which will complement the classes delving into a wide variety of genealogical records. 

This course has a new team of instructors including:
Thomas W. Jones
Judy Russell
Debbie Parker Wayne
John Phillip Colletta
Craig R. Scott
Kimberly Powell
Angela Packer McGhie 

  • Provide in-depth instruction on records essential for genealogical research, including census, federal and local land, immigration, naturalization, military, pension, newspaper, tax, city directory, manuscript, probate and court records. 
  • Emphasize how to locate, use and understand the intricacies of each type of record.
  • Expand the students’ knowledge of essential research planning skills and evidence evaluation techniques.
  • Enhance the students’ ability to locate genealogical information on the Internet through online research strategies and use DNA evidence to supplement traditional research.
  • Enable the students to apply the concepts they are learning directly to their own research through a student project.


Introduction and Essential Skills

Instructor: Angela Packer McGhie
This session is an introduction to the course and a discussion of “essential skills” for genealogists including: thorough research, developing a research strategy, creating a research plan, and citing sources. We will discuss the Genealogical Proof Standard and set the tone for the rest of the course. 

Using Genealogical Evidence

Instructor: Thomas W. Jones

Genealogists use the processes of analysis and correlation to test the accuracy of evidence and potential conclusions. Analysis shows whether a source's information is more or less likely to be correct. Correlation shows how that information and the resulting evidence resembles or differs from other information and evidence items. Through explanations, examples, and activities, students will learn how to detect, assess, and assemble direct and indirect genealogical evidence into proof statements and proof summaries. 

Order in the Court: Using Court Records in Genealogical Research

Instructor: Judy Russell

From the most local courts of limited jurisdiction to the Supreme Court of the United States, from colonial times to the present, the records of American courts have been of critical importance to the genealogist. This session will present an overview of the typical court structure of most American jurisdictions, the reasons why individuals interacted with the courts of their day, the records kept of those interactions, and the clues to identities, relationships and lives that can be found in those records. Case examples drawn from both trial and appellate courts will demonstrate how to look beyond the index to the rich array of detail that court records provide.

The Records of Death: What Probate Records Add to Genealogy

Instructor: Judy Russell

Where there’s a will, there’s a probate: the legal process of settling an estate. Often when there isn’t a will, there’s still a probate. Understanding the legal process and finding the records created when ancestors died can help break through genealogical brick walls. This session will review the different processes followed for testate and intestate estates, comparing and contrasting the records created within the probate process and those that might exist outside of the probate court, and reviewing the law guiding the process. Case examples will demonstrate both the direct use of the records to solve genealogical questions as well as their indirect use to provide context as to the times in which the records were created.

DNA and Genetic Genealogy
Instructor: Debbie Parker Wayne

DNA is becoming an acceptable part of standard genealogical research. This session covers all types of DNA tests that are beneficial for genealogical evidence. Just enough biology is included for the genealogical use to be clear. An understanding of DNA inheritance factors helps researchers determine what kind of DNA test on which relative will provide the evidence needed for a particular research problem—and when DNA evidence will not be helpful. Case studies of real genealogical problems illustrate how to determine who to test along with an introduction to basic analysis of the DNA test results in reference to the problem.  Additionally, the best places to learn more about genetic genealogy and advanced analysis techniques are covered. 
Have You Really Found Everything Available? Online Search Strategies
Instructor: Kimberly T. Powell 

Locating genealogical and historical information online goes well beyond searching for names and knowing how to use wildcards. This session will use examples and hands-on activities to demonstrate techniques for determining the best search terms for a specific purpose or database; evaluating the content and context of a database or collection and using that knowledge to your advantage; and identifying the best resources available for a particular research goal.

Advanced Census Research
Instructor: Angela Packer McGhie

Census records are an essential resource for genealogists and readily available online. This session will focus on going beyond basic use of the census, and assist students in understanding the pre-1850 census records; discovering how the non-population schedules can enhance research; locating and using state census records; and evaluating information from every census column to maximize the information gleaned from the record. Examples will be shared of each type of census, and emphasis will be placed on locating every census record during an individual’s life and correlating the census with other records.

Digging Deeper into Local Land Records
Instructor: Kimberly T. Powell
Land records are an important key for solving many difficult genealogical problems, from determining family relationships and migrations, to sorting out men of the same name. Students will learn how to dig into the small clues that local land records can provide, hidden among the terminology, signatures, dates, and even the laws that governed the transfer of land. Software and a variety of Internet resources will be explored for locating grants, plats, deeds, and other land records on the websites of local governments and state archives, and using them in conjunction with historical maps. Examples will demonstrate how to trace a piece of property both forward and back, along with those of the neighbors, when necessary to obtain a complete property description, as well as the potential of a simple neighborhood reconstruction. 

Read All About Your Ancestors in Historic Newspapers
Instructor: Angela Packer McGhie
Newspapers are a valuable resource for genealogical data and historical context when researching ancestors. They are being digitized at a rapid pace, and are becoming easier to search. This abbreviated session will help students discover the many types of newspaper articles that may contain genealogical clues, as well as which newspapers were printed in the time and location their ancestors lived. Detailed research hints and information on how to access newspapers both online or offline will be included.

Federal Land Records
Instructor: Angela Packer McGhie
Beginning in 1789, the United States passed laws governing the purchase or claim of land in the public domain. Individuals could acquire federal land through cash or credit purchases, as well as preemption, homesteads, donations, and other types of claims. The records resulting from the application process can be valuable for locating individuals in a specific place and time, and may also contain valuable family information. This presentation discusses the federal land records in detail including the rectangular survey system, the Acts of Congress that established various types of land transactions, and the records created in the land acquisition process including surveys, land entry files, patents, and tract books.

Locating and Using Manuscript Collections
Instructor: Kimberly T. Powell
Manuscripts are an often under-utilized resource with significant research potential for genealogists. This session will focus on why genealogists use manuscript collections, how such materials are organized and described, the types of papers that may be found in them, and a variety of tools and finding aids for locating manuscript collections of interest, including NUCMC, ArchiveGrid, and SNAC. Case studies will demonstrate how manuscript materials left by friends, neighbors, and associates can be used to help tell the story of an ancestor and his community, and how collections held by repositories in three states can be used to reconstruct a pre-Civil War South Carolina family, despite extensive loss of “official” records.
Military Strategies, Part I: Pensions
Instructor: Craig R. Scott
Military pension files may contain a wealth of genealogical information. Students will learn how to locate and use these files, and then go beyond them to research in pension law, pension ledgers, payment vouchers, and last and final payments. This session will also cover pension correspondence, half-pay widows pensions, and pensions for orphans of soldiers who died in the service. At the end of this session the students will understand how to analyze a pension application file, interpret a pension ledger, and obtain copies of all types of pension records.

Military Strategies, Part II: CMSRs and Bounty Land
Instructor: Craig R. Scott
Genealogists can learn about their ancestor’s volunteer military service through Compiled Military Service Records (CMSR), as well as other military records. For those that served in the Regular Army, there are no CMSRs, so they must be created from other records. Students will be encouraged to search for bounty land applications and warrants for those ancestors who served in the military before the Civil War. At the end of this session the students will understand how to create their own CMSRs for soldiers in the Regular Army, locate material beyond the CMSR for volunteer soldiers, and understand how to access the bounty land records at both the National Archives and the Bureau of Land Management.

Beyond Certificates: Alternative Sources for Births, Marriages and Deaths
Instructor: Angela Packer McGhie
Genealogists seek for records of their ancestor’s birth, marriage and death not only to fill in blanks on a pedigree chart, but to define the scope of their life. In the twentieth century most states created birth and death certificates, but for earlier time periods there can be many places to look for evidence of these major life events. This session will cover alternative sources such as birth and death registers, church records, delayed birth certificates, family bibles, newspaper notices, cemetery records, burial records, and military records. The discussion will also include estimating a birth or death date from census, tax, probate and other records.

They Came in Ships: Passenger Arrival Records, Colonial Times to Mid-20th Century
Instructor: John Philip Colletta
All genealogists have an interest in tracing immigrant ancestors. This session will detail the sources available for discovering the arrival time and place—and perhaps the ship—of an immigrant to colonial America. It will continue with U.S. passenger arrival records, especially records created between 1820 and 1957, which are available on microfilm and the Internet. Details will be given on what facts you need to know to begin a search and a step-by-step process for how to conduct that search. Specific examples illustrate how to use websites, National Archives microfilmed indexes, book indexes, and other research tools, such as European departure records and lists of ship arrivals at North American ports.

They Became Americans: Naturalization Records, Colonial Times to Mid-20th Century
Instructor: John Philip Colletta
This session addresses the legal means by which non-British settlers in colonial America could become naturalized citizens of Great Britain. The U.S. naturalization laws and processes, which began in 1790, will be explained, as well as the records that resulted from them. Details on naturalization of both alien classes and individuals will be discussed and guidance given on how to find an ancestor's records, whether the naturalization occurred in a municipal, state or federal court. Pertinent research tools such as Internet sites, manuals and indexes will be demonstrated.

Mining Tax Rolls: More than Property Lists
Instructor: Debbie Parker Wayne
Tax rolls provide more information than the name of an ancestor and the property owned in a given year. Tax rolls often survive even in counties where other records have been destroyed and the rolls can be used as substitutes for missing records. A profile of an ancestor and the neighborhood they lived in can be created by mining these records for details over multiple years. Case studies illustrate how to interpret the basic information in a tax roll and how they can be used to locate additional records on the life and death of an ancestor. Tax rolls from multiple states are used to illustrate some of the differences that a researcher may find in various locations.

Directory Assistance: Using City and Other Directories
Instructor: Debbie Parker Wayne
City directories contain a one-line entry naming an ancestor and an address that places her in a given place at a given time.  But when a researcher takes the time to analyze the details, a directory may reveal occupation, religion, and marital status; help a researcher locate nearby relatives, schools, churches, and businesses; and so much more that can lead to other records with pertinent information on the ancestor. This session begins with examples of different types of directories available: city, church, school, social and occupational organizations, early telephone listings, and others. Samples illustrate the types of information that may be found both for rural and urban ancestors. Clear examples demonstrate how the information in a directory can be correlated with other sources to expand the profile of an ancestor and determine where they lived even when no exact address is listed and no land was owned. 

Techniques Toolbox
Instructor: Angela Packer McGhie
This session will cover research techniques such as creating spreadsheets, charts and timelines to compare and evaluate research findings. Other techniques become essential in certain circumstances such as separating individuals of the same name, researching the extended family and associates of an individual, or using identity characteristics besides name (occupation, birthplace, socioeconomic status, etc.) to locate or identify a person. A comprehensive list of research methods will be shared and detailed examples will covered. The session will conclude with a case study that employs many of the methods to demonstrate their use in a real genealogical problem.  

Student Project

Instructor: Angela Packer McGhie

The students will be given a project to complete during the week so they can get the most out of their learning experience and immediately apply the information to their own research. They will select an ancestor and create a comprehensive research plan for that individual including each type of record covered in the course. Students can use online indexes and catalogs to make their plan detailed and comprehensive.

Preparing to Register for IGHR Tomorrow

If you are planning to register for the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) when registration opens TOMORROW, then here is a guide for you. Many of the courses sell out in just minutes, so if you want to attend and get in the course of your choice, the time to prepare is now. Here are my hints and tips. 

Preparing to Register for IGHR:

1) Select the course you want to take from the list of 2014 courses available here. You can click through to the course schedules if you want details on what topics are covered in each course. Note: The Advanced Methodology course will not be offered in 2014, but will return in 2015.

2) Check to see what time registration begins for the course you have chosen in the registration schedule below. Be sure to convert to your time zone if you are not on Central Time.

2) Create a member profile in the registration system NOW.  This will help make your registration process go faster. See

3) Download the IGHR Navigating the Online Registration PDF and read through the instructions so you can get through the registration process quickly. Many of the courses sell out in minutes, so you will want to be as fast as possible. 

4) Decide on a backup course, or add your name to the waiting list if the course you choose if full. Sometimes people have to cancel and you may be able to get in at a later date.

Good luck getting in the course of your choice! I look forward to seeing many of you at IGHR in June.

IGHR Registration Schedule for January 21st

To prevent an overload of the online registration system, the opening of course registration is staggered with different courses being opened each half-hour.

Opening at 10:00 AM CST:

  • Course 1: Techniques & Technology
  • Course 7: Researching African American Genealogy: 20th Century Research
Opening at 10:30 AM CST:
  • Course 2: Intermediate Genealogy and Historical Studies
  • Course 9: Advanced Library Research: Law Libraries & Government Documents
Opening at 11:00 AM CST:
  • Course 4: Writing and Publishing for Genealogists
  • Course 8: The Trans-Mississippi South
Opening at 11:30 AM CST:
  • Course 5: Military Records I
  • Course 6: Irish Genealogical Research
  • Course 10: Virginia: Her Records and Her Laws

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Virginia Researchers Need Our Help

I am sharing this message at the request of Barbara Vines Little, as Virginia researchers need help from the entire research community. Please consider emailing the committee members listed below.

Dear Genealogical/Historical Researcher,

The Virginia genealogical community needs your help in contacting members of the Virginia General Assembly to urge passage of a bill to restore access to 19th century county and city Order books.

A bill passed by last year’s General Assembly, seeking to close concealed carry gun permits from public access, inadvertently closed a wide range of city and county order books (in some cases going back to the 1700’s) from public access.  The attached page from the October 2013 Virginia Genealogical Society Newsletter explains the problem.

The solution is in 2014 VA HB 100 offered by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, which will limit the closed period to only five years.  The bill has been assigned to the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee and may come up before a subcommittee this Thursday.  If it passes the House, it will then need to be passed by the Senate before going to the Governor.

Please email the members of the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee (whose email addresses are below), with the following suggested message (revise as you deem appropriate).  If the bill passes the House, I will send you Senate contact information later.

Thank you for your support of access to Virginia’s records!

Peter E. Broadbent, Jr.
Former President, Virginia Genealogical Society

Email addresses of delegates to contact:

Sample letter --

Dear Delegate:

I urge you to support HB 100 of Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, now before the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee.  This bill will cure an unintended consequence of prior legislation which has denied researchers access to Virginia historical public records going back to the 1700’s.

The Library of Virginia has had to withdraw 222 reels of microfilm from research access.  Local clerks have been compelled to deny researchers access to county order books and indices from the 1800’s. 

Please cure this barrier to genealogical and historical research in Virginia by passing HB100.

[your name and address]