Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Two New Gen Proof Study Groups To Begin in April

Here is your chance to study the book Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones with a group of genealogists and discuss the concepts with a mentor. Below is an announcement from Michelle Goodrum, the administrator of the Gen Proof Study Groups.

Thanks to an arrangement with the ProGen Study Program, we are now offering Gen Proof Study Groups through the Basecamp project management website. Registration is now open for two groups beginning in April. Please read on for additional information.

Gen Proof Study Group Registration
The Gen Proof study groups are organized to study the book Mastering Genealogical Proof, by Thomas 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 10-20 members and a mentor who will guide the discussions and answer questions.

Registration is now open for two groups beginning in April:

Group 40 - Mentor Michelle Lewis
Beginning 6 April / Beginner/Intermediate level / Using the Basecamp website /
Asynchronous discussions /  One chapter per week (8 weeks)

Group 41 - Mentor Brenda Wheeler
Beginning 17 April / Advanced students / Using the Basecamp website
Text chats Friday evenings around 8-9pm Eastern. One chapter per week (8 weeks)

Study Group Platform
Thanks to an arrangement with the ProGen Study Program, the Gen Proof Study Groups now have the opportunity to use Basecamp as a platform. Basecamp is a project management platform. It 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.

The following formats were selected for the study groups:  

• Asynchronous discussion (Group 40)-- 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.
• Text chats (Group 41) – This group will meet on Friday evenings in a chat room for a live chat. Discussions can also take place throughout the week.
• Frequency – Both groups will meet every week for eight weeks. Please be sure you have time to read the chapter and complete all of the exercises (these may take you several hours) BEFORE each of your group discussions. Since these groups cover one chapter per week, it will be very fast paced. So you should plan on studying and participating for about 10-15 hours per week.

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. 

How to Register
IF you are prepared to make a commitment to the study group, then please email 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:

Getting Started
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

Monday, March 23, 2015

NGS Conference Early Bird Discount Ends March 30th

Are you thinking of attending the National Genealogical Society conference in May? If you you may want to make your decision before the early bird discount ends on March 30th. It looks like an excellent program. See the press release below for details.

I will be unable to attend the conference in person this year, but will be participating in the live streaming events. See my post on NGS Conference to Live Stream Two Tracks.

Arlington, VA, 23 March 2015—If you are planning to register for the NGS Family History Conference in St. Charles, be sure to take advantage of its early bird discount. The discount, as well as the opportunity to order a printed syllabus, ends 30 March 2015. 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 the syllabus will only be available as a flash drive.
This year’s conference features more than 25 tracks and 150 lectures, as well as social events, luncheons, and the NGS banquet. It is a great opportunity to network with other genealogists and enhance your knowledge. The conference will be held at the St. Charles Convention Center and will run from 13-16 May.  For conference information and to register, go to the 2015 NGS Family History Conference.
Social Events, Luncheons, and the NGS Banquet
Participating organizations sponsor several luncheons at which guest speakers address many fascinating topics such as
·       “Have You Tested Your DNA? Is there a Non-Paternity Event in Your Family?”
·       “Germans in the American Civil War”
·       “Intuition and Genealogy Success: A Sixth Sense, Chance, Coincidence, or Serendipity?”
·       “Then and Now: Changes in Methodologies and Sources”
The NGS Banquet is another event not to be missed!  Registration for all meals and social events closes on 29 April 2015. Tickets for social events will not be sold on-site. Be sure to sign up as quickly as possible. The StLGS Host Event BBQ is $39; luncheons are $21; and the banquet is $38. Menus are in the registration brochure.
Society Showcase
On Tuesday afternoon 12 May 2015, many Missouri genealogical and historical societies will be available in the St. CharlesConvention Center from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. to answer questions about local repositories and resources, discuss their group’s activities, and sell their publications.
St. Charles Area Tours
There’s still time to sign up for several exciting tours on Tuesday, 12 May 2015, prior to the NGS Family History Conference. For more information, please see St. Charles Area ToursRegistration for the tours closes on 29 April 2015.
Add Items to an Existing Registration
To add meals, tours, and pre-conference events to your current registration, log on to the NGS website, click on My Account, select My Events, and then click to Add Sessions.
We hope to see you in St. Charles in May!
Founded in 1903, the National Genealogical Society is dedicated to genealogical education, exemplary standards of research, and the preservation of genealogical records.  The Arlington, Virginia, based nonprofit is the premier national society for everyone, from the beginner to the most advanced family historian, seeking excellence in publications, educational offerings, and guidance in research. It also offers many opportunities to interact with other genealogists.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

APG Professional Management Conference Syllabus for Sale

Are you interested in a career in professional genealogy? One of the best resources available in the field is the Professional Management Conference (PMC) hosted by the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG). If you missed the conference in January, then you can still benefit by purchasing the conference syllabus. APG is making the syllabus available as an electronic download for only $18. I have purchased the APG PMC syllabus every year for the last five years to enhance my own professional genealogy education.

The 120 page syllabus contains the speakers' handouts from all 16 sessions detailed below. You do not need to be a member of APG to purchase the syllabus, which is available on the APG website at

Speakers and topics included in the 2015 APG PMC syllabus are:

Thomas Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS—Three-part Workshop: You’ve Got Options: Many Ways to Cite Right

Angie Bush, MS—DNA and Genealogical Proof

CeCe Moore—Workshop: Genealogy Professionals Needed: How Adoptees Discover their Genealogical Roots

Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL—Finding the Law

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL—(1) Workshop: Measuring Yourself against Standards: A Practical Guide for Improving Your Skills and (2) Get Paid for Your Passion: Setting Fees

Angela Packer McGhie—Time Management: Successfully Balancing the Demands of Our Many "Clients"

Kimberly Powell—Organizing Your Research and Writing with Scrivener

James M. Beidler—(1) Finding Your Niche: Matching Passion, Professionalism, and Pecuniary Interest and (2) Taxes and the Professional Genealogist

Anastasia Harman—Workshop: Professional Writing Foundations: 5 Ways to Improve Your Writing Today

Ron Arons, MBA—Mind Maps for Genealogy

Thomas MacEntee—Self-Publishing for Genealogists

Billie Stone Fogarty, MEd—So You Want to Be a Genealogical Speaker

Christina Grover—How to Have Difficult Conversations with Clients and Colleagues

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Illinois State Genealogical Society Webinar Series

The Illinois State Genealogical Society is hosting a webinar series that is free to the public to join in the live presentations. The recorded presentations are available to ISGS members. They have a great lineup of speakers and topics for 2015. To register visit their webinar registration page.

April 2015
Using Evernote as Your Primary Tool for Capturing Notes and Ideas

  • Presenter:  Drew Smith
  • Date: April 14, 2015, 8:00 pm Central
  • Description: Evernote is a free tool that runs on PCs, Macs, tables and smart phones and that can be used to capture, organize, preserver, and synchronize (across multiple devices) information of different formats and sizes, including ideas, notes (typed, handwritten, and audio), photos, online articles, web pages, and URLs. Learn how to set up an Evernote account; how to create and edit notes; how to tag notes so that they can be identified with particular surnames, locations, and document types, so that they can be easily found, later; how to get content into Evernote using e-mail; how to clip articles found online into Evernote; how to share Notebooks with others for research collaboration; and how to use Evernote to create research to-do lists.
May 2015
Need Direction? Try City Directories!
  • Presenter:  Jean Wilcox Hibben
  • Date: May 12, 2015, 8:00 pm Central
  • Description: More accessible than ever, City Directories can fill in blanks between census years, opening new chapters in your family history research. Learn how to find, navigate, and cite this valuable record source.
June 2015
Understanding Our Families, Understanding Ourselves
  • Presenter:  Ron Arons
  • Date: June 9, 2015, 8:00 pm Central
  • Description: Genealogy is more than just finding ancestors and other relatives to create a giant family tree. In this talk you will learn the basics of 'Family Systems Theory', the same technique used by psychologists, marriage and family therapists, and social workers to help their clients understand themselves better. By understanding our ancestors through 'Family Systems Theory', you'll be able to understand family dynamics through multiple generations and your relative's impact on the family 'system' and how the system affected you.
July 2015
Dissect Obituaries for New Clues
  • Presenter:  George G. Morgan
  • Date: July 14, 2015, 8:00 pm Central
  • Description: Obituaries are miniature biographies for the deceased. The writers were compelled to compress as much information into a small amount of text. Your job is to carefully analyze the content of the death notice, obituary, and/or funeral notice and look for clues. This seminar presents a methodology for dissecting an obituary, determining what information is provided or inferred, identifying record types that may be available, where those records are located, and how to access them. A sample obituary is dissected and discussed.
August 2015
School Daze – Finding and Using School Records to Trace Our Ancestors
  • Presenter:  Peggy Clemens Lauritzen, AG
  • Date: August 11, 2015, 8:00 pm Central
  • Description: We may even be somewhat astounded to learn that our ancestors even attended school. Locating school records can be an amazing way of putting our families into place, especially when there may be no vital records available in an area.
September 2015
Using Tax Records for Genealogical Problem Solving
  • Presenter:  Michael Lacopo
  • Date: September 8, 2015, 8:00 pm Central
  • Description: Although most researchers are aware of tax records, they are seldom utilized and dismissed as boring and insignificant.  Tax records can solve MANY genealogical dilemmas and should be a primary records source to utilize, especially in states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky, but nationwide.  This lecture will show you how they can help you!
October 2015
Polish Genealogy – Four Steps to successful research
  • Presenter:  Steve Szabados
  • Date: October 13, 2015, 8:00 pm Central
  • Description: When did your Polish ancestors immigrate, from where did they leave, why did they leave, how did they get here? These are questions we all hope to find the answers. This presentation is designed to give the researcher the tools needed to research their Polish ancestors and find possible answers to the origins of your Polish heritage. The program outlines a simple process that will identify where your ancestors were born and where to find their Polish records. Steve uses his own genealogical research experience to outline a simple process that has been successful for the author.
November 2015
In-laws and Outlaws: The Bylaws of Talking About The Family Skeletons
  • Presenter:  Janet Hovorka
  • Date: November 10, 2015, 8:00 pm Central
  • Description: Sharing your family history can be an important part of the health of your family relationships but every family has a few sticking points.  If you don't have some family skeletons, you just haven't done enough family history research yet.  Every family has heroes and scoundrels.  How do you pass down this information to the next generations in your family in a healthy, safe way that encourages strong connections to family and good coping skills?  Sometimes it is all in the way you frame it.  Here are some rules for making sure your family learns from the past and proceeds forward into the future in a healthy way.
December 2015
The US Federal Census: Good, Bad and Ugly for Genealogists
  • Presenter:  Gary Smith
  • Date: December 8, 2015, 8:00 pm Central
  • Description: The US Federal Census has become a staple of genealogical research in the United States.  Using the census most effectively, however, requires understanding that there are good, bad, and truly ugly aspects of this record. Most are related to the type, quality or quantity of information recorded, but there are also some major pros and cons of the existence of the record.  Recognizing the possible pitfalls and highpoints will allow a researcher to use the record to best advantage.

Monday, March 9, 2015

NGS Conference to Live Stream Two Tracks

I was excited to receive an email from the National Genealogical Society today announcing their live streaming program for the NGS Conference in May. I love to attend the NGS conference in person, but will be unable to do so this year so I am excited to participate in some of the sessions from the comfort of my home. NGS will provide live streaming of two tracks of the conference:

May 14th -- The Immigration & Naturalization Process
May 15th -- Methodology Techniques

These tracks include some of my favorite presenters, including Elizabeth Shown Mills, Thomas W. Jones, Warren Bittner, John Colletta, David Rencher, Julie Miller, Alison Hare, Angie Bush, Michael Ramage, and Jeanne Bloom. These two tracks can be viewed in real time, or later at your convenience over the next three months. You can register for the live streaming sessions on the NGS website.

In the past when I have missed and NGS conference I have ordered copies of some of the lectures on CD. While this option is still available, and I may order CDs of some of the lectures not available on the live streaming, I am excited to be able to see the video of the presenter and his/her slides, rather than just hear the audio. For NGS members you can purchase both of the live streaming tracks for $115. This is a great deal as it is about the same price as ordering the ten lectures on CD. 

Here are the track descriptions from the NGS website:

Day One: The Immigration & Naturalization Process

Day one offers information on immigration and naturalization records, uncovering the immigrants story, and useful hints on how to discover their home town.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

8:00 a.m. T205 — The Journey to America: Federal Passenger Ship Records, Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG
As immigration legislation in the United States became more restrictive, the information on passenger-ship records became more robust.

9:30 a.m. T215 — Becoming an American: Naturalization Records, Julie Miller, CG
This lecture will examine naturalizations in the United States. It will discuss the naturalization process, records that were generated, and how to locate them.

11:00 a.m. T225 — Discovering the REAL Stories of Your Immigrant Ancestors, John P. Colletta, PhD, FUGA
Three 19th-century case studies demonstrate the original records and published materials available to discover the particular facts of each immigrant ancestor’s story.

2:30 p.m. T245 — Bads, Bergs, Burgs, and Bachs: Finding Locations in Germany, Warren Bittner, CG
German localities are tricky as many towns share similar names, or the name has changed, or the place no longer exists. Learn to find localities.

4:00 p.m. T255 — A Methodology for Irish Emigration to North America, David Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA
Lacking a location in Ireland to begin research may necessitate learning to use the sources and methodologies for solving the problem with Irish resources.

Day Two: Methodology Techniques

Join us for day two, which includes learning methodology techniques for use with historical context, forensic genealogy, DNA, and problem solving using a combination of resources.

Friday, 15 May 2015

8:00 a.m. F302 – The Time of Cholera: A Case Study about Historical Context, Alison Hare, CG
A cholera epidemic in London, England, in 1854 is the backdrop for a memorable lesson in how to develop historical context.

9:30 a.m. F311 — The Problem-Solver’s Great Trifecta: GPS+FAN+DNA, Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS
Can you really “prove” a maternal line when, for four straight generations, absolutely no document identifies a parent or sibling? This session shows you how.

11:00 a.m. F321 — When Does Newfound Evidence Overturn a Proved Conclusion? Thomas W. Jones, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS
Even thorough research can miss relevant sources. What are the options when useful information or DNA test results appear after a researcher establishes a conclusion?

2:30 p.m. F342 — Forensic Genealogy Meets the Genealogical Proof Standard, Michael Ramage, JD, CG
Learn how a $22 million estate case involving same name/age/place ancestors was solved using the Genealogical Proof Standard.

4:00 p.m. F352 — Using DNA as a Genealogical Record, Angie Bush
Using DNA testing as part of an exhaustive search in conjunction with traditional records can provide new evidence to answer genealogical questions.

You can register for the live streaming sessions on the NGS website. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Washington DC Family History Conference on May 2

I am excited to be speaking at the Washington D.C. Family History Conference on Saturday, May 2nd. I will be addressing the Genealogical Proof Standard in a two-hour interactive class. This session will be a discussion of the five elements of the Genealogical Proof Standard, including thorough research, source citations, evidence analysis, conflict resolution, and a written conclusion. We will cover what each of these elements looks like in practice, and demonstrate the concepts with real genealogical cases.

I recommend that participants read Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones and come prepared to ask questions and discuss the topics together. The book is available from

The conference will be held from 9:00am - 3:00pm at the Washington D.C. Stake Center (home of the Washington D.C. Family History Center), at 10000 Stoneybrook Drive, Kensington, MD 20895. Registration is now open at There are five classes to choose from for each class session, and while the conference is FREE, it is limited to 320 participants. You can see the complete schedule here:

The keynote speaker, James Bartlett, will address the topic: DNA - Genealogy Will Never Be the Same! Classes, presenter bios, and registration information can be accessed on the conference website:

If you have questions, please email:

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Registration Open for 2015 British Institute

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

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

The amazing course line-up includes:

Researching Your English Ancestors” — Else Churchill and Alec Tritton

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

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

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

Tracing Your Irish Ancestors” — Fiona Fitzsimons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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