Category Archives: Genealogical Education

This Year’s Plans (2018)

2018 Started with a BANG! I taught my first ever course at SLIG, co-coordinated with Kathryn Lake Hogan of Ontario, Canada. The course was “The Third Coast: Research in the Great Lakes Region.” It was a lot of fun and went very well. However, it was an intense process to prepare for such a large endeavor. Needless to say, I’m happy I did it and I’m equally happy that it’s done. And I will likely do it again in the future.

SLIG and a week of research at the FHL started this year for me, so I’m just now able to take a breath, take stock, and make plans for 2018 in terms of my speaking schedule and my own educational plans. My speaking schedule is light, which I chalk up to spending so much of my energy last year prepping for SLIG and not spending any time marketing myself or planning for 2018, with a few exceptions. I’m happy to have a bit of a break, however!

Here’s where I’m planning to be this coming year:

  • Beginning in April, I will be facilitating a discussion group on the topic of becoming a Certified Genealogist® hosted by Jill Morelli and the Seattle Genealogical Society. (For more information email:
  • National Genealogical Society Annual Conference, Grand Rapids, Michigan, May 2-5 where I am presenting: W144 “Third Coast: How the Great Lakes Shaped America”; S423 “Casting the Net: Denominational, Ethnic, and Specialized Newspaper Research”;  S456 “Using PERSI Like a Pro”
  • Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR), Athens, Georgia, June 2-7 where I will be taking “Writing and Publishing for Genealogists” taught by Tom Jones
  • Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, July 22-27 where I will be taking “Women and Children First” by Judy G. Russell
  • International Society for British Genealogy and Family History (ISBGFH), Salt Lake City, Utah, October 15-19 where I will be taking “Researching Your Irish and Scots-Irish Ancestors” by Fintan Mullan and Gillian Hunt and my husband will be taking “Scottish Research: The Fundamentals and Beyond” with Paul Milner

There are some other items in the fall that are still materializing but this is what I have planned so far. I hope you make the investment to enhance your genealogical education plan with conferences and institutes. Nothing beats being in class with other genealogists!

And if your society is planning an all-day seminar, consider me for your speaker. I have a lot of topics to choose from. Check my Lecture Topics page for a complete list.


Legacy Webinars, 2017 Webinar Subscriber Summer Spectacular!

(Say that three times fast!)

I am a BIG fan of Legacy Webinars, for many reasons. First, they offer fantastic, high-quality, genealogical education, for a super low price! Second, I think they are very fair to their speakers and writers. As a past speaker and author of several Quick Guides, I feel very well taken care of. So, I’m happy to support something that supports me both in terms of education and as an educator.

Third… this is education you can get at home, wearing those bunny slippers (or in my case, sweatpants), at 3am when the repositories are closed! Or when sitting by your pool drinking adult beverages. However you like to do it! (I don’t judge.)

Below is the information from the news release. Please note that all of the links are to my affiliate account, another way that the folks at Legacy help support their supporters!

It’s our way of saying thank you to our webinar subscribers and inviting everyone else to preview these excellent classes!

This summer we will not only have new members-only content, we will also have full in-depth series to help you take your genealogy to a new level.

We’ll be sharing with you five new members-only series, released every two weeks, throughout the summer of 2017.

Here’s an overview of what you can expect:



Release Date

Melissa Barker

Researching in Archives (4 classes)

July 6th

Blaine Bettinger

DNA: A Closer Look (5 classes)

July 17th

Teri E. Flack  

Texas: The Lone Star State (5 classes)

July 31st

Amie Bowser Tennant

1790-1940 U.S. Census Uncovered (3 classes)

August 9th

Eric Basir    

Photo Restoration (6 classes)

August 14th

Craig Scott

Researching Revolutionary War Soldiers (5 classes)

August 28th

Researching in Archives (4 classes)

Archivist Melissa Barker is taking her professional expertise in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives and helping genealogists everywhere find hidden resources in archives, libraries and societies. 

Melissa’s 4 classes include:

  • Family Gatherings: Dragging Genealogy Information Out of Your Family
  • Using Archives to Fill the Gaps in Your Ancestor’s Timeline
  • Disaster Planning for the Genealogist, Safeguarding Your Genealogical Records
  • Scrap Paper and Orphan Documents in Archives

Available to subscribers at July 6, 2017

DNA: A Closer Look (5 classes)

DNA is a hot topic in genealogy but it can be a bit confusing to learn how it works. In this new series DNA expert Blaine Bettinger provides more tools to help you understand your DNA results

Blaine’s 5 classes include:

  • Avoiding Genetic Genealogy Pitfalls
  • DNA Frequently Asked Questions
  • Introduction to GEDmatch
  • Begging for Spit
  • Who Are You? Identifying Your Mysterious DNA Matches

Available to subscribers at July 17, 2017

Texas: The Lone Star State (5 classes)

Texas is the second largest state in the United States and has a rich history. Whether your ancestors settled there during the Republic of Texas or after statehood, Teri E. Flack will help you find details about their lives.

Teri’s classes include:

  • Fundamentals of Researching Texas
  • Finding Your Ancestors in the Republic of Texas
  • Researching Texas Land and Property Records
  • Researching Texas Probate and Estate Records
  • Texas Vital Records and their Substitutes

Available to subscribers at July 31, 2017

1790-1940 Census Uncovered (3 classes)

Amie’s 3 classes include:

  • 1790 – 1840 Census Secrets Uncovered
  • 1850-1900 U.S. Federal Census Secrets Revealed
  • 1910-1940 Federal Censuses and State Census Records to Fill the Gaps

Available to subscribers at August 9, 2017

Photo Restoration (6 classes)

You loved his class “Complete Photo Restoration in 4 Easy Steps” so we’ve brought Eric Basir back for an entire 6-part series on Photo Restoration. Learn how to make the most of your photos from scanning to editing and restoration.

Eric’s 5 classes include:

  • Scanning 101
  • Hassle Free Document Restoration
  • Bringing Faded Photos Back to Life
  • 25 Quick Photoshop Tips For Genealogists – Part one
  • 25 More Quick Photoshop Tips For Genealogists – Part two
  • Effective Image Placement

Available to subscribers at August 14, 2017

Researching Revolutionary War Soldiers (5 classes)

Craig Scott is one of the most sought after speakers on military research. In this series, Craig will help you navigate the extensive records created to document Revolutionary War soldiers.

Craig’s 5 classes include:

  • The Revolution, More than just the War
  • The Participants in the War
  • Records Create by the Revolutionary War During the War
  • Records Created by the Revolutionary War After the War​ (Pensions)
  • Records Created by the Revolutionary War After the War (Bounty Land)

Available to subscribers at August 28, 2017

Not a member yet?

You still have time to sign up before the Subscriber Summer Spectacular starts!

In addition to the new summer series, you’ll have access to all 529 classes in the Legacy Webinar Library including all the handouts!

Legacy Family Tree Webinars provides genealogy education where-you-are through live and recorded online webinars and videos. Learn from the best instructors in genealogy including Thomas MacEntee, Judy Russell, J. Mark Lowe, Lisa Louise Cooke, Megan Smolenyak, Tom Jones, [Cari A. Taplin] and many more. Learn at your convenience. On-demand classes are available 24 hours a day! All you need is a computer or mobile device with an Internet connection.

Subscribe today and get access to this BONUS members-only webinar AND all of this:

  • All 529 classes in the library (734 hours of quality genealogy education)
  • 2,464 pages of instructors’ handouts
  • Chat logs from the live webinars
  • Additional 5% off anything at
  • Chance for a bonus subscribers-only door prize during each live webinar
  • Additional members-only webinars

It’s just $49.95/year or $9.95/month. Subscribe today!

Legacy Family Tree Webinars is a real bargain! I sincerely hope you decide to join, even if you don’t click through using my links (I’ll never know!), especially if you love to learn better techniques for researching your ancestors!

SLIG Scholarships available!

I will have the awesome opportunity to co-coordinate a course at SLIG 2018 with my colleague Kathryn Lake Hogan, titled “The Third Coast: Research in the Great Lakes Region.” You can view the entire course outline by clicking here ( and finding Course 2. You can also view a short video about our course:

(I’ll write more specifics about the course in a later post.)

Is your genealogical budget a little tight? Or would you like financial assistance to attend? If so, I want to let you know about some great scholarship opportunities for SLIG 2018. The following was sent out by Debra A. Hoffman, Assistant to the Director of SLIG:

Planning to attend the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) in January
2018? There are several scholarship opportunities available for SLIG

SLIG Jimmy B. Parker Scholarship
*Deadline June 20, 2017*

Named in honor of Jimmy B. Parker, whose legacy of service to the
genealogical community covered more than 50 years, this full-tuition
scholarship will be awarded to an individual who has “demonstrated
commitment to genealogical excellence and community involvement”. The
winner will be announced July 1st and their course of choice pre-reserved.
Full details here:

SLIG Scholarship for First-Time Institute Attendees
*Deadline June 20, 2017*

This fund, opened at SLIG 2016, was created to enhance scholarship
opportunities for SLIG students. Donations have been made by Maia’s
Bookstore and SLIG students. More details and submission requirements may
be found here

ASG Scholar Award, American Society of Genealogists

This award provides “financial assistance for a developing scholar to
attend one of five academic programs in American genealogy.” The award,
which will be given in October, will apply toward a SLIG 2018 course of
study. To find out more, visit their website

AncestryProGenealogists Scholarship
*Deadline TBD for SLIG 2019*

Established to “foster and support professional genealogists in their
ongoing development efforts.” Scholarship covers tuition and specific other
expenses to attend one of the four US-based genealogical institutes.

Unfortunately, due to a lot of complicating factors, applicants won’t be
aware of the courses to be offered for SLIG 2019 until after they have
completed their application. For that reason, we offer the opportunity to
have open dialogue with the director if needed to help you rank SLIG in order of attendance preference on your application. (send an email to: and use the subject “AncestryProGen scholarship question for 2018”)

You can learn more about the AncestryProGenealogists Scholarship on their

TxSGS Annual Conference Presentations

I can hardly believe that it is almost time for the Texas State Genealogical Society Annual Conference again! It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that I was speaking at last year’s conference, for the first time. Well, this year I will be speaking again! The conference will be held in Dallas at the Crowne Plaza, October 28-30.

Friday, October 28,  I will be presenting two lectures:
Ahead of the Times: Texas Newspaper Research (2-3pm)
Newspapers were daily snapshots of our ancestor’s lives; Texas newspapers are no exception. Examine the broad spectrum and history of Texas newspapers for genealogical research. Methods, techniques, and strategies for obtaining those items of interest will be demonstrated.

From Deeds to Dirt: Analyzing Research with Maps (5-6pm)
This program demonstrates skills needed to move from land descriptions in historical documents to maps depicting those locations in order to analyze and solve research problems.

Saturday, October 29,  I will present:
Who Lives Next Door? Using the FAN Club in your Research (2-3pm)
Untangle individuals of the same name and solve genealogical mysteries using the “FAN Club” principle. Methods to identify FAN Club members and case studies will be demonstrated.

I’m so honored to be speaking at a conference alongside some of my favorite colleagues and friends! Such talented genealogists and speakers attending are Judy Russell, Cyndi Ingle, Deborah Abbott, Lisa Louise Cooke, Rick Fogarty, Sara Gredler, Colleen Greene, Michael Strauss, Billie Fogarty, Kelvin Meyers, Teri Flack, Debbie Parker Wayne, Ari Wilkins, and at least twenty other speakers!

Early Bird registration is open through October 7, 2016. Don’t delay! This is sure to be one of the best state conferences yet.

“Crossing the Pond” An upcoming course at the British Institute

britishI will have the pleasure and honor of teaching at the “British Institute” hosted by the International Society of British Genealogy and Family History (ISBGFH). I will be teaching three classes in the course titled “Crossing the Pond: Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor in Their Homeland” coordinated by Eric Stroschein, along with Luana Darby and David Ouimette, CG. The following is an excellent description of the course:

Are you stuck? Have you hit the European immigration research brick wall called the Atlantic Ocean? Want to learn how to resolve your own research problem? Whether your immigrant ancestor came directly to America or through the British Isles this class is for you. For this class, it does not matter where your immigrant came from.

Crossing the Pond teaches proven beginning to advanced methods, instructing students how to resolve their own research problems. Students in this course will bring up to 5 of their own European research problems to work on throughout the week. Crossing the Pond demonstrates sound methodology translates to all countries.

This workshop style course has the look and feel of private consultations centered around morning classroom instruction on methodology and followed by problem solving with guided research by your instructors in the Family History Library while using your own research problems.

The three classes I will be teaching are:

  • Using Lists to Find Proof
    • Genealogists examine lists every time they conduct research, whether it be in the form of censuses, tax lists, directories, petitions, or others. This class will demonstrate methods of examining lists as a research tool for proving the identity of our ancestors.

  • Using Church Records to Find Ancestral Origins
    • Use maps, directories, county histories and other clues from family lore and tradition to determine the religious affiliations of your ancestors. Locating, examining, and analyzing the records for a given church, might be the key to identifying an ancestor’s place of origin.

  • Canadian Migration and Immigration
    • When we think about our immigrant ancestors, we often visualize them coming directly to a United States seaport such as New York or Philadelphia. However, many of our forebears entered through Canadian ports before migrating south overland to become U.S. citizens; some may have crossed back and forth several times creating many records for genealogists. This class examines some of the common migration patterns and the documents they created.

I know I wish I had this course when I was beginning my genealogical research. There is still time to register! If you sign up by September 15 you will save $65 on the registration fees! The classes take place at the Plaza right next door to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. There is no better format than a half day learning and a half day researching, if you ask me. I am sure this course will be of use to anyone who is looking for their ancestors’ origins “across the pond.”

More information on the other instructors:

Course Coordinator:

Eric Stroschein, is a professional genealogist located in Mount Vernon, Washington. He owns Generations Detective, a genealogical research firm that offers a wide variety of services. Eric has roots in the British Isles and has had great success finding ancestors in their native countries for his clients and his own family. He lectures nationally at various genealogy conferences. To contact Generations Detective please visit:

Course Instructors:

Luana Darby, MLIS, is a professional genealogist and lecturer, based in Salt Lake City. She is the owner of Lineages by Luana, a genealogical research company which focuses on US/Canada and Western European research. She has served as president, vice president, and treasurer of the Utah Genealogical Association and currently serves on the Association of Professional Genealogist’s board. She also is employed as an adjunct faculty member at BYU-Idaho in the family history department. 

David Ouimette, CG, CGL, manages Content Strategy at FamilySearch, prioritizing historical records worldwide for digitization and online publication. He has conducted archival research in dozens of countries across the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. David lectures at national genealogical conferences and institutes and authored Finding Your Irish Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide.

My lecture at the APG PMC is all about the “PERSIbilities”

In just two short weeks I will be attending and presenting a lecture at the Association for Professional Genealogists Professional Management Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana. (My how time flies!) I will be presenting a lecture on a resource that is one of my favorites: the Periodical Source Index, or PERSI.

“PERSI Possibilities: Better Research with ACPL’s Periodical Source Index” will take place on Thursday 22 September 2016 at 1:15. So right after lunch… I do hope the great examples I will share and the stories I plan on telling will keep everyone awake!

A colleague and genea-pal Darcie Posz suggested I start a hashtag for my program #PERSIbilities. I love that and wish I had thought of it myself… I may have to retitle my lecture! In this program I will give the audience a look into the Periodical Source Index (PERSI), its new partnership with Find My Past, and tips and techniques for getting the most out of this valuable genealogical resource.

There is still time to register for the conference. Click here to go to the APG conference page. The entire conference runs from 22-24 of September at the Allen County Public Library. There are some fantastic presentations in the line-up that I am truly looking forward to attending. There are twenty-five different lectures and five workshops to choose from high-caliber genealogists working in the field today.

Besides the opportunity for learning, the conference is being held in one of the best genealogical repositories, the one that started PERSI, the Allen County Public Library. Who could ask for anything better? So, consider adding the PMC to your genealogical education plan. I hope to see you there!

GREAT NEWS: I did it!!!

colorlbcgsealfullLast week I got that email everyone who has submitted a BCG portfolio hopes to get… “Congratulations and welcome! I am delighted to report that your application for BCG’s Certified Genealogist credential has been successful.” Hallelujah!

What a journey! It began 10 years ago when my friend and mentor, Birdie Holsclaw, encouraged me to create a lecture describing all of the obituaries I had collected in my first few years of research. At that time it was somewhere over 100 (today it is closer to 300 but I lost an accurate count). A few years later, she suggested I look into Certification (from the Board for Certification of Genealogists) and think about working toward that goal. My friend Birdie died on 13 May 2010 from cancer.

Birdie and Russ Holsclaw at my 35th Birthday celebration, January 2009

After her death, I became sad whenever I tried to work on any of my genealogical research and so I spent some time away from it. But I loved it too much to stay away for long. In 2012 I got some renewed energy and decided to make it my full-time gig. GenealogyPANTS was born in March of 2012.

I decided that instead of being sad that Birdie was gone from our midst, I should do the things she thought I could do. I decided to pursue certification in her honor. If she thought I could do it, then I should do it. I should see if she was right. Along the way I met others who thought I could do it as well. The knowledge that someone is pulling for you, has confidence in you, and will stop what they are doing to send you an encouraging email or answer a question is a powerful thing. This knowledge helped me finish my portfolio. All of the things that these genealogists do for the genealogical community at large to educate us contributed to my success.

I am going to list some people here. So many people have shaped me in some way over the years that I can’t possibly name them all; just please know your contribution to my success did not go unnoticed or was unappreciated. In no particular order:

  • Angela McGhie for ProGen and all of my cohort from ProGen 16! (This amazing study group  helped me tighten up many areas of my portfolio.)
  • Tom Jones for all of the educational materials he has written over the years, classes and lectures he has taught, for answering several emails in super-quick fashion, and for just being one of the most approachable and patient people out there.
  • Judy Russell also for all of the educational materials you provide to us (via The Legal Genealogist blog and all of the lectures and classes) but also for being so clear AND fun in your lecture style. It makes learning about potentially boring topics so much fun and NOT boring. I mean we each have our interests, but Judy has the ability to make you really want to learn about historical laws and their genealogical impact even if you were an art major in college!
  • Elizabeth Shown Mills for all of the work she’s done on making citations understandable through not only her books but also her Evidence Explained website; also for her informative lectures and classes. I’m honored to have been among the last Course 4, Advanced Methods class at IGHR and I’m honored to have gotten the coveted “gold seal” AND the Walter Lee Sheppard Jr. Prize. I have to admit that the thought of “Elizabeth Shown Mills thinks I can do this!” really, REALLY helped me finish and succeed with my portfolio.
  • Dave McDonald also for the Walter Lee Sheppard Jr. Prize. It is people giving back to the genealogical community that really helps others succeed! [And I wanted to say thank you for your lovely tribute to Birdie at the 2012 NGS Birdie Monk Holsclaw Memorial Lecture. I bought the CD to your lecture titled “Maps! White Oaks, Gradients, Google, and more….” and listen to what you had to say from time to time. Very moving.]
  • Mark Lowe for being another one of those educators that just makes learning fun and for telling a great story every time he speaks. Mark can really get into the emotions of why genealogy is important. Also, for being so approachable, supportive and just a great genea-friend!
  • To my genealogy “support group” which consists of Annette Botello, Ruth Ratliff, Deb Skoff and Denise Miller. This group also included Birdie and she was always so encouraging to us when we met and so generous with her time. This group has been such a blessing to me not only genealogically but personally! Thanks you guys!

    My genealogy “support group,” February 26, 2010, from left to right: Annette Botello, Deb Skoff, Cari Taplin, Birdie Holsclaw, Denise Miller and Ruth Ratliff
  • To the members of the CERTS group I was a part of that included: Beth Benko, Kirk Patton, Deena Coutant, Harry Ross, Karlene Ferguson, Diane Barbour, Margaret Kadziel, and if there are others I’ve missed, please accept my apologies, but this group tended to morph a bit so I hope I didn’t miss anyone.
  • To my genealogy colleagues in Colorado. ALL of you whom I have had the pleasure of learning, interacting, working, and engaging with over the past 14 years. [I am not even going to try naming you all; you know who you are!]
  • Most of all to my husband, Seth, for being encouraging, for listening to rants, for tolerating genealogical tantrums, for bringing me food and coffee to keep me going, to all of the driving to cemeteries and libraries, and for taking care of kids so I could focus. [I love you!]

And so to conclude, I’m grateful. I’m grateful that this part of the process is over, I’m grateful for all of the support I’ve had and I’m grateful that I had the chance to know and work with and be friends with one of the best people on the planet. Plus, I’m so excited to start this next part of the genealogical journey, watch out!

How I Got Started

photo-13I recently had a reader ask me how I got started, more specifically, where I took my first genealogy class. So here is a quick summary of my genealogical education.

I have always enjoyed research. In college I was an art major and spent a semester as a research assistant for my art history professor. It was a blast. Also, I was one of those weird kids who was delighted every time a research paper was assigned in class. I love being in libraries and archives and this is probably one of the aspects of genealogy that drew me in.

When my first child was born in 2000, I felt myself losing brain cells. There’s only so much Sesame Street and Bob the Builder one can take in a day before their vocabulary is reduced to one-syllable words. As a stay-at-home mom I needed an outlet, some place where I could hang out with and converse with adults that also had a purpose. I had been dabbling in genealogy for a little while by this point so I found a local genealogical society and joined. (Hi Boulder Genealogical Society!)

A genealogical society usually offers lectures, classes, regional conferences and other people with experience from whom you can ask questions and grow as a genealogist. At the society I attended, I learned about genealogical methods, records, and other topics as well as about conferences and classes I could attend. Shortly after this I attended my first national conference in 2003. A national conference has the benefit of having a lot of lectures to choose from on a large variety of topics. You can also meet other people who are also researching their family history and begin a wider network of genealogists.

As for actual classes, I attended any regional conference that came my way. I begin in the Denver-metro area and there were many active genealogical societies who brought in a lot of high-caliber genealogists. I also began attending week-long institutes that focus on one topic for an entire week. And now I have found many online opportunities such as free or for-pay webinars that I enjoy attending in my sweat-pants and slippers in the comfort of my own home. I wrote a series of blog posts about these institutes which can be read here.

Other educational pieces I’ve done are:

So in a nutshell, that’s how I got started … and kept going … and am still doing. I enjoy all aspects of genealogy from the research to teaching to attending classes to writing.

BCG Portfolio Madness

PortfolioFinishedI turned it in. It is over. This MAJOR accomplishment is done. I TURNED IN MY BCG PORTFOLIO!

Honestly, I don’t know if it’s any good (I am my own worst critic). I have been looking at this project for a couple of years and almost non-stop for the last 3 months. I am not sure who or what it’s about anymore, if I made any valid arguments, or if it even contained complete, coherent sentences. If you’ve ever undertaken a major project you know what I’m talking about. You get so close to it you can’t see it anymore. The words blur together. And even though it makes sense to you, who knows about the rest of the world.

Let me say this: whether or not I pass doesn’t matter at this point. I did it. It is done, over, finished, kaput and off to the judges. I turned it in and it is out of my hands now. I also know I did my best given all that has happened to me and my family over the last four months. In case you didn’t know: we moved from Colorado to Texas, bought a house, sold a house, packed, unpacked, got kids into school, and are still adjusting to life in a new and almost foreign state. And I finished my portfolio. I think I will say it again because I’m not sure I believe it yet: I finished my portfolio.

Also, whether or not I pass, I know this:

  • I am a better genealogist for having done it.
  • I have researched, analyzed, correlated, researched, written, proofread, researched, proofread, and researched more than I ever have in my life. (Did I mention that I also proofread until my eyes couldn’t focus anymore?)
  • I have learned more about citations that I ever knew before.
  • I know more about my methods of being organized (or disorganized) and worked on ways to improve all of it.
  • I know way more about the process and what it actually takes to get the portfolio done. (It’s A LOT!)
  • If I don’t pass this time, I will be doing it all over again because when you have a goal you can’t give up or you’ll never make it.
  • And I know that my mentor Birdie Holsclaw told me I could and should do this, so I will keep working at it until it happens.

There were a couple of good things I learned that I will share just in case you don’t already do these things.

  1. Keep a log of the documents you’ve requested, sent off for, asked a friend or colleague to copy, etc. I found that I got so many balls in the air toward the end and while I was moving that I had a few documents “on order” that I lost track of. I needed to follow-up on them because they weren’t in my hands weeks before deadline and then I scrambled to get them, failing to do so on one important document. (This is the one thing I can’t get out of my mind.) Keep some kind of log and keep track of those document requests.
  2. I know you’ve heard this, but I’m going to say it too. Write those citations, fully, as you gather the information. I don’t know how many hours I spent trying to “re-find” things, fill in volume, page, column, enumeration district, and microfilm numbers so I could create an appropriate citation. And I’ve been doing this for years. I know better! I spent too many hours, that’s for sure. And I can now say with certainty that I will ALWAYS write my source citations the minute I find something. Seriously. I am not exaggerating.
  3. Start writing right away. I tried researching first, filling in boxes in my software and creating check-off charts to be sure I covered everything. I still ended up doing a lot of research during the writing phase of the process and then felt like I was crunched for time at the end. I say forget it and just write. I ended up doing things like color coding sentences that needed more research, writing “find a source for this” in the footnotes, and coming back to it later. Get it all out there, on the computer screen, as much as possible, and then go back and work on it, and then go back and work on it, and then go back and work on it some more. Eventually it will all come together.

I’m sure there are some more “tips” I could give, but these are the first things to come to mind. I’m glad it’s over. I was getting really tired of those surnames and after a while I started getting confused about who was who. I’m happy to have it completed before the holidays and I hope all of you have a great holiday season and happy new year!

(And if any of the above makes sense, I’ll be surprised. I’m pretty sure my mind has gone to jelly for the time being. Just forgive any typos, use of passive voice, improper use of “it’s” or “its” and chalk it up to “post-portfolio brain.”)

It was “Take Your Daughter to the Library” week…

Ellie at a microfilm reader in the FHL
Ellie at a microfilm reader in the FHL

At the beginning of June, I took my 11-year-old daughter to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City for a week of genealogical research. We had a great time. She’s short (not having started the sprouting up process yet) and cute and blonde and very into fashion. She is also very quick and has an analytical mind. She very quickly learned how to find microfilm, load the film (although she was about 1 inch too short but insisted on doing it herself anyway), be able to read the old handwriting enough to recognize the page numbers and surnames we were looking for, load the film on the scanner, resize, focus, adjust contrast, spot-edit, and scan to the flash drive. She learned all that on the first day and after I could see she knew what she was doing, I gave her films and lists and set her on her way. She did VERY well. I was happily surprised. We spent 2 days working on scanning all of the deeds for one family line and their collaterals.

The staff people at the library just loved her! They’d offer help but she quickly demonstrated that she knew what she was doing and even helped other patrons as the week went on. The scanning section has a tall desk in the middle where you stand to scan and then seated scanners along the perimeter. When she was at a standing scanner, she was a little short (but still able to work the machinery). About mid-week they found her a stool and would bring it out for her when she came up to the scanners. On Friday of our week there, the Family History Library staff asked if they could have someone interview my daughter. She was great! Loved having the photos taken, loved talking to the couple who came to interview us. You can read the article here: Family History Blog.

The week spent with my daughter taught me a few things:

  • My daughter is VERY independent. I mean I knew that before, but now that she actually CAN do things herself (as opposed to when she was 3 and really did need some help) she really wants to and will get mad if you try to help her too much.
  • Too much of even good things can be bad. We made sure to take breaks. While some of us adults can sit in a library for many, many hours on end, we should not necessarily do so. We packed a lunch everyday and instead of eating in the lunch room, we sat on a bench in Temple Square. And about 2 or 3 in the afternoon we took a walk to the Starbucks. Walking and sunshine can really wake up your brain (not to mention the coffee). We also quit working at 6 or 7 pm which I know is sacrilege to some of you die-hard researchers, and if it weren’t for my daughter I’d probably have stayed until closing too, but we also spent time in our room making dinner, watching movies and resting. All good things.
  • To do genealogy with young people, you have to remember what it was like to be a kid. While my daughter did help me a whole bunch, she also spent a fair amount of time playing “Plants Vs. Zombies” on her iPad, reading a book and knitting. Since she doesn’t quite understand what a deed can mean for research, she understands what it is at a high level and finds it completely boring. But when we found those names on a plat map and I could point to a section and say “And this was where great-grandpa and great-grandma’s farm was” (Great-grandma is still alive, kicking, traveling and my kids will remember her), she was very interested. Kids are about the stories.
  • And kids are about the technology. The fact that she got to run a scanning computer all week, handle films and all of that, kept her interested.

I am so grateful that I had the chance to take that trip with my daughter. Someday she might not want to go to the library or would rather hang out with her friends instead of me, but that day is not here yet. Until then, I will be planning next year’s trip!