LECTURE TOPICS  

(Workshop options are listed separately.  See Workshops tab above)

 

What the Heck Does That Say?: The Challenge of Difficult Handwriting 

    *Available as a one-hour lecture or a half-day interactive workshop 

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in genealogy is the seemingly illegible handwriting in our ancestors’ records.  Whether you struggle to navigate colonial penmanship that doesn’t even look like English or wrestle with contemporary documents that are poorly written, a few good strategies can make all the difference.  We’ll look at more than 20 techniques to help you figure out what the chicken scratches on the page say as well as what the style of writing might reveal about our ancestors.  

  

Voting Records: Genealogy's Best Kept Secret

Looking for a date of birth or death?  The date and court of naturalization? Where your ancestor disappeared to, or where he came from?  His political outlook?  Even what kind of house he lived in?  Voting records may have the answer.  These often-overlooked gems can be packed with genealogical information, and you won’t believe what they can tell us about our ancestors!

 

Beyond Names and Dates: Filling in the Stories of Our Female Ancestors  

For most of recorded time, women didn't leave much of a paper trail, but they still have wonderful stories to tell. We'll look at ways in which local history, laws, politics, natural disasters, probate inventories, and other resources can help.

 

Was Your Ancestor Truly Gone or Just Hidden Within the Records?

Why haven't you found your ancestors in the records?  Documents are often hidden from view, with information that is present but concealed, stored in a place or a manner that is unexpected, misspelled, indexed incorrectly, or separated from the other similar records.  We'll explore strategies for tracking down these elusive ancestors so that we don't miss a single detail.

 

Teasing Out the Story Hidden Behind the Genealogical Facts

One of the biggest challenges we face when writing family histories is how to turn the bare facts into tales worthy of being read, but our ancestors were real people, not just names, dates and places.  We’ll explore four different approaches that can help us to understand them in the context of the time and place in which they lived, and to look for unexpected clues in the information we’ve already gathered.  By digging deeply into the genealogical details, we can bring our ancestors' stories to life. 

  

How to Write Ancestral Stories Your Relatives Will

Want to Read

Part of the thrill of genealogy is sharing our discoveries with those we love, so it can be disappointing when our family members and friends have no interest in the subject.  However, with good research, thoughtful planning, and a dash of ingenuity, we can create engaging stories designed to entice even the most reluctant readers. 

  

Discovering Your Ancestor's Life in Records of Death

Sometimes the best way to learn about an ancestor's life is to dig into the mountain of paperwork created by his death.  We'll explore the surprisingly abundant information that is collected when a death occurs and glimpse just how much these records can reveal, not only about our ancestors' deaths, but also about their lives.  

 

Finding What You Need and Making the Most of What You Find

With so much information available to us today, it can be hard to know how to find what we seek, or what to do with it after we've found it.  Discover an assortment of techniques that can help you search the internet more successfully, extract those useful genealogical nuggets from your documents, organize what you've found, and evaluate your evidence.  We'll look at tools for locating overlooked records, understanding codes in documents, recovering missing websites, finding evidence of name changes, and much more.  

 

Why They Left, Where They Went, and What Their Journeys Can Reveal 

Why did our ancestors leave their homes?  Why did they settle where they did?  Using unexpected records, social history, the law, and more, we'll discover the secrets our ancestors’ migrations can reveal as we track them from place to place, across the ocean, across the country, even across town!  

 

Tracking Down Your Eastern European Ancestors

    *Available as a one-hour lecture or a two-hour seminar

In spite of the many wars, boundary changes, and political and natural catastrophes, an astonishing number of records exist for our Eastern European ancestors, both here and abroad.  We'll explore strategies for finding their places of origin, uncovering their original names, finding and requesting records, extracting and understanding their information, and dealing with foreign languages.

  

Genealogical Pits I Have Fallen Into and How to Avoid Them!

Genealogy is a great treasure hunt, but sometimes the clues are easy to misunderstand, or to miss altogether.  Learn to dodge eight obstacles that can get in your way. Here's your chance to learn from my mistakes without making them yourself!