Thursday, January 14, 2016

Can a Genealogy Journal (as in diary) Help You?

I've recommended a genealogy journal (or diary) over on because I think it is a great tool for any genealogist, including those who don't have a lot of free time. Even if you're able to carve out time for genealogy organizing or, heaven forbid, actual research, a genealogy journal can still help you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

How to Do Genealogy on the Cheap, the Right Way

How to do genealogy on the cheap

Still Not Convinced You Need to Spend the Money to Order Records?

There is a great post on the Preserve the Pensions blog this week [Preserve the Pensions is a fundraiser to digitize the War of 1812 pensions, sponsored by the Federation of Genealogical Societies]. This post highlights some great finds in War of 1812 pensions involving neighbors of the applicant/soldier. This is just one of the many benefits you'll often find when you use/order original records.

Don't Stop at the Index

The War of 1812 pensions are being digitized but you do know most genealogy records are not online, don't you? And even if they are online, they may not be images or they may not be searchable images. You can read my earlier post about unindexed images, here. You're going to have to order some records if you want to further your research.

Some genealogists find an index or database entry and stop there because it's not always easy or cheap to order the original record. It is definitely worth it, though. You can read the above-mentioned post on It includes a link for a little more info on cluster research. You can also read a previous post from this blog about Bounty Land Warrant Applications, which is related.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Offline Lectures and Courses Part III: Institutes

Offline Lectures and Courses

for the Genealogist Who Doesn't Know Where to Go Next

This is a continuation, the introduction and part I are here, part II, here.

Part III: National Institutes

The other primary type of "national" genealogical education event is an institute. Currently there are four U.S. institutes that should be relevant to the target audience of this series, the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR), the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed, formerly the National Institute on Genealogical Research or NIGR), and the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP). All of these could be described as "general" genealogy institutes and all are in-person, not online. There may be other topic specific institutes and there are other online institutes.
First I'll describe the one "different" institute.
Gen-Fed is the only one of these four that does not offer multiple courses to choose from. It is a single course focusing on using U.S. federal records from the National Archives (Archives I and II). Optional trips to the Library of Congress and DAR Library are included. I don't label it topic specific because if you are researching U.S. ancestors, the material taught at Gen-Fed should be part of your standard research arsenal. Gen-Fed was not held in 2015 but will resume in July 2016, registration is in February 2016. Also, note that Gen-Fed is not a beginning institute. It can certainly be called an intermediate institute but determining if you are "intermediate" is difficult. Dealing with federal records can be complicated. You need a firm genealogical foundation before attending so the material can sink in.
IGHR, SLIG, and GRIP are all week long institutes where you choose a specific course. These range from a beginner course to very specialized, advanced courses. Which courses are offered changes each year and it is usually possible to see which courses are coming up (to a limited degree) so you can plan ahead and plan your budget. All three institutes are excellent and offer very high quality instruction. A unique feature of SLIG is you can also do some research at the Family History Library. Other than that, choosing which to attend should be based on the courses offered and your budget.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Genealogy Journal Study Groups

Genealogy Journal Study Groups

for the Genealogist Who Doesn't Know Where to Go Next

This is a continuation of the post "Genealogy Periodicals"

Joining a genealogical journal study group is extremely beneficial. There are online study groups (try googling "NGSQ Study Group") and in-person study groups. Here in Georgia, the Georgia Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists (GA APG) hosts a quarterly study group meeting. The Georgia study group is aimed at professionals and those aspiring to be professionals (at least in their skill level if not actually taking clients) rather than beginners but you may find different groups near you.
One advantage of a study group is you can start your own if one doesn't exist. It's beneficial to have a more experienced genealogist in the group but it's not necessary. Better to have a study group than not if a "mentor" is all you lack. You can use the article by Bill Litchman mentioned in the first part of this post to help guide you.
Seek out opportunities through your local genealogical society, at a local repository, or just the local library. There may also be genealogy interest groups at a local church, senior center, or retirement community. Some lineage societies may have sufficient genealogical interest to provide study group participants.

Return to "Genealogy Periodicals"

Genealogy Periodicals

Genealogy Periodicals: Journals, Newsletters, and Magazines

for the Genealogist Who Doesn't Know Where to Go Next

An often underutilized source of self-education is the genealogical journal. Genealogical journals are one of the only ways to learn how to do quality genealogy by studying quality genealogy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Loving Fold3's Native American Collection? (free through 15 November)

If checking out Fold3's Native American Collection has your interest peaked, learn more about Native American genealogical research with this month's free webinar from the Georgia Genealogical Society.
Wednesday, November 18th (3rd Wednesday of the month) the Georgia Genealogical Society will host their monthly FREE webinar. The topic for November is "American Indian Ancestry and How to Document It" presented by Angel Walton-Raji. You can learn more and register at
These free webinars are usually NOT about Georgia genealogy so check out the list of upcoming webinars not matter what your research interests. Archived (past) webinars are available to current GGS members.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Did your ancestors claim to descend from an "Indian princess?"

This is meant to be a short post so I'm not even going to go into any of the explanations about the "Indian princess" story. If you've heard it in connection to your family, read on. From November 1st to 15th, Fold3 is offering free access to their Native American Collection. If you really have Native American ancestry that's great but even if you don't, you may find valuable genealogical information in this collection.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Offline Lectures and Courses Part II: National Conferences

Offline Lectures and Courses

for the Genealogist Who Doesn't Know Where to Go Next

This is a continuation, the introduction and part I are here.

Part II: National Conferences

At some point you will need to take your genealogical education to the next level. National level in-person events, national conferences or national institutes, may be the best choice for you. Online options are another choice or you may be fortunate enough to find the same quality and quantity of education locally. National conferences and institutes require multi-day time commitments. They have the associated expenses such as travel, lodging, and food in addition to the registration cost. Choosing to spend the extra money is a major consideration for most genealogists.This post and the next are designed to explain what to expect from a national conference or institute so you can decide which educational options will be best for you.

Friday, September 18, 2015

October is Family History Month, mark your calendar now!

No, I haven't completely lost track of time. There are usually so many genealogy related events in October you need to check them out now so you can plan appropriately. Below are events near me or that I'm hoping to attend plus links to sites where you can check out many upcoming genealogy events across the country and world.

Offline Lectures and Courses Part I: Local Socities

Offline Lectures and Courses

for the Genealogist Who Doesn't Know Where to Go Next

Part I: Intro and Local Societies

One of the easiest ways to improve your genealogical skills is through lectures, classes, seminars, institutes, and other "taught" mediums. Being directed by a "teacher" is certainly simpler than having to find the information yourself and I'd consider listening easier than reading. A live teacher, online or offline, also gives you the chance to ask questions.
In the last few years, quality, and more advanced, lectures/classes have been coming online. This is great for genealogists who can't travel. And even if you can travel, it gives you more options. Some of these online options are free. The more in-depth or advanced ones usually cost money. This article is about offline education, but online choices are getting better each day. You should find a combination of online and offline education that works for you.

Education from Local Societies

The best "economical" option for taught education, online or offline, is usually through a genealogical society. Larger societies often have both online and offline educational offerings. Webinars are often free for members or available in an archive so you don't have to attend live (this loses the advantage of asking questions but is better than completely missing out because of your schedule). Nearly all societies, regardless of size, offer offline education.
Local genealogy societies may be at the state or county level or for an area or even specific topic. They usually have in-person meetings which include a lecture or several lectures. County level society meetings are usually free and held monthly. There may also be more involved events such as conferences, seminars, or fairs which require paid registration. State or regional societies usually meet less often and their events often feature several lectures requiring a paid registration. Events with a paid registration also often feature one or more vendors, a great chance to pick up some genealogy books, maps, software, or charts.
Don't assume a local society only has lectures related to local genealogy. What is offered depends on the membership: what their interests are, how many members, and how active they are. Also, all societies are looking for more volunteers. This is the primary limitation on what they can offer. It doesn't matter how many members there are if there aren't enough volunteers to handle running the society and its programs. Consider volunteering with your local society regardless if their programs exactly fit your needs. You may find one more set of hands is all they need to add a program you love.
Check out the societies near you for convenience and also the societies for the locations where your ancestors lived. You may find events you are willing to travel to.
Part 2 will cover National Conferences

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Notes for Research Logs

I had three particular "notes" I wanted included with my post about research logs. These may differ from some tips you'll see or they have been hard learned after years of research.
The main post is here.

Research Logs for..

suggestions for successfully keeping a genealogy research log

Research Logs

for the Genealogist Who Doesn't Know Where to Go Next 

(click here for the list of topics currently in this series)

When I lecture about keeping a spreadsheet research log, I always tell the audience there is one thing they can definitely do WRONG. That is not keeping and using a research log. There are many ways to do it right and there's a lot of personal preference related to a research log. That is why it is included in this series. If you don't know what a research log (or research calendar) is, you need to learn. You need to understand why you should keep and use one before you can find one that works for you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

New Series "...for the Genealogist Who Doesn't Know Where to Go Next"

Over the years I find I share certain hints, tips, and info with clients over and over again. Rather than writing the same information repeatedly, I've decided to publish this information on my blog as a series titled "...for the Genealogist Who Doesn't Know Where to Go Next."

Who is "the Genealogist Who Doesn't Know Where to Go Next?"

I could have called this series "for the genealogist who doesn't know what to do next" but it just didn't sound as nice. If you're asking yourself "now what do I do?" you are the genealogists who doesn't know where to go next. This series is aimed at genealogists who have done some research already. It isn't advanced information, though.

Take a look at the list of topics at the end of this post. You should be familiar with all of them. This isn't a list of sources to check. A "to-do list" depends too much on your specific problem. Instead, this is a list of topics that seem to fall between the gaps for many genealogists who begin by researching online. If you have taken a beginning genealogy class or started by reading a beginning genealogy book, you are probably familiar with these topics. You may need to learn more about them. Whether you are familiar with them or not, if you haven't tried all of them, you should.


This list is not comprehensive. There also isn't any easy to define reasoning behind why some topics are included and others aren't. Essentially these are topics I end up writing about to clients. Topics where I can easily provide one or two links aren't included. Some topics are mostly a collection of links and some contain more textual information.I will come back and add links as new posts go live.

Research Logs
Offline Education (mini-series: Local Societies, National Conferences, Institutes)
Genealogical Forms (coming later)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


I am "officially" back from maternity leave. You can email me if you want to start a project or use my new contact form,, whichever you find more convenient. I don't have regular office hours so please use email or the online form to contact me.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Forget the end of summer-start researching this Labor Day weekend

For this holiday weekend, and are providing free access to select collections. You can check out the sites directly or read more about it from the Genealogy Insider.
At, their new probate and wills collection, launched September 1st, is included. This is a massive collection which every genealogist should learn to use. Keep in mind the collection is "indexed" but it is only partially indexed. You will need to browse many of the records to find what you need. This is no different than what you would have had to do with the microfilm records. Now you can access the records at home, any time, in your bunny slippers.