Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New List of Topics

I have created a new list of topics for 2009. Please let me know if your genealogy or historical society is interested in having me present. I am available for 1 hour presentations as well as workshops and seminars.

Presentations include:

Research Like a History Detective
The PBS show History Detectives has made the process of historical and genealogical research fun to watch. Each week the History Detectives seek out clues to answer questions from those with artifacts or family legends. Learn the research methodology that will help you become a History Detective and solve your family history mysteries.

Using Maps to Find Your Ancestors
This presentation will go over the different types of maps, where to find them online and in print. We will also explore gazetteers and how they can aid in your research.

Researching at Libraries
Certain tips and tricks can help your research as you visit public, university and private libraries. This presentation will discuss how to search card catalogs and special collections. Preparing to research at a library so that you get the most out of your time there will also be discussed.

Journals, Store Ledgers and Letters to Aunt Mary: Using Manuscript Collections
Grandma didn’t leave a journal? Well, that may be true but someone in town did and that can assist your research as you learn more about your family, the neighbors and the community. Learn about manuscript collections or special collections, and how to find them and use them.

Using Genealogical Indexes
Genealogical indexes provide a one stop source of information from everything from vital records, to membership lists. Find out about different types of genealogical lists and where to find them. We will go over a list for each state.

Researching Your Ancestor’s Death
What resources are available to help you learn more about your ancestor’s death? We will go over the standards like death certificates and obituaries and then look at other records like coroner’s records, funeral home records, gravestones, military records, probates and more.

Vital Records and their Alternatives
Was your ancestor born before civil registration? What alternatives exist to find that birth certificate or death certificate? We will look at records that can help you find that information.

Using Google for your Genealogy
Everyone knows that Google is a search engine but did you know that Google can help you with so much more? We will explore Google Books, Picasa, Google Docs, Google Maps and other Google resources that will help you with your genealogy.

Citing Sources
We all know we should cite our sources but how? And doesn’t it all seem like hard work and not much fun? This lecture explores why you should source, short cuts for sourcing and options.

Preserving Heirlooms
How do you take care of grandma’s quilt? What to do with those old letters under the bed? This class explores taking care of textiles, paper and photographs so that they will last for the next 100 years.

Combining Historical Research with your Genealogy
History is such an important part of genealogy. Without a knowledge of history or a historical era, you could make mistakes in your genealogy. Come learn about how to add social history to your genealogy and how to become more familiar with the time period your ancestor lived in.

Increasing your Genealogical Knowledge
The more you know about genealogical techniques, the easier it is to find the information you need and become a better researcher. We will explore resources, conferences, books, periodicals and other places that will help you increase your genealogical knowledge and become a better researcher.

California Dreamin'
Most people think of Salt Lake City when they want to conduct genealogical research. However, California holds repositories and archives that can benefit those with or without California ancestors. Learn about city and county repositories, archives, public and private libraries, historical and genealogical societies, museums and state resources.

Institutional Records
Many of our ancestors had some sort of dealing with an institution. Prisons, orphanages, poor farms, state hospitals, schools and sanitariums, are types of institutions that kept records that can aid a genealogical search.

Catholic Church Records
Catholic Church records can provide a wealth of information as you trace an ancestor through time. Diocesan resources, online sites and microfilmed resources, religious newspapers, Catholic fraternal organizations, and Catholic cemeteries will also be covered.

Putting Flesh on Your Ancestor's Bones
Pedigree charts with their dates and places are not that interesting to most people. Including social history in your genealogical research will help to make your ancestors more interesting to those non-genealogists in your family.

100 Internet Sites Everyone Should Know
Everyone knows that and Family are important genealogical resources on the Internet but what other websites will help you with your research? This presentation includes 100 genealogy sites and search techniques to use in your research.

Remember the Ladies: Finding your Female Ancestors
Women ancestors can be difficult to trace but not impossible. This presentation goes over resources for tracing the women in your family. Sources discussed include federal and state census records, immigration, vital records, church records, journals, newspapers, court records, library archives and manuscript collections.

Grandpa was in Jail!? Researching the Black Sheep and Other Infamous Relatives
Let’s face it, not all of our ancestor’s were saints. People had their shortcomings in the 1800’s just like we do today. Keeping an open mind will not only increase the number of resources available to you but also may help you understand your ancestors better. This presentation is for those wanting to research that black sheep cousin or maybe check out a family legend.

Seeing Stars: Researching Famous Ancestors
Have you always been told that that baseball player with your surname is your 3rd cousin? Are you related to a silent screen star? Maybe a U.S. President is in your family tree. Separate fact from fiction by learning resources and techniques for tracing your famous relatives.

Researching LDS Ancestors
LDS pioneers left many records including journals, various church records, mentions in newspapers, immigration records, histories and genealogical memberships. We will go over resources on the internet, in archives, and with various organizations.

American Church Records
Your ancestor’s religious records can provide information about births, deaths, marriages and their everyday life. Learn what records are available and how to search for them.

Read All About It: Your Ancestor in the Newspaper
Everyone knows that a newspaper can provide vital statistic information on a person, but newspaper research is much more than finding an obituary. Learn how to fill in your ancestor’s life by using the newspaper and where you can find the newspapers you need.

Elusive Genealogy Sources
What other sources can provide you with information besides the census, vital records, and online databases? Learn about sources that can help you make your ancestor come to life.

Tracing the Genealogy of your Quilt
For the most part, vintage quilts lack the name and date of the maker. In those cases where they do, or when you have a friendship quilt with numerous names, how do you find out more about the women who made it? This lecture will discuss ways to “trace” your quilt including looking at the possible age of the quilt and tracing the lives of those who made or signed the quilt.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

I've heard quite a few stories about people dying at other people's funerals but I would say this one is quite unusual.

According to MSNBC World News a woman in Brazil was killed by her husband's coffin when a traffic accident hurled the coffin up against her neck and killed her instantly.

To read the whole story, click on this link

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Genealogy in Country Woman Magazine

I was thumbing through an old issue of Country Woman magazine (October 2006) that my mom gave me. Low and behold they had a two page spread entitled “History Carved in Stone”. The two pages included pictures of gravestones and cemeteries sent in by readers.

One grave that is pictured from Oakland Cemetery in Sandusky, Ohio shows a headstone for a former teacher that is shaped like an open book with the names of her pupils inscribed on the open “page.” Can you imagine being listed on a non-family member's headstone?

A beautiful shot of a cemetery in Neepawa, Manitoba is included. The caption states that over 2,500 graves are planted with petunias as part of a special grounds care program. I found some minutes from the Neepawa City Council online from 2007 that recorded 5,000 dozen petunias were bought for Riverside Cemetery for this project. For those with ancestors buried in the cemetery, you can search an online database at A small picture of a grave covered in petunias can be found at,_Manitoba. A history of the cemetery can be found at

I was particularly interested in a picture of two graves from Edmonson County, Kentucky. The caption reads, “For 96 years, they’ve (Hill Grove Church) has been covering graves in their churchyard with moss, bleached mussel shells and flowers…In the early days, folks gathered moss from the woods and collected mussels at the river. The shells were emptied, boiled in lye and scraped until they shone dazzling white.” What an interesting tradition.

Four headstones are shown in the article. Names appearing on those headstones are Minnie and Herman Behrens (Oregon, Illinois); Doris Barnes (Deer Park Cemetery, Carroll County, Maryland); Eliza Moore (Oakland Cemetery, Sandusky, Ohio); and Gene Abel (Marlette, Michigan)

County Woman Magazine has a website at

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Novemberfest Success

Well, we had our Redlands Family History Center Novemberfest today. We had a great time and received lots of good ideas from wonderful speakers. Although I spent a lot of the time running around making sure everything was going well, I did get to sit on a few presentations.

Whenever you have a chance, I would recommend sitting in on presentations that include topics that do not necessarily pertain to your research. Why? Many times, techniques and websites mentioned provide you with ideas that you wouldn't ordinarily have thought of.

I know someone who is eager to go to every genealogy seminar and workshop she can. She is a great example of a lifelong learner. Once she wanted to come to a research class where I was speaking on LDS ancestors. However, she has no LDS ancestors. I recommended she come to it anyway because I would be talking about techniques and websites that could be used for all types of research. She did come to the presentation and was able to use some of the ideas I gave for her non-LDS family research.

Today I listened in on a talk by Barbara Renick on Eastern European research. Even though this is not the type of research I do, I learned a lot just listening to Barbara talk about Polish research and resources available. Some of those techniques that she spoke of I was able to liken to my own research and pick up some new ideas. Once in a while, as genealogists, we need to think outside of the (research) box and one great way to do this is learning about topics that we are not as familiar with.

I always feel bad for people who choose to skip presentations at a workshop. They may complain that there is nothing they want to hear or they know everything about a particular topic. I highly recommend that you check out topics that are not necessarily your cup of tea because you may learn something unexpected or you may find a speaker that you would like to hear more from.

By the way, Barbara is just one of the great speakers we had today. I would highly recommend her website Zroots,, it has a great links page.