Lectures and Seminars

Presentation Topics

Family Research Introduction

Presentation Abstract: Do you think you are interested in “Genealogy” but are not really sure what it is? There comes a time in our life that we begin to wonder about our “family.  It might be because of a medical problem, to establish a sense of heritage (or Where did I come from?) or just plain curiosity. Whatever the reason, Genealogy (or Family Research) is a very fulfilling hobby. This lecture will discuss among other topics: 

  • How to begin
  • Four Elements of Genealogical Identification
  • Getting started (Attic Archeology, Correspond with relatives and family friends; Conduct Personal Visits and interviews)
  • Available resources (Local Genealogical Societies, Libraries, Books, The Internet)

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for beginner researchers.

Genealogical Research: Online Resources – for Free!

Presentation Abstract: In the economically challenged world we are in today, free is good! This lecture will provide an insight into what is in store when searching some of the available popular, and some so not well known, free websites. Come join us as we surf the internet to find those choice websites that hold digital images, databases, text files, etc.

  • Articles, Blogs, Newsletters, Podcasts and Webinars
  • Linkpendium (Great resource for county information)
  • Joe Beine’s Suite of Websites
  • AccessGenealogy
  • RootsWeb – World Connect Project
  • LiveRoots
  • FamilySearch – Librarian Favorites
  • Bureau of Land Management – General Land Office Records
  • DAR Genealogical Research System (GRS)
  • Cyndi’s List (good for topical information)
  • USGenWeb Digital Library (USGenWeb Archives) (very good resource for indexed and digital data)

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all levels of researchers.

Googling Your Family: Using the Whole Google Website

Presentation Abstract: Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” and they do that task very well. Learn how to use the search engine for books, images, newspapers, maps, etc. to enhance your research and the family story you want to tell.

  • Google Website Overview
  • Google Search Engine and Search Tips
  • Google Books Search (Searches the “full text of some 7 million books”)
  • Google Images Search (Search for people, places, and events)
  • Google News Archive (Current news and archival news)
  • Google Maps Search (World maps and satellite imagery)
  • Other “things” on Google (Google Drive, GMail, Specialized Searches and much more)

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all levels of researchers.

Online Education – A New Approach to Genealogy

Short Summary:

Presentation Abstract: Blogs. Podcasts. Webinars. YouTube. What do they have in common? They are tools that can be used to help us learn more about research techniques, resources and repositories, and they are immensely popular and fun to use. Education is expensive and traveling to a school or institute can be out of the budget, both in costs and time. What is a genealogist to do? Online education! Join us as we explore the world of online education and see for ourselves how these new tools can aid us.

  • Schools – Attend Online – For a Fee
  • Schools – Attend Online – For Free
  • Articles, Blogs, Newsletters
  • Podcasts, Webinars
  • YouTube

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all levels of researchers.

Organizing, Analyzing, and Sharing: Using Technology to Your Advantage

Presentation Abstract: As researchers we gather all sorts of information, but once we have it what do we do with it? How can our findings be analyzed to tell us what we need – and where to find it? How can we tell what we don’t have and need to find? And now that I have all this family data, how can I share it with other family members? There is technology available today that might help you in answering those questions. The discussion will include:

  • Your computer – programs already installed that can assist you
  • Using word processors, spreadsheets and databases to your advantage
  • Organizing your family data into a family tree program
  • Note-keeping systems in the computer age
  • Using computer artificial intelligence to analyze your genealogy data
  • Creating multimedia presentations for sharing

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all society members.

The FamilySearch Website – Demystified

Presentation Abstract: This website is made up of many parts; each one essential to the research of a genealogist. However, many have never heard of the site or have not used it to its’ greatest potential. Join us as we explore the wonderful possibilities! Topics discussed include:

  • The Library Catalog – an underused and misunderstood piece of greatness
  • Historical Books – tap into the Family History Archives digital collections
  • Historical Records – millions of records (indexes and digital images) going online for free
  • Searching the Research Wiki – free advice for the community
  • Finding Articles, Guidance, and Online Classes
  • Indexing Records – share your time and talents in helping the community

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all levels of researchers.

City Directories – A Line-by-line Account of Our Ancestors

Presentation Abstract: “Let your fingers do the walking” through city directories to find family relationships, occupations, spouses, and other choice tidbits. Many different types of “directories” have been published that may help the researcher today solve their family history brick walls. One of those is the City Directory.  They can place a person in a particular place at a particular time and can group people by place of residency and/or by association with others. This presentation examines the city directories available to the researcher and how to locate and use them. Topics discussed include:

  • City Directories and all of their “parts” (yellow pages, green pages and white pages)
  • Benefits of Directory Research (clues to forward research through census, marriages, land records, etc.)
  • Problems/concerns associated with using city directories
  • Resources for locating City Directories (Family History Library (FHL), Library of Congress, WPA records, PERSI, etc.)
  • Research Strategy illustrated with a Case Study

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all levels of researchers.

Claws or Clues – Scratching for the Elusive Ancestor!

Presentation Abstract: If you are at the point in your research that you are encountering “dead ends”, you may need to stop, regroup, check where you have been and where you need to go. This lecture is designed to start the thought processes with a systematic research approach. We will discuss evidence criteria, timelines, and spreading your research net outwards.

  • Creating a Research Plan
  • Performing a systematic, methodical & persistent search for the time/locality
  • Criteria for Judging Reliability of Evidence 
  • Timelines
  • Spread wide your “net” – Investigate everyone on your group sheets
  • Look Further Afield – More

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for Intermediate and advanced level researchers.

Overlooked Research Sources: A Gold Mine to be Discovered

Presentation Abstract: We sometimes get caught in a researcher’s “rut”; we start looking at the same type of sources and “forget” that there are a lot of different types of sources to be scoured for information and clues to our ancestors. This presentation will take a look at a variety of these sources, what they contain and where they can be acquired. Some sources discussed are:

  • County Historical & Biographical Publications
  • City Directories
  • Federal Census – Agriculture and Industrial Schedules
  • School Records, Society Records
  • Company Reports, Insurance Records
  • WPA Historical Records Survey (HRS) (Published and Unpublished)
  • Periodicals and PERSI (PERiodical Source Index)
  • Prison Records
  • Estate Records
  • And more

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for Intermediate and Advance level researchers.

“Shore to Shore” – 20th Century Immigration Research

Presentation Abstract: Between 1607 and 1980 approximately 50 million immigrants arrived, with the peak year being 1907 when approximately 1,285,000 people arrived. How are we to find our ancestor among those millions? This lecture presents a 4-step research strategy and a look at the various records available to the researcher.

  • Immigration History for the 20th Century
  • 4-Step Research Strategy
  • Emigration Records
  • Border Crossings (Mexico and Canada)
  • Alien Registration
  • Repatriation (when they decided not to stay)

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for Intermediate and Advance level researchers.

So You Can’t Read a Foreign Language: Deciphering Vital Records – Tips and Techniques

Presentation Abstract: Sooner or later, a researcher will be facing a vital record in a foreign language. Treating the language as a barrier or “brick wall” will only lead to frustration. This presentation will use vital records in various languages to demonstrate ways to decipher them. Among the topics discussed are:

  • Structure of the Vital Record
  • Record Type and Format
  • Deciphering Handwriting Tips
  • Translation Guides
  • FHL Word Lists and Wikis
  • Case Study using a German Record

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for Intermediate and Advance level researchers.

Complete Census Research – Evaluating the Whole Schedule

First – we will focus on the available state and federal censuses which name everyone living in the household (the population schedules). Second – we will show why looking at and evaluating the whole census schedule is important to your research and why not to only use the transcriptions given online. Third – we will look at ways to overcome the creative transcriptions and indexing we find online (and I think I have some good ones!). And Fourth – we will review the benefits of analyzing the neighbors. It will be a fun and informative journey showing how to use the census data we locate more effectively.

Blacksheep Ancestors and Their Records

Presentation Abstract: Let’s just admit it – we all have them! So, let’s use the records they created to our benefit – and what wonderful records they left. Tips will be provided, starting with what you already know (or at least “think” you know) and follow through with trying to prove the story.

  • Defining the “story”
  • Finding the Records to Prove the “Story” – Make a research plan
  • Court Records
  • Courthouse “Insane” Records
  • Census “Insane” Records
  • Executions and Lynchings
  • Military Records
  • Prison Records
  • Wild West and Notorious Characters
  • Other Resources (not already discussed) for finding records 

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all levels of researchers.

Florida – A State of Diversity

Presentation Abstract: Florida is a state varied in history and culture from its’ tip in Key West, through the Everglades to the West Coast, and the Panhandle to the “First” Coast. This lecture is designed to work through that diversity utilizing resources available on the World Wide Web. We will discuss online resources for:

  • Vital Records – What is available and how to get copies
  • Pre-Statehood and State Censuses
  • Historical and Cultural Data
  • Cemetery and Obituary Databases
  • Military Records/Information
  • Florida Photographic Records
  • Maps and Gazetteers
  • Libraries, Archives and Special Collections
  • And various other topics

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all levels of researchers.

Land, Licenses, Love Gone Wrong, and Other Assorted Courthouse Records

Presentation Abstract: Courthouses are an underutilized resource; they are not as hard to maneuver as most people think. Under their roof you will find fabulous records! This presentation will concentrate on the County level courthouses, the fabulous records contained within their walls, and examine how the sources/records can aid in our search.

  • What is a Courthouse?
  • Levels of Courts
  • Chancery & Civil Court – what is the difference?
  • Intermediate Courts
  • Supreme Court
  • Records contained within
    • Docket Books, Minute Books, Order Books
    • Probate & Estate Records
    • Land/Deeds
    • Marriage Records
    • Delayed Birth Records
    • Soldier & Sailor Discharges
    • Voter Registrations
    • And more

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all levels of researchers.

Lineage Society Papers: Guidelines for a Successful Application

Presentation Abstract:  A Lineage Society is a society of like-minded individuals with the purpose of preserving the history of the particular “pioneers” being honored. Those “pioneers” could be a specific group of people or an individual. The descendants provide the documentation needed to prove their direct descent from the “pioneers”. Some societies also allow collateral or “close” relatives. Most often our first thoughts, when lineage societies are mentioned, are of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, and the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. Oh, but there are so many more! And joining one is not that difficult. Topics discussed include:

  • Lineage Societies – What are they and where do I find them?
  • Read the instructions, follow them and then re-read them
  • Getting Started – Do your research. What has already been done and what do you need to do?
  • Preparing the forms.

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for the intermediate an advanced level.

Overlooked Research Sources: A Gold Mine to be Discovered

Presentation Abstract: We sometimes get caught in a researcher’s “rut”; we start looking at the same type of sources and “forget” that there are a lot of different types of sources to be scoured for information and clues to our ancestors. This presentation will take a look at a variety of these sources, what they contain and where they can be acquired. Some sources we will discuss are:

  • County Historical & Biographical Publications
  • City Directories
  • Federal Census – Agriculture and Industrial Schedules
  • School Records, Society Records
  • Company Reports, Insurance Records
  • WPA Historical Records Survey (HRS) (Published and Unpublished)
  • Periodicals and PERSI (PERiodical Source Index)
  • Prison Records
  • Estate Records
  • And more

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for Intermediate and Advance level researchers.

“Read all about it!” Newspaper Research: Reading Past the Headlines

Presentation Abstract: Newspapers have been published in this country for almost 300 years. These day-to-day diaries of our ancestors’ lives can make them “come to life for us” if we but use the rich daily life information that can be garnered from within the pages of newspapers. This lecture will start with a brief history of the newspaper’s rise in American history and then examine various components found in a variety of types of newspapers and how they can be used to further the research for your ancestor. We will end with information on how/where to find older newspapers. Some items discussed are:

  • Vital Records (Birth, marriage, divorce, death)
  • Legal Notices, Marine Intelligence, Stopped Mail
  • Personals, Local News and Advertisements
  • Politics, Religious News and Community Projects

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for Beginner and Intermediate level researchers.

Slave Narratives: Telling the Story of Slavery and Families

Short Summary

Presentation Abstract: The WPA Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) of the late 1930s’ provides us with more than 2,300 first person accounts of former slaves. The narratives, with their autobiographical accounts, can provide insight into the institution, and rich context and clues for family research. But how can we use this rich resource? Can they be relied upon? Some of the questions discussed are:

  • The history of the slave narratives
  • When were they taken
  • Who were the interviewers?
  • What are the limitations of the narratives?
  • Where can I find the narratives?
  • How can they be used for research?
    • Names of family members
    • Names of plantations, owners, and their family members
    • Birth, marriage and death information for individuals
    • Context for daily life in particular places

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all levels.

The Everyday Life of Our Ancestors

Presentation Abstract: Our ancestors led lives, just like us – only different. Using our life as an example, how can we parallel it to theirs? They ate and drank, married and had families, dressed, had trades and occupations, practiced a religion, dabbled in the arts and sciences, participated in politics and economics, etc. This lecture will examine the various aspects of life and provide resources to discover the historical context and personal details of our ancestors’ lives.

  • Placing our ancestor in a timeline.
  • Finding Historical Context 
  • Homelife, Weather and the Farmer’s Almanac
  • Ancestral Photographs, Postcards, etc
  • What Did Your Ancestor Wear?
  • Court Records
  • Occupations
  • Events of the day and the times
  • And much more.

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all levels of research.

“Will” They be There? Using Probate Records

Presentation Abstract: Probate records can be a rich source for finding that elusive piece of information concerning birth, death and relationships. They could also put some “meat on the bones” of your ancestors depending on the records found within the probate package. This lecture examines the many records created in the Probate proceedings. We will start with what Probate Records are, the types of records that might be found (utilizing many examples from various counties/states), problems associated with the records and sources for finding the records. Some items that will be discussed are:

  • Will and Testament, Guardianship
  • Admission of Will to Probate
  • Petitions/Letters of Administration
  • Estate Inventory, Estate Sale, Petition to sell property
  • Publication of Estate Settlement; Proof of Heirship

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all levels of researchers.

America’s New Deal: The WPA’s Federal Project Number One

The Works Progress Administration (later changed to Work Projects Administration) (WPA) carried out many public works projects (many still visible today); however, the smaller projects were just as effective. Federal Project Number One consisted of 5 separate divisions/projects employing artists, musicians, actors and actresses, historians, researchers, and writers, to name a few. The Federal Art Project, Federal Music Project, Federal Theatre Project, Federal Writers Project, and the Historical Records Survey contributed to the success of the WPA and to the employment record of the US. 

This presentation will provide information on each division/project and their contributions; however, the focus will mainly be on the last two – the Federal Writers Project, and the Historical Records Survey and some of the publications and inventories they created.

  • State Guides
  • Reference Guides
  • City Histories
  • Lists of Religious Bodies
  • House Histories
    • Survey of County Records
    • Survey of Church Records
    • Manuscripts Survey
    • Newspaper Survey
    • Inventory of State Records, Municipal Records, Civilian Organizations, 
    • Inventory of Maps, Naturalization Records, Newspapers, Photographs
    • Inventory of School Records, Vital Statistics

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for intermediate-advanced levels.

City Directories – A Line-by-line Account of Our Ancestors

Many different types of “directories” have been published that may help the researcher today solve their family history brickwalls. One of those is the City Directory. They can place a person in a particular place at a particular time and can group people by place of residence and/or by association with others. This presentation examines the city directories available to the researcher and how to locate and use them.

  • Types of Directories
  • City Directories – History
  • City Directories and all of their “parts”
    • Introduction
    • Alphabetical listing – white pages
    • “Yellow Pages” – Commercial Ads
    • “Green Pages” – Street listings – check for the neighbors
    • Benefits of Directory Research (clues to forward research)
    • Problems/concerns associated with using city directories:
    • Resources for Locating Directories
    • Research Strategy illustrated with a Case Study

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all levels of researchers.

From Despair to Cargoes of Hope: WWII’s Displaced Persons

Many immigrants entered the US under the Displaced Persons Act. The purpose of this act, and its amendments, was to “To authorize for a limited period of time the admission into the United States of certain European displaced persons for permanent residence, and for other purposes.” Based on specific criteria, eligible displaced persons (DPs) could be admitted to the U.S. if they would not become a public charge and have safe and sanitary housing and employment without displacing some other person. The displaced person or refugee was the concern of the International Refugee Organization. For the U.S., the Displaced Persons Commission was put into place to oversee the act’s enactment. Is your ancestor named in the record sets created? Learn about accessing the records.

Items discussed in the presentation include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • History of the Act
  • Process for immigration to the U.S. under the Act
  • Records created as a result of the Act.
  • Newspaper and magazine articles covering the “Cargos of Hope”, the transport ships carrying the DPs
  • Records of the International Refugee Organization
  • Records of the Displaced Persons Commission (Record Group 278)
  • Orphan Children’s Case Files and Correspondence
  • National Catholic Welfare Conference Records
  • Immigration and Naturalization Service Records

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for intermediate-advanced levels of researchers.

Stitching Together Family History: Finding Women in the Textile Arts

Let’s turn to the records of the textile arts. Wikipedia notes “Textile arts are arts and crafts that use plant, animal, or synthetic fibers to construct practical or decorative objects.”1 Our women ancestors were, for the most part, practical, so the textile arts were perfect for them, although at the time most of them did not think of themselves as creating art – they were creating useful items for their family and home. The textile arts include creating the thread, yarn, cloth, etc. to the making of the item through weaving, crochet, sewing, etc. to the embellishment via embroidery, beading, dyeing, etc. 

1 “Textile arts.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textile_arts : accessed: Mar 2019

We will look at:

  • Newspapers
  • Work Projects Administration (WPA)
  • Library of Congress
  • Manuscript Collections
  • National Archives
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Photos
  • Scrapbooks
  • Ribbons, other prizes, and memorabilia
  • and much more

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all levels of researchers.

Death Record Research Sources: Beyond Death Certificates

Presentation Abstract: Death certificates are often the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a record created at death; however, statewide death registrations did not start in most states until the first quarter of the 1900s. So what other documents can be used to obtain death information? This lecture presents an overview of a contemporary death certificate and then goes on to examine how some of those same “clues” can be found in a variety of other documents/resources. Some of those covered are:

  • Obituaries, Eulogies, Interments for the Week
  • City Sexton Reports of Burials, Burial Permits, Register of Deaths
  • Cemetery Records, Funeral Home (Mortuary) Records, Memorial Cards
  • Bible Entries, U.S. Social Security Death Benefit Index and SSA Records
  • Probate Records, Deed/Land Records, Census Mortality Schedules (1850-1900), and others

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all levels of researchers.

Hatched, Matched and Dispatched: Vital Record Research

Presentation Abstract: The 21st Century poses its own particular problems on the researcher today. With the onslaught of “privacy issues” how is the family researcher going to be able to further their knowledge of their families? All is not lost; it just means we need to be more resourceful in tackling the associated problems. Have you found “delayed” records, burial permits, sexton reports, church records, etc.? Learn how to locate & use other types of records in your search for vital record information. Topics discussed include:

  • History of 20th Century Registration (By time period and Civil Jurisdiction)
  • Possible Problems Encountered (including privacy related issues)
  • Available Records (discussion and examples of earlier records vs later records)
  • Locating Vital Record Sources/Resources
          Federal Records (including Census Mortality Schedules)
          State Records
          Family History Library (FHL)
          County Records (including courthouse records, Board of Health, etc.)
          Other records (including, but not limited to, Family Bibles, Journals/Diaries, Newspapers Cemeteries, Funeral (Mortuary) Homes and Church records)

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all levels of researchers.

Organizing and Carrying Out a Society Project

Presentation Abstract: Whether big or small, a society project can be a daunting task. This presentation is designed to help the society officers and volunteers manage a society-wide project from start to completion.

  • How many members does you society have? How many will actually participate?
  • What are the skills of the members? Have you done a skills survey?
  • Selection of the project
  • Budgeting the finances – What will it cost? How will it be paid for?
  • Break the project down into “bite” size entities. The smaller each “bite” is, the better chance you will have of succeeding.
  • Timelines and due dates
  • Committee or individual responsibilities relating to the project
  • Database requirements and record keeping
  • How will the end product be distributed? Print-on-demand, paper product, CD/DVD, flash drive, etc.?
  • Advertising the product
  • Preservation of the resulting records and product

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all society members.

Organizing a Society Seminar or Conference

Presentation Abstract: Has your society talked about having a seminar or conference, but they just are not sure it is worth the trouble? Join the societies that are finding that this educational opportunity for their society and community is fun and beneficial. I have been involved in providing seminars and conferences since 2000 at the national, state, and local levels. I have the experience as a National Chair, National Registration Chair, National Vendor Chair, State Conference Chair for 9 years, and a local seminar and conference chair for 6 years. Among the topics discussed are:

  • Submitting the proposal to the society
  • Budgeting the finances – What will it cost? How will it be paid for?
  • Timelines and Due dates
  • Selecting the place to hold the program
  • Selecting the Speakers and Call for Proposals
  • Syllabus or handout options
  • Door prizes and/or freebies
  • Vendors
  • Publicity – and lots of it
  • Registration fees and due dates
  • Committees and the division of work

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all society members.

Starting and Maintaining a Pioneer Descendants Program

Presentation Abstract: Has your society thought about starting a First Family, Pioneer Family or Pioneer Descendants Program and didn’t know where to start? Then this presentation is for you. A pioneer program can be fun and beneficial to the society and community. I have been involved in a pioneer program as a co-chair of the Florida State Genealogical Society’s pioneer program. Among the topics discussed are:

  • Selecting the scope of the program – Territorial, State, County, City/Town, other
  • Fees and membership dues
  • Application form(s)
  • What documentation will be required of descendants?
  • Review team responsibilities and forms
  • Database requirements and record keeping
  • Advertising the program
  • Preservation of the resulting records and applications

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all society members.

The Member Handbook and Welcome Letter – Tools to Increase Membership

Presentation Abstract: Today most societies use electronic social media to interact with members and potential members. But what about plain courtesy to a new member? An individualized welcome letter can set the tone to engage that member and, possibly, encourage them to bring their friends into the society. By knowing more about the society and their roll, a member handbook can help members feel ownership in the society. And, yes, the information found in the handbook can be on the society website, Facebook page, etc., but having the information all in one place, in hand, can provide the member with immediate access.

  • Why is a member handbook and welcome letter needed?
  • What should be included?
    • Welcome letter
    • Mission statement
    • Society objectives
    • Projects
    • Information on classes
    • Information on meetings
    • Officers/Board with appropriate contact information
    • Page of links to the bylaws, calendar of society events, etc.
    • How to become more involved
    • Society online presence
    • Membership Survey
    • Membership Brochure
    • Membership Application
    • And more

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all levels.

The Policy and Procedure Manual: Preventing “I Didn’t Know That.”

Presentation Abstract: How was the seminar run? What process was used to present the budget? What does the Vice-President do? Looking for a great training tool? Looking for a management tool? Look no further than the Policy and Procedure Manual; it can be a life saver for a society. Since it should contain how a society runs its day-to-day business, it can be referred to when someone is ill or a position is vacant. It can prevent the “I didn’t know that” statement for a missed date or a missed step in a process. The following topics will be discussed:

  • What is a Policy and Procedure Manual? Why is it important?
  • How is one developed? For each job/position:
  • What is contained in the bylaws?
  • What policies have been established?
  • What procedures are being followed now?
  • What forms are being used?
  • Arrangement and Format
  • How can it be used to combine or streamline jobs?

Audience Level: This lecture is appropriate for all society members.