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Archive for the ‘Seminars’ Category

Busy Genealogy Time

This two-week period gives me the opportunity to brush up my research skills by participating in some excellent genealogical training. My local societies are offering several good choices for learning something new:

  1. Colorado Genealogical Society. On the 5th Saturday of March, Dr. Greg Liverman spoke on current happenings at all the DNA testing companies.
  2. Sleksforkningklubb. The Sons of Norway lodge hosts this Norwegian research group. Earlier this month my husband/tech advisor told us about migration patterns to, from, and within Norway through the centuries.
  3. Highlands Ranch Genealogical Society. At our regular monthly meeting we heard from professional genealogist Christine Cochran about the emerging field of forensic genealogy.
  4. Palatines to America. The Colorado chapter will host its 2021 Spring Seminar this weekend. Teresa Steinkamp McMillin, CG, will speak on four topics including German farm names, the German archives, German immigration waves, and a case study illustrating the use of indirect evidence.

Due to the pandemic, all these classes take place over Zoom. No need to leave the comfort of home to hear some top-notch presentations.

I take away some great ideas from these meetings every time. We have so much good information coming our way this time of year. I do not want to miss out on one bit.

Virtual Genealogy Anyone?

At this time of year, we have many opportunities to further our genealogical education. The invitations keep rolling into my In Box.

Many of these conferences and seminars, like RootsTech (https://www.rootstech.org/?lang=eng) and the NGS 2021 Family History Conference (https://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/), offer a wide range of topics.

Others focus on more specialized subjects. The Colorado Genealogical Society’s 2021 Seminar will feature Crista Cowan “The Barefoot Genealogist” speaking on using Ancestry.com (https://www.cogensoc.us/seminar.php).

Those who seek classes to help them further their German research have a couple of good choices coming up:

  1. 2021 International German Genealogy Conference. With the theme of Researching Together Worldwide, this virtual conference will be held 17 July to 24 July. Registration is now open and can be completed at the following link: https://playbacknow.regfox.com/iggp2021. A special Early-Bird registration discount is possible until 31 March 2021. This conference will feature popular speakers Ute Brandenburg, Wolfgang Grams, Timo Kracke, Roger Minert, Judy Russell, Katherine Schober, Diahan Southard, and Michael Strauss covering an extensive variety of German genealogy topics.
  2. Colorado Palatines to America Spring Seminar. On April 9 & 10, Teresa Steinkamp McMillin will speak via Zoom. She will offer four sessions including The Voyages of Our German Ancestors, Understanding German Farm Names, Discover the Holdings of German Archives, and a case study using indirect evidence. Registration for this seminar is open at www.copalam.us.

I am registered for a couple of upcoming genealogy events that look interesting to me. I am looking forward to hearing some good speakers and collecting some new research ideas.

What about you? How much time do you have available? What will you choose?

Learning Genealogy on Zoom

This month the Colorado Genealogical Society (CGS) scheduled two helpful Zoom classes for anyone looking for some new research techniques:

  1. Last week Dina Carson spoke on getting the most from database research. Dina, a Coloradan who writes books for genealogists and local historians, provided many ideas for effective searches on Google and in genealogy databases.
  2. Coming up this weekend will be Shannon Green and her program on correlating evidence to further one’s research. Shannon is a trustee on the Board of Certification for Genealogists. Her program will help all of us do more professional work.

These Zoom meetings begin a half hour before the scheduled presentation time. We use this extra time to converse and ask one another genealogy-related questions. This social time helps us stay connected when we cannot meet in person.

CGS, unlike some other societies, makes these sessions and the monthly Society meetings free and open to anyone who cares to register. Carson’s class drew over 100 participants, one from as far away as North Carolina.

I like the friendly approach of accepting all comers instead of putting up paywalls. It seems to attract new members to CGS. Every newsletter I have received during the pandemic contains a list of people who have joined the organization recently.

I hear that CGS may continue with some Zoom meetings once our usual location, the Denver Public Library, reopens. Parking has become more of an issue in downtown Denver, and the public transportation schedule has been reduced. Many people like the convenience of being able to participate from home.

Of course, it takes work for our Board to provide these meetings and classes. I am so glad they do. I get a lot for the nominal membership dues I pay this organization.

I cannot wait to hear what Shannon Green can teach me on Saturday.

Coronavirus Hits the Genealogy World

The genealogy community makes up just a small corner of the world, but like everyone else we face challenges presented by the spreading coronavirus. Event cancellations pour in as people practice social isolation.

  1. Yesterday the Denver Public Library cancelled all meetings and events for a month. This requires the Colorado Genealogical Society and the Colorado Chapter of Palatines to America in turn to cancel upcoming meetings and seminars that would have been held in Denver’s main library.
  2. Our local LDS meeting place has requested that the Highlands Ranch Genealogical Society gather elsewhere or cancel its monthly meeting and annual genealogy fair in April.
  3. My husband/tech advisor has offered to host a virtual meeting for our Sons of Norway board this month. If our usual meeting place at one of the Douglas County Libraries follows Denver’s example, we will lose our meeting room.
  4. He has already announced that the Norwegian Genealogy study group he facilitates will meet in virtual sessions during April and May.

One event (I hope!) that will not face cancellation is the Legacy Family Tree 24-hour Genealogy Webinar Marathon scheduled to begin later today. I registered for this event that I can attend on my home computer.

Several topics caught my interest. Luckily, they are not classes that will occur during the middle of the night in my time zone. I plan to tune in to these:

  1. How Do I Know It’s Correct: Evidence and Proof by Rebecca Koford
  2. Not Who He Once Was: Tips for Finding Your Name-Changing Ancestor by Mary Kircher Roddy
  3. A Vast and Virtual Genealogical Library is Waiting for Your Exploration by Mike Mansfield
  4. Advanced Googling for Your Grandma by Cyndi Ingle
  5. Researching Scandinavian Ancestors by Mike Mansfield

Perhaps these virtual meetings will become more commonplace. We do not know when or if our world will return to the days of carefree gatherings of every kind. Already we have adjusted to heightened security measures when we meet in large groups. Perhaps we will see a permanent change in public health practices for meetings, too. Genealogists and everyone else will have to adapt.

Spring 2020 Genealogy Training

Opportunities for genealogy training seem abundant this time of the year. I have many to offerings to choose from, some live, some online.

Conferences

  1. RootsTech. This 4-day event in Salt Lake City this week provides over 300 breakout sessions taught by professional genealogists and industry experts. A huge expo hall houses vendors and more. I have never attended RootsTech in person. I would rather avoid the huge crowds it attracts. The conference offers a live streaming option for those of us who prefer to stay home.
  2. Colorado Palatines to America Spring Seminar on March 13-14. Teresa Steinkamp McMillin, a specialist in German research, will speak. Because I am not focusing on our German ancestors this year, I will not attend this seminar.
  3. Colorado Genealogical Society Spring Seminar on April 18. Angie Bush, chair of the National Genealogical Society’s Genetic Genealogy committee, will give four programs on building online family trees and using DNA testing for genealogy. I have other plans that weekend, so I will skip this seminar.
  4. National Genealogical Society Family History Conference on May 20-23. This annual conference travels around the country and will take place in Salt Lake City this year. I do not plan to attend. I live near enough to Salt Lake to visit its library when I am not competing with hundreds of other genealogists for research space.

Webinars

  1. Legacy Family Tree webinars. Legacy hosts about 8 webinars a month on a variety of topics. I do not listen in on all of them, and I have not yet participated in one this year.
  2. American Ancestors webinars. Hosted by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, these webinars also cover a variety of subjects although many focus on New England ancestry. I am registered for one on March 19 where I will learn about Mayflower resources available on AmericanAncestors.org.

As in any industry, change is constant. These training opportunities can help me keep up with current events in the genealogy world. Because many of them require large time and monetary commitments, I find it important to choose wisely when deciding what to attend.

A Chance To Use My Christmas Gift

Last December my husband/tech advisor gave me a wonderful Christmas gift—a membership in the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), sometimes known as HisGen. He assumed, correctly, that I would like this gift because I have numerous New England ancestors.

So far this year I have enjoyed reading the publications I have received from NEHGS. These include the magazine American Ancestors and the journal The
Register. Both come packed with information of genealogical interest.

Members also have online access to the databases the Society offers. I have spent most of my time this year working on my Nordic ancestors, so I have not used these databases much yet. I would like to find time to dig into them to search for more information on my New England lines.

In addition to its publications and website, NEHGS provides yet another opportunity for me to learn about my American ancestors. They offer webinars. I have now registered for my first one.

This afternoon I will log in for Top 10 Published Resources for Early New England Research. I think I already know what some of these resources might be, but I cannot tick off a list of ten. A webinar pointing me to sources I should use will help me formulate a research plan when I am ready to tackle my New England lines.

So who are these colonial ancestors of mine? They belong to my paternal grandmother, Grace (Riddle) Reed (1896-1976):

  • Her grandmother, Olive Hall (Dunbar) Riddle (1823-1902), was the New Englander. Olive was born at Chatham, MA to Benjamin E. Dunbar (1776-1831) and Rhoda Hall (1784-aft 1850).
  • Benjamin E. Dunbar descended from Robert Dunbar (1630-1696) of Hingham, MA. Surnames of women who married into this Dunbar line include Hathaway, Cole, and Garnet.
  • Rhoda Hall descended from John Hall (abt. 1611-1696) who settled on Cape Cod. Other surnames in this line include Snow, Burgess, Bramhall, and Bangs.

My wonderful Christmas gift provides me with so many ways to learn more about my New England roots. All of those I have mentioned can be used from home. There is one more option. The Society maintains a wonderful library in Boston. Perhaps I will take a trip to use it someday.

Newspaper Hunt

Historic newspapers can hold a wealth of information for genealogists seeking to fill in their ancestors’ back stories. Local papers often carried detailed coverage of the happenings in their communities. They sought to name as many residents as they could. This encouraged people to subscribe.

This week I attended a Highlands Ranch Genealogical Society (HRGS) workshop on using two newspaper databases, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/) and Newspaper Archive (https://newspaperarchive.com/), to locate historic newspapers. I had previously used the former, but I had never looked at the latter. By attending this workshop, I wanted to learn more about these databases and to beef up my skill in using newspapers as a genealogical resource.

Over the years, I have often searched for old newspapers. I discover them in several ways:

  1. Repositories. Many historic newspapers have been aggregated and are managed professionally. For example, the Nebraska Historical Society holds newspapers from around the state. Once I traveled to Lincoln to look at those for the southwestern Nebraska counties where my family homesteaded. The newspapers I found there did not contain the juicy details of rural life that I expected. I found no mention of my family, or of many other people. The papers housed at the historical society seemed focused on boilerplate national news lifted from the news wires.
  2. Newspaper morgues. These files hold back issues of local newspapers. Last summer my husband/tech advisor and I visited my Nebraska counties and asked about local storage of old newspapers. We found some in a dusty courthouse basement, others in a local historical museum. The basement newspapers were unbelievably fragile, and I fear they will not survive much longer. The historical museum was taking steps to preserve and index the papers from their county. Neither set of papers had any articles about my family although their names occasionally appeared on the regular report of land transactions.
  3. Online sources. The Library of Congress (https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/) has digitized many of America’s historic newspapers, but I have not found any of interest on this free site. My family lived in rural areas whose papers have not been collected by the Library of Congress. The online Newspapers.com and Newspaper Archive require subscriptions.

What did I learn at the workshop?

Newspapers.com, to which I subscribe, is probably the best resource for me. It covers many rural midwestern papers. Indeed, I have learned more about my family that I ever thought possible by reading the paper from Mattoon, Illinois on this site. Newspapers.com, an Ancestry affiliate, continues to add newspapers to their collection.

Newspaper Archive does not have much of interest for me. At the workshop, I had the opportunity to browse their holdings. Although they have some international newspapers as well as American ones, they have nothing from anyplace my family ever lived.

The evening we spent at this workshop gave us some dedicated time to learn about and use these subscription databases. While our regular meeting place at the local library is being remodeled, the new Family History Center in Highlands Ranch hosted this meeting and provided the use of their subscriptions to these databases. We had not previously visited this family history location, and I appreciated their hospitality in welcoming HRGS this week.

Genealogy Projects in The Works

My genealogy world seems to speed up in the spring. I have several events ahead that get in the way of doing much research these days:

  1. My husband/tech advisor and I will offer a presentation to our Norwegian study group next month. In a program called The Push and the Pull, we plan to discuss why people left Norway and why they settled where they did in the United States.
  2. We have two great genealogy seminars coming up in the Denver area. David Allen Lambert of the New England Historic Genealogical Society will speak to the Colorado Genealogical Society in April. Dr. Fritz Juengling, a German consultant at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, will address the Colorado Chapter of the Palatines to America in May. A new neighbor of mine who is interested in genealogy will attend these seminars with me.
  3. My most ambitious trip this year will be a choir tour through the Reformation sites in Germany and the Czech Republic. My family has been Lutheran since the 1500’s, so I am eager to find my spiritual roots. We will add a few days to the choir tour to visit my husband/tech advisor’s ancestral villages in Germany. In order to get ready for this trip, I am spending much of my free time singing instead of doing genealogy.

Once I have completed the planning for these events, I will get back to my day-to-day research tasks. I cannot believe we are almost through the first quarter of the year, and I am nowhere near finished with all to searching I want to do for this’s year’s project on my elusive German ancestors.

 

A Genealogical Spring Ahead

We have unseasonably warm weather in the Denver area right now. It feels like spring. When that season finally arrives on the calendar, I have some exciting genealogy activities planned:

  1. On April 1, my husband/tech advisor and I will present a Sons of Norway program on the reasons for Norwegian emigration to America.
  2. On April 8, I will attend the annual Colorado Genealogical Society seminar. David Allen Lambert of the New England Historic Genealogical Society will discuss various aspects of New England research. My dad’s Bangs, Burgess, Dunbar, Hall, Hathaway, and Snow families lived in Massachusetts during colonial times, so I am hoping to pick up some tips for researching these lines.
  3. On May 6, Dr. Fritz Juengling, a German research consultant at the Salt Lake Family History Library, will speak at the Palatines To America seminar. I am devoting my research time this year to identifying my German ancestors, if any, and I hope to get some ideas for moving forward on this.
  4. My church choir will tour the Land of Luther in Germany this year as part of our celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. I come from a Lutheran family on my maternal side, and the opportunity to see the Luther sites fulfills a lifelong dream of mine. As a bonus, my husband/tech advisor and I will leave a few days early and visit his family villages in western Germany.

Each of these events offers the chance for me to pursue my genealogical education. With this varied mix of experiences, I hope to get some insights into many aspects of my heritage—Norwegian, German, and English. If I am truly fortunate, these opportunities will translate into a spring forward with in my research.

Publishing Your Research: Harder Than It Looks

We genealogists spend hours and hours (and even more hours!) on our research. We interview relatives, wade through online databases, visit courthouses and cemeteries. All of this results in mountains of information for our family trees.

What should we do with all of it? Professional genealogists exhort us to publish, publish, publish our family histories. They advise us to disseminate our information as widely as possible in order to preserve it. Heaven knows our own kids will likely throw out all the lovingly-collected documents and family group sheets once we are gone.

Last weekend I attended a workshop hosted by my local genealogy Computer Interest Group (CIG) on how to take a family history from computer to published page. The idea was that periodically along the way a genealogist should stop and compile the research results so far. Take these and use an online service to prepare a small book for relatives and for placement in public genealogy collections. No need to wait until the research is finished to do this. We all know we never will be finished with it.

For the workshop I attended, the presenter had a family line all ready to go to the online publisher. She has done this several times before. Before the seminar, she had taken her manuscript to a local printer to get a test copy, and everything looked beautiful. As we watched in a live presentation of how to build this into a keepsake book using a well-known online publisher, the service refused to accept her work. They deemed it too short for the book dimensions she had always used before.

What changed, and why? The site gave no warning of new rules. Our speaker now needs to go back and re-format everything to a different size that we hope will be more acceptable.

The first session of this workshop had given me several good ideas for books I could make to preserve histories of my own family and precious belongings. Now I wonder if I can face the same disappointment with the online publisher that we saw at this seminar.

Rules change, seemingly arbitrarily, and with no notice. Taking time to prepare a work that is accepted one day and not the next is a huge waste of one’s time. This experience makes me very wary of trying this myself.