Classes/Workshops


I didn’t want to let it go too long without saying that the second day of the Abram’s Family History Seminar was great! I attended two presentations by Dr. Thomas W. Jones (who I gushed about here). He presented “The Jones Jinx”—a case study on narrowing down ancestors with common names—which I’m still pulling great research ideas out of even though I’ve heard it before. Dr. Jones also presented on Probate Records—which I haven’t spent nearly enough time on. It was totally worth having someone walk through the steps and terminology of probate with examples of how this can help you in your research.

I also attended Dick Doherty’s “Cost Effective Research: Accessing Irish Records from North America” which gave me a nice list of records to find and tips on using them. I’m hoping to use them while further researching the Massy family as well as my Byrne/Cunningham/Dowdall lines which I’ve unfortunately been ignoring for the past few years.

And Karen Krugman’s session on sourcing offered interesting tips on sourcing for yourself—so that you can put your hands on an information source quickly should you need it again. She made a good point about the level of need for different researchers but also noted that while she had never intended to write a book she now has and that’s meant going back and having to track down source material from before she was adequately sourcing her research.

All in all, the two days were a success from my point of view.

Kudos to Kris R., the rest of the Archives of Michigan staff, and the Michigan Genealogical Council for a great seminar!

Happy hunting!

Jess

PS. Save the date for the MGC/MHF Seminar on Saturday, October 26th featuring Lou Szucs!  Info forthcoming at the MGC site in August.

I am a woman of my word… Last year I posted that if the Archives of Michigan hosted a Genealogy Lock-in I’d be there in a heartbeat… and I was.

Yesterday was day one of the annual Abrams Foundation Family History Seminar. I started the afternoon delivering what I  hope was a though-provoking and humorous session basically on mistakes I’ve made so other people wouldn’t have to. It was a fun and responsive group and I hope even the veteran researchers got something out of it.

After my session I dropped in on Lori Fox’s session on “Filling in the Blanks” which offered good advice about getting the stories behind the names and dates. I have a list of family stories I’m always meaning to get written down. Some of them make it into this blog, but others I haven’t written up and I know I should. I’m also one of those people that has felt that I have time to work on my part of the family story later. But we never know what will happen day to day. So I’m going to try and take Lori’s advice and get some of my stories down for my family.

And this evening I attended the Archives of Michigan’s first Genealogy Lock-In which went off great from my perspective. We had a pizza dinner down in the lounge where I got to connect with some of my fellow WMGS bus trippers and then I spent a lovely evening largely working on my Grove/Long families from Summit Co, Ohio surrounded by fun and amusing fellow researchers. I think the staff spent a lot of time running around but they were attentive and it never really felt like there were excessive backups in getting help. There probably were a few technical hitches (somehow there’s never enough plugs for all our gadgets) but it felt like a very successful evening. I hope they do it again!

And I hope everyone got some rest. We’re in for another day packed with information!

Happy hunting!

Jess

No matter how much progress I have made in my family research I continue to enjoy attending the annual Lansing History Center’s annual Family History Seminar. I find it useful for the variety of presentations and presenters—in fact I have knowingly repeated a couple of courses because I figure either I or the presenters are in a different place in our research and I’ll get something new out of it. I also find it interesting as a presenter to see what works for other instructors. And I always, always come away with new sites to play with, new ideas, and a refreshed outlook for my research.

This year’s seminar was no exception. On Saturday I attended presentations on Scottish research, Ontario border crossings, Irish research pre-1860, and one on ways to interest children in genealogy. The Scottish class gave me a long list of new sites to play with which I want to use to track down Harry Alison’s line. The border crossings class is one I’m pretty sure I’ve taken before but now I have more information about my Ontario family and I have a better feel for who I should be looking for in the records. The Irish research class was packed full of information and ideas that I still need to work through, but I think it will help me add some depth to our Massy and Byrne lines.

And finally the class on ideas for interesting younger generations in family history was reassuring in that it covered a lot of the ideas we’d played with at work when discussing youth genealogy programming. Also, it reinforced my ideas for “corrupting” my nephews and niece.

Add to all that, I had a lovely lunch at a table with a number of presenters and took an hour to do some research in the Family History Center where I took advantage of some of their premium databases—I’ve got to get down there to research more often.

It was a great experience and I would highly recommend it almost regardless of your research level. Hope to see you next year!

Happy hunting,

Jess

This is just a quick note to say that I had a lovely time yesterday at the Michigan Genealogical Council and Archives of Michigan Fall Seminar. These, along with the Abrams Genealogy Seminars in the summer, are always worth it and I would encourage any Michigan area researcher to attend. This time I enjoyed both presentations by featured speaker, Shirley Gage Hodges. I’ve also added the Bentley Historical Library in Ann Arbor back on to my roadtrip list again, because I’d forgotten how much they have and how little I have gotten through in past trips… thanks to Archivist Karen Jania. And most importantly, I had a great time talking research with friends!

Now, everyone mark your calendars, the annual Abrams Genealogy Seminar on July 12th and 13th, 2013 will feature Thomas W. Jones, whom I gushed about here after seeing the first of four fabulous presentations at FGS in 2011. I hope to see you there!

Happy hunting,

Jess

One of my non-travel experiences for Family History Month was my extensive prep for a genealogy for kids class to presented at work. I spent a lot of time collecting great resources and coming up with funny family stories, neat resources, artifacts they could get their hands on. I put together a “treasure box” of neat stuff—my great-grandmother’s locket that they let my grandmother use when she was teething, a variety of pictures, postcards, documents, and more. I created a high-graphic slideshow, I had craft ideas, and even resources for parents. I even tested ideas out on my oldest nephew.

The only thing I didn’t get … were attendees.

I was more than a bit disappointed. But we’ll try floating the program one more time in the summer and see what happens. In the meantime though, I found a lot of great resources that I think people need to check out. Here are a few of the websites I found interesting and helpful.

Have you seen other sites you liked?

Happy hunting,

Jess

October is Family History Month and I am celebrating with a few genealogy-related road trips and workshops. So, ideally you’ll hear a bit more from me as the month goes on. But to start the recap…

Last year was the first time in years that I hadn’t been able to attend Western Michigan Genealogical Society’s Got Ancestors?! Workshop and I really missed it. I wasn’t going to pass up this year’s event. Workshops like this are reinvigorating, great for networking, and always useful in your research—even if you don’t  immediately hit the mother lode when you run home and try out the new site someone told you about.

So, I spent the start of the weekend in the Grand Rapids area for the two day event. This year’s featured speaker was Curt B. Witcher, Senior Manager for Special Collections at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, whom I have met a number of times but I’d never heard him present.  I was delighted by Friday night’s session—a funny and practical presentation on strategies for successful internet research. Curt offered six great resources that researchers sometimes overlook—and I was thrilled to note that his list matched our top resources for our Free Genealogical Resources Online class at work.

Saturday’s first session on using ancestral origins reminded us to research the movements of ethnic groups for clues to your ancestors’ movements and circumstances. I came away with plans to find more information on Southern Migration. What caused my ancestors or their owners to move from North Carolina to Arkansas? Or Mississippi to Arkansas? For some reason I never thought of it quite that way despite definitely having done it with other lines.

Curt’s second session of the day was “Boot Camp and Roll Call” and it occurred to me pretty quickly that I hadn’t actually done any sessions on military records before. So, this was pretty informative to someone who has largely stumbled through or lucked into resources on her military relatives. He offered a number of great leads and reminded me that I haven’t done enough to track the military careers of some of my “uncles.” I’ve followed my direct line ancestors but I may find more leads by tracking their siblings and other close relatives.

The first afternoon session dealt with the non-Federal Population Schedule portions of the Census and left me very curious about what I find in the agriculture and business schedules relating to a number of my ancestors. In my notes there are a list of surnames beside each he described. I’ve used the Slave and Mortality schedules before but I hadn’t really thought about how you can fill in the color in your family history with data in the social, agriculture, and business schedules.

The using library’s and archival collections presentation didn’t hold me the way it should have but that’s largely because it’s a topic I talk about as a librarian all the time—though his comments about librarians and catalogers all but hiding material they didn’t know what to do with in vertical files was dead on. But I was definitely paying attention when he switched over to The Genealogy Center’s collections. It doesn’t matter how often I’ve gone, there is always something more to learn in that collection. It’s fabulous—this is not a library that is sitting back—they’re on the forefront digitizing, trying to broaden access and staying relevant. High on my post-workshop to do list was the idea that I want to strategize a little differently for my next trip to Fort Wayne based on some of Curt’s tips.

It was great to see everyone! I hope everyone came away with ideas and renewed energy. And for any genealogist in the area that didn’t come, give this annual workshop a try in the future. WMGS is well-organized, they get great speakers and have a fabulously helpful member-base.

Thanks all!

Jess

I have had a couple of great genealogy experiences over the past couple of weeks so I’d like to offer a quick recap and a plug for a couple of great programs.

To begin with I attended the Abrams Genealogy Seminar on July 14th featuring D. Joshua Taylor. This program is presented by the Abrams Foundation, the Archives of Michigan, and the Michigan Genealogical Council and I always come away with great suggestions research ideas—and never enough time to implement them all.  Taylor’s sessions were fabulous. He crammed in a lot of information, and is an all-around great presenter. He focused on the 1780-1830 gap, and Online New England resources. His suggestions have already been useful in helping me close in on some of my mother’s more elusive New England ancestors. But that Parmenter-Fox connection may plague me forever!

My other sessions were a look at 1812 veterans’ records with Connie Reik and German research with Richard Doherty. The 1812 session offered strategies for finding information that I haven’t tried applying yet but I am fairly certain that Mother Gilbert’s father served for New York and now I have a few more sources to look at for more information on his experiences. And the German research program was informative as well. One of the things I learned here is that I simply don’t have enough information to trace people to Germany yet—though I’m getting there.

All around it was a great day with sessions for all skill levels and time to catch up with fellow researchers. I’m looking forward to the next Archives/MGC event, a family history workshop on November 1oth.

I also finally had the chance to attend a Genealogy Lock-in at the Grand Rapids Public Main Library hosted by their Local History Department and volunteers from the West Michigan Genealogical Society. It was a lot of fun both for socializing and talking out research strategies, as well as simply having research time in a positive environment.

I would dearly love to host something like this in my own library but I don’t really feel like we have the collection or staff to support it. Though, I did mention to one of the society members that I’d be there in a heartbeat if the State Archives ever considered the idea. Are you following along dear friends at the Archives?

If you have Kent County research in particular—you have to check out the collections at GRPL and I’d strongly encourage you to join WMGS. They’re one of those fabulous overachieving societies—always in the know about what’s going on across the state (and the country) and forever building fabulous resources for researches. Check out their current databases!

Looking for more information about events around you? Check out the Michigan Genealogical Council’s Community Calendar (for people closer to me) or connect with your local genealogical societies or those around where you research!

Happy hunting!

Jess

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