You’ve got some time yet… It’s still Family History Month, which means there are tons of genealogy educational opportunities stretching right into November. And (yes, you’ve heard this from me before) I strongly encourage everyone to get out and attend as many of them as you can. I always, always, learn something new—whether I’m attending or presenting.

For example, I had a wonderful experience presenting in Fort Wayne as part of ACPL’s Genealogy Center’s 31 days of genealogy programming last week, but my evening session looking at my experiences and approach to researching my African American ancestry led to a total change in my research plans for the next day when one of the attendees pointed out a resource I hadn’t realized the Center held—Thank you Roberta, Melissa, and Cynthia each for pointing me in the right direction! I will be transcribing Bradley County slave related court documents for weeks.

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Then, on Saturday, I attended Western Michigan Genealogical Society’s annual Got Ancestors! program. This year’s featured speaker was Cyndi Ingle of Cyndi’s List and I got a great deal out of her programs “Striking Out on Their Own: Online Migration Tools and Resources” and “Building a Digital Research Plan.” The first offered a neat list of mapping resources I haven’t tried while the other offered a nice focused approach for laying out a research plan. But the day was also just a fun one for connecting with people and trading ideas.

I have no doubt that you can look around your community and find genealogy events, but if you’re in my neck of the woods here’s a sampling of some of the great family history related programming you can still catch:

On Saturday, October 23rd, CADL South Lansing Library will be hosting “Family History Hunt” a Genealogy Roadshow-inspired presentation with patrons tapping your friendly local librarian’s for suggestions on where to turn next in their research.

Consider the possibilities offered by a two hour drive down to the ACPL’s Genealogy Center… There are still 14 more days of programs including, “A  Day with Juliana Szucs” (from Ancestry.com) this Saturday, October 22nd, or their Midnight Madness extended research hours on October 28th including three 30 minute classes. For more information on programs, check out their calendar.

Western Wayne County Genealogical Society has a day seminar on November 5th with topics including organizing your records and planning a research trip.

The Michigan Genealogical Council’s annual fall seminar will feature DNA expert, Blaine Bettinger speaking on assorted genetic genealogy related topics, along with bunch of other great presenters.

Take advantage of these great programs! Step away from the computer and go learn something new!

Happy hunting!

Jess

I’m settling into a new office at work, family members are moving out of long held homes, and I’m still piecing through a collection of materials from my Great Aunt’s passing. It’s fascinating what you can find at  times like this—long lost photos, documents you had to hunt down or send away for because no one knew they actually had them tucked away, and odds and ends you would never have thought to look for.

A handful of interesting examples we’ve found include:

Grandma Shea’s Sears charge card giving me an address I hadn’t had before and a glimpse into the history of credit cards that I had never thought about–it’s a metal plate. I’d never seen one like it.

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Grandpa Johnson’s ration card (1942), a sobering bit of United States history:

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Or 3rd Great Grandfather Cornelius Packer’s Naturalization papers… Yes, I had already tracked the packet down at the Archives of Michigan but the journey is just as important as the document in hand and I needed that experience of researching at the Archives:

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Have you found anything interesting or odd?

Happy hunting!

Jess

 

Um… so, well this:

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She says, trying to act cool while in her head she’s doing a Snoopy dance. It’s a great library and staff and I’m honored to speak there.

“Scandalous Ancestors” provides ideas for tracing and teasing out the stories of our black sheep ancestors including a case study featuring an unreliable ancestor with a research story that began in 1860s Detroit and ends in Logan County, Illinois.

“Tracking my Trotters”: Sorting out my father’s family has been a joy… and maddening, but it’s also offered great lessons in research and made our history as a country more real—from the Second Great Migration, to the Jim Crow South to Slavery.

Join us at The Genealogy Center at Allen County Public Library’s Main Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Happy hunting,

Jess

LincolnTardisI finished my last session at FGS2016 and my head was spinning on overload. I want to run home and research in every direction… all at once—track down my elusive British soldiers, follow out my lone possible French line, better document my suspected slave ancestors, track that railroad employee, take a different angle on tracking a few of the elusive women in my tree. I have learned a ton, been reminded of a great deal I still need to do, laughed harder than I have in forever, and connected with a so many interesting and welcoming researchers. Thanks so much to the FGS board, sponsors, instructors, and attendees for a fun week!

Happy hunting,

Jess

P.s. J. Mark Lowe, Mary Tedesco and CeCe Moore taught us in the Keynote that time travel was possible in Springfield. So, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw this in a shop window there!

TattooStoryMcGheeWheelerThis post is only tangentially related to my time at #FGS2016, in that it was something I was reminded I wanted to write about while I attended an excellent session on genealogy programming for youths on Wednesday. If you haven’t already done so, check out the blog Growing Little Leaves by Emily Kowalski Schroeder. 

Families come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and… levels of ink?

Tell Me a Tattoo Story by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler, appealed to me on so many levels. The genealogist in me sees a fabulous way to share personal and family stories with children, the rebel in me loves the tattoos all by themselves, and the artist in me just adores the amazing details in this fabulous short picture book about a little boy who always wants his very inked father to tell him the stories of his tattoos—all of which have important meaning for milestones or important people in his life. Tattoos can be a fabulous family conversation starter and often carry with them important and heartfelt stories.

And thank you again, Ms. Cassie for pointing it out!

Happy hunting (and reading),

Jess

So the summer got away from me—with major work projects, a career crossroads, and the follow-up from the eventual decision—I’ve been a bit stuck in my own head and not venturing out enough in the world or in my research…. However, I made it through and I’m on the road in Springfield, Illinois for FGS2016.

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Springfield, Illinois Sunset

Yesterday was Society Day at the Federation of  Genealogical Societies’s Conference and I spent a great deal of time soaking up ideas for encouraging society growth, creative programming, and all around building excitement for societies and institutions. And I am reminded that I have gotten so much help, training, and solid research assistance from most of the genealogical societies I have connected with, whether as a member or visitor. They are tremendous resources.

In my second start in genealogy in the late 1990s, I had the good fortune of stumbling into the Western Michigan Genealogical Society—an established, extremely active, and nationally involved (#ngs2018gen! woot!) society. They do so much right—they are forward thinking, very welcoming, and (again) so active! Over the years I have participated in annual seminars, informative monthly meetings, bus trips, indexing projects (yes, Sue, I owe you files still!). They work with their local library on history programs and lock-ins, they have a writers group, educational classes, and a DNA special interest group—If I lived locally I’d probably try to do everything. As it is, I travel an hour to get to meetings (not nearly as often as I’d like).

That said WMGS isn’t the only society I belong to. There are societies that I belong to because they cover areas I’m researching, or focus on ethnic groups that I’m working with, or they are a national society offering a great overview of the national scene—along with a fabulous journal.  I can’t belong to every society that I would like to but I shoot for as many as possible. Again, they are totally worth it. For example:

I know many societies are looking for more involvement and fresh ideas in hopes of rebuilding membership and gaining community notice—pretty much the theme of Society Day—but to all the hard-working officers and volunteers that have all but single-handedly dragged their societies along for years… good on you and thank you! It’s time for more of us to step up and make all of our societies more successful.

Happy hunting (joining and volunteering),

Jess

Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, Springfield, Illinois, 2011I’m getting a little antsy about traveling… which is kind of annoying because my road trips tend to fall in the spring and autumn. And, other than a few day trips that I’m trying to figure out how to fit in, I’m fairly tied to the area for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get out and explore. A few events on my radar here in the Great Lakes region include:

I was seriously eyeing everything in that two week span in July until life intervened—luckily “stuck” in the area means the Abrams Foundation Seminar is a definite. Hope to see people there!

Happy hunting!

Jess