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.


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 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!


Um… so, well this:


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,


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,


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!

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.


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),


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!


CADLFamilyHistoryOpenHouseOkay… a lot of my time has been taken up by planning (all sorts of things) but this event is near and dear to my heart and I want to thank everyone who’s signed up to help ahead of time—especially my co-workers and fellow presenters Anne, Jeff, and Cassie!

My library will be hosting a Family History Open House on March 12th in celebration of National Genealogy Day. CADL’s blog has a post with even more details but suffice to say it’s free and open to the public, there’s a lot going on, and I believe a good time will be had by all!

Happy hunting and if you’re in the area come hang out with us!



New York, County Naturalization Records, 1791-1980,

It was a nice moment of synchronicity to go from services for Aunt June into the Michigan Genealogical Council’s Fall Seminar this past weekend featuring Paul Milner who spoke on British Isles Research. Inspired by Uncle Bob’s question, “Am I an O’Shea?” (Short answer: Yes), I spent the Friday night Lock-in at the Archives of Michigan focusing on Michael and Patrick O’Shea (probably related, but definitely brother-in-laws by way of sisters, Amy Alvina Conchessa McUmber and Melissa Teresa McUmber). I didn’t find a lot of new information but I do have a line on naturalization records in Jefferson County, New York that might shed more light on their move to the United States. Many thanks to the Archives staff for hosting us all!

Saturday’s seminar was great as well. I would highly suggest Paul Milner as a speaker. I spent my day in the Michigan Historical Center’s Forum for his presentations: Finding Your English Ancestors, A New Location, Finding your Scottish Ancestors, and Irish Immigrants to North America. The talks were chalk full of information to apply to our Packer, Massy, Alison, and Shea lines. It was a particular treat to realize most of his Scottish examples were from Perthshire, Scotland in the same parishes that the Alison, Inglis, and Maxton families called home.

So, I’ve added to my (never-ending) to do list:

  • Making sure I’ve gone through the available BMD indexes
  • Start using Scotlands People
  • Try to figure out where in Ireland Patrick & Michael O’Shea came from in Ireland
  • Confirm where the Byrnes and Cunninghams came from in Ireland
  • Explore more information about the parts of Limerick, Ireland that the Massy family hails from.

So much searching to do and so little time!

Happy hunting,


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