So the summer has been a bit overwhelming and I am embarrassed to say I missed my own blog anniversary… but I’m back!

I’ve spent a lot of the summer jumping around in my research. And I’ll be covering a few of my experiences in the next few posts but first and foremost I’d like to give a very late shout out regarding the annual Abrams Foundation Family History Seminar hosted by the Archives of Michigan and the Michigan Genealogical Council last month. For those not in the know, it’s an annual Friday-Saturday event in July featuring  great speakers—generally one nationally recognized presenter (this year, Michael Lacopo) and a number of regional presenters—and a Lock-In at the Archives on Friday evening.

Jill Arnold’s session on World War I records at the Archives of Michigan was my Friday highlight. It was a great rundown of the collections suggested in a new research guide available at the Archives. It gave me a lot of ideas for researching my Shea uncles and cousin who served. My great grandfather was turned away from serving when they realized he had TB but he had three brothers and one cousin serve out of Michigan.

Cornelius Earl Shea's World War I Navy Veteran's BonusI was able to immediately follow up by using my time at the Lock-in to pull cards in the Veterans’ Bonus Files for Uncles Earl, George, Glen, and Cousin Roy Shea. I was particularly fascinated by the Navy cards which listed each posting (ship or base) where my uncles Glen and Earl were stationed including enrolling a day apart in Philadelphia and each serving their first 6 months together on the U.S.S. Massachusetts before splitting up. They served throughout the war leaving the service in March of 1919 having attained the same rank of Electrician 3rd Class Radio.

I was actually able to go back to work the next week and follow up with the book U. S. Warships of World War I by Paul H. Silverstone (available at the Archives) which offers pictures of either actual ships or a sample of their class along with statistics and information. It’s a nice piece of color to add to your understanding of your ancestors and those times.

My Saturday highlight was Michael Lacopo’s presentation “Deconstructing Your Family Tree,” which has undoubtedly become a very popular and needed theme of late. Lacopo reminded us that there are any number of errors within our research or others’—sometimes innocent, sometimes intentional—and we need to effectively evaluate sources getting back to original documents, tracking down the sources of published genealogies, and being mindful of why a document was created in the first place. The line that stayed with me, “If you’re going to give yourself a concussion do it properly,” by banging your head against the correct brick wall versus someone else’s.

In the two days I also attended sessions on genetic genealogy, using Facebook groups for genealogy research, and Michael Lacopo’s presentation on records between the Census. And I presented on my black sheep ancestors (such as Henry Massy)—from my point of view you have to find the humor in the situations and remember their actions  shouldn’t reflect on current generations.

I am fairly certain a good time was had by all. It definitely worked that way for me!

Happy hunting,


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!


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!


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,



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