Family History Seminars

I am an award-winning writer and popular genealogy speaker whose lectures share my unique brand of warmth, humor, expertise and industry knowledge. I am a Contributing Editor and the Book Club moderator for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems; a Contributing Editor and the Genealogy Insider columnist for Family Tree Magazine; a writing coach for Family Tree University and the Editor of Ohio Genealogy News. I am also the author of Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy and the forthcoming Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records.

Below are suggested packages for all-day seminars, but you can customize your own from my current lecture list, too. Contact me about pricing and availability; I’m currently booking through 2018. For travel past metro Cleveland, Ohio, travel and hotel accommodations must be included. Discount for local groups is available.

The Ultimate Beginner’s Workshop

This workshop arms beginning genealogists (and those who want to start from scratch with great methodology) with how-tos—and how not-tos—for tracing family history. Among the skills taught in this workshop are tree-building, basic interviewing, how to use popular genealogy websites, essential genealogical record types, and an introduction to how to analyze and understand the information you find. Originally designed as a 6-hour workshop (to be taken over the course of three, two-hour sessions), it can now be customized to meet the needs and schedule of your group.

Discovering Your U.S. Ancestors

Whether your family has been in the U.S. for two generations or two hundred years, this series helps you explore your U.S. roots in lively, one-hour segments targeted to the advanced beginner and intermediate genealogist.

  • Which Way Did They Go?! A humorous song introduces this panoramic look at U.S. migration history and how to track our on-the-move ancestors. You’ll see what kinds of records mention old and new residences, a unique transportation timeline for U.S. history, where to learn about migration routes and how to correlate findings from several sources into a narrative about an ancestor’s life.
  • What’s So Special about Special Censuses? Learn to find and use fantastic “extras” from US censuses (1840-1910), many of which are now online: the Veterans, Mortality, Slave, Agriculture, Manufacturer and Social Statistics Schedules. These often reveal details about ancestors’ vital events, work, health, military service and communities, in the process pointing to additional records.
  • Why We Care Where Grandma Went to Church: An In-Depth Look at U.S. Religious Records. Church records can reveal US ancestors’ vital events, family relationships and prior/subsequent residences (including overseas birthplaces!). From the author of the forthcoming How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records, learn what church records look like, how to identify an ancestral church and locate and access its records.
  • Urban Genealogy. Many of our U.S. relatives lived in cities—big and small—which may offer unique genealogy research resources. Learn tips from the author of several of Family Tree Magazine’s City Guides for finding ancestors in city directories, urban and suburban maps, voting records, local histories and other rich local records.

Loose Ends and Lost Kin: When Research Starts to Get Interesting

You’ve spent hours gathering records, and your family tree is packed with names. But ancestors are missing, a few records conflict and some stories aren’t coming together the way you think they should. This series helps you work through the kinks in your research and plan your next writing project—which you’ll be ready to do once you’ve tied up those loose ends!

  • Collateral Kin: Indirect Routes to Direct Ancestors. The most direct route to information about direct ancestors may be through other relatives and in-laws. Three concise case studies demonstrate the value of researching these “collateral kin.” See how collateral research helped prove an ancestor’s parents, solve a migration mystery and fill gaps in an ancestor’s biography.
  • NEW!  “They Once Were Lost but Now are Found:” Using U.S. Church Records to Solve Genealogical Mysteries. Church records can be challenging to locate and access in the U.S. When are they worth your while? When you’re trying to answer specific kinds of questions. As the author of the forthcoming book How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records, I’ll share lively case studies that use church records from various time periods, denominations and ethnic groups to address common types of research problems.
  • Lies, Errors and Bias—Oh, My! Consider Your Sources. If your sources aren’t reliable and strong, your family history “facts” and stories won’t be, either. Learn to look critically at the sources that inform your research: the “what, who, when and why.” These criteria may indicate how much you can trust what individual sources say about your ancestors.
  • Hands-on Family History Writing Workshop. Tips and techniques from the author of Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy. With a worksheet and pen in hand, you’ll consider a series of questions to help you plan your next family history writing project. You’ll think about how to prioritize writing projects and target an audience; privacy concerns and family secrets; writing and citation styles; and how all these considerations affect the final project.

One thought on “Family History Seminars

  1. Chris French

    Sunny Morton,

    My name is Chris French and I have recently been elected as the 1st Vice President Programs for Computer Assisted Genealogy Group (CAGG) Cleveland Area . At a recent Board meeting your name was given to me as a possible speaker at our monthly meeting held on the third Saturday of the month held at the Cuyahoga County Library Fairview Park Branch.
    What do I need to achieve this goal? Any assistance would be appreciated because I am truly treading water to keep my nose above the surface, LOL. By the way my phone number is 216-513-0083.

    Thanks, Chris French

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