I lecture at genealogical conferences and other meetings around the U.S. Your group will love my informative and entertaining presentations! Please contact me about specific dates and speaking fees. Now available: all-day lecture series–you pick which 4 lectures! For travel past metro Cleveland, Ohio, travel and hotel accommodations must be included. For beginner lectures, please scroll to the bottom of the page.
Comparing “The Big 4:” Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com. These “genealogy giants” all provide international audiences with tools and records for researching family trees online. But which should you use? Learn why you should be familiar with all four sites; subscription and free access options; and how they compare for overall historical, tree and DNA record content. See general geographic strengths and how to find specific geographic content on each, as well as my favorite features and cautions/challenges for working with each. You’ll also get a suggestion for building your “master family tree” securely—and from more than one website. This was an extremely popular lecture at RootsTech 2017 and got a great review from Dick Eastman.
5 Ways to Facebook Your Family History. Use Facebook to share heritage with young and old relatives! This lecture demonstrates successful ways I’ve used Facebook to connect more meaningfully with kin, ask genealogy research questions, share discoveries, honor deceased relatives and even plan a family reunion. The handout includes a helpful how-to mini-manual to help users learn to navigate Facebook more confidently and with better privacy controls.
US CENSUS RECORDS
Going In-Depth with the US Census. The US census population schedules are some of the first records many researchers encounter. But many never learn to get the most out of census records. Learn how the instructions followed by census-takers can help you better interpret what they wrote. Learn tips for telling where exactly a family lived, what different abbreviations meant and how a census record can alert you to additional records you should search or a family structure that isn’t spelled out (like a second marriage). This is a great stand-alone lecture but also pairs well with the lecture below.
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. This lively lecture shares the stories behind each of the special censuses–why the government gathered this information at this time–and offers clues that help you know when to look for an ancestor on a special census.
Why We Care Where Grandma Went to Church. U.S. church records can reveal ancestors’ vital events, family relationships and prior/subsequent residences (including overseas birthplaces!). From the author of the forthcoming book How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records, learn what various types of church records look like, how to identify an ancestral church, locate extant records and access them.
“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. 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. (Excellent as a stand-alone lecture or a follow-up/combo lecture to the previous one.)
Find Your Family in Catholic Church Records. Roman Catholic sacramental records often contain vital events, relationships, and overseas hometowns. They’re also confidential, so they can be tricky to access–except that millions are coming online beginning in 2017. Learn about Catholicism in the U.S., what’s in sacramental records and what they look like, how to identify an ancestral parish, and tips for accessing these and related Catholic records. You’ll take home a handout packed with tools for tracing your Catholic ancestors’ records.
Relatively Recent Relatives: 20th Century Research
Learning more about your immediate forebears can strengthen emotional bonds—and your family trees. But privacy and copyright restrictions on modern records can be daunting. Learn about 20th-century records that can minimize these barriers. See lively examples of how to combine information from several records to discover meaningful stories and build a more solid “trunk” for your family tree.
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. Handout included..
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.
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.
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.
Write Your Life Story. Every life is fascinating when it’s well shared. As the author of Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy, I teach how to write personal histories in an engaging way. You’ll learn how to bring vague old memories to the surface and freshen them up. We’ll talk about the anatomy of a good story, what kinds of details are interesting, and how to give stories a personal flavor. Includes a helpful handout.
Plan Your Next Family History Writing Project: Hands-on Workshop. With worksheet and pen in hand, attendees will plan their next family history writing project. They’ll consider how to prioritize writing projects and target an audience; privacy concerns and family secrets; writing and citation styles; and how all these considerations affect what the final product looks like. This class is available in both one-hour and two-hour formats.
Beginners: Getting Started in Family History
Climb Your Family Tree: How and Why to Explore Your Family History. This beginner’s class whets the appetite for discovering family roots. You’ll learn why people become curious about this rewarding hobby. You’ll see how to get started by collecting family stories at home, finding old documents about ancestors online and elsewhere, writing things down, making sense of what you find, and sharing it. A resource-packed how-to handout is included.
I have also developed an 8-hour curriculum for beginning genealogists, meant to be taught as four 2-hour classes for adults. Contact me for further information about teaching this series to your group in the local Cleveland area.