I am thrilled to be one of the lecturers for the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research. I will be teaching “Learning about Your Ancestor through Culture and Folkways” (being taught on consecutive Saturdays, 20 & 27 August 2016 with an optional mid-week session on Wednesday evening, 24 August). You can register for the course (and it’s on-line, so you don’t have to even leave home) at:





Did you catch any of the FOLLOW YOUR PAST episodes? There were 13 in all (I worked on 4 of them but am credited in only 2 . . . not sure how that ended up). I think they did an interesting job of keeping things moving, but there is very little emphasis on genealogy research (you weren’t expecting any, I hope) or sources that led to the discoveries. So, on to other things . . .

PODCASTS! BEGAN 10 JANUARY 2016, 4pm (Pacific Time) and are available on the Internet every 2nd & 4th Sunday afternoon (pre-recorded; listen when you want)

Access by going to http://genaandjean.blogpost.com any time. Links are provided there for the audio and each accompanying blog.


The Gena And Jean Genealogy Journey on the Imagination to Ensenada was a great success! We had fabulous sponsors for the goody bags, handouts, Internet access, and more. Our passengers had a great time with both the presentations and the consultations (I think we helped unearth some long lost ancestors while at sea). And . . . we’re going to do it again! Read more about it at our blog: http://genaandjean.blogpost.com learn more about our sponsors and get some research tips. Or download the flyer here for the next voyage, departing 6 November 2016. (Registration info is on the flyer linked below – do not try to register through me, but get in touch via email. to get on the information mailing list.)

Gena and Jean Genealogy Journey Cruise 2016 Flyer



This is the web site of Jean Wilcox Hibben, Board-Certified Genealogist®, family historian, national speaker, folklorist, and troubadour (bio to the right, below) and the “home” of Lynn A. (Butch) Hibben’s Living Legacy Project (click link to be rerouted there, where his bio, photo, handout link, and information resides).

If you have found your way here, you most likely have an interest in genealogy and/or family folklore, are involved with a family history center or historical or genealogical society, or a combination of these.

In 2008 I completed my doctorate in folklore and am now taking clients, on a limited basis. If you are looking for help in your roots pursuits, I would be pleased to hear from you. Contact links can be found throughout this website or go to Your People.

Most of this site is devoted to the lectures and programs I present: See an abbreviated listing below or click on Topic Categories. There is also a page listing my own genealogical research: check out My People (perhaps we are related). As I become more involved in the genealogy community, and continue my involvement in the folk music community, I am getting more “web presence,” courtesy of those with whom I have interviewed. To check out the podcasts, news stories, etc., go to the Sights & Sounds page.

Also included here is the list of my available CDs and links to order them: go to CDs. That is the same page where you’ll find info on ordering MP3s, for those who want to put their music into the 21st Century.

If you are interested in being added to my mailing (“fan club”) list to receive quasi-quarterly notification of my presentation schedule and latest CD releases, please send an email request to jean (at) circlemending.org.

Working as the lead researcher for the PBS television program, Genealogy Roadshow was certainly a high point of 2013. We are pleased that the show will soon be filming its 3rd season! Connecting people to their family histories has been incredibly rewarding. Plus, for the past few years I have been writing articles that combine my various interests. I am doing a lot more of that, now that the doctorate is finished, and Information on these can be found at Writings. And in October 2012 I finished and published (as an e-book) a historical novel on the story of my g-g-grandmother Elisabeth, now available (check that page on this site for information). It is currently going through a rewrite and I hope to have hard copies of the novel for sale, if not before the end of 2015, certainly in early 2016.

Finally, I have joined some of the communication crazes and can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Circlemending. I also want to call attention to my blog (yes, I have decided to get into that, too) – click blog to go to that off-site location to read my comments about how music was part of our ancestors’ lives, along with other items of genealogical or historical interest, such as my posts that review of some of the microfilm collections in the holdings of the National Archives, Pacific Region (Riverside County). These are lesser-known and under-utilized resources that may have genealogical significance to researchers. I encourage people to check out these informational blogs . . . who knows, you just might break through a brick wall! (I have to confess that, while I started out doing regular blog posts, other writing obligations have side-tracked me; I do posts for others, occasionally – see my page here on Writings for more specifics on that – and try to post on mine at least once a month. I did do a series on Genealogy Roadshow research experiences which you may find interesting.) My favorite blog post series is my father’s auto-biography. His was a fascinating life and I am pleased to share it at that location.



photo by Pam McComb-Podmostko, © 2009



Selected lectures (noted * below) available on recordings from various seminars from Fleetwood Onsite (search by “Hibben”), JAMB, Inc. (search by conference; see details on topics for assistance) or Conference Resource, LLC (Jamboree order form). For specific program identification, see details on the description pages for these presentations. Recordings are for personal use only. Titles that are links will take you to a FREE viewing of the lecture on FamilySearch; search by lecture title (note: FamilySearch often makes changes and may remove lectures when outdated; if a link is broken, please send me notification, thank you). These, too, are designed for personal use and should not be displayed at genealogical society meetings without prior permission. Thank you for respecting that.

Beginning to Intermediate (Experienced)

  • America: Land of the Farm, Home of the Plow (new)
  • Beware! The Enchanted Forest: Perils & Pitfalls of On-Line Trees (coming in 2016)
  • Civil War Research: Learning about Your Union Veteran Ancestor (click link to view this at FamilySearch)
  • Clue to Clue: Tracking a Family over Time and Miles*
  • County Websites: An Overlooked Resource*
  • Deliveries in the Rear! Getting Family History Information through the Back Door* (revised with new material for 2015)
  • The Devil is in the Details: Missing Minutiae can Create Lineage Limbo
  • The Family History Center and FamilySearch: Partners in Your Roots Pursuits
  • Family History: Research & Results for the Beginner
  • FamilySearch’s Historical Record Collections (live tour)
  • Federal Census Records: Brick Wall Battering Rams*
  • Fun with . . . Citing Sources (new)
  • Historical Societies: Bridges between People and History
  • It’s NOT about Zombies! Finding the Dead in Cemeteries
  • Need Direction? Try City Directories!
  • Reboot Your Brain (formerly Yes You Can!) (click link to view this at FamilySearch)
  • This is not Your Grandma’s Genealogy: Making the Move from Paper to Electronic Record Keeping*
  • The 2 Sides of Interviewing (click link to view this at FamilySearch)
  • Up Close and Personal: Doing On-Site Research (click link to view this at FamilySearch)

Intermediate (Experienced) to Advanced

  • Certified or Certifiable? What is a Board-Certified Genealogist and Should You Hire or Become One? (new)
  • Dead Language/Dead People: Translating Latin Records from the Catholic Church*
  • Deduction v. Induction in Genealogical Research: Applying Logic Theory to Family History*
  • How Do You Do That? Practical Suggestions for People Who Want to Do Genealogical Lecturing*
  • I ♥ New York: A Look at the Connections between and Communities of the Mohawk Valley and Jefferson County
  • It’s about Time! Pacing the Presentation*
  • Mob Action: Getting and Staying Afloat (for genealogy societies)
  • Researching German Records When You Live in America and Don’t Speak German
  • Shaking the Myth: Proving/Disproving Family Legends*
  • Who is That? Why Did Your Ancestors Associate with Apparent Strangers?*

All levels

  • Communicating in your Ancestors’ Homeland: Understanding Other Cultures can Make or Break Overseas Research
  • Doing Background Research for Genealogy Television: It’s Not Like it Looks on TV!
  • FamilySearch LIVE TOUR (changes frequently and is adapted to your group’s needs)
  • The Games People Played: Leisure Activities of Our Ancestors (still in the works)
  • Genealogy on Wheels:Is RVing Right for You?*
  • How the Music and Instruments of Your Ancestors are Relevant to Family History Research
  • It’s Here, Now What? Browsing & Searching the 1940 Census (formerly “Countdown to April 2012”)  
  • Turning Genealogy into Family History: Creating Stories from Stats (click link to view at FamilySearch)

PARTICIPATORY WORKSHOPS All levels (interesting for non-genealogists, too)

  • Arriving in the New World: How Our Immigrant Ancestors Coped in their New Home
  • Cut & Paste: Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles
  • Making the Dead Live Again: The Value of Family Folklore
  • Mob Action: Working as a Group to Tear Down Brick Walls
  • Say What? How did Your Ancestor Pronounce those Names?
  • Society: Support and Share Discussion (requires active participation from attendees or panel of people from different societies)
  • Tattle Tale! Ethical Dilemmas Faced by Genealogists
  • Understanding Gothic German by Learning to Write it
  • What’s in it for Me? Reasons for Researching Family History
  • Why/How to Become a Professional Genealogist (discussion)


  • Breaking the Ties that Bind: One Woman’s Story of Leaving Family to Settle New Frontiers
  • Elisabeth: The Story of a German Immigrant
  • Forget me not: The Story of a Milwaukee Pioneer
  • John Adam Hollaender: Survivor
  • Nathan Wilcox: The Story of a Union Soldier and His Family


  • Appalachian Ancestors: Their Lives, Legends, and Lyrics
  • Bringing Your Civil War Ancestor Back to Life: Songs & Stories of the War of the Rebellion
  • Byproducts of Battle: War-Inspired Christmas Songs & Their Stories
  • “Dark as a Dungeon”: Songs of America’s Miners
  • Erin Go Brach: Music & Myths of Irish Immigrants
  • “. . . Excavating for a Mine”: Songs & Stories of the California Gold Rush
  • From Slave to Freed Man: How America’s Music has been Influenced by African Americans
  • “Gather at the River”: Gospel Hymns and Histories of Early America
  • “Get along Little Dogies”: Songs and Stories of the American West
  • “Ghosts of Christmas Past”: Tunes, Tales, and Ancestral Traditions
  • “. . . hear the Whistle Blowing?” Songs of America’s Rails
  • “Hi-Ho the Derry-O”: Songs of America’s Farmers
  • Jolly Ol’ England: Songs from Across the Pond
  • Lifelines of a Growing Land: Songs of Inland Waterways
  • “Once upon a Time . . .”: The Rhymes and Rhythms of Childhood
  • “Rock-a-bye Baby”: The Songs Our Foremothers Sang
  • Songs of Floods, Fires, and Fury: Was Your Family Touched by Disaster?
  • To Zion in Song: The Westward Migration of the Mormons
  • “Way, Haul Away”: Shanties and Songs of the Sea


  • Ancestors as Heroes
  • Before the Victrola: Songs Your Ancestors Sang
  • “Come Away with Me”: Time Travel Set to Music
  • Doing Family History to Heal Family Present on Behalf of Family Past (bring tissues)
  • Everything I Need to Know about Doing Genealogy I Learned from Doing Jigsaw Puzzles
  • Graveyard Gumshoe: Lessons EnGRAVEN in Stone
  • A Mile to the Mailbox: How Children Learn their Family History
  • On the Contrary, Dead Men (and Women) DO Tell Tales!
  • One Step Beyond: Synchronistic Findings in Family Research
  • Remembering the Past for the Future: Listening to Grandpas instead of iPods
  • Remembering Homemade Music
  • Sherlock Homes: Investigating Your Ancestor’s House
  • What are the Odds? Genealogy Oddities



After moving from the Chicago suburbs to Southern California in 1973, I obtained my bachelors and masters degrees in Speech Communication and worked as a professor in the field for 13 years before leaving academia to pursue my passions: folklore and family history. I received my doctorate in folklore in 2008. I have been involved in family research for over 35 years and have traced my origins to Germany, Denmark, Holland, England, and France. Check the link on this site to see the names of My People. I am the former Director of the Corona, California Family History Center, in the Corona Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and am still involved with work and classes there. I am also occasionally found at the National Archives, Pacific Region (Riverside County).

I am vice-president of the Genealogical Speakers Guild (more biographical information is available at that website). Also, check that site to see the listings of other speakers in the field of genealogy. I am on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists as well as being active in its Southern California Chapter, where I serve as vice-president. I am also the 1st vice-president of the Corona (Calif.) Genealogical Society and on the Boards of Directors of the California State Genealogical Allianceand the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors.

I have been playing guitar for about 50 years and have added other instruments to my repertoire over the years. I use a number of these in my musical progams to give folks a feeling for the music their ancestors might have sung and played. To read more about that and the CDs I have recorded to date, please check out the pages onDetails on Songs & Stories of Historical Events, Sights & Sounds, and CDs. I am active in a number of Southern California music groups, including the Riverside Folk Song Society, where I run theirblog dealing with the society and folk music in So. Calif.  I live in the Lake Mathews area of Riverside County, CA; am married; have 4 children, 24 grandchildren (with one on the way), and 17 great-grandchildren (with numbers 18-19 due during May through July 2016). And some of those people are actually interested in family history; plus, with all the descendants that keep joining the clan, I figure that the odds are in my favor that one or more will eventually be taking the baton from me! Contact me via email.  Thank you for your interest.


photo by Pam McComb-Podmostko ©2009


My goal is to assist others in their efforts to connect generations (past to present), completing the family circle.



I believe that who we are is a compilation of our experiences and associations as well as our biological connections. When we understand our ancestors, we can better understand ourselves. By doing this, we can complete and appreciate our family circles. “Will the circle be unbroken, by and by, Lord, by and by? There’s a better home a-waitin’ in the sky, Lord, in the sky!” – Trad.

* CG is a service mark and Certified Genealogist is a registered trademark of the Board for Certification of Genealogists(R), used under license by board certificants after periodic competency evaluations by the Board, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.