Instructional Lectures

The 1849 Wisconsin Asiatic Cholera Epidemic and its Implications for Genealogical Research

saa0lv0tAmericans took a while to get familiar with how diseases were spread, what precautions could be taken to minimize exposure, and why vaccinations were so important. While the medical community promoted sanitation and healthy lifestyles and the US government got involved in encouraging the eradication of diseases, in 1849 and lasting about two years, Wisconsin was overtaken by a cholera epidemic that was quickly at pandemic level. Did your ancestor die of the disease? So many did that a lot of deaths escaped being recorded. Many statistics were disguised so that public panic would be minimized. Learn the facts surrounding the outbreak as well as the effect politics and economics had on how the pandemic was handled; it just might solve one of your family history dilemmas.


The 2 Sides of Interviewing

While most of us know the basics of interviewing, this presentation looks at it from a couple of different angles. Some of the material comes from the field of speech communication and some comes from the field of folklore; more specifically, oral history gathering techniques. Also included is a discussion of the “other side” of interviewing: how to respond when you are the one being interviewed. Some suggestions for before, during, and after the interview, for those on both sides, are covered. This is a good presentation for beginners and also appropriate for intermediate researchers.

This program is available for viewing at


America: Land of the Farm, Home of the Plow

Farmers have been the backbone of America from the first settlers until present day. Without these important people, and their families, there would not be food to eat . . . yet genealogists frequently use the phrase, “My ancestors were JUST farmers.”  Just farmers? Then they were the necessary part of the population so everyone else could survive! Learn some about the farming occupation along with how to locate records of these important people; understand the vital role of your farmer forefather (and foremother . . . and all the forechildren!). Included: Some history of how America and its language have been influenced by this occupation. All levels (variations of this are available for specific regions, ask for information)


Applying the Principle of 3 to Genealogy Research

saa0lv0tThroughout history, religion, folklore, and daily life, there is a reliance on the Principle of 3 – how things occur in groups of 3, using 3 reasons or examples to prove a point, relying on 3 pieces of evidence to support a claim. But is 3 enough when doing genealogical research? Using 3 case studies, the reasons behind limiting one’s findings to 3 items of data are demonstrated as being too restrictive. Discussion of using an Exhaustive Search to prove ancestral conclusions is also covered. 


Are You a Genealogy Spelunker or Caver? Exploring the Deep Recesses of the Family Tree

saa0lv0tWe talk a great deal about the leaves and roots of our family tree, but how many of us venture INTO the tree, digging out lesser known stories and hidden (or hiding) facts? In recent vernacular (ca 1960), “spelunkers” are the folks who venture into caves for casual exploration, but not serious as far as getting in deeper (figuratively or literally). “Cavers,” on the other hand, are those whose exploration is serious, they enter the abyss well-prepared, not prone to giving up at the slightest stalactite. We meet many “spelunkers” in the field of genealogy and the “cavers” often don’t treat any of their “discoveries” as more than lucky finds or evidence not researched sufficiently. “Cavers” are those genealogists who are determined to dig out all possible sources (citing all in proper format) and carefully digging out the truths among the discoveries, keeping all in “apple pie order.”


Avoiding Fallacies in Family History: A Key to Research Success

Some familiar with the fallacies of argumentation, will recognize these; for others, this will provide names for the errors they have encountered but haven’t labeled. Whether in the evidence or the source, fallacies infiltrate genealogical problem-solving, taking us off-track. Understanding the difference between induction and deduction will start the unlocking of family truths. Designed for experienced genealogists.


BEWARE! The Enchanted Forest: Perils & Pitfalls of Online Trees

When is it safe to get information from an online tree? Here we will discuss where these trees can be found, how to assess them for reliability, how to cite them, how to use them for clues to further your research, and more. Not all online trees are created equal, but most can be evaluated with a few simple steps: don’t become victim to the enchantment of an apparent pot of gold. Good for beginner to intermediate researchers.



Chicago Rises from the Ashes: The Columbian Exposition Gives Perspective to Family History Research

saa0lv0tThe World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 put Chicago on the map. Rising from the ashes of the Chicago Fire of 1871, a swampland was turned into an educational and entertainment region for the White City. Inventions surfaced, methods of dealing with potential epidemics were developed, and people came from around the world to learn about cultures they would otherwise never experience. Listeners will find out how this event in Illinois’ history affected personal and educational lives. If your ancestor lived anywhere in the vicinity, the chances are he or she attended this monumental event. Chicago is more than the site of a horrendous fire; it rose from the ashes to become a world-famous city. Visitors today can find remnants of the Columbian Exposition all over the region and into Wisconsin so listeners will also find out how to connect personally to this exciting part of Illinois history. “The hog butcher of the world” literally became the leader of the world for six months at the end of the 19th Century. (Regional variations are available, please inquire)


City Directories: More than Address Books

While many are familiar with researching ancestors via City Directories, the wealth within their pages can shed light on many additional bits of information about the lives they led, the occupations they held, the organizations they belonged to, and even the cemeteries where they are buried, among other things. Find out the hidden treasures in these books, now more accessible than ever!

Civil War Research: Learning about Your Union Veteran Ancestor

RECONSTRUCTED in fall 2023

It is easier than ever to get the records of a Civil War ancestor. This lecture focuses, primarily, on Union records. Basic steps on how to recognize that a person fought in the War Between the States as well as the processes that can be used to determine his regiment and company will be explored. Also provided: Information on what records are on Fold3 and other websites, and steps to navigate the NARA web site for the purpose of ordering veteran records (no Internet connection needed). What researchers can expect to find on the records will be discussed, along with tips on less obvious things to search for in the documents received. These are illustrated by actual copies of Civil War military and pension records. This is a basic lecture, good for beginning researchers as well as those who have more experience in the field of family history.


Climbing too Fast, Gasping for Breath: Take Time with Documents


Has that evidence been thoroughly examined? Sometimes we need to slow down to fully evaluate a given document. Get some ideas here about extracting data from every source, documenting (citing) the evidence, logging the information obtained (and not obtained), and creating charts or spreadsheets to keep track of information about every person and family.


Clue to Clue: Tracking a Family Over Time and Miles

Using various clues, this presentation shows how to move from one piece of information to the next to piece together the life of an ancestral family. The steps used are illustrated so that they can be followed by the beginner as well as the seasoned genealogist. Use of census, probate, property, and personal records are explained. (Minimum time required: 90 minutes; can be split into 2 parts.)


Come All Ye! Getting Information Before Literacy was Common



Before there was Internet, people still needed to know. What were the social media in the early days of our families’ lives? We will look at methods of oral history and communication, especially for the illiterate. Included: Songs, stories, and the Town Criers!


Communicating in your Ancestors’ Homeland: Understanding Other Cultures can Make or Break Overseas Research

Learn valuable information for communicating with those in other countries. This presentation covers nonverbal as well as verbal communication with those of other cultures, identifying differences in use of time, space, body movement, and more. The stumbling blocks of intercultural communication, along with the rules that govern communication within cultures, will be covered. This presentation will also help people understand what their immigrant ancestors experienced when they came to America.
County Websites: An Overlooked Resource

A large amount of helpful information can be found on websites maintained by volunteers; one type of these is the county site – supplying information of interest to genealogical researchers. Those who attend this class will learn about how to locate such sites, the different types of information available, how to navigate the sites, etc. Especially good for beginning researchers.

This program has been presented at many societies and seminars and recordings are available from JAMB, Inc. of one done at the 2008 Mesa, AZ Family History Expo (#S-65).


Dead Language/Dead People: Translating Latin Records from the Catholic Church

Latin has been the traditional language used for the records of the Catholic Church. Focusing on records written before the early 1900s, this lecture looks at how to decipher the basic terms and identify the types of records found. Using examples from German Catholic Churches in Germany and the United States, I will help the researcher discover how to find needed information on baptisms, marriages, and deaths. Because the examples come from German research, it is advisable to determine if the prospective audience has origins in that country. Although Latin records are also used in other locales and there is bound to be a relationship between the Latin examples given here and the records found in other areas (Italy, Mexico, etc.), the uniqueness of Gothic German handwriting makes this presentation most helpful for those who are working on records from that country.

This program is available from Conference Resource, LLC, Program #SA029 (presented at SCGS Jamboree, June 2011).
Deduction v. Induction in Genealogical Research: Applying Logic Theory to Family History

This presentation looks at the types of proof used to assess the validity of findings in the field of family history research. The differences between original (primary) research and hearsay (secondary) accounts will be clarified, as will the benefits of using the Genealogical Proof Standard. A discussion of the fallacies of reasoning and how they are often used in the field of genealogy, often perpetuating errors, is included. As time allows, this will also cover using family stories and legends in doing genealogical research and how to weigh them against documented evidence to assess what data is most accurate.

This program has been presented at many societies and seminars and a recording is available from JAMB, Inc. of one done at the 2009 Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree (SU-04) and in 2011 at NGS Conference, Charleston, SC (program #S-452).
Deliveries in the Rear!


Getting Family History Information through the Back Door

Sometimes the most valuable information is acquired by researching correlating families to one’s direct line ancestry. This presentation is designed to acquaint folks with the value of using “the back door” in their genealogical research. Using the family information of cousins, aunts, uncles, etc., one can piece together the lives of the entire family unit. Even using information about neighbors and historical events can unearth helpful data in one’s roots pursuits. Good presentation for beginning and intermediate researchers.

This program is available from JAMB, Inc., Program #T-222 (presented at NGS Conference, Charleston, SC, May 2011).
The Devil is in the Details: Missed Minutiae can Create a Lineage Limbo

There are many details hidden in genealogy records; a simple mark or added word can easily be overlooked, leading to confusion later on. Whether the passed over information is an address, occupation, unknown abbreviation, or other bit of data that is not caught at first, the researcher can find him/herself being misdirected and even researching the wrong family. Catch the “little things” before you find yourself lost in a forbidden forest of other people’s family trees. Intermediate level, but still helpful for beginners.

Read a review of this one on The St. George FamilySearch Library Blog.


Doing Background Research for Genealogy Television: It’s Not Like it Looks on TV

With the popularity of genealogy-focused television programs, many people are getting excited about doing their family history in an hour or so. Genealogists know that the appearance of the ease of finding long lost ancestors is nothing compared to the actual experience of doing the research (much of which is not shown on these TV programs). However, many genealogists are finding themselves approached by television production companies for assistance in this type of research. What is it really like to find ancestors with the limitations of a TV production timeline? Get a look behind the scenes, ask some questions about the final product vs. what was really found, learn about a different aspect of genealogy that is fast becoming a fad. And we’ll do it in an hour!


Elimination: As Necessary as Acquisition


Sometimes the best clues are provided by what is NOT present, and that can be as helpful as what IS. When a thorough search proves a person is NOT in a particular location at a particular time, then it is might be an indication that looking elsewhere is be a good idea. See how this can be especially beneficial through the methodology demonstrated in a case study. Good for beginners.


Epidemics & Pandemics: Issues of Politics, Economics, & Religion

Endemics, Epidemics, and Pandemics all affected our ancestors, either directly or indirectly. Lifestyles were altered by major illness and the fear of it. Learn how far reaching the health concerns of our predecessors stretched, how they touched your own lives, and how they affect your research. Funeral and cemetery records, as well as the ways of handling the dead, will also be discussed.


Family History: Research & Results for the Beginner

Getting started can be overwhelming to the beginning researcher. This lecture includes:

tips on what to do to get one’s family history compiled
information on various popular genealogy programs to organize one’s findings
names and URLs of general sources to help find ancestors
financial information regarding what to expect when researching records
other ideas, based on the knowledge level of the audience
This is a good lecture for a non-genealogy-focused group. It has been designed to assist non-genealogists in getting started in the research and compilation of ancestral data. However, because most of the information is basic and fundamental, it probably will not provide any new material for experienced researchers.


(formerly The Family History Center & Partners in your Roots Pursuits)

Contact me for specifics – requires Internet access (which I may be able to provide)

The website is much more than a collection of branches making up “the World’s Tree.” There are historical records, the FamilySearch Catalog, the wiki, an amazing help/learning center . . . coupled with Family History Centers, it can unlock a world of information about ancestors and their lives. (Requires Internet connection; being revised constantly.)


Federal Census Records: Brick Wall Battering Rams



This instructional program is designed for beginning to intermediate researchers. It covers the basics of what is found on the different census records, how to use the pre-1850 federal census, how to apply the census information as a stepping stone for additional research, and other basics of using this resource. It also touches briefly on other types of census records (i.e., military, state, and other) and covers how to use and HeritageQuest to search and browse census records. Various hints and helps will be presented to assist those new to using this type of research aid in being resourceful in finding their ancestors.

This program has been presented at many societies and seminars and a recording is available from JAMB, Inc. of one done at the 2009 St. George, UT Family History Expo (Parts 1 and 2: #41 & #45).



Folkways & the Family: Your Ancestors were More than Statistics!

Folkways includes traditions, foods, music, art, stories, values, and all the aspects that separate one family (or culture) from another. When we learn about the folkways of our ancestors we become connected to them in very personal ways. Sometimes we discover our own interests and talents seem to mirror those of our long dead relatives – making them live again in us. Sometimes we learn the how and why of what our ancestors did, making them more than names, dates, and places: they come back to life. Get closer to your forebears by learning how to find out what your ancestor cared about most.


From Fable to Fact: Gathering Oral History to Find Family Records

saa0lv0tEssentially the reverse of the program about turning stats into stories, this presentation is designed to assist those who have the family stories, but don’t know potential resources to aid in coming to genealogical conclusions. Intergenerational stories are links to the past, but many people (especially younger generations) become “turned off” by the lists of names, dates, and places, yet have an interest in the narratives of the forebears. Using family legends to uncover factual resources can be a primary method of acquiring the proofs of our ancestry.


Fun with . . . Citing Sources
The material in a genealogy research project, family history program (online or with computer software), or narrative about the lineage have one major thing in common: all should include clear source citations for the benefit of the audience and the researcher, as well. (Others need to know where you found the information and YOU need to be able to find it again!) Learn that this process is not as painful as it may sound and is well worth the trouble.


The Games People Played: Leisure Activities of Our Ancestors

saa0lv0tWhen we want to get a complete picture of our ancestors, it includes understanding what they did in their leisure time. We may find reference to unusual terms of the games people played when we read their letters and diaries or even old novels. Game boards and equipment might be listed in probate inventories. Learn what some of the games were and how they were played.


Genealogy on Wheels: Is RVing Right for You?

Enhance on-site research: try “RVing.” This presentation will cover the different types of Recreational Vehivcles (RVs), including the advantages and disadvantages of them all. The cautions and considerations about RV travel will be discussed. The various aspects of RV travel need to be considered before the on-site researcher leaves home and this presentation will address a number of these, including the freedom an RV provides the family history researcher. Options for overnight stays will also be covered.

German Research for those who don’t Read German

revised in 2024; formerly

Researching German Records When You Live in America and Don’t Speak German

Many of us trace our roots to the first immigrants to this country . . . then stop. This lecture will focus on the process of finding those ancestors who came from Germany and continuing the research with German records. Using the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Library Catalog and IGI (International Genealogical Index) on the website,, as a primary resource,* I will include any or all of the following (as time and interest permit):
What informative clues can be found on census records
How to use the FamilySearch Library Catalog to locate records (filmed in Germany, available for use at Family History Centers around the world)
How to LEARN how to read the Gothic German script
How to recognize key words (birth, death, marriage)
How to properly document sources for the findings
What resources are available for translating documents
What information from records will help to find additional data on a family
How to use the Meyers Orts gazetteer
How to convert the French Republic Calendar
*no Internet connection is needed for this lecture


Ghosts of Christmas Past: Traditions of our Ancestors

This program connects some of our more common traditions in the United States to their beginnings during the time of our ancestors of various cultures and countries. Instead of a normal presentation syllabus, the accompanying handout is organized to correlate what is discussed, but with the specifics blank, allowing attendees to enter the various traditions or notes that relate to their specific roots. While appropriate for all ages, some of the history may get tiring for very young children.


A Grave Situation: Learning about Ancestors through Burial and Death Activities and Records

saa0lv0tUsing information already applied in presentations about diseases and cemetery research, this program looks specifically at the different values, norms, and rules about recording deaths and burials. Reasons for lack of records, along with other possible avenues for learning about the cause of a “missing” ancestor’s demise, are included, as is some discussion of the use of social history to discover possible explanations. Some discussion of cultural impact is included.


The Great Lakes: The Role they Played during Prohibition

saa0lv0tWhile those who live around the Great Lakes area (Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior) are well aware of their reputation in many aspects of life, now and in the 1800s and 1900s. The commerce carried via water transportation is immense, as are the lakes’ role in migration across that part of the country, the shipwrecks, and the nefarious doings throughout history (with that last, particularly during the years of prohibition, primarily in the US, but also in Canada). Learn a little about these bodies of water as well as how they contributed to the many legends and rumors about rumrunning in the early 20th Century. If, during that time, your ancestor lived in the Heartland of America, or in the regions of Canada that bordered the lakes, you may well have a forebear who had some involvement in that trade (enforcing laws, catching the scofflaws, or maybe just stopping by a speakeasy on a summer’s evening).

(Note: This can be tailored to specific regions of the midwest)


Hints for a Successful Research Trip to Salt Lake Cityreconstruction.jpg.w180h162


For those who plan to research at the largest genealogical library. Included is information about pre-planning, ways to maximize time and effectiveness on site, post-visit organizing, and more.

Historical Societies: Bridges between People and History

We tend to focus on genealogical societies and online resources when desiring to network and find family connections, but what about the historical societies? These can have a wealth of information that is hidden from view because of a lack of means to make their collections public. Maps, artifacts, letters, military documents, newspaper archives, court records, house histories, property information, and so much more are tucked away for safe keeping in drawers, boxes, cabinets, and every conceivable storage location (not all archivally safe). Some have websites, but not all of them. Some have mailing lists and query columns. Many have newsletters and some have lists of their holdings. And all of them need support to be maintained. How to find them, contact them, and become part of them are all discussed here.

How do You do that? Practical Suggestions for People Who Want to do Genealogical Lecturing

This presentation is designed for those who are interested in becoming lecturers in the field of family history. Public speaking tips as well as pros and cons of various presentation styles (e.g., PowerPoint v. overheads) will be discussed. Some general discussion about fees, as well as pointers on contracts, booking procedures, etc. will be included. This is not designed as a general presentation at a genealogical society, but would be an asset in a seminar or included as a special “add-on” session with separate, advance sign-up. It is recommended that the potential seminar participants be surveyed in advance to determine if there is an interest in this unique program. For an optimum experience, enrollment needs to be limited to 20 or less in order to address individual concerns as specifically as possible and a 30-day (or more) lead-time (time between booking and presentation) is necessary.

The audio presentation of this at the FGS Conference in Springfield, IL in September 2011 can be purchased from Fleetwood Online (search by “Hibben” or product #17148).
How the Music and Instruments of Your Ancestors are Relevant to Family History Research

Many of the songs that we sing today were also sung by our multi-great-grandparents. Music had an important role in the lives of our ancestors, who used it to provide their own entertainment. They also used songs to teach values, create religious unity, learn history, and gain an understanding of their roles in family and community. This program covers these issues, letting the attendees know why the study of their ancestors’ music involvement is as viable an element of family history research as studying forebears’ occupations, fraternal associations, and religious involvement. Also discussed: the instruments our ancestors played and how to identify them.


Hunting for Joe Ovalle: A Case Study

Not everyone went through life with one name: changing names, sometimes completely, can create a family history research nightmare. Joe O. Valle/Valley was just such a person. He lived and he died, but where did he come from? Working backwards in this case study, his life will unfold before your eyes, with surprises and curiosities about why he did what he did. This unusual exploration will make use of Native American records, information not available on the Internet, newspapers, and many of the more expected resources as you are introduced to a unique individual.


I ♥ New York: A Look at the Connections between and Communities of the Mohawk Valley and Jefferson County



Following the Revolutionary War, residents of New York State began to travel to less-populated areas. A favorite of many who lived in the territory around the Erie Canal and surrounding Mohawk Valley communities was Jefferson County, on the shore of Lake Ontario. Many immigrants who came through New York found themselves settling in one, or both, of these areas and the cemeteries of both locales are filled with graves of the state’s founding families: Klock, Nellis, Walrath, Dillenbach, Bellinger, Failing, Lassell, and more. This lecture will explore the common trek of those traveling between the two geographic areas and discuss some of the landmarks, cemeteries, and, in the Mohawk Valley area, churches that make this a rich venue for those interested in doing on-site research. Record repositories will be discussed, as well as ways to obtain records when one is unable to travel to the locations. This presentation is most applicable for groups outside the State of New York.

Is Your Brick Wall Topped by Barbed Wire? Researching Ancestral Prisoners

Using case studies of criminals ranging from people being in the wrong place at the wrong time to hardened convicts who either could not stay OUT of jail or who, once in prison, never left. If your ancestor seemed to disappear, could it be that he (or she) had slipped onto the wrong side of the law? Learn what types of records might help reveal these realities as well as take a peek into what the prison life was like for our incarcerated family members.


It’s about Time! Pacing the Presentation

The necessity of keeping one’s presentation within the time limit affects the speaker, speakers that may be presenting in the same location in the next time slot, and time and cost issues for the booking organization. Designed for genealogy speakers, or those who aspire to give genealogical presentations, this program addresses the issue of keeping a presentation within the time constraints required. Hints on filling the time allotted as well as keeping the presentation from running over-time are provided.

It’s NOT about Zombies! Finding the Dead in Cemeteries

Learn some helpful hints about doing cemetery research, along with some practical suggestions for hiking in the less-traveled graveyards. Included are pointers about not taking everything written in stone to be as permanent as the marble monument. Good for beginners.


Letters & Postcards: Reading between the Lines in Ancestral Mail to Find “Special Delivery”

(AKA The Envelope Please: There’s more to Correspondence than  Mail)

(AKA Cross-Referencing Letters & Postcards with Documents & Photos)

saa0lv0tThere is more to correspondence than just what is said in the contents of the post; here we examine ways to date the missives and unlock “hidden” information in order to locate other documents and identify photographs.


Life on the Farm: Records, Reports, & More

Similar to “America: Land of the Farm, Home of the Plow,” but without the music and with more emphasis on records than the social lives, though both are included. Learn more about how to find your farming ancestor in the records left behind – not only in the databases of and, but also in the Courthouses and annual reports, available through NARA. (For including specific geographic locations, please inquire)


Look Closer: Think Outside but Look INSIDE those Boxes 


Various documents (census records, vital records, and more) contain a wealth of information that is “hidden” in little boxes and in implied information. Knowing what to look for will open up a whole new world about your ancestors that you might have otherwise never learned. Get acquainted with those boxes and learn to examine for more than names, dates, and places.


Looking Forward to Looking Back: Where to go Next


Moving to next research steps prematurely isn’t recommended, but having ideas of what steps await can prepare a historian for needed access and materials to find. This lecture will discuss the need for keeping records of the records researched and identifying what discoveries can give clues to the next ones to hunt.


Means, Motive, & Opportunity: The Sad Saga of George Richards

This case study of a man whose choices served to confuse his descendants is reconstructed in this lecture. He was there, then gone, then back – see how a variety of records unlocked his real story. From England to the US, George’s life was filled with conundrums and poor choices. See how to locate original records (not all online); separate fact from fiction;  & assess evidence for accuracy.


Mob Action: Working as a Group to Get and Stay Afloat

The objectives here are to help the attendee and his/her society create a cohesive group, use internal resources to help save money, and increase membership. Using principles of small group dynamics, the presenter will acquaint those in attendance with the various terms of the “field” and how these apply to genealogical societies. The problems that result in lowered attendance, membership drop-off, and failure to adhere to the governing documents (bylaws and standing rules) will be discussed in an effort to convince society members to avoid such experiences. The value of a group mission statement, identified leadership, and common goals will be emphasized. Finally, to help those whose groups are experiencing financial issues, some suggestions for bolstering the attendance while staying within a budget will be provided.


Mom Liked You Best! Doing Sibling Research

saa0lv0tIt is not great revelation that we learn a lot about our direct line ancestors by researching collateral lines, but how much attention do we give to the siblings? Here we look at two formats: Researching our family trees by interviewing our own siblings to learn how their perceptions and knowledge of the family might differ from our own; and also how the various siblings (particularly, but not exclusively, in blended families) of our direct line ancestor may have acquired different documents, photos, and information. Siblings are those brothers and/or sisters who shared some part of their growing up with one or more of the same parents (though not necessarily at the same time): half, step, adopted, foster, as well as full, sibling relationships will be considered for their potential expansion of our family history knowledge


Need Direction? Try City Directories!

Census records tell us a lot about where people lived and what they did, but City Directories fill in the holes between Census years and often hold other secrets about family members. See how versatile these resources can be and how attainable they have become. Did your ancestor hold a position in a civic organization? Was his/her business a major enterprise in the city? Where was the business? Learn how to correlate the directories with other documents to reveal some of the lesser known bits of information about your family. Consists of a series of case studies.


On Wisconsin! The 24th Infantry, 1862-1865, Brothers Forever

In 1862, Wisconsin got the 2nd call for volunteers for the Union Army in the Civil War. The 24th was comprised of many Germans, along with many long-time Milwaukee residents, including the commanding officer, Arthur MacArthur. The life of this unit is seen through records of a Milwaukee pioneer and private in Company I, focusing on what records are available (and where) for others searching Wisconsin Civil War soldiers. The soldiers from this and other units made up part of the population of the state, contributing to it long after the War. But the veterans were forever connected because of their shared experience; find out why and how. Drawing some from the book by W.J.K. Beaudot, historical records, newspapers, miliary, and GAR documents, the regiment’s history will come to light for family, Civil War, and Wisconsin historians.


Reboot Your Brain: Helps for Reading Research & Writing Reports

(Alternate titles with tailored application for professional genealogists and researchers with specific physiological issues can be arranged)

A presentation designed to help those with problems reading records, books, and websites due to vision problems; learning disabilities (specifically, dyslexia and related problems); cognitive problems, etc. learn ways to be successful in doing genealogical research. Hints for effective research as well as writing up findings will be provided. Especially helpful for those with limited computer skills, people suffering from writing problems due to arthritis or other issues, etc. This program comes out of 13 years as a college professor, myself a dyslexic who went undiagnosed until my mid-30s. A good program for a seminar with multiple presenters as the audience appeal is likely to be very specialized.

An older version may be available for free viewing as “Yes You Can! Do Family History Research with a Learning Disability” at FamilySearch.

Re-remembering: The History of Military Headstones and Obtaining One for Your Ancestor

Your military ancestor is entitled to full military honors, even if his funeral took place decades earlier. This includes a headstone or marker, provided by the Veterans Administration. Find out the history behind the program and the procedures used to accomplish having one placed.



Seeing with Both Sides of the Eye: Critical Thinking about What is being Viewed (in records)

saa0lv0tBecause family history can be very personal to many of us – after all, our forebears had to be exceptional people, right? – we tend to look at evidence with an emotional component employed in our evaluation. However, sometimes it is necessary to get more objective in our analysis and view information with an unbiased approach. Easier said, than done, but not impossible. Get some ideas of how that can be accomplished from this lecture.


Shaking the Myth: Proving/Disproving Family Legends

Just because a story has been passed on for generations does not mean it is true; it may have elements of truth in it, or may be a figment of someone’s imagination. Applying theories of proving arguments to examples presented, this lecture discusses ways to prove or disprove family folklore. Audience involvement is encouraged in using provable evidence to substantiate (or refute) claims of accuracy of intergenerational legends. This presentation is applicable to all levels of genealogical research.

(While this lecture can work in a one-hour time frame, it is recommended that a 90-minute to 2-hour block of time be provided as a workshop in order for the participants to fully understand the process presented.)
Special Delivery: Using U.S. Postmaster Documents in Family History Research

There is a wealth of records among NARA microfilms of US Postmaster appointments. Ancestors who were merchants may have also served as Postmasters. Learn how to access and navigate these records, now available on

This is not Your Grandma’s Genealogy: Making the Move from Paper to Electronic Record Keeping

The computer age can be intimidating to those who have been keeping their genealogical records on paper. This presentation gives some tips to those who have not yet been convinced that modern technology has a viable place in the field of family history. The topics cover the advantages and disadvantages of computer over paper but do not detail all the “hows” of operating a computer. This presentation has been revised in 2014 to reflect free genealogy-helpful apps available for smart phones.


To See the Elephant: The California Gold Rush – was your Ancestor There?

saa0lv0tUsing music, some etymological information, and historical fact, the reasons for and results of the 1849 Gold Rush in California is examined. Some say that this event was second only to the Civil War of the 1860s in its impact on the US.


Turning Genealogy into Family History: Creating Stories from Stats

Intergenerational stories are links to the past, but many people (especially the younger generations) become “turned off” by the lists of names, dates, and places. How can we make genealogy “come alive” for our descendants? This program explores turning statistics into stories and facts into fascination. Designed for all levels of experience.

This is available for viewing on FamilySearch – enter the presentation title into the search box to locate the program.
Up Close and Personal: Doing On-Site Research

A Discussion of suggestions for doing research where our ancestors lived and died. This includes some hints for cemetery visits, contacting libraries and societies in advance, using electronic equipment in the excursion, planning interviews of living relatives, etc. The audience will be encouraged to include their personal experiences.

Available to view for free at FamilySearch.

Using Keywords to Unlock Genealogy Doors

(AKA Need to Unlock Genealogy Doors? Methods of Searching and Browsing could be the Key)

This program is designed to assist the intermediate or experienced beginner with database and search engine Searching and Browsing techniques. Learn the difference between these two ways to locate ancestors and discover the vast options for finding their hiding places by employing the Keyword function. Also covered: explanations for various terms that will help the user understand the jargon “code.”


What our Ancestors Feared Most: Diseases & Their Treatments

Today a simple cold, or even pneumonia, is not something we worry about: we have a multitude of remedies to help us get better and to keep our conditions from getting worse. With former epidemic illnesses now all but eradicated via vaccinations, it is hard to remember that diseases like tuberculosis, cholera, influenza, and more were dreaded by our forebears. Get a sense of your ancestors’ silent enemies and how they combated them (sometimes in ingenious ways that have altered our lives today).


Who is That? Why Your Ancestors Associated with Apparent Strangers

In doing family research, it is not uncommon to find your ancestor sharing a household with apparent non-family members or buried in the same plot with a family with a different surname. Sometimes “odd” names will appear as witnesses or testifiers on your ancestors’ legal documents or vice versa. The “unknowns” bear examination: they may be extended family or give clues to other members of your tree. This program explores these strangers, where you might encounter them, and how to research their identity. Designed for those with genealogy experience.