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(for personal use only)



This is the website of Jean Wilcox Hibben, family historian, national speaker, folklorist, and troubadour (bio below). 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.

To view the Privacy Policy, click here.

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 (“followers”) list to receive quasi-quarterly notification of my presentation schedule and other info, please send an email request to circlemending (at) gmail (dot) com.

I continue to write articles that combine my various interests. 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 by late-2021. I am also the columnist for “Aunty Jeff” – a Q/A feature of the Jefferson County, NY Genealogical Society, The Informer, issued quarterly to its members.

Finally, I can be found and friended on Facebook (a note referencing this website would help me identify you; send as a message when requesting to be friended):  https://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 (I have to confess that, while I started out doing regular blog posts, other writing obligations and health issues in our household have side-tracked me; I do posts for others, occasionally – see my page here on “Writings” for more specifics on that – and I try to post on mine as often as time allows.) 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.

I am in the process of setting up a number of new presentations this year (2021) and will be adding those titles in the near future (I hope). If you are interested in one of the new programs, please inquire and I’ll tell you what is available and when it may be ready for presentation. Or contact me to request a particular subject, tailor-made to your group (note: I do not attempt to present on the subject of DNA use for genealogy – or anything else – but can recommend any number of folks who are far more up-to-date on the topic than I.)

Beginning to Intermediate (Experienced)

    • America: Land of the Farm, Home of the Plow (tailored to location where presented, if asked)
    • Ancestors as Heroes: Trials of Immigration
    • Are You a Genealogy Spelunker or Caver? Exploring the Deep Recesses of the Family Tree (NEW)
    • BEWARE! The Enchanted Forest: Perils & Pitfalls of Online Trees
    • Civil War Research: Learning about Your Union Veteran Ancestor (Reconstructed in Fall 2023)
    • Climbing too Fast, Gasping for Breath: Take Time with Documents
    • 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 in 2015)
    • The Devil is in the Details: Missing Minutiae can Create Lineage Limbo
    • Elimination: As Necessary as Acquisition
    • Epidemics & Pandemics: Issues of Politics, Economics, & Religion (NEW)
    • Family History: Research & Results for the Beginner
    • FamilySearch: A Live Tour
    • Federal Census Records: Brick Wall Battering Rams* (parts 1 & 2) (Being Revised)
    • Folkways & the Family: Your Ancestors were More than Statistics 
    • From Fable to Fact: Gathering Oral History to Find Family Records (NEW)
    • Fun with . . . Citing Sources
    • Historical Societies: Bridges between People and History
    • It’s NOT about Zombies! Finding the Dead in Cemeteries
    • Looking Forward to Looking Back: Where to go Next
    • Need Direction? Try City Directories!
    • 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 an 0utdated version of this at FamilySearch
    • Using Keywords to Unlock Genealogy Doors* (NEW)

Intermediate (Experienced) to Advanced

    • Avoiding Fallacies in Family History: A Key to Research Success (NEW)
    • Dead Language/Dead People: Translating Latin Records from the Catholic Church*
    • Deduction v. Induction in Genealogical Research: Applying Logic Theory to Family History*
    • A Grave Situation: Learning about Ancestors through Burial and Death Activities and Records (NEW)
    • How Do You Do That? Practical Suggestions for People Who Want to Do Genealogical Lecturing*
    • Hunting for Joe Ovalle: A Case Study 
    • I ♥ New York: A Look at the Connections between and Communities of the Mohawk Valley and Jefferson County (IN REVIEW)
    • Is Your Brick Wall Topped by Barbed Wire? Researching Ancestral Prisoners
    • It’s about Time! Pacing the Presentation*
    • Life on the Farm: Records, Reports, & More
    • Look Closer: Think Outside but Look Inside those Boxes (under construction)
    • Mob Action: Getting and Staying Afloat (for genealogy societies)
    • Mom Liked You Best! Doing Sibling Research (NEW)
    • Researching German Records When You Live in America and Don’t Speak German
    • Seeing with Both Sides of the Eye: Critical Thinking about What is being Viewed
    • Shaking the Myth: Proving/Disproving Family Legends*
    • Special Delivery: Using US Postmaster Documents in Family History Research
    • Who is That? Why Your Ancestors Associated with Apparent Strangers*

All levels

    • The 1849 Wisconsin Asiatic Cholera Epidemic and its Implications for Genealogical Research
    • Applying the Principle of 3 to Genealogy Research (NEW)
    • Chicago Rises from the Ashes: The Columbian Exposition Gives Perspective to the Family Historian (NEW) (tailored for the state, country, or culture of the organization booking this program)
    • City Directories: More that Address Books
    • Come All Ye! Social Media for our Illiterate Forebears (new-requires Internet connection)
    • Communicating in your Ancestors’ Homeland: Understanding Other Cultures can Make or Break Overseas Research (specifically for those traveling abroad; no genealogy resources involved)
    • Cross-Referencing Letters & Postcards with Photos & Documents (NEW) (See also, alternate title: “Letters & Postcards . . .” and “The Envelope Please . . .”)
    • 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
    • Genealogy on Wheels: Is RVing Right for You?*
    • Ghosts of Christmas Past: Traditions of our Ancestors
    • The Great Lakes: The Role They Played during Prohibition (NEW)
    • Hints for a Successful Research Trip to Salt Lake City (under revision)
    • How the Music and Instruments of Your Ancestors are Relevant to Family History Research
    • Means, Motive, & Opportunity: The Sad Saga of George Richards (case study)
    • On, Wisconsin! The 24th Infantry, 1862-1865, Brothers Forever (NEW)
    • Reboot Your Brain (formerly Yes You Can!) (click link to view an outdated version at FamilySearch)
    • Re-Remembering: The History of Military Headstones and Obtaining One for Your Ancestor
    • To See the Elephant: The California Gold Rush – Was Your Ancestor There?
    • Turning Genealogy into Family History: Creating Stories from Stats (click link to view at FamilySearch)
    • What Our Ancestors Feared Most: Diseases & Their Treatments

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

    • Arriving in the New World: How Our Immigrant Ancestors Coped in their New Home
    • Family Traditions: Cultural Guidelines for Life
    • 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? (available soon)
    • 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)
    • Words & Phrases of Bygone Days (formerly “Cut & Paste”)


    • 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
    • You are NOT Alone: The Quest for Family History Transcends the Grave (under construction)


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 40 years and have traced my origins to Germany, the Czech Republic, 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 working and teaching classes there. I was a volunteer at the National Archives, Pacific Region (Riverside County) until demands on my time and health issues intervened.

I have been on the board of the Genealogical Speakers Guild (more biographical information is available at that website) and recommend that site to see the listings of other speakers in the field of genealogy. I was a Board-Certified Genealogist for 10 years (2006-2016 – I elected not to renew), I served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists for four years and, as well, as the President of its Southern California Chapter (I am still on the board as “past president”). I am the 1st vice-president and webmaster of the Corona (Calif.) Genealogical Society, where I served a number of years as president, and I was formerly the First Vice-President of the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (now defunct). I belong to the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Aurantia Chapter in Riverside County, California; to the National Genealogical Society; and to the Jefferson County NY Genealogical Society, where I maintain the quarterly column, “Ask Aunty Jeff” in their newsletter, The Informer.

I have been playing guitar for about 60 years and have added other instruments to my repertoire over the decades. I use a number of these in my musical programs 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 on Details 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.  I live in the Lake Mathews area of Riverside County, CA; am recently widowed; have 4 children, 25 grandchildren, and over 20 great-grandchildren. And some of those people are actually interested in family history. 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 genealogy 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.