Thursday, October 4, 2012

Guest Post: Elizabeth Swaney O'Neal

For this post I thought I would mix it up a bit and have a guest post. When I asked my friend Elizabeth Swanay O'Neal for some hints or tips for my last post she went over and above...So I decided her note to me was too good not to share. I hope you agree. (PS. I love her sense of'll see what I mean.)

May I present: 

Elizabeth Swanay O'Neal

See that… up there on the wall? That’s my certificate from the Genealogical School of Hard Knocks. The genealogy bug first bit me about 25 years ago, and if I’d known then what I know now… I would have done just about everything differently.

Back in the day, there was no, no Google, no email, no internet… heck, hardly anyone even had a computer. Need a death certificate? You actually had to write a letter and MAIL it, and then wait and wait and wait for a response. Or, you had to leave your house and drive to a library or your local National Archives branch to get the record you wanted, and there was no guarantee that you would find it. Cranking through reel after reel of Soundex cards and census records still might not score a hit on Grandpa Fred’s family.

It was exhausting.

But eventually, I did get my first computer, and I thought I was pretty cool beans entering data into the PAF 1.0 database on my spiffy DOS machine. Forget about sources; it was all about THE NAMES. I was confident that I would always remember where I found everything, and who had time to write it down anyway? Seriously, I know what I’m doing. Leave me alone. And why is Aunt Josephine bugging me with those BORING stories about when she was a girl? I’m much too busy for that!
Times have changed, thank goodness. Now you can look for Grandpa Fred from behind your computer in your pajamas and curlers. But the basics of genealogical research have not changed all that much. Here are a few bits of advice that I would give to my 20-something-year-old self – after I finished slapping her silly – upon beginning her genealogical quest:

Write it down. Your database says that Grandpa Fred is the son of Frank and Mary Smith. But how do you know that? Did you read it in a book? Did Aunt Josephine tell you? Did you see it on Grandpa Fred’s birth certificate? Even if you copied it off someone’s unsourced family tree, write it down! Don’t worry about writing perfect Evidence Explained source citations. Just leave yourself enough bread crumbs to find your way back. Trust me; in 25 years you will NOT remember what you ate for breakfast, much less where that piece of information came from, and you will tear your hair out trying to retrace your steps. Here, let me show you my bald spots…

Socialize. When I attended my first genealogical society meeting about 20 years ago, most of the members looked at me as if I were a space alien. Granted, I was by far the youngest person in the room, but I was made to feel most uncomfortable, not to mention ignorant. I attended a few more meetings, and then finally gave up. But times have changed, and this attitude is not prevalent among the majority of genealogical societies. Ok, so the thought of a room full of Aunt Josephines might be daunting, but venture out and meet your local gen soc anyway. If you find that one group isn’t for you, visit another. You will eventually find “your people,” and the camaraderie and opportunities for learning will be worth the effort. You might even meet a cousin or two.

Don’t be afraid of the old folks. Aunt Josephine might look scary, but odds are that she’d love a good chat. Ask her to tell you what life was like when she was a girl, and she’ll probably open up like a book. Be sure to bring along your camcorder, audio recorder, iPhone, or some sort of recording device so you can capture her memories for later transcribing. If she’s a good story-teller, you may find yourself much to rapt for note-taking. And if she’s not a good story-teller, well, you’ll have the audio to listen to later in case you nod off. Oh, and don’t dawdle. Aunt Josephine is advancing in years, and may not be around tomorrow to tell you where her grandparents came from… or may not be in a condition to remember. If you don’t do it now, you’ll wish you had. I sure wish I had.

So, there you go. I hope you are able to benefit from my early genealogical mistakes and bad judgment. Trust me: the Genealogical School of Hard Knocks is much less enjoyable than the NGS Home Study Course.

Monday, September 24, 2012

More Tips From My Genealogy Pals

I always find tips from my genealogy buddies to be a great way to learn. Following is a few tips from some of my genealogy buddies. Thank you to Liza, Susan, Jean and Randy. You guys rock.

Lisa Alzo
          1. When searching online databases don't just type in names at random. First read the instructions! You will typically find them under "Frequently Asked Questions" "Help" or an "About This Website" sections and they will help you to understand what a database does and doesn't contain and any special tips for searching it.
          2. Understand the time period you're researching, including any laws that influenced record-keeping. Utilize the web or check for books at the library or sites such as Google Books or ArchiveGrid.
          3. Not all information is available online. You will have to step away from your computer and go exploring courthouses, cemeteries, libraries and other repositories to track down documents that have not yet been digitized.

Susan Clark
          1. I've one tip ---- slow down and think about how to use your database. Not something I did when I started using Legacy. I just uploaded a GEDCOM merged another and OMG! It's so easy to point, click, copy or paste that I didn't think about how I was entering info. So it was a mess. I have a system now, but the earlier research is a mishmash of notes, facts, events. This is really humbling when I need to share information with another researcher. All the software programs can be tailored to fit the users. Take a couple of days - or weeks, to learn you program and consider what you're planning to do with the information you're gathering. There is a big difference between someone who wants to write a book and someone who is validating earlier generations' research. Are you actively researching or recording existing research? Do you use digital media? Do you travel and need detailed location information for research? Or are you one of those who never plan to leave your living room? Set things up to work for you.

Jean Wilcox Hibben
          1. Don't give up
          2. Be willing to reach out to others for suggestions
          3. Focus on one line at a time

Randy Seaver
          1. Watch FamilySearch Learning Center Videos
          2. Use the FamilySearch Research Wiki
          3. Learn how to use Google effectively - search, news, images, reader, translate, alerts, etc.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Interview with Thomas MacEntee

I like to count Thomas MacEntee as one of my genealogy buddies. This week I asked him to answer a few questions for me that I thought you guys might find interesting. If you don't know who Thomas MacEntee is you should really find out. He's a mover and a shaker. He really stirred things up in the genealogy world when he came on scene. I hope that this interview will help y'all get to know him a little better, and if you see him at a conference or speaking engagement tell him hi from me. 

You're going to be teaching at Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy this January. 
How many years have you offered this course? 

This is the first year that The Genealogist’s Guide to the Internet Galaxy track at SLIG has been offered.

Who is the class aimed at?

The target audience are genealogists who want to work smarter when it comes to genealogy and technology.

How is this different to put together vs say your gig at NGS or FGS?

This is the first time that I’ve coordinated an entire week’s worth of classes in an “institute” format around a specific topic.  Most of my other offerings – in-person lectures and webinars – are 50 minute slide presentations that are “Internet-active” (meaning I go out to the Internet and demo the websites and apps being covered).

What made you decide to offer a course at SLIG?

I was approached by the SLIG planners and we discussed the viability of a techno-centric track.

What direction do you see SLIG moving towards?

I think the “institute” concept of education in the genealogy industry will continue to grow.  However, I think in order to reach its maximum potential and a wider audience, consideration will have to be given to online participation perhaps through webinars or livestreaming of content.

Where do you see SLIG in 15 years?

SLIG will be an online learning channel as well as an in-person institute for those passionate about genealogy.

Where do you see yourself in 15 years?

In 15 years I hope to still be looking into the latest technology and figuring out if and how it can benefit the genealogy community.  My role currently, as I and several other see it, is one of “curator” – I take time to evaluate new technologies and summarize the pluses and minuses and then educate genealogists on practical applications in the pursuit of one’s ancestors.

What was the first class you taught to the genealogy world?

Social Networking: New Horizons for Genealogists.  This course is still one of my most popular topics.

Where did you teach it?

Cook Memorial Library in Libertyville, Illinois

Who are you outside of Genealogy?

There is no “outside of genealogy” for me.  My life and career are genealogy.

What is your background?

For over 25 years I worked in the Information Technology field, mainly for large global law firms with 2,000+ attorneys and an international, multi-office, multi-language presence.  I filled various roles from document processor, applications trainer, applications analyst to project manager.  My main skills involved analyzing information which is perfect for genealogy.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing genealogy?

Wasting away in Margaritaville

Where is your personal research? What part of the country? Or in which country?

I grew up in the Hudson Valley section of New York State.  My ancestors have lived in New York since the early 1600s.  I also have lines that originate from Rhode Island.  My main focus right now is New York and Illinois.

Have you jumped the pond?

You mean in terms of research or travel?  Yes – I’ve worked on several of my lines in England, Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, Prussia and other locales.

Do you have an AG or a CG?

No but 2013 is the year I intend to pursue my CG.

Do you think these are necessary? Useful? Desirable? Worth the time and effort?

I don’t believe that a post-nominal after your name makes you a better genealogist necessarily.  However it is an accomplishment and it is the closest thing we have to licensure in our profession.  I am more interested in the process and the journey than the outcome.  I may very well fail on my first attempt.  I may not succeed.  But I know I will be a better genealogist for having worked through the process.

If you were going to get a credential would it be AG or CG and why?

I may actually go for both but a CG seems to be more adaptable and functional for me as a genealogist.

Where is the most unusual place you've done research? (and I don't mean the bathtub) I mean what location in the world? Afghanistan? Persia? The Balkans? Kansas?

My 9th great-grandfather’s stone house which still stands in New Paltz, New York.

What was the weirdest thing you've had happen during a lecture?

This was not a genealogy lecture (but in my previous profession).  I had a “serial stripper” show up, sit in the back of the room and proceed to disrobe.  I was later informed by the venue that this is a regular occurrence and that “he means no harm.”

When did you begin doing genealogy?

It is difficult to pinpoint an exact time.  Interest started when the television miniseries Roots was broadcast in 1977.  Growing up I heard great family stories told by my great-grandparents.  My own research started about 1993 when my mother handed me a copy of The Genealogy of David Putman and His Descendants, 1645-1916 which listed my great-grandfather whom I knew personally and passed in 1977.

Do you consider yourself a professional genealogist?

Right now I prefer the term “genealogy professional” only because I don’t accept research clients at this time.  I focus on the educational aspects of genealogy as well as tracking and analyzing the genealogy industry.

When did you transition to professional and what did that look like?

When I was laid off in late 2008, I decided to turn my passion and hobby into a career.

Why do you do genealogy?

It is like CSI without the icky bodies.

What's coming up for you in the next six months? What's on your plate?

I have a full lecture schedule, both in-person and online via webinar.  I am actually booked out until 2015.  In 2013, I will be flying from my home in Chicago to the West Coast a total of 5 times in 6 weeks to present to various conferences and genealogy society workshops.

What does a typical week look like for you?

I put in about 60 hours and work almost every day, not just Monday – Friday.  I also do about 20 hours a week of volunteer work for various genealogical societies.  So there are emails to answer, articles to write, presentations to prepare, consulting work for clients, etc.  It is hectic and can take quite a bit out of me but I would not have it any other way.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I'm Changing The Way I Work

Mine is the only profession I know of where the customer sets the fee they will pay you. I have societies calling me, and that’s a good thing. They like how I speak. That’s good. But when they call they say…"our honorarium is $40" or $25 or whatever they have decided on. I've put up with this for a year, but it is starting to get to me. I figured after they had heard me talk they would realize that I was not a rank amateur and would offer more…but NO. So I need to take the drastic step of acting like every other professional and set my fees and if the societies can’t or won’t pay…well then I guess I don’t work. But you don’t call a lawyer and say…"I’d like to hire you and I will pay you an honorarium of $50." You don’t say that to a plumber or a mechanic or a gardener. What makes them think they can do it to speakers? I guess ‘cause we let them. 

I will lose out on jobs. Of this I am sure. There will always be the group who wants to pay nothing, and there will always be speakers who will speak for free or next to nothing.  And sometimes groups will get what they pay for.

I have been involved with a number of groups and have heard the accounting of the treasure's report. When a group has more than $5000.00 in the bank and their one big expense is bringing in a "nationally known speaker" for one day each year, then it pains me when they offer me the honorarium of $25.

I'm better than that. My time is worth more than that. It takes me an average of 30 hours to put together a lecture, check it for errors and updates, and develop handouts. If a society pays me $25 to give a one hour lecture then in effect I have made roughly 80 cents an hour. Definitely not a living wage. 

If they offer me $40 it comes to about $1.30, and the most I have ever been offered was $75, which comes to a whooping $2.42 an hour. 

To pay me for the time invested at the rate of $65 an hour (which is what I am advised is a reasonable fee)  I would have to demand a fee of $2015.00 per lecture. Nice if you can get it...but I'm not holding my breath. 

So let's figure in that once the lecture is developed I can offer it more than once to several different societies. So in effect I could "split the cost" among them. So figuring that I can sell a popular lecture an average of 10 times in a year...let's divide my figure by 10. That's gets us to a little more than $200 per lecture. Ok, now that is more in the reasonable area. 

So now the trick is to pick a lecture that everybody wants, and not have it "stolen" by those who give away lectures for practicably nothing, or for free. Sadly I have seen "non professionals" do this. They are the presenters who lecture at the societies because they love it. They are passionate about genealogy. So they come and hear a nationally known speaker or even a "regional speaker" like me speak and then they take our presentations and present them elsewhere. I have seen other speakers take the title of a talk, the handouts or the complete talk lifted from the CD or video they purchased at one of the national conferences. These speakers are not "professionals" in any sense of the word. They do not belong to the Association for Professional Genealogists, they do not sign an oath or agreement to "play fair" and they don't understand that they are undercutting me and hurting my business. 

So I'm changing the way I work. I'm going to try to work smarter, not harder. I am also investigating other ways to work in the genealogy world. Please, if you hear a Kim von Aspern-Parker lecture, one with a title you know I have presented, please let me know. I intend to keep my copyrighted material. It is not for public use and it is not for sale. Well....maybe to the highest that might be working smarter. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Family History Expo: The First Day

First off just let me say...How can you have a bad time at a conference when Sheri Fenley is present. You can't, you just can't.

Now on to the details: Holly Hanson knows how to treat her bloggers right. We have a "Lounge" area with electrical plugs so we can actually plug in. She also gave us a tiny "thank you" goody bag. She made sure to stop by and talk with a couple of us at one point and I'm willing to bet she probably did the same with the other bloggers at different times during the day.

The classes I took were all well presented and well worth the money. Speaking of money Family History Expos are a great bargin. Pre-registration was $59 for both days.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Family History Expo Comes To Sacramento

I've never been to any of the Family History Expos so I am delighted to be attending the one that is coming to Sacramento on the weekend of July 6 and 7.
Not only will I be attending but I have been asked to be a "Blogger of Honor."
See my badge: Isn't that cool.

This is the only Family History Expo coming to Northern California and for a change a genealogy conference picked Sacramento (The Capital) not the Bay Area.
Let's show them what the genealogists of the Sacramento Area have got. Let's turn out for them in record numbers and show them that we appreciate them coming to our area.
We haven't had a Genealogy Conference here since the National Genealogical Society came in 2004.

So below you will find all the details you need. To register for the2012 Northern California Family History Expo click here. I will also post another link at the bottom of the information.

Look for me there and say hi.

2012 Northern California Family History Expo

Your family history starts here! Come learn the tech to trace your roots with two full days of classes, hands-on demonstrations and exhibits.

When: Friday, July 6 and Saturday, July 7

Registration (at the door) will begin Friday at 1:00 p.m. and on Saturday at 9:00 a.m.

For Pre-Registration go here Family History Expos  (It's $69 if you Pre-Register or $99 at the door)

Exhibits will be open on Friday from 1:00 p.m. till 9:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m.

Where: Crowne Plaza (Hotel) Sacramento Northeast (Just East of Hwy 80 off of Madison Ave.)
5321 Date Avenue    Sacramento, California 95814

Cost: For Classes and Workshops: 2-day Pre-Registration Fee $69
Friday Only Registration Fee: $59
Saturday Only Registration Fee: $59
2-day At the Door - $99

How To Register:
Register at to receive access to online class handouts in advance. Note:
Online class handouts are available only to those who register online.

Family History Expos
PO Box 187 Morgan, Utah 84050
Phone: 801-829-3295

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

NGS in Ohio

Never fly to Ohio with your arm in a sling. That is my best advice when you are planning to go to a conference.
Now that we have that covered...
I have some other advice. 

Pack light, you're going to want to bring home all kinds of goodies. The vendor hall at NGS - Ohio was wonderful. Nice wide aisles and lots of great vendors. Books, Books, Books. Organizations to join or support, Classes to sign up for, Genealogy societies to join. Ancestry was there of course as was FamilySearch. 

I had a great time if you can discount the sling thing.

I attended many great classes, not the least of which was a class on Research Reports by Elizabeth Shown Mills. I also attended a class on Paleography and one on Irish research, that were both excellent.

I met up with old friends, some of which I had not seen since the last NGS conference. Others are conference junkies like me and we caught up on what's been going on in our lives for the last few months. I also met up with a gal that I had not seen since we attended the NGS Research Trip to Utah. Then there were the bloggers. Friends that I know mostly online. We gathered almost every night and laughed and got to know each other. Some I felt like I had known forever.

I was introduced to new friends. Some of them were friends of my Blogger friends, some of them were Bloggers I had not met in person before, and some were genealogists I had met before but never got to REALLY KNOW before. 

I had a great room mate. I've spoke of her before, Techie Tutor (Tami Glatz in real life). Tami was so busy working at the Wiki booth I hardly saw her and her Techie Tutor time was severely limited. We did sneak in a short lesson one evening. 

I got some new leads on some upcoming projects. But I won't be attempting anything until the CG is mailed away. (Not for at least another 6 months.)

I networked with great genealogists.

I laughed a lot. I ate a lot. 

I worked at the APG booth. I feel it is important that when you join a group or organization you don't just join and sit like a bump on a log. Get involved. This year not only did I work the booth as I do at almost every conference, but I "participated" in APG (Association of Professional Genealogists) by holding the position of President of the Second Life Chapter. (A chapter of APG in virtual reality)

I accepted an award. As mentioned above I am serving as the President of the Second Life Chapter of APG and this year we were the recipients of the Golden Chapter Award. This was quite the honor, and everyone who worked so hard to put the chapter together and get it off the ground as well as those of us who serve on the present board were absolutely floored and delighted to receive the award. 

All in all I packed a whole lot of stuff into four or five days.
Next up is Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Good Genealogy vs Bad Genealogy

At NGS I attended a lecture on "How to Be a Bad Genealogist." It was a delivered with tongue firmly in cheek and for the most part I found it entertaining. The speaker spoke well and encouraged audience participation with some cute little interactive nonsense. Every time a slide would come up with his chosen phrase, "Believe It" the audience would raise their arms in the air and shout out "BELIEVE IT."
As you can guess the idea was to teach us how to be good genealogists by telling us what a "bad" genealogist would do.
The idea is good. But I felt that the presentation had a few flaws. Maybe I am just a tad super sensitive.

I use technology quite a bit. I use it for research. I use it communicate with clients, relatives and other genealogists. I use it to learn via Webinars and reading other genealogist's postings in blogs and on websites.

I like to think I am a "good" genealogist. I know I still have a lot to learn. I don't take anything I learn about my family from the internet as "fact" or "truth." At least I don't if it is just something else someone has "told" me. Databases that provide Whole World Trees and other contribution sites I use as "clues," something to follow up on. (To tell the truth, most of the time I don't visit these sites at all, at least not the part that is "contribution") And I have only posted a three or four generation chart on one of them with a minimum of information in hopes that my family will learn something about their heritage and/or some distant cousin will contact me.

Now, that doesn't mean I don't use the internet for my research. More and more images of actual records are being digitized and put up on this wonderful tool.

So why did the speaker throw the baby out with the bath water. He made a blanket statement to the effect that using the internet was the quickest way to become a "bad" genealogist. (Keep in mind this is our goal.)

I get what he was going for. But not the way it was delivered. He inferred that all internet was bad and that just isn't so. Not anymore. Reading blogs does not a bad genealogist make. Believing ALL blogs might mean you are not a good genealogist but to ignore ALL blogs would also, in my opinion, make you a bad genealogist. There are many blogs out there written by experienced, excellent, and knowledgeable people. They have a lot to share and teach and I for one will take advantage of that.

Many sites are the starting point to our research. Hopefully as we grow as genealogist we track down the actual records, but we may find where those records are held via the internet. We might just be surprised and find that the county we are researching in has digitized their birth records for the year we need and we can find it right there online.

What kind of a "good" genealogist would I be if I did not know that before I wrote off to the county asking for a copy of said record. Personally I think that would make me a very poor researcher.

The speaker did not advocate learning how to use electronic media (twitter, blogs, online databases, webinars) as a usful tool. He dismissed them as a whole, in one generalized sweep as bad.

I'm sure that is not what he meant to say. I am sure I am just being super sensitive.

As time moves on I am sure this speaker and others like him will find that if they do not learn to use electronic media and teach it to others they will find themselves and their students with out ALL the tools it takes to make a GOOD genealogist in the 21st and 22nd centuries.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Interview with Dear Myrtle

As she was driving across country, a couple of weeks ago, Dear Myrtle took a few moments and answered some questions for me.

Dear Myrtle is the pen-name for Pat Richly-Erickson, a nationally know speaker and blogger in the genealogy world.

What follows is my interview with her.

1.) When did you become Dear Myrt?
                     In 1995. I was teaching "techie" classes on the computer and wanted a down home friendly, grandmotherly type of character to make the class less threatening. I chose my grandmother Myrt.

2.) How did you choose that persona?
                    Myrt was my paternal grandmother. I could talk like her and write like her, using her colloquialisms and all and not have to worry about the grammar police. 

3.) When did you start writing?
                     Dick Eastman was writing everyday, so I made a list of 365 things to talk about. Once I started on my list, questions followed and I never had a problem coming up with things to talk or write about. In the 80's the first electronic form was of course the message boards, in 1995 I wrote AOL articles. 

4.) Why did you begin writing about genealogy?
                     I always had an interest in family, history, recipes, and family stories, so it just seemed like the right thing to write about.

5.) When did you begin doing genealogy?
                     At age 14 I made a hand calligraphy pedigree chart of my family. 

6.) What peeked your interest?
                     I was doing research in the early 80's because of a discrepancy concerning my Grandmother's birth date.

7.) What was your "best" discovery?
                     When I determined that William Henry A. Phillips was in the Civil War and I was able to order his military file from NARA. I had to order file after file for different William Phillips. But I finally got the right one.

8.) Who do you see as your audience?
                      Beginning to Intermediate Genealogists

9.) What all are you doing now? What are you active in?
                       I write my Dear Myrtle Blog, I produce Webinars, lecture, I founded GeneaWebinars, it kind of runs itself. I am active in GeneaQuilters and of course I'm very active in my role as Wife, Mother and Grandmother. 

More from Dear Myrt/Pat in my next post. Hope you enjoy her interview with me and learn a little about this wonderful woman.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Life in Song - So Long to NGS, Ohio

Carol Burnett Show Theme Song Lyrics

Title: "Carol's Theme"

Written By: "Joe Hamilton"

I'm so glad we had this time together,
Just to have a laugh, or sing a song.
Seems we just get started and before you Know it
Comes the time we have to say, “So long".
There's a time you wanna sigh for dreamin.
And a time for things you have to do.
The time I love the best is any evening
I can spend a moment here with you.
When the time comes and I'm feelin' lonely
And I'm feelin' oh so blue.
I just sit back and think of you only
And the happiness still comes through.
That's why I'm glad we had this time together.
Cause it makes me feel like I'm along.
Seems we just get started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say, "So Long".

This song sums up perfectly how I feel each time a leave a conference. The time flies by way too fast and even though I am exhausted and totally wore out, my brain spinning from all the information, I am sad to see it end.

The time spent at the NGS conference in Ohio (or any other place for that matter) is time well spent. I attend meetings, meet up with friends, make new friends, arrange projects and jobs, attend classes and rub elbows with the experts, the big wigs, in the genealogy world.

By the time it is over I'm done. Stick a fork in me. I am in overload. But I still don't really want to see it end.

Maybe that's why I'm a conference junkie. I can't wait for the next one. That would be the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in June. Just around the corner. Join me, why don't you?

You'll be "glad we had the time together."

Friday, May 11, 2012

NGS Conference - Ohio

I met my cousin yesterday. I met her grandfather, my uncle, last year. My uncle R. L. One of the sweetest men on the planet. So it's no wonder that his granddaughter, Nicole, would be equally as sweet. Meeting new people is hard but meeting new family is wonderful and not hard at all.

I would probably never have met Nicole and her four wonderful children if I had not attended the National Genealogical Society's (NGS) annual conference this year. It is being held in Cincinnati. I have no reason (prior to knowing Nicole) to come to this part of Ohio. I didn't even know she lived here.

It seems I have family everywhere.

Meeting cousins is one of the side benefits of attending conferences. Sometimes we just learn a new research method or tools that enable us to find long dead cousins. Sometimes we hear about a "techie" tool like Facebook or Skype or Twitter that might help us meet living cousins. Every once in a while you'll be sitting in a classroom waiting for the lecture to start and you begin talking with the person to your right (or maybe your left) and your both in the same lecture on finding Ohio ancestors because you both have Ohio ancestors. Then you discover that they are the same Ohio ancestors. You've been talking with your cousin!

It happens.

Yesterday I had to miss the lecture my cousin Claire Bettag was presenting. I had to be in a meeting. (More about that later) Claire is a nationally known and respected lecturer. Earlier this year at Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy (SLIG) we discovered we were cousins. Distant cousins mind you. I think her 6th great grandfather and my 8th great grandfather are the same or something like that.

So yesterday was my day for cousins. I had to miss seeing one and I got to meet another.

Who knows maybe today I'll be sitting next to one I didn't know I had.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sacramento Genealogical Society - Root Cellar

About a year ago I joined one of the local genealogical societies in my area. We are very lucky to have two superb genealogical groups here in the Sacramento, California area.

I joined Root Cellar (that's the name they go by, their "common name") they are officially The Sacramento Genealogical Society. It is probably the more active of the two groups and might be the larger. This group meets in the evenings which might have a bearing on that.

The other group is affectionately called GAS. They are properly known as The Genealogical Association of Sacramento. They meet in the afternoons and are struggling at the moment.

As I said I joined Root Cellar about a year ago and this year decided to get more involved so I ran for one of the offices. I'll let you know how that turns out. I don't believe in belonging to a group and not getting involved. You have to give back.

This June I will join GAS. I feel that both groups serve a purpose and have a lot to give. They meet the needs of different groups. By meeting in the afternoons, GAS allows those who are available at that time and perhaps don't like to drive at night or are early to bed types to get their genealogy fix. While Root Cellar allows those who work during the day to meet and mingle with their genealogy pals after work.

If you are interested in genealogy, and I'm guessing you are if you read this blog, then "get ye to a genealogy society." You'll find great people, and interesting lectures, fabulous tips and more of the wonderful world of genealogy.

Friday, April 20, 2012


I have changed my business name! From now on my business will be known as "Seven Sisters Genealogical Services." What do you think? (Too bad, I'm not changing it.)

I also have decided to change the name of the blog. Y'all know you never remembered that big ol' long thing. So I think it will be easier to remember "Seven Sisters Genealogy" don't you?

And guess what? I've got a website. Yee Ha. Bet you can guess the name. "Seven" (you saw that one coming didn't you?)

I thought long and hard about my new name. Remember? I posted way back in October that I needed a new name. I even wanted to run a contest, but couldn't figure out how to run it. Well, the whole subject has weighed heavy on my mind for months now. Then one day it came to me.

I have seven sisters. They are a big part of why I do genealogy. (Them and my five brothers). Yes, I am including all of my brothers and sisters in that statement. (For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about go here and scroll down to the bottom, the very first post of this blog, entitled The Never Ending Story.) Even though we are a your's, mine, their's and somebody else's type of family, we are still connected. And I love each and every one of them.

My seven sisters are: Victoria Lynn, Jorja Lynn, Suzanne Ruth, Deborah Sue, Loretta Gail, Elisabeth Ann, and Gerrianne Teresa.

So to them I dedicate my new website and business name.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Grandma Theaux's Letter - Page Seven

3 she had no furniture
no She gat lots of help they
would call and say what they
had and she told what she
needed he her baby was sleeping on
a chair. Thank God I did it
I did get lots of heart brake
but I would think about the B. V. [Blessed Virgin]
One time this is with the 
deaf. I had made up my mind
that I would get my deaf people
a place to pray and meet.
I can not explain all but
this I will never forget I forgive 
yes but forget no because
to this day I can see my
self in agonie as Jesus.
This lady wo was rich and 
the kind to Boss we gave a 
party I was not much for
that but I gave in, always remember
my husband was not for that and
he will never know my suffering
the dance was on saturday I 
went she had me like her 
little dog. I obed but I [     ]
I'd never again get in that.
Jame. On the sunday morning
agance my husband will, I went
to help clane, [clean] it was freezing
cold she stood there and
put all the blame on
me insulted me right in
the face, Thank God I had the
courage and faith. If no where

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Grandma Theaux's Letter, Page Six

Feb _ 1976   2
and his disable back pay?
All in in all he will have
over $4000. In the L.B.A. on
7 year compound interest he get
what he got befor and get a 
monthly check. $1.76 per month.
Live and have faith
God never forget a good deed
That is why I am so happy
in my old days. I always
enjoyed helping and my good
old man he wanted to help
but was always afraid to
be involve, me I dont coud not care
less, I can just sit and laugh
at myself to see all the silly
things I did.
I did not dare put my husband
on to my tricks befor I could
do my act but after it was
done there was nothing
I c He could do, but help me
get out of the mess.
Thank you old man.
Now one of my act I am still
proude of. I visited a plase
on time the lady had 8
children, I did not have
money to help but where there
is a way will there is a will way
I put an add on the paper for
that lady with 8 children
I gave some of my friend phon #

Sunday, March 11, 2012


My favorite book on my shelf is Ancestry's RedBook. I use this book on almost a daily basis. I will never get rid of my hardback version, even though you can now view it for free on

Every time I try to view the online version of RedBook I find that I can not read the section where the column format was used. That's the part I use most often. It will tell you when a county was created and what the parent county was. It will tell you from what date Birth, Marriage, Land, Death etc. records were kept. And it will tell you where to write for those records.

The other part of the book that is formatted in the regular paragraph type formatting comes through my computer just fine. But I use that part less often.

Friday, March 2, 2012

SLIG and Why You Should Consider Going

This year, in late January,  I attended my second class (or track) at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. (SLIG)

I believe that if you want more than a quick overview of subject matter the institutes are the way to go.

I would like to encourage my readers (if you are interested in Family History research) to consider attending one of these wonderful institutes.

Last year (my first year) I chose the class track organized by Paula Stuart Warren called American Records. Within the first day of this amazing learning opportunity I knew that I would be coming back again and again. This year I attended the track organized by Dr. Thomas Jones entitled Advanced Research Methods.

There are three "Institutes" offered in the United States for a face to face, intense, concentrated, classroom experience.

SLIG is offered by the Utah Genealogical Association every year about January. Next year the Institute will be held beginning January 14, 2013 in Salt Lake City.

The Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh (nicknamed GRIPitt) will make it's debut July 22, 2012 and runs through July 27. (There are still a few spots open)

There is also the Samford Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research held every year in June in Birmingham, Alabama. (called either Samford or IGHR for short)

While conferences offer a smorgasborg of classes to the attendee the Institutes allow you to learn about a single subject in a concentrated format.

For example: The National Genealogical Society's annual conference will be held in Ohio in May. For about four days I can sample classes from more than 200 different choices. (approximately 8 classes every hour for 8 hours a day for 4 days). Each hour I choose from around 8 different classes offered that hour. Each day I go to about 8 hours of classes. (Or until my brain gives out) Every hour a different subject ranging from  Elements of a Research Plan (for new genealogists) to Expanding Your Genealogical Skills Through Education (for everyone) to Migration Patterns: An Alternative for Locating African Origins. Or you could choose from On-site Research in Poland, Beginning African American Research, Researching Your Irish Here Before Going There, Organizing Your Research: The Overlooked Step, Canadian Immigration Records and about 200 others.   

At an Institute you pick on track from the 10 or more tracks offered. Every day for a week you go to that one track of classes. Eight hours on one subject. You get to study in depth, not just a quick overview.

This year's tracks at SLIG included: Advanced Genealogical Methods, American Records, Beyond the Library: Using Original Source Repositories, Welsh Research, Problem Solving, Midwest U. S. Research, Swedish Research, Advanced Research Tools: Land Records, Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum, and Advanced New England Research.

Next year's tracks include: American Research and Records, Bridging the 1780-1830 Gap: From New England to the Midwest (and Points In Between), Researching Your English Ancestors: Beyond the Parish Register, Advanced German Research, Researching in Washington D. C. without Leaving Home,
A Genealogist's Guide to the Internet Galaxy, Hanging out a Shingle: Genealogy Marketing and Business Practices, Producing a Quality Family Narrative, Advanced Genealogical Methods, Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum, Principles of Forensic Genealogy, and Problem Solving.

Go to the IGHR web page here to learn about what classes are being offered. Click here for this year in June at Samford, and click on the following link for what classes are being offered for 2013.

Both the conference method and the Institute method are excellent ways to get your education. Combined with lectures in your home town, webinars and online classes, you'll be an expert in no time.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Grandma Theaux's Letter - Page Five

I published Grandma Theaux's letter (page 5) but did not transcribe it, and since part of the reason for me publishing her letter is to practice transcribing I  am posting it again, with the transcription. Hope you enjoy what she has to say.
The following is the continuing saga of the transcription of the letter my Grandmother Flavie Theaux wrote to my cousin Peggy. 

"Feb 1-76  1
I wrote this note in my book
many years ago. My boy came
homw he could not keep a job.
So I prayed
       This is what I wrote on my little  [scratched out] black book.
God, please find him a good
place where he is wonted needed
happy and satisfide grant him
the grace to be able to do for him
self what other can not do.
To day I had lots of cretivum fuss
about a big boy r on me he should
be at work. I know he could not
work. So I kept him paid a 
little insurance he had taken
and for him all his need he
w is satisfide and happy to
stay with us But best of
all I am now 80 Papa 83 and
we could not do with out
him. And he take good care
of us bothe. he is not a 
house keeper and not much
of a cook he make us comfortable
Bath chand [and] cover me in
bed. No rest room has that 
care you can not buy that
kind of care. I have had no money
to pay him. But in Jan
his insurance came over 1000

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More Genealogy Books In My Personal Library

The other day I wrote a blog about which books I would grab (if I had the time) in the event of an emergency. That got me to thinking about the books I have in my personal library (genealogy books that is) and which ones I love. Though I may use some of these books only occasionally, others I use all the time; so I thought I would share a glimpse into my library.

These books fall under the category of books I think everyone should own. I don't use them all the time but I have learned a great deal from them and occasionally will pull them out and take a "refresher" course by reading them or looking up a detail I have forgotten.

The Handybook for Genealogists Published by Everton Publishers
Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920 by William Thorndale and William Dollarhide
Courthouse Research for Family Historians Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures by Christine Rose
Reading Early American Handwriting by Kip Sperry

If you are just beginning to amass your very own "genealogical library" I highly recommend these books. They have proved very valuable to me over the years.

Every month or so I will post more information on my books. Let me know if you also have these books and if so what did you like about them or what did you not like. Tell me if you have any books you would recommend.

Happy Reading

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

RootsTech Recovery

Well, the party is over, and I am sort of recovered. RootsTech was one heck of a good time. I made a ton of new friends and attended some really great classes. I hung out in the vendor hall and spent way to much money on a whole bunch of new stuff that I just had to have. 

"Party Boy" Thomas

Of course, like any good party there is the "morning after."  It seems like I needed a lot more recovery time this year. I may have been because I spent about 10 days prior to RootsTech in Salt Lake City attending SLIG and doing research. I for one am glad that next year the two events (Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy and RootsTech) will be separated by about a month.

I think my cousins Tina and LouAnn should think about joining me next year. We'll make it a "family affair." How about my cousin Eric? Or my brother Rick? Those are the only folks in my family that are working on the genealogies. How about you? Do you have siblings or cousins working on the family genealogy? Why not have them join you at RootsTech. Sharing with family always makes it even more enjoyable. I wonder how many family "units" we could get there? Prizes for the most folks from one family? I see endless possibilities.

See you next year, and bring the family.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Motivation Monday - March Goals

Well, first the confession. I didn't post my February goals. That doesn't mean I didn't accomplish anything. Just that "the plan" didn't get posted.
So here is what I did during February:
The first week of February I was in Salt Lake City with about 2000 of my closest friends attending RootsTech. (This meets some of my educational goals for the year.)
During the second week of February I attended a local society meeting, gave a presentation at the Second Life chapter of the Association for Professional Genealogists, and met with a client.
The third week of February I had a couple of doctors appointments and left on Thursday for a retreat so not much got done that week.
The last week (plus a few days) left in February I recovered from some bug I picked up (probably due to being overly tired) and tweaked my presentations that I presented the last weekend in Feb. (Out of 29 days in February I was gone 13 of them.)
I wrote and posted six blogs (when the month is all said and done.)
Not great. But not bad either.

So on to March:
I am having surgery on my shoulder in late March so I need to get extra done before I am out of commission.
Business Goals:

  1. Finish paper work for new Biz License 
  2. Work on new web site (be ready for the big reveal in April)
  3. I speak once (One presentation) in March on the 21st. 
  4. Send out letter to genealogy societies advertising my presentations (mailing 3 times a year for two years)
  5. Develop topics for 8 more presentations
  6. Complete development of 2 presentations (make the Power Point Presentations and write up notes and handouts)

Education Goals:
  1. I ordered and received some new books: Acadian-Cajun Genealogy by Timothy Hebert; The Canary Islands Migration to Louisiana 1778-1783 by Sidney Louis Villere; and The Canary Islanders of Louisiana by Gilbert C. Din. So I hope to get through these books during March. I may save them for the first week of recovery. 
  2. Also in March I will be attending the all day seminar produced by my local genealogy society "Root Cellar." They are hosting George Morgan.
  3. Work on my NGS Home Study Course
  4. Work on the four classes I'm taking from National Institute for Genealogical Studies

Writing Goals: 
  1. I took on the challenge of writing a letter, note, postcard or some other written type of correspondence every day for the month of March. So all my sisters, brothers, cousins, and friends will be getting a note of some kind. 
  2. Write and post 6 or more blog posts
  3. Write a first draft of a magazine article
  4. Do an interview for my blog
Organization Goals:
  1. Update to Roots Magic 5
  2. Clean Office (again) and sort files
  3. Participate in a scan fest
  4. Bring my "resume" up to date

Research Goals:
  1. Work on the Parker family line (specifically determine the wife of Peter Becker)
  2. Work on my CG work (Theaux line) (Specifically: order two or more succession records (whatever the budget will allow)
  3. Develop Time lines for all family lines
  4. Research work for my clients
  5. Finish transcription on the succession record of Irma Domingues
  1. Check and double check that all the speakers that are booked for the rest of the year for the Second Life Chapter of APG are confirmed.
  2. Gather photos for my personal genealogy
  3. Order table cards for NGS Ohio for SL APG
So that's it for March, I think. I've probably forgotten something...if you think of what it is let me know. 

That Old Get Up and Go, Got Up and Went - Motivation Monday

"I don't know what happened to my get up and go. Have you seen it? It seems to have abandoned me right after Roots Tech. I've been trying to catch up and work on projects that needed my attention but I seem to be running on my reserves. I've let the blog slide and I've not worked on my web site or new biz brand at all. My clients are clammering about their jobs and I'm not giving the time to my presentations that they deserve." 

So started my e-mail to my friend Caroline. Being the good friend that she is, she pointed out that I don't have to do everything at once. That I should pick one project and chip away at it and in doing so my "goal Goddess" status would be returned to me. Then she cracked the whip and said, "get to it." 

It worked. I decided I would use this example as my Motivation Monday post. 

Sometimes it is the excitement of a new project that gets my energy up. Sometimes it is a looming deadline, and I trudge through the work and "get it done." But every once in a while you just need a pep talk from a friend who has been there and can be the extra person at your pity party. 

Thank you Caroline for being my inspiration. 

What gets your engine running? Do you have days where you just don't want to deal with the laundry, dishes, blog, work, kids, pets, deadlines, commitments and responsibilities? What do you do to get out of the ditch? What gets you back on track? Does a break (vacation, day off, etc.) make you lose your groove? Did you have trouble getting back into the swing of the day to day after SLIG/RootsTech? Let's compare notes.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Genealogy Books in my Personal Library

What would you grab if there was a fire? I would grab my photos and my computer. I'd also make sure that my animals were safe. But if I had a few hours to prepare for a disaster I would pick out some of my, probably not replaceable, books that I use for genealogy.

I am a book addict. I probably have more than 300 cookbooks alone. Then there are the mystery novels, how to books, craft books and the genealogy books. Most of them can be replaced if need be. But I have a few genealogy books that I don't think I could get again. They have long ago gone out of print. Books like, The Gerron Family Descendants of Solomon Geron. Or, Marriage Records from 1810 to 1910 in Meigs Co., Ohio. 

They aren't the books I turn to over and over but they probably can no longer be found.

It would be tempting to reach for The RedBook and The Source. Two books that should be in every genealogist's library. But I know I can still get a hard back copy of them and RedBook (if not both) is available digitally.

What books would you grab and which books would you be tempted to grab?

What's in your library?