I love to teach and to learn. I wouldn’t have started this blog if I didn’t. I thought I would put my lecture list, bio and photo here for the use by program chairs and others who may be looking for a speaker for your society, historical group, library, etc. Contact me for my availability and fees.

Jill Morelli, CG, CGL, loves to share her passion for genealogy with others. She is a writer, lecturer and researcher specializing in the methodology, US Midwest, and Scandinavia. Jill is the founder of the Certification Discussion Group and a co-founder of the Applied Genealogy Institute, a practicum-dbased educational opportunity for intermediate and advanced learners. Jill has been published in the National Genealogical Society QuarterlySwedish American Genealogist, and many others. Jill is past president of the Seattle Genealogical Society, program director of her local chapter of the Association for Professional Genealogists and belongs to many local genealogical societies.


Dissecting a Civil War Pension Record-Union & Confederate

Pension packets are rich in genealogical information as well as historical context for your ancestor. We will look at the law the resulted in the pensions; what is in typical a packet; how to analyze a packet; and how to obtain them.

Finding Treasures in Academic Libraries

Your local academic library is a treasure trove of information, even if your ancestor didn’t graduate from the institution. The difference between a library and an archive will be discussed and how that makes for different preparation on your part.

Using the Non-Population Schedules for Evidence and Context

Agriculture, Mortality, Manufacturing, and the Dependent, Delinquent & Defective Class Schedules will be studied for evidence (direct & indirect) and context.

Fire Insurance Maps: The Google Maps of their Day!

 Let’s explore the history of fire insurance maps and their use by genealogists. Coupled with the deed transfers of the property of interest you can discover much about the “genealogy” of a property and by implication your ancestors.

Finding Dirk: Insanity in the 19thCentury 

Many of our ancestors were confined in “insane asylums” in the 1800s and early 1900s. What records are available publicly and how does one obtain the records held by the courts? You might have to petition the courts for release of records as I did for my great uncle confined from 1872-1905. 

Be a Super Sleuth: Accessing Images in FamilySearch

Did you know that now over 95% of the online records of FamilySearch are not accessible by a surname search?Did you know that FamilySearch was now putting their newly digitized records in Images and NOT in the Card Catalog? How do you find these records and access the information you need? We will explore the access options Images to you and how to “read” the record for maximum efficiency.


Friedrich Eiler: Building an Identity from Scant Clues

When we are offered little information, how do we proceed? Research planning, research strategy development and the importance of collaboration are all illustrated in this case study, which focuses on methodology of identity. Not all our ancestors were exemplary individuals!

Solving the Family Myth Using the Principles of Logic

Who doesn’t have a story told to them about their ancestors? These undocumented stories are “myths” and are prevalent in almost everyone’s family, but how does one prove their veracity? We will look at a way to separate the wheat from the chaff.

The Genealogical Proof Standard According to Sherlock Holmes

Using Sherlock’s own words we will explore his take on the Genealogical Proof Standard–a fun way to look at the GPS!  Who knew that SH was just following the GPS?!

Using Timelines for Analysis and Correlation

Tables are one of the tools of analysis and correlation, Element no. 3 of the GPS. How can you use these more effectively and what are the variety of ways you can look at tables to discern trends, gaps and solve identities. This is an intermediate/advanced topic.

Finding Our Women: 25+ Places to Find a Surname

 Our female ancestors get “lost” more often than men because of their name changes. Perhaps one of the 25+ places to look may be new to you and allow you to more fully identify your female ancestor!

Too Many Mary’s: Solving Identity & Same Name Conundrums

Three types of identity issues will be described with case studies and strategies for a successful identification for each.

Don’t Build Your Own Brick Walls!

Most brick walls are of our own making! We will review some of the reasons our brick walls get built and how to tear them down. Hard hat ready? Let’s start smashing the wall.

“On the Clock”: Demystifying the BCG Portfolio Process

For 7 years I have blogged about what and how I learned to be a better genealogist and eventually went “on the clock.” I will share my experience of applying for certification and my lessons learned along the way. (This is a much abbreviated single session based on the 7 part-8 hour course: Certification Discussion Group.)

150 Years of Lost Records: A Methodological Approach to Finding Swedish Parents

We all love a good case study, but sometimes we lose track of the methods used as we get engrossed in the story. This presentation focuses on methodological approaches to solving parentage issues, applicable to all countries and ethnic groups while still using an international case study.

Context! How to Find it. How to Use It.

Understanding the background context allows us to interpret the evidence more clearly and thereby understand the decision-making of our ancestors more clearly. We sometimes view context as just the historical events that affected our ancestor. We will broaden that definition and explain the difference between it and social history. 

Writing Proof Arguments and Family Narratives

These two types of writing form the basis for much of our personal work and portfolio submissions. While not specifically focused only on portfolio writing, this is not a class in writing our family “stories” for casual reading. Let’s look at format and the arrangement of evidence to prove our results.


I Got My AncestryDNA Results! Now What?

If all you are getting from you DNA test is your ethnicity results, there is much more you can discover. We will discuss the findings and limitations of AncestryDNA results. This is a DNA beginner topic.

Finding a Father for Molly Using DNA

Molly was born illegitimate and the name of the father had been forgotten. Using DNA, developing a strategy and applying the Genealogical Proof Standard resulted in identification. Successes and difficulties in identifying and contacting “cousins” will be discussed.

I Found my Family on the Internet! Now What Do I Do?

Platforms for posting your family information proliferate (Ancestry, FamilySearch, My Heritage, FindAGrave, etc.) Learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff at every level.


The “Push” and the “Pull”: Decision-Making of the 19thCentury Emigrant

Explore the myths and the truths surrounding emigration decision-making. Using a letter home, we will parse out the reasons for emigration using an original source/indirect evidence.

Whether the Weather: How Weather Affected our Ancestors

We will cover major weather events and events sparked by natural disasters to understand how weather influenced our ancestors decision-making. A brief history of the weather service will also be covered and how it influenced decision-making of migration.

The Wood Family: Wisconsin, Upstate New York and Quebec

Follow the Wood family back to the 1600s in Quebec, while solving same named individuals, name changes, and migrations. This investigation illustrates first steps into “new territory” and the importance of understanding the background context before one starts to search for a name.

The Orphan Train Movement: The Tale of Three Riders

Between 1854 and 1929, over 250,000 children between the ages of 3 and 13 were given new clothes, put on a train, and sent to the Midwest and beyond to be taken in by rural families for work and to raise. Their stories are not always glorious, nor were they always orphans. We will investigate the available records for three riders who got on that train in two different eras.

The Other Gold Rush: The Klondike, 1897-1900

Available in September 2022: We learn about the California Gold Rush but we don’t often hear of the Klondike Gold Rush and its impact on the Pacific Northwest and the nation. Thousands of men and women, Black and white went to the Yukon to find fortune and fame–most did not. What was the journey to Dawson City and what did they find when they arrived?


Finding Your [Swedish, Norwegian, and/or Danish] Parish of Birth

Preparation in the US is key to successfully “crossing the pond.” Country-wide indexes are now readily available and allow us to more easily identify our ancestor’s parish of birth, but problems arise with so many same named individuals. This session covers techniques, which are critical to Scandinavian research. (This presentation can be focused on one or any combination of the three Scandinavian countries.)

How Swede it is! Finding Your Parish of Birth

Start your Swedish genealogical journey at home first to identify that parish of birth. When you run out of resources, what are your options? This presentation has been recently revamped to reflect the many new online records.

Introduction to Swedish Parish & Clerical Survey Records, Pt. 1

An introductory session on accessing and using the records of the parish—birth marriage and death with a focus on extracting all the information they contain.

Introduction to Swedish Parish & Clerical Survey Records, Pt. 2

Further study of the wealth of information found in the parish and clerical surveys, including  clerical surveys, moving in/out records and confirmation records.

150 Years of Lost Records: A Methodological Approach to Finding Swedish Parents

We all love a good case study, but sometimes we lose track of the methods used. This presentation focuses on methodological approaches to solving parentage issues, applicable to all countries and ethnic groups.

Using Swedish Tax Records to Answer Tough Genealogical Questions

Tax records are a little used, but excellent resource, for solving the “unsolvable” 18th century problem of record loss/gaps and end of the line extensions. Tax records fill in when clerical surveys are not extant. This is an advanced topic.

The Ostfriesens: An Overview of a Unique Northern German Culture

Over 35k emigrants came from this area of northern Germany just 40 miles by 50 miles in size and settled in the Midwest. Their unique culture, characterized by freedoms unknown in southern Germany, lives on in their descendants.

Glory to God! Dutch Reformed Church Records: Archives, Online and On Site

Church records are often the place we find answers we can find nowhere else. We will explore the Archive of the Dutch Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and illustrate what can be found in the online records and the rich resources available when we visit the church itself.

A Danish Case Study: Finding Parents for Ole Christian Christiansen

A common name, an illegitimate birth—can the parents be identified? We will use online records to identify Ole Christian and then establish the relationship to his parents. This is an entry-level presentation to reading and utilizing Danish records.

Accessing and Using Norwegian Records

Norwegian naming patterns have challenges and the lack of census records can make things difficult, yet, Norwegian records are freely available and rarely have gaps. We will explore parish and census records and point out a common pitfall of same name-same man.

A Norwegian Case Study: Finding a Mother for Oline Marie Olsdotter

Oline Marie, a single Norwegian woman, immigrated to Denmark between 1819 and 1828. Who were her parents? Only the commonly named father is identified. There is a logical couple, but further work identifies another option

Margareta Andersdotter: Using indirect Evidence & mtDNA to identify her Parents

A single piece of evidence in a Swedish tax record gives the clue to Margareta’s location of birth and her parents. Using available records of the 1700s and the 21st century tool of DNA, the father, the mother and location of birth can solve a multi-decade “brick wall”. 

Seven Swedish Sites You May Never Have Heard Of

Seven little known sites for Swedish researchers are helpful for specific needs. You may know of some, but these can expand your options when faced with a problem or when wanting some broad context information.

What Day Is It? Calendars & Feast Days

We know that George Washington’s Birthday occurred at a time when the United States switched calendars and skipped 11 days. The same is not true for other countries. We will explore a variety of European countries and

Choosing Wrong: Same Named Couples Result In Wrong Named Parents

Sven Nilsson’s birth record clearly identified his parents as Nils Nilsson and Johanna Svensdotter of Ågard farm. Who were his parents? No issue, right? the problem was there were three couples with the same names, two of them lived on the same farm and none lived on Ågard! Techniques for identifying the right set of same-named parents are presented in this case study.


The Great War & Its Stories: Researching Your WWI Soldier

They say the WWI records were all burned! They are wrong. What are the records that are available and where are those records? We will look at a soldier through the lens of the available online and in state repositories.

Soldiers, Spies & Farm Wives: The Changing Roles of Women During the Civil War

 The Civil War was a “game-changer” for women. Who were the women who stepped out of their socially ordained roles and used the War as a means to fulfill their personal destinies? We will look at the society before, during and after the CW and how it affects us yet today.


Write as You Research!—a Methodology for Efficient Report Writing

Got a brick wall problem? Try writing up your research findings into a single document. This “simple” act can clarify your thinking, keep you focused and identify gaps—leading to a possible solution! Great for reports for others as well. This will be an online course in summer of 2020.

Writing Proof Arguments and Family Narratives

These two types of writing form the basis for much of our personal work and portfolio submissions. While not specifically focused only on portfolio writing, this is not a class in writing our family “stories” for casual reading. Let’s look at format and the arrangement of evidence to prove our results.

Just Do It! Writing Your Family History

 A look at the myriad of ways to start writing your story.

Writing Personal Research Reports

Do you have an intractable genealogical problem? Consider creating a personal research report to put all your evidence into one place, reveal gaps and suggest solutions to pursue to resolve these brick wall problems. And, who doesn’t like to not have to create a separate research plan, a separate research log and negative findings?

Just Do It! Self-Publishing Your Work

Explore the variety of ways to present your family history. We will describe how different work products might dictate a different means of publication. We will also review how to use a self-publishing company to create a professional looking output. (recently revamped)


Just Do it! Self-Publishing Your Work

Similar to the 1 hour presentation but much more in-depth. We will also exercise some of those dormant writing muscles! (3 hours)

Using Scandinavian Resources Even if You Don’t Know the Language

An introduction to major record sets of Sweden, Denmark & Norway. Attendees will practice reading the parish and census records. (3.5 hrs.)

The Genealogical Proof Standard for Everyone

The GPS can be understandable and attainable by everyone. Using a set of exercises to cement the knowledge, we will review all five elements. (2.5 hrs.)

Citations! Citations! Citations! Oh, My!

You know you should…. Often this is one of the areas that, in our eagerness to record data that we do not take the time for. This workshop looks as citations in a more relaxed way and makes them easier and quicker to produce. There is no excuse now! (2.5 hrs.)

Write As You Research: A Methodology for Efficient Report Writing

Have a brick wall, a client report, a research article or a proof argument to write? We will cover how you can use writing a research report to help solve your toughest problems.  It will help you identify gaps and overlaps. An added bonus?—This methodology combines your research log, your research plan and your findings into a single document! No double entry.


Rootless: A Retrospective Look at America’s Fascination with its Ancestry

A look at the history of genealogy—1000 years of genealogy in 30 minutes! Includes looking forward at predictions for the future of genealogy. This presentation can be expanded to a full hour if desired.

Soldiers, Spies & Farm Wives: Changing Roles of Women During the Civil War

The Civil War was a “game-changer” for women of all colors. We will explore the status of women before, during and after the Civil War, and how the War set the stage for the suffragettes at the turn to the 20th century.

Dear Brothers and Sisters: An Emigrant Writes Home

Why did our ancestors emigrate? Using a 37-page letter the emigrant wrote to his brother in Germany, hear about the complexities of decision-making