Genealogy Junket I: Winter 2016

Clock 4I am going on a genealogy junket–actually two of them in 2016!  I am very excited.  All of this is made possible because I am retiring from the University of Washington after 10 years on 6 January 2016.  After that date, my genealogical career stretches in front of me!

But– not so fast!

There’s a submission to BCG that calls me (and sometimes weighs heavily on me) to complete.

Here is a general itinerary (note: I am driving, which my husband thinks is a little nuts because of the roads etc. in the winter, but you are only “young” once.) The dates are subject to some variation

17 January: leave Seattle for SLC
18 or 19 January: arrive SLC
goals: research in the library. This is the week after SLIG. I will share some of that time with my friend Trish from Seattle.
23 January: leave SLC
24 January:  arrive in Silverthorne, CO
goals: start writing like crazy and meet up with a friend from OSU who lives now in Denver and continue my conversation with Annette. I will be up in the mountains.
28 January: leave CO
29 January: arrive Santa Fe
goal: meet up with cousin and reconnaissance on future possible retirement spots
1 February: leave for Tucson, AZ
2 February: arrive in Tucson and stay at a friend’s “la casita”
goal: “complete” portfolio; I suspect I will still have some missing documents but I want to get it to 98% ready to submit.
22 February: fly to Savannah GA
goal: annual meet up with WAUA (Women Association of University Architects)
25 February: fly back to Tucson
26 February: leave Tucson for San Diego
goal: visit brother and sister-in-law and long time friend from Ohio
29 February: leave SD for Fresno
goal: visit with Ostfriesen friend in Fresno
2 March: leave Fresno and head north to Seattle

In the summer I will do a similar marathon to the Midwest. Along the way I will attend three genealogy conferences (BYU, Ostfriesen and FGS) and a milestone high school class reunion.  I will also drive and take about 6 weeks.

On the to do list: prepare for SLC, i.e. work up a research plan for each of the issues that I want to explore while I am there.  If I have a good plan or series of plans then the writing will come easier when I am in Tucson.

I have to be back in Seattle no later than 10 March as I make presentations for two national academic conferences back-to-back: Nordic Immigration & Emigration conference and the Association of Popular Culture (co-presenting with Lisa Oberg).

If your travels or your life intersects with any of those stops, I would love to have coffee/tea with you.  Let me know.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: submitted 3 proposals to Legacy for “member bonus” webinars; mostly worked on getting ready to go to CO for Christmas, baked biscotti like a maniac to give as gifts at work. Heard back from Minnesota Genealogical Society–I will be doing a webinar for them in November of 2016.



A Question from a Reader

Slide1A reader recently asked a very interesting question about the Advanced Practicum:

I’m wondering (other than sharpening skills) how a class like this with Polish, German, and a slave research would help me learn better research skills for my emphasis of 17th, 18th & 19th century US records?

This question got me thinking about why I, a person who does almost all my personal research in the 19th century Midwest or overseas, would find Advanced Practicum helpful or even interesting.

The same question came up recently in the January Seattle Genealogical Society Board meeting.  We were discussing the spring seminar where we have invited C. Lynn Andersen to speak.  She is an accredited genealogist with ICAPGen with a specialty in Mid-South States.  If one has no one in their ancestral path that is associated with any of the Mid-South States (VA, WV, KY, TN, MO, SC, NC), why should they attend the seminar?

I believe they should but here are some thoughts.

Just as a refresher, the Advanced Practicum is a class taught at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) from which I returned in mid-January.  We received a different genealogy problem each day for five days to solve.

The problems varied:

  1. identifying multiple generations of women (North Carolina)
  2. sorting out multiple families when the heads of household have the same name (Poland)
  3. identifying the freed slave and his ownership (South Carolina)
  4. identifying the father who abandoned his family. (Pennsylvania)
  5. identifying 3 generations of a maternal line of an immigrant family in the Midwest (Iowa, Germany)

So, …

  • none of the families were “mine”
  • only one was in a geographic area where I regularly work

But, each problem…

  • represented a universal genealogical problem
  • improved my analytical skills , as none of them relied solely on direct evidence
  • exposed me to record sets that otherwise I would not come in contact with.
  • provided interesting “puzzles to solve” which I did with varying success
  • represented a time frame within which I work–19th or 20th centuries
  • and some day I may work in these areas.

I posed the question of why should one attend the SGS Seminar if they did not have people in the Mid-South states to Lynn, our speaker and her answer was not surprising–to learn transferable skills.  And, as she noted, you never know when you will be asked by a friend or a relative to look at their line and find that they came through these states.

So, besides having the fun of solving of puzzles, I recommend attending both the Advanced Practicum and educational events outside your focus area–not because you will find record sets that answer your problems or ethnic groups with which you are familiar but because –you won’t!  But, you will learn problem solving skills and get exposed to other record sets. The skills learned might be the  ones that break your own brick walls.  Oh, and as you work these unrelated problems you might find yourself being able to dispassionately view your own work and identify similar problems in your own family history.

So, if improving your skills is not enough of an incentive, perhaps learning about new records set is or perhaps you have an inquiring mind and just want to know.  All are great reasons to attend seminars outside your research focus or to attend the Advanced Practicum.

But, then again you might find yourself making a different decision, which is OK too.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  I recovered from the “SLIG Sickness”–it was an insidious thing.  I have agreed to speak twice at Skagit Valley–a one hour session and an all-day presentation in September.  I have been madly working on two presentations which are incredible time consumers–House Histories (60 hours?) and Scandinavian Research (40+ hours?).  While I love them both, they are both very complex–more so then I was expecting. I also have helped a friend put together her first presentation.  It is interesting the tips you forget that a newbie brings to the surface.

Post-SLIG Observations

I am back from Salt Lake City and have some observations about the experience.

I enjoyed the experience of my class, the Advanced Practicum, organized by Angela McGhie and Kimberly Powell.   Advanced Practicum is one of several classes offered for one week at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG).

Each afternoon a new problem is presented by an advanced genealogist.  Class members work on the problem until the next afternoon at which time they submit a short explanation of the solution.  We then attend the class, hear a presentation by the advanced genealogist about the problem while sharing out findings and solutions.  Since there are usually multiple research questions, rarely does anyone “get it all right.” The goal is to learn new tools, new locales, gain exposure to new records sets and improve one’s analytical skills.  The problems varied but address some common genealogical problems:

  1. identifying multiple generations of women in the south (North Carolina)
  2. sorting out multiple families when the heads of household have the same name (Poland)
  3. identifying slave ownership (South Carolina)
  4. identifying the father who abandoned his family and then had multiple marriages. (Pennsylvania)
  5. identifying 3 generations of maternal line of an immigrant family in the Midwest (Iowa, Germany)

I did the best with the last problem using some interesting tools to work out options.  Of course, it was in a locale where I am very familiar.  I did the worst with the finding the father in Pennsylvania where I just replaced one family story with another…humbling.

But with each of the problems I learned something.

In a previous post, I noted that I wanted to research more efficiently and to develop a research plan for each problem.  I was definitely more efficient working the problems but still  lost focus on occasions.  I did develop a research plan for every problem but in almost every case I needed to revisit the  plan and revise at the midpoint or when I lost focus.

Problem #1:  I learned I needed to write as I go.  The writing of the summary of findings was crammed in at the end of this day.  If I wrote as I researched the writing would be almost completed at the end of the day with just some general editing.  I also needed to rework/revisit my research plan about every 3 hours or so.  The given information by the advanced genealogist usually makes the answers to the first research question fairly obvious.  As one proceeds with the problem and loses focus, rebuilding the research plan might be reasonable to do. Subsequent days I wrote while researching.  I did not however, revisit my research plan which I should have done.

Problem #2: In this problem the genealogist presented a huge spreadsheet of parish events in a village in Poland.  The assignment was to separate out the families of individuals who had the same name.  I enjoyed this problem, probably because it was very similar to work I do with my Swedish and Ostfriesen ancestors.  There were over 3000 entries over an 80 year time span in the database so this was no light exercise.  One had to use the births, marriages and death records to sort out the families.  I needed to know more about Excel to do this problem most successfully.  I will be taking some tutorials to add making pivot tables to my Excel skills.

Problem #3: This was an extremely complex problem with a lot of information to analyze.  The slave identification was very difficult due to another “contender.”  To be successful one had to work backwards and forwards.  First, one had to trace the “person of interest” from freedom back to slavery and then trace the slave “contenders” from likely families forward to see if  they aligned.  The researcher could get distracted and at any time go down the genealogical “rabbit hole.”

Problem #4: This was a case of trying to find the father of an abandoned mother and child in the Northeast.  I should have gotten further with this problem.  I learned some tricks for getting to online information more quickly. Due to some other work (personal and otherwise) I only spent five hours on this problem (excuse) but I doubt if I had spent more time, I would have done much better.  The best strategy would have been to start over again after working on it for 5 hours.  I did, however, record my findings in the report as I went along.  And while the report “looked good” that did not make up for the fact the findings were extremely weak.  This was a humbling experience for me.

Problem #5: The problem was to identify ancestors of immigrant (German) family on maternal side.  The day before I had done some personal work in the library and actually used some of the German resources (new to me) provided by the genealogist. That helped.  I did well enough on this problem that I  could challenge the genealogist on his conclusions on the final research question.

As with all of the problems the discussion at the end of the day was most interesting because each classmate approached the problem differently.  Previous attendees of the class noted that this year’s cohort was particularly collaborative, sharing strategies and successful approaches.

One of the highlights of any conference or institute is meeting new people and connecting with old friends. Our ProGen group (4 attendees) got together for breakfast– Rorey, Zola, Lynn and me.  It was great fun to catch up with everyone.

The class will be offered next year; perhaps you should take it.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since my last posting:  tried to recover from the “SLIG Sickness” that rolled through then entire population of SLIG.  I caught it starting on Tuesday; by Thursday I was wasted.  I recovered a bit by the middle of the week but did not attend the banquet so I had energy to pack and get to the airport the next morning

SLIG: Day 2

You might wonder what I am doing here and I will tell you that sometimes the question is one I ask myself.  I am enrolled in the Advanced Practicum with 18 other students.  We get an advanced genealogy problem every day to solve.

I am surrounded by the best genealogists in the country.  It is amazing to me that I can keep up as my analytical skills are slow.  I work best if I can internalize the information but the pace does not allow that.  The good news is that I should be a more efficient researcher when I am done with the course.

I do not know if there is a typical day but here is the last “24 Hours in the Life of ….”

4:00 pm yesterday:  The class met to discuss the problem we worked on all day yesterday.  It was a Georgia example of tracing five generation of women–not easy.  I made it to the first milestone and partway through the second but ….then I fell off!  While I had the concept I missed some key steps. But this is less about the competition (except with yourself) and more abut exposure  to record sets etc. in unfamiliar locations (I have never done anything in GA). After each lesson I develop a personal list of what I have learned from that exercise. (more about that later)

5:30 pm:  We get our next assignment.  Today we are working on a spreadsheet of parish records and trying to build specific families.  It’s in a foreign country (and not Ostfriesland or Sweden) and so I am figuring it out.  To complete the assignment we have to write a paper reporting on how we got to the answer.

We take the new assignment and then leave.  We can work on the problem as much as time allows (22 hours) or a little as we wish but we do have to turn in something.  We can work in our room (that’s what I did today) or in the Family History Library (too many distractions for me) or in the study room set up so we can work in parallel.

Last night I went out to eat, came back and listened to a lecture by Elisabeth Shown Mills.  I could have stayed for the preview (my friend Mary Tedesco is a co-host)  of Genealogy Roadshow but I went to my room instead.  I did not start my project until this morning.

Of course, I watched the Bucks beat the Ducks!  Loved it. Who would have predicted?  Las Vegas made a lot of money.

4:00 am: I woke up early, probably because I knew that I hadn’t worked the previous night, went downstairs and started working on the parish registers after I read the Columbus Dispatch.

noon: took a break, had lunch and blogged for about 30 minutes.  My girlfriend across the hall has a microwave in her room and so I used that.

3:00 pm this afternoon. We turn our papers in (electronically.)  I will work on the paper as soon as this is posted.  (I have 3 hours to write it.)  Most of the analysis is done.

4:00 pm We start all over.  The case presenter will go over his thought process and describe the resolution. I will see how I did.  I will note what I could do that would improve my skills.  We will then get another case study with research questions to answer.  We will receive a total of 5 that we have to solve while we are here.  There are 18 individuals in the class.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: See above.

SLIG: Day .5

I felt my Saturday was split into three parts.

Utah State CapitalPart 1:  The Advanced Practicum students were invited to attend the Colloquium, a gathering of advanced/scholarly genealogists who discuss the thoughts and concepts of genealogy. (That is not the Colloquium to the left; that’s the State Capital) This is the group where emerging concepts are vetted before they become a part of our lexicon.  For example, this group vetted the concept of Source (original, derivative, authored work), Information (primary, secondary, unknown) and Evidence (direct, indirect negative) which appeared in Mastering Genealogical Proof (MGP).  Thanks to the Utah Genealogical Society for being the host.

There were three papers presented:

Jay Fonkert: “The GPS (Genealogical Proof Standard) and Beyond: Challenges for a Genealogy Profession” which got the group discussing the “profession,” the “discipline” and the challenges of raising the standards and public awareness of our field of study. This is a future blog post.

Jean Wilcox Hibben: “Field Dependency of Arguments/Stories as it Relates to Genealogy Instruction” Jean presented the an approach to the theory of logic and its application  to genealogy.  This raised the questions of “how to analyze” and how to talk about analyization with others. The GPS requires us to analyze and correlate (it answers the “why” question); MGP presents us with tools to use (tables, narrative, bullets, timelines etc.( it answers the “what” question))  and Jean presented the next level of depth. She urged us to analyze our sources using Ethos (credibility), Logos (logic) Pathos (emotion) and Mythos (traditions).  Her presentation answered the “how” question. An audience member suggested adding “Chaos.”   🙂

Blaine Bettinger: Blaine presented the freshly crafted and not yet vetted Genetic Genealogy Standards.  You can read the announcement here. The conversation began with privacy and then went to consent.  The committee has been working for some time on these standards and they are now listed on the Genetic Genealogy Standards site which you can read here.

Part 2: I went to the library to finish up the review of the mid-18th c. tax records for Sweden I had started the day before.  My goal was to complete the search until the parents of “my guy”moved into the village of Hankshult.  As part of an exhaustive search sometimes you are observing and recording that there is nothing there (negative evidence).  As I reviewed the 1749 document for the village—something was very different!   The parents of “my guy” were predicted to move into the village around 1746 when “Dad” marries “Mom”.  But here was the 1749 record without his name recorded as paying taxes.  I quickly got a translation and found a partial answer to a log-held mystery.

It appears that the “Dad” and “Mom” married and lived in another part of Sweden, gave birth to their first child, Margareta, and THEN moved to “my parish.”  No wonder I couldn’t find their marriage in “my parish”!  And why I couldn’t find Margareta’s birth in “my parish.”

Sometimes you find things when you aren’t even looking.

Part 3: Zola Noble flew in from Indiana and we moved into the room.  Zola is a writer extraordinaire and a ProGen 19 classmate.  We went out for dinner and came back and collapsed.  It had been a full day.

MTCSunday, Zola and I walked over to  to the Tabernacle to attend the Sundnay morning  taping of the Morman Tabernacle Choir for TV and then walked up to the state capital.  Of course, we also did our grocery store run! The Strosheins videotaped me as a speaker for the Northwest Genealogical conference to be held in August. I was selected to give my presentation on House Histories Wherever you Live.”

I attended my first Advanced Practicum class where we got our assignment for tomorrow. The evening  reception reunited some old friends and I made some new.

I anticipate that I will not be blogging consistently, if at all, the next week.  I hope the cold is not too intense wherever you are at.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post:  See the above.

PMC/SLIG Preparation

pmc2014logoI am getting ready for the three day Professional Management Conference (PMC) sponsored by the Association of Professional Genealogists and the week long Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) which are back-to-back starting on Thursday of this week.  I thought I would pass along some of my preparations.

I have numerous goals for these 10 days:

  • Attend the Professional Management Conference.  This 2.5 day event is great fun with good classes on how to be a better professional genealogist.
    Action: I have reviewed the classes and events.  I will be attending Tom Jones’s class on citations and I will send my avatar to Judy Russell’s presentation on “Finding the Law.”  Cece Moore, seen on “Finding Your Roots” is doing a session on using DNA in adoption cases but Billie Fogarty, a very skilled presenter, is conducting a session on improving your presentations at the same time.  Decisions, decisions!  My avatar will be busy.
  • Show my poster on Friday.  I did not respond to their Call for Presentations but thought the poster session might be a good way to get to know some people.  Little did I know the paper would take about 6 weeks to write before I even did the poster!
    Action:  Poster is printed and I pick it up on Monday. I have business cards, flyers and a table tent ready.
  • The following week, starting on Monday, about 30 of us will start the five day SLIG Advanced Practicum class.  We receive one problem per day and then reconvene at the end of the day to see how we did in solving the research question.  When I took the Advanced Methodologies course last year, I was very inefficient and did not reach any of the conclusions to the questions.  I would like to do better this time (coming up from “zip” should be easy! right?)
    Action: I vow to…. think of each of the assignments as one of my 10 hour “stints” for a client and to develop a research plan.  Most importantly, I must not go down the “rabbit hole” and instead must stay disciplined and focused.
  • Conduct personal research for my certification portfolio.  If my personal research takes longer than I anticipate, I might just not do one of the five assignments of the Practicum.
    Action: I have my records identified (film numbers etc.)   As I discovered a gap in my knowledge I recorded where I might find the information in Evernote and tagged each research need with “FHL” for Family History Library. Yesterday I copied/pasted each need into a master document and attached a priority.  I will actually record my findings on the same research document as I accomplish each task.
  • Quiz at least three national speakers on topics to submit for the National Genealogical Society Conference for the 2016 “Call for Papers.” I also want to ask them about tips for better responses to Call for Papers.  I have until April to submit eight. I didn’t get selected last year, but my resume looked pretty skimpy.  This year it looks much better.
    Action: I have my list of lecture topics updated and I am reworking my contract.
  • Connecting with old friends and making some new ones.
    Action: I want to meet some of my blog readers.  I will promise to introduce myself around in every situation rather than just talk with my friend from Chicago (although I will do a lot of that as well.)

I will report back as to how I did!

I have a new laptop which I will be taking.  Last year I suffered with my tablet.  Not again.  Dropbox is proving invaluable.  It allows me to work on my desktop, store my info in the cloud and then using my laptop, download the information so I can use it while I travel  So handy!

I still have to pack etc.  I am trying to think what I need to take with me because I only want to carry one bag onto the plane. Genealogists have a tendency to pack a lot of books, papers etc.  Hopefully the laptop will alleviate that need.

Another adventure!

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  I have written a number of the Jens Dahle “One Day in the Life of…” postings for the blog.  I will be sad when the last one is written. …end of April 1865.  Finished up my poster and got it printed.  I went to pick the poster up last Friday and they had the wrong size and the wrong type of paper.  Sigh.  So, I will have to go back and pick it up again on Monday.  I am starting to go through the mountain of books I have (more than 12) which I have on long term inter-library loan.  These books are related to the topic of my KDP.  So much to do; so little time.  …and last night I read a book which will be very helpful for my KDP.  I will resume my 500 word/day “diet” on my KDP or Case Study right after my return from SLC.

PMC 2015 logo is used with permission from the Association of Professional Genealogists. Thanks, Kathleen.

SLIG: a Retrospective

I wrote this shortly after SLIG but didn’t post–it got “stuck” on my iPad.  I think it will still be beneficial to those attendees in the future even if a little stale today.

TheresaBarryJillA week ago (now seems like a lifetime!) I blogged about hints for surviving SLIG and specifically Advanced Methodologies. Now that I have completed the course it seems reasonable that I look back at the list and confirm, deny or add to my hints received from previous attendees. I have placed the previous post statement in italics.

Although the extra homework is optional, if you want to get the most out of the class, just do it. This is absolutely true.  I believe there were some who didn’t do the assignments, but not many.  I did the homework but did not do well in the assignments.  I was not efficient with my research and did not follow some of the basic tenets of correlation of evidence.  It was great to have some partners in pain.  In the photo at left is Theresa Scott, me and Barry Kline.  Barry is in my ProGen group and Theresa is the coordinator for the group.  It was great to meet them and team up with them on some of the assignments.  Not to mention breakfast!  (As you can tell I didn’t even have much time for photos, since this is a recent repeat.)

If you elect to do the home work, plan on spending 3-4+ hours in the Family History Library every night and/or on your computer. This is true. Unfortunately, the wifi in the hotel was so limited that it was difficult to do work after the FHL closed at 9:00 pm. Option #1: complete as much of the assignment as you can in the FHL until it closes, go back to the hotel, sleep and get up at 4:00 and finish. Option #2: Similar to no. 1…but go to the business center and work there.  #3: Since SLIG is switching hotels this next year maybe it won’t be a problem, but don’t count on it.  Think of a hotel filled with genealogists all logging in at the same time and you get an idea of the massive bandwidth the hotel would need to accommodate the demand.  See below for Option #4 and an even better idea.

You may not have time at lunch or dinner to eat, so stock some healthy supplementary food in your room. This is true. I did not eat lunch or dinner except to consume the food I had bought. I did go out for a good breakfast even tho’ pastries and fruit were provided.

You get the syllabus the Sunday night before the classes start but you do not get the assignments until the end of the class Monday through Thursday.   This is true. This leaves only noontime excursions to the library to do your own research. This worked out great for me as I had some small chunks of research pre-planned.

We are creatures of habit and so where you sit the first day is your “assigned seat” the rest of the week. True and I sat in the second row. The downside was that in a class of 32 there were people in the class that I couldn’t see when they participated. It might be better to sit about 1/3 of the way back on the side. You could see more of the class.

New tip #1: do not bother attending the evening lectures. You won’t have time.
New tip #2: And Option #4: bring your own internet hotspot. That would have saved me a lot! And you need a laptop computer.  My husband missed my hinting for a laptop and I slogged through SLIG with my iPad.  Deadly.
New tip #3: learn what you can. Some information you will know; some information you will learn and some you will just be exposed to. You will need to recognize that you need to spend more time learning what you don’t know.

My personal take-aways were…
I have almost no experience working the pre-1850 censuses which are heads of household only. This unfamiliarity was a detriment. Even just having explored them a bit would have been helpful.
Because of the above, I spent too much time in my comfort zone and should have moved more quickly out of it.
I am a slow and deliberative thinker when correlating evidence; however, when forced to guess I usually guess accurately.
There are some big record groups that I just do not know.

SLIG was a great experience and I highly recommend the institute. They are moving to another hotel next year, made necessary due to their growth. It is a little further away from the library. Hopefully, the wifi will be better.

Happy Hunting!