Farms & Farm History in Wisconsin

One of my own favorite presentations is “The Farmer in the Dell . . . and in Many U.S. Records.” I tell about many resources related to finding the history of farm families and the farm itself. Many more resources than most people realize!

I saw a news post about a Farm Oral History Project that was described in a university newspaper yesterday. The Royal Purple is the student newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. A few excerpts from the article:

“The Wisconsin Farms Oral History Project is a project born from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Public History program. It is now a statewide initiative that began in 2012 and is making headway with uncovering much of our state’s rich agricultural history.”

“The ultimate goals of the project are to prompt conversation and collaboration while building a large collection of stories and artifacts that would capture Wisconsin’s large history of farming, community and culture.”

Some of my own ancestors resided in counties near the university. The Area Research Center (ARC) at UW Whitewater is a fabulous place to research family that resided in Jefferson, Rock, and Walworth counties.

The full article is here.

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NIH DNA Day discounts are HERE

It’s time. National DNA Day (April 25) s getting closer and the great testing companies are beginning the sales. Check the websites below for details as they unfold over the next few days.

The National Institutes of Health is responsible for this designation.  “The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the nation’s medical research agency — making important discoveries that improve health and save lives.”

Ancestry DNA

FamilyTree DNA



It’s all so 21st Century complete with its own hashtag #DNADay17

Gotta run, time to convince some more family members to test.

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Learn about personal research reports from me on April 20 in River Falls WI

That’s tomorrow, Thursday, April 20th, 2o17.

I will be doing my presentation, Research Reports for Ourselves: More than a Research Log for the St. Croix Valley Genealogical Society. Please join us as all are welcome. Details at the end of this post.

I emphasis the importance of writing up a research report while researching and completing it after you have completed a research task. I will explain the key points to include. If you hired someone to do research for you, you would want to know exactly what sources they checked. Was it books, volumes, files, or microfilm, and was it at the courthouse, library, or elsewhere? Did they search an index or view the records page by page? Now think about your own research ventures. Are you noting the same details about your quest? Reporting to yourself on the analysis and research is not as daunting a task as some researchers think. As an added benefit, this self-reporting makes it easier when you eventually write your award-winning family history, blog post, or genealogical society article. Many examples show the variety of research report formats.

The SCVGS meetings are held the third Thursday of each month, September through May starting at 7:00 p.m. and are held in the River Falls Public Library.  There are also wonderful treats and a time to visit with others. I enjoy the time spent with this group and those in attendance.

From 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. SCVGS members will be available to help others with genealogy research questions.

The River Falls Public Library is a beautifully designed building at 140 Union Street, at the corner of Union and Main Streets. Main Street is also Wisconsin State Highway 35. Turn east on Union Street beside the library and go to the parking lot behind the building where there is ample parking. The handicapped accessible meeting room is on the main floor just inside the doors.

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A weekend of free educational genealogy webinars from Legacy!

If you haven’t heard yet, this Friday Legacy Family Tree Webinars will be celebrating webinar #500. What does that mean for family historians all over the world? FREE access from Friday to Sunday. The entire webinar library is open for Free Access Weekend, April 14-16.

No special link, no credit card needed, or anything other than simply visiting anytime between Friday and Sunday for free access to the videos in the library.

After you enjoy some of the 500 presentations why not subscribe to partake of those you don’t get to this weekend! Then you can “attend” my upcoming presentations. Sign up while on the Legacy Webinars website.

June 7, Wednesday: Researching Your Minnesota Ancestors (2:00pm EDT, 1:00pm Central, 12:00pm Mountain, 11:00am Pacific). You can eat lunch while you watch and listen. I won’t be able to hear you chewing!

October 25, Wednesday: Midwestern & Plains States Level Census Records  (2: 00pm Eastern, 1:00pm Central, 12:00pm Mountain, 11:00am Pacific)

All those times are Daylight Saving times.








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It’s time! Register for the FGS 2017 National Conference in Pittsburgh

Registration is live today! FGS conferences are always full of education, shopping, and fun. I know I will see you there! The following is from today’s FGS Press Release.

Online registration is now open for the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ 2017 National Conference. 

The conference will be held August 30 – September 2, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA. This year’s local host is the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society and the theme is “Building Bridges to the Past.” Register by July 1, 2017 for the early-bird discount at

Attendees can look forward to strengthening their research abilities no matter their skill level or area of interest. The program is available online at An 8-page pdf download is also available at

Rorey Cathcart, FGS President, shares, “FGS Conferences offer genealogists of all skill levels an incredible learning opportunity as well as a chance to meet others who share their passion. Whether you are beginning your genealogy adventure or have been at it for decades, FGS welcomes all. With a day devoted to programming for society leaders and members, followed by three days of genealogy programming that features world-famous speakers, exciting workshops, a variety of special events and luncheons, FGS 2017 has something unique to interest all attendees. Don’t miss your chance to join the Federation for a fun-filled and informative experience in Pittsburgh!”

Conference Highlights

Keynote Speaker

Rick Sebak makes unusual television programs. His slightly wacky documentaries now celebrate various aspects of modern American life and the unexpected charms of Pittsburgh. In “Take the Unexpected Bridge,” he will explore the idea that when searching for information of any sort, from historic and genealogical to gastronomic and adventurous, often the best route is along unfamiliar roads and across unexpected bridges.

Conference Sessions

Learning opportunities abound in the FGS 2017 program. The program includes four full days of sessions, workshops, and interactive seminars. Learning tracks include Immigrant/Ethnic, Records, Regional, DNA, Methodology, Analysis, Skills, African American, Land & Taxes, Religion, Occupations, and more. Attendees of all skill levels will find new ways to uncover more about their family history.


Exhibit Hall

The large exhibit hall will feature the latest software, books, maps, databases, and gadgets on the market for family historians. Many genealogical organizations will be present to share information as well. Society Showcase will feature representatives of FGS Member Societies to share how their society can help attendees with their family history.


Special Events

Wednesday evening’s event is sponsored and hosted by Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society. Registrants are invited to a dinner cruise along Pittsburgh’s three rivers on board the Gateway Clipper Princess. Friday and Saturday evening offer a special treat for baseball fans. FGS is partnering with the Pittsburgh Pirates to offer discounted tickets for games against the Cincinnati Reds.

Focus on Societies

Wednesday, August 30 is Focus on Societies Day. Sessions are jam-packed with ideas and tools to help societies promote themselves, develop projects, increase membership, and leverage technology. D. Joshua Taylor will kick off the day with the plenary session. He will discuss ways to package genealogical societies for non-genealogical partners, including local media, donors, charitable organizations, and politicians.

Librarians’ Day

Tuesday, August 29, is the pre-conference event sponsored by ProQuest. Librarians, archivists, and other information professionals won’t want to miss this event. It will be a full day of sessions focused on serving family history researchers.


Platinum sponsors include leading family history companies, FamilySearch, and MyHeritage. Bronze sponsors include AncestryProGenealogists and Internet Genealogy/Your Genealogy Today. For the complete list of sponsors and partner organizations, visit


Also visit the conference website at for details including links to conference hotels, research opportunities, and more. Keep up with conference news and announcements by reading the FGS Voice blog at and by subscribing to the FGS Voice Newsletter at


Learn More and Stay Connected

Like FGS at

Follow FGS on Twitter at and hashtag #FGS2017.

Visit Pittsburgh at

About the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS)

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) was founded in 1976 and empowers the genealogical and family history community, especially its societies and organizations, by advocating for the preservation and access of records and providing resources that enable genealogical organizations to succeed in pursuing their missions. FGS helps genealogical societies and family history enthusiasts alike to strengthen and grow through online resources, FGS FORUM magazine, and through its annual national conference which provides four days of excellent learning opportunities for both societies and family history enthusiasts. To learn more about FGS visit To learn more about the next annual conference to be held in Springfield, Illinois, visit Also, find FGS on Facebook, on Twitter @FGSgenealogy and on the FGS Voice blog at

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Sum, sum, summertime: join me in genealogy education 3 times!

Genealogy education and research doesn’t stop in the summer. Air conditioning makes it more desirable. Among the variety offered this coming summer are these three events at which I will be teaching.

  • July 16-21, Pittsburgh, Annual Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. Registration has begun for this annual summer week of genealogical education. It is held at LaRoche College, in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh. For available seats check the website. The course I coordinate is Intermediate Genealogy: Tools for Digging Deeper. Some seats are still available for it. Read my earlier post for more information on this course and on GRIP.


  • July 28-30, Minneapolis, International German Genealogy Partnership (IGGP) Inaugural Conference. I will be doing three presentations. Other presenters from all over the U.S. and other countries. Registration and full details


  • August 30-September 2, Pittsburgh, Federation of Genealogical Societies Annual Conference. 4 days of learning, exhibit hall, discussion, meals, and more. The full program booklet is now online and I see that I will be busy learning as well as doing one presentation and a two-hour workshop on research planning. Registration will begin soon. For more details and a link to the program check the FGS Voice blog.


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San Francisco earthquake deaths historian passes away

This popped up on my news feed a few days ago. I remember reading about Gladys’ quest to document all the San Francisco 1906 earthquake deaths. Many historical and genealogical publications carried news of her search and request for information from others.

I hadn’t heard her name in several years and what make this news a bit strange is that I was recently thinking about her quest. Last year I wrote about possessing a pre-earthquake marriage record.

The news release stated “Gladys Hansen, San Francisco’s longtime city archivist, and a renowned expert on the city’s history, died last Sunday of the infirmities of old age. She was 91.

Mrs. Hansen was best known for her research on what she called the hidden history of the 1906 earthquake and fire. She believed the death toll from the disaster was much higher than the city admitted at the time. Her research showed that between 3,000 and 4,000 men and women died in the quake and the fires that followed, a number much higher than the official list of 478 people who lost their lives.”

I still need to read the book on the subject that she co-authored, Denial of Disaster.

The full article on her death and history is here on SF Gate.

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It’s the Irish in me that celebrates St. Patrick’s Day honestly

In the U.S. we make more of celebrating St  Patrick’s Day than do our cousins in Ireland. I am one of those who can claim my Irish ancestry quite honestly.

Six of my great great grandparents (and their parents) were born in Ireland giving me these surnames: Hanley, Walsh, Bowler, Fitzgerald, Keliher, Green, Cook, and Moriarty plus others I have not yet discovered. A great great great great grandmother is supposedly Irish and that surname is Saggers.

Two of those great great grandparents came to Minnesota, a Cook and a Moriarty. Catherine Moriarity’s mother Ellen (Green) Moriarty also joined them in Rice County.

Three of my great grandparents who were born in Ireland came to the U.S.  That brings the surnames Cook, Hanley, and Walsh (Welch) to Minnesota. Hanley and Walsh came to Winona County.

The Winona and Rice counties ancestors came north to live in Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota. Their descendants met and fell in love at at dance at the Saint Paul Hotel in downtown. This was during the Roaring Twenties! I am so glad my grandparents met!

Clarification: These are all on my mother’s side of the family. Nary a Irish gene on my father’s side.

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Presentations update: Paula is definitely available for your event

I was asked if I had stopped doing presentations for genealogy and history organizations. Not at all. I simply took off most of the first half of 2017. I turned down invitations, didn’t promote my lectures as much, and took the time off to do some catching up.

2016 was an amazingly busy year. I was involved in some heavy-duty research on court cases, did many presentations around the U.S., had a huge mess in my apartment after a sewage backup and lots of repairs, and most of all, our entire family was in the midst of taking care of an ill family member. He is improving, the kitchen is almost redone (for a second time), and now I am catching up on client work and reporting. I had to cut back on volunteer work and I had a good excuse for not dusting my apartment! Sorting and recycling many years of work paper accumulation is already being done.

As you can see by my speaking calendar on this website, I have a few presentations yet this spring but come July – November, I may be in your location.

Thus, if you need a speaker for your genealogical, historical, social, civic, or other event, check out my speaking calendar and lecture topics on this website, and contact me for complete details. The email is on those pages. I am already under contract for two events in 2018 and a third one is nearing contract status. Don’t miss out on the date your organization needs!

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Ancestry Academy: A gift for subscribers and members from Ancestry

Did you know that Ancestry is giving us all a gift of free, quality education? If you can log into Ancestry, as a subscriber at any level, or even with a DNA test or free family tree, you can see Academy presentations for free. You don’t have to be a subscriber, but you do have to be a registered “member.”

Not a subscriber? Not done a DNA test yet? But added a free tree? Simply sign in to Ancestry Academy with your own sign-in information. If you don’t have this, it’s simple to do right on the Ancestry Academy main page by clicking on “Sign Up Today.”

The variety of presenters and topics is amazing. Even the presenters view the videos of other presenters. No one knows everything! Many of the videos are accompanied by extensive handouts.

The two presentation of mine that area already online are:

  • Native American Ancestry? Steps to Learn More
  • The Lure of the Train Whistle: Researching Railroad Workers

Start learning here!

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