Paula Stuart-Warren, CG℠, FMGS, FUGA
2000 County RD B2 W #130231
St. Paul, Minnesota 55113
Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you wish to see a capsule description for any lecture not included here. Some of these lectures can be tweaked to reflect specific geographic areas where the seminar will be presented.
The Art of Genealogical Research Trips
Whether you travel to the ancestral “old country,” or just to a nearby county courthouse or library, one of the delights of genealogy can be a successful research trip. How can you make your “on the road” research yield both results and an enjoyable travel experience? Can your trip preparation lead to family information even if you never actually make the trip? What needs to be done when the journey is over? This session details steps both online and off to help you answer those questions. They join travel-tested experience with Albert Einstein’s advice that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” You don’t have to be a genius to combine these sensible steps with your spirit of adventure to help make your genealogical journeys memorable and rewarding! And this session has some humorous twists and turns to show that Murphy’s Law can affect a research trip.
Controlling Chaos: Organizing Your Genealogy Materials
Are you like most genealogists? That is, do you have stacks of papers, files, certificates, census copies, and other items around your home? Do you panic when you have to find something or have to use the dining room table for a meal? Can you find what you need in your computer files? You can conquer this dilemma and will learn tips for regularly keeping on top of the organizing task, with both paper and software. No one can promise perfection, but this session will share many ideas to get you on your way, including tips from some professional genealogists. We’ll even discuss some “lazy day” methods to keep you on top of your filing.
A Bakers Dozen: Easy Ways to Begin Writing Your Family History
Any one can write! Learn ways to get your family history in print without a lot of strain. It’s not as daunting a task as you might think. A baker’s dozen of ways to work on this over time and ideas to get your greater family involved will be shared. You may find that you are already doing some of these but hadn’t realized you were actually getting family history into print! Some of the ideas lend themselves to scrapbooking techniques. Including family health history information is an important part of the process; what you share in print may aid a family member someday. Sharing and preserving the family stories, both the joyous times and the tough times, can enhance your understanding of yourself and the greater family. Visuals will demonstrate the Baker’s Dozen and a handout will point you to further ideas and help in both print and online formats.
Finding Ancestral Places of Origin
Still looking for great-grandma or grandpa’s place of origin, and it wasn’t under the apple tree? Where in Sweden was Aunt Lily born? Was Grandma Griffin born in Chenango or Otsego County, New York? This lecture shares records and research strategies which may help you identify that place. The visuals demonstrate these records, what they contain, and how to use them. Repositories where you may find them are also covered. Finding places of origin for your ancestors can often be a challenging job. Many genealogists fail to search all available records for each ancestor. Don’t isolate your ancestor. Your ancestor’s place of origin may be in the records of another family member or in those of a neighbor. It doesn’t matter whether your mystery place of origin is in the U. S. or another country. The best advice is to never give up; you may learn about different sources, others may become accessible, or a distant relative with family data may suddenly surface. Don’t ignore the relatives that you think have no family history material. You might be surprised at the bits of knowledge they have. It may be time to review what you have already found to be sure you haven’t missed any clues. Analyze what you have, and think about what you haven’t yet checked. Start with the basics and then proceed to the more specialized sources for your ancestors, relatives, and their associates.
Developing Good Research Habits
Successful research takes planning, time, experience, and patience to be effective. Learn steps and tools for becoming a better researcher both at home and in repositories, and for developing good habits that make the most of your genealogy time budget.
The Farmer in the Dell . . . and in Many U.S. Records
Name 20 places to seek information about ancestral farms. 25? 30? This session and accompanying handout demonstrate the extensive records and places for learning more about ancestral farmers and farms. No matter the present status of the property, there are ways to learn more about the farmers, farm, and related activities.
Finding and Using Manuscript and Special Collections Repositories
So you have checked census, probate, church, naturalization, and other records. The obituaries, marriage, birth, and death records have also been located. Yet, you still have too many blank spaces on your family group sheets. You still don’t have enough of the story about some ancestors to really know who they were. Your next step might be using manuscripts and checking out special collections in various repositories. The treasures which might be found are too often neglected. Should you check in the ancestral localities? Of course, but manuscripts may end up anywhere. Fortunately more and more finding aids are available to help us find a manuscript which might pertain to an ancestral locality or person many states away from where they lived. These collections also may yield you some humorous or poignant finds.
Found: One Ancestral Address, the Poor Farm
You may already know an ancestral address as the county poor farm. Others discover it and are mystified. The family may have attached a stigma to this and shoveled the facts under that proverbial rug. For the researcher, this address offers other levels of records to search. Those include courts, county commissioners, residence applications, and the farm’s own resident and burial/cemetery records. The records may give much detail and may hold surprises. Not all the residents were destitute. Some of the poor farms had names that did not convey the type of institution. The lecture covers what records might exist, where to find them, access concerns, and how to interpret the findings.
Genealogical Goldmine: The Records of Old Settlers Organizations
This lecture acquaints researchers with the wealth of information that can be found in many of the records of pioneer settler organizations. Finding places of origin and settlement dates for our migrating ancestors is often difficult, but these records may provide help. Some include parents’ names, detailed accounts of the journey from the previous residence to the new location, and a listing of the members’ children. Details may include date of death, or a location in which the pioneer later resided. Many genealogists are aware of records and applications related to hereditary and lineage societies, but aren’t familiar with the similarly valuable records of old settlers organizations. In addition to sharing the kinds of information that can be found in the old settlers records, the session suggests where and how to locate such collections. Finding aids that assist in the quest for old settlers records will be discussed.
Genealogical and Historical Periodicals In Print & Online
There’s a lot more to genealogical periodicals than there used to be! Online indexes. Mass-media newsstand magazines. E-mail newsletters. Online journals. The more traditional society newsletters and journals remain just as important. This session illustrates the kind of treasures in those periodicals, old and new, that you may not find anywhere else. It demonstrates how those periodicals are useful and vital for research, how to access them, and special considerations for using them to benefit your research.
Genealogy & The Internet: Make It Work For You
Searching for family history online has never been easier; learn what is and is not available, how to access it, and how to make it work for you. I include some explanations of the variety of results using different search engines. The lecture includes the good, the bad, and the ugly of online searching and how to keep yourself on the good side. The handout material is loaded with tips and online sites.
Lord Preserve Us! Church Records for Family History Research
Not all of our ancestors belonged to an organized religion. For those who did, the records which have survived until today can often be helpful to genealogists. Names, dates, relationships, places of new and former residences, burial location, and other details may be learned. With some background knowledge of your family, and of the area in which they lived, it may be possible to find church records for your ancestor. Church related records are important for ancestors and siblings who were involved in the ministry. Often a biography or specialized obituary can be found for these individuals. For ancestors who resided in the New England and Middle Atlantic states, the religious resources are especially rich. Churches related to specific ethnic groups may give us clues to the old country. More and more southern church records are surfacing and serve to replace many burned civil records. Church records may predate the civil recordings of births, deaths, and marriages.
Midwestern & Plains State Level Census Records
Many Midwestern and Plains states have superb state census records. Learn about the indexes, the many personal details these censuses include, locating the censuses, and alternate sources. The lecture includes many specific examples from these enumerations, provides an overview of state censuses for Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, and indicates where they may be found. The personal details vary but may include names of children, maiden names, military service, religious denomination, mother of how many children, occupation, value of real estate, and other helpful details.
Major Midwestern Archives & their Records
This lecture will highlight some major Midwestern archives and their holdings, finding aids, websites, special indexes, and available assistance for those not visiting in-person. An overview of each state archive will be covered B but some will be covered in greater detail. For the ones covered in greater detail, some special aspects of the place will be shared. The class will also include some detail on other archives in the Midwest – including universities, religious, and possibly others. My main aim is to show the wealth of material available, how to access it, and why the on-site experience can be so rewarding.
New Englanders in the Midwest: Key Resources
Many branches of New England families migrated to the Midwestern and Plains states. It might have been cheap land, a Gold Rush in the Dakotas, enticement from a family member, a yearning for a less-hectic life, business opportunities, or other reasons that drew them out of New England. With them they brought their personal libraries, family bibles, photographs, diaries, journals, stories, and more. They received and saved letters from the family back in New England. Biographies, state censuses, and oral history collections are more sources of details. Once in their new locality they started businesses, joined local organizations, practiced their religious beliefs, continued to join national level hereditary organizations, started historical societies, and participated in other aspects of life. Many of these activities generated records that are often overlooked by other branches of the family that did not migrate westward.
Newspaper Research: The Dailies, Weeklies, and Beyond
Newspapers are one of the most important research sources. Too often genealogists use only the “generic” newspapers in their research. The ethnic, cultural, college and university, organizational, neighborhood, cultural, foreign language, and religious newspapers are often overlooked. Many of these have been indexed, though it may take some extra detective work to locate the indexes. This session presents details on the tremendous amount of information to be found in the usual newspapers and also these “other” newspapers and on how to locate them and any indexes. Visuals and the handout material show what these may hold for genealogical research, list some of the many superb guidebooks available, and identify both logical and unexpected repositories holding these newspapers. Learn how to locate the newspapers all over the U.S. and wring more information from them. Examples will also make you aware of newspaper indexes, both published and unpublished, and massive microfilming projects.
New York State Research: The Changing Face of the Modern Era
New York research is not a simple matter. As with all locality-based research, the first task is to place your ancestor in a specific locality. When a New York place of residence is determined, the research then depends upon whether the locality is in the New York City metropolitan area or is in Upstate New York. However, New York research is not as bleak as many have complained. Today’s genealogists are fortunate to have an expanding array of publications, indexes, Web sites, and advice to help them along in the search. This lecture focuses on some of the new things in New York research that have come about in the last several years. The resource material may not be a new item, but an electronic version, index, or guidebook on the subject may be what is new. Additionally, we will cover some ways to keep up-to-date with the changing face of New York research.
NUCMC & Its Cousins: Keys to Lost Ancestral Records
Where might Great Aunt Sadie’s diary be today? Where might records of the circuit rider who traversed Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan be located? What repository houses the business records of an ancestor? Where might you find the files of a relative who was working on a lineage society application? As our families migrated westward, whether by foot, wagon, or train, the records associated with them may have been left in several places. Many genealogists think that there may be no records for part of the family. However, there may be substantial information buried away in a manuscript collection. There are many finding aids online and off that lead to these nuggets that represent hundreds of years of material. One of the important aids since 1962 is the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC) which is a cooperative cataloging program operated by the Library of Congress. Almost 2,000 manuscript repositories from all across the U.S. have provided descriptions of manuscripts held in their possession.
Did great-grandpa traverse this nation as he worked for the railroad? For which railroad did he work? Where did it run? Are there railroad records which may give us personal details? Visuals and references demonstrate the wealth of historical materials available all across the U.S. When this lecture is over you will know where to turn to find out more about the railroad, its records, and where to find them.
Research at the Wisconsin Historical Society: It’s Not Just Wisconsin!
The library of the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison is renowned for its genealogical and historical collection, covering all of North America. It includes most available U.S. and Canadian censuses, and tens of thousands of county and family histories, passenger lists, periodicals, and much more. This session introduces the library’s holdings, the WHS Web site, recent library additions and changes, practical information for a trip, and what you might find first at other libraries. This lecture includes some exciting changes that took place in recent years.
Researching Midwestern River People
Do you have a riverboat captain, engineer, dock worker, mate, or other worker in your family or someone involved in a business that served the river industry? Did a family member follow the lure of the water? Stymied about how to research these nomadic people? Discover the abundant and unique resources for researching the interesting, but often elusive, lives of river people. This session covers published, manuscript, microfilmed, and online resources and how to use them. These include records such as census, newspapers, and the records of the businesses that operated the steamboats and other vessels. The river people formed membership organizations and were the subjects of many photographers.
Research Reports for Ourselves: More than a Research Log
If you hired someone to do research, wouldn’t you want to know exactly what 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.
Research Rewards in County Courthouses and Town Hall Records
Courthouses and town halls all across the U. S. are treasure troves of records for family history research. Yes, they include birth, death, marriage, and probate records, but go far beyond these. Learn about these basics and also tax, divorce, naturalization, criminal and civil court records, and others. Today the records might have been transferred to an archive, historical society, may be on microfilm via the Family History Library, or even online. Learn what these records hold, and how to find and access them and indexes. The examples used in the lecture span a wide variety of localities. This lecture focuses on historical rather than current records and on the county and town level records.
Research Via the Hallowed Shelves and Tools of the DAR Library
Our nation’s capital is a fantastic place to do historical and genealogical research. Among the many repositories is the Daughters of the American Revolution Library. An on-site visit brings you to the old classical style building and the wealth of information accumulated since the library collection was started in 1896. The DAR Library is a stone’s throw from the White House. A major focus of the library is the history of the American Revolution era. However, the library has far more than just materials related to the American Revolution. It is a superb place for browsing hundreds of years of books relating to many localities; most are on open shelves.
Seeking Your Comfort Zone As You Approach Different Repositories
Your research comfort zone may be the historical society, genealogical library, university library, or government archive where you regularly research, or it may be sitting at home working online. The time comes when you should venture out to other record repositories. This session deals with making these visits part familiar and comfortable. My experience with repositories all across the United States is the basis for this lecture. It is possible to enter a repository that is new to you with confidence and make the most of your time there. The repository you plan to visit may be in a distant city or may be in the place where you reside. It is amazing how many genealogists tremble at the thought of venturing beyond that comfort zone library even when the new place is just minutes from home. The presentation, syllabus material, and visuals emphasize that effectively preparing to visit a different research repository can pay off genealogically, even if you never actually make the leap to an on-site visit.
Sources and Methods for Researching American Indian Ancestors [2 hour lecture]
Basic methods for using the abundant and rich sources available to research Indian family history will be reviewed in this session. Many types of records and the likely repositories will be covered: Indian census and annuity rolls, oral history, manuscripts, private sources, legal records, Indian school records, tribal records, and BIA and National Archives collections. Historical societies, state archives, county courthouses, NARA regional facilities and more are included. The importance of understanding the historical context of the records, and the lives they reflect, will be discussed. Many important records are those related to individuals and families that did not attain official enrollment/membership or correspondence related to their quest. This session is designed to share the basics of ancestral research for those with Indian ancestry. It does not provide instructions on how to enroll with specific tribes. Resources that are universal to this type of research are covered; however parts are tailored to specific tribes related to the area where the lecture is presented. Other lectures that correlate to this two hour presentation include those related to the U.S. National Archives, manuscripts, county courthouses, and the immediately preceding lecture on seeking comfort zones in repositories.
Southern Deeds: More than Land
Deeds. Mention that word to a family historian and probably the first thing that comes to mind is a land transaction. If you have studied original, microfilmed, or abstracted deeds you know they cover other types of transactions and can provide details you may not find elsewhere. Names, relationships, parentage, ages, death, marriage, and family disputes are found as slaves, land, equipment, mules and more are conveyed. Most Midwestern deeds are dull compared to some of the Southern ones yet they do contain some of these family details. When this hour is over you will be itching to read deed books no matter where your ancestors lived!
Stuck? Have You Tried . . .? Have You Overlooked . . .?
Your answer may be out there. This session covers techniques and resources that offer help in overcoming that proverbial brick wall in family history research. Reviewing, presenting, sharing, broadening, redoing, correcting, comparing, looking at new sources, and other ideas will be presented along with some true success stories. Genealogical problem solving involves the creative use of sources that many genealogists and historians neglect to use or don’t know how to use. The answer may be closer than you think.
Tho’ They Were Poor, They May Have Been Rich in Records
So many researchers put up artificial brick walls because their ancestors weren’t land owners, were perennial renters staying one step ahead of the bill collector, or didn’t leave behind a ten page will listing all the children. Many researchers figure that the trail runs cold, but that is far from the truth. Our poorer relatives are traceable, and, because they were poor and often needed some kind of assistance, may have left more helpful records than one might think. Some of the record keepers made side comments about our poorer ancestors in these records which may lead to other sources and relationships. The various records, sources for tracking them down, and dealing with the sometimes painful aspects of the information found will be discussed. Visuals will demonstrate the extensive information which may be found. The examples span many states and time periods and both private organizations and government agencies at many levels.
Twentieth & Twenty-First Century Research
Are you stumped by missing or split families, unindexed censuses, city dwellers, lack of extended family, or often-mobile families? As we near move forward in the 21st century do you need information on the more recent generation? Do you have living relatives to find? Some researchers have neglected the more current relatives thinking there aren’t as many resources to use. After this session you will be prepared to find some information on those who lived or were born in the 20th century. Sure, there are fewer censuses, but the many other records that are available will help you. As the years passed by some records became more standardized. More courthouses regularly created indexes. To these we add today’s explosion of online catalogs, indexes, and finding aids. Research is research, no matter the time period. Some things remain constant and some records do contain more information and may be indexed. Whether you are researching in the 18th, 19th, 20th, or 21st century you still need to link the generations by proving relationships, checking out the relatives, putting people in specific places and verifying names, dates, and places. Finding a living relative with information to share or finding out more about a relative you knew is rewarding research.
United States Census Records: the Basics and Beyond
What value lies in those 1790-1940 U.S. census records B do you really know? How do you access these records and their indexes for all states, understand the details, and then mine all the wealth they contain? This session explains some of the benefits of complete census searching for your family and shares practical tips for locating and using the records. It highlights new projects, including online indexes, the new, easily searchable 1880 census index, and the exciting digitized federal census records. The class also covers some of the special census schedules, including mortality, agriculture, and others. It includes examples from the newest released 1940 census schedules and finding aids.
The Three Rs: Reading, ‘Riting, and Research in School Records
Census records, military files, courthouses, cemeteries . . . these are the common resources that genealogists regularly use in tracing their ancestors. But consider this: the census taker only came around every five or ten years, and each ancestor may leave behind only one birth, christening, marriage, and death record. Did your ancestor or a sibling attend or teach school at some point? School records are kept every day, every month, every year. In these you might find some additional details on your elusive relatives. This lecture will describe many of the school records you may be able to locate. These include all levels of education, and both public and private institutions. The bulk of the lecture covers the records of primary schools, but touches on those for high school, college, and specialty or institutional type schools. The material covered in this lecture will also be helpful if you are involved in organizing a school reunion or in writing a school or community history.
The US Federal Government: Underutilized Research Resources
Ask a handful of genealogists what the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has for genealogical research. The most likely answers will be pension records and census. These are such valuable resources in our family information quest, but a listing of the more NARA and other agency holdings of value for our research would easily fill up many more pages than this handout. Beyond NARA, the Web sites of some federal agencies contain helpful research information. The one problem with these is that it may take some perseverance to find that info on the sites as the genealogy and history related material is usually not prominent. This lecture is designed to acquaint you with other federal records that may hold some of those elusive family details.
The U.S. National Archives: The Nation’s Attic
Sooner or later our research leads us to the treasures held in governmental archives. For federal government records in the United States that leads to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Researchers often use federal census, military and pension records, and passenger arrival records but these are only a fraction of the genealogically useful records in the custody of NARA. The records of the nation’s civil, military and diplomatic activities are held by NARA. In Washington alone these records total more than six billion pieces of paper; over eleven million still pictures; 99,951 reels of motion pictures; 214,129 sound and video recordings; 2,706,123 maps and charts; 3,525,626 architectural and engineering plans; and 18,934,123 aerial photographs. This hour and syllabus material focuses on the Washington, DC, area facilities, commonly called Archives I and II, finding aids, website, catalogs, access options and research tips. Some discussion covers the Regional branches of NARA, including the finding aids.
Getting the Most Value When Working with a Professional Genealogist
At times in our genealogical research, we may all benefit from the services of a professional genealogist. Whether having a professional do some research for you, provide a What next? consultation, or work side-by-side in a library, courthouse, or archive with you, it can pay to work with someone who knows the records and repositories in your ancestral area. Learn what services professionals offer, how to locate reliable researchers, what you can realistically expect, what your responsibilities are, and how to get the most for your dollar.
What Next? Developing Step-by-Step Research Plans
From the analysis of known information to the creation of research goals for finding the elusive answers, your research success ratio is improved with careful planning and use of proven techniques. Taking and dissecting raw data so that a detailed research plan evolves is easier than you might think. What do you do next with those documents, letters, family stories, and other items you found or were sent by your aunt? Failure to make a research plan runs the risk of overlooking important clues in the records we already have and repeating the same research. This session includes hands-on exercises. A research plan is truly not a daunting task.
Where Are Those Records They Told Me To Check?
Genealogists are continually learning about different records that may hold the family history details they seek. In books and classes, at institutes, conferences, and online, records are described and illustrated. The excitement builds but then many are stymied. Sure that record looks good, but where should they go to find that record for their ancestral locality? Should they check online, go to the courthouse, the historical society, state archives, the Family History Library, or just keep on wishing they knew where to find the records now? Should they check close to the locality or might the record be four counties or three states away? This sessions details the many finding aids, publications, resource people, and online clues to where the records may be located today. It also details the differences in city, county, state, and federal level record responsibility in the U.S. to assist the researcher in the direction of the correct place.
A World of Records: Using the Family History Library and Family History Centers
Even with all that we can find online or obtain from family members, there is still a need to look at a church record, probate file, land deed, or other original source to verify info and fill in some blanks. We can’t all travel to each ancestral location, but the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and its almost 4,000 branches called Family History Centers, give us access to microfilms of original records from all over the world! Learn about the holdings, how to access them, and some recent developments that aid in our research no matter where we live.
The WPA Era: What It Created for Genealogists
During tough economic times in the 1930s and 1940s, government programs put many people to work. The Works Progress/Projects Administration created a goldmine of records that are useful for today’s genealogists. WPA record transcriptions, courthouse and manuscript inventories, indexes, city/county histories, and histories of businesses and families may exist for your ancestral locale. We will discuss many of those WPA creations, some of which you already use regularly, and where others may be found today. We will also discuss the online explosion of WPA materials.
Your Anytime Library: Success in the Virtual Stacks
Rather research than count sheep? Peruse books at any hour without starting the car or breaking into the library? County, town, and family histories, record abstracts, and more await. Digitized, photocopied, excerpted, abstracted, OCRd, and indexed books provide a strong likelihood of success via your computer and that medium called the Internet. Add newspapers, documents, family trees, pension records, periodicals, and more to the accessible items and you might be housebound for days (months?). During this session we will concentrate on books. Finding books online might be as simple as typing the title in your favorite search engine and enclosing it in quotation marks. Your search engine (i.e. Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc) is your best friend. The majority of the material listed in the handout for this lecture are links to FREE sites.
Updated October 2015