Presidents Day. Not for shopping, sales, or truly for not working!

In case you didn’t know, the real reason Presidents Day was established was to celebrate George Washington’s February 22d birthday. It has become a tradition to also honor Abraham Lincoln and his February 12th birthday on this third Monday of February.

From the U.S. National Archives website:

“Washington’s Birthday was the first federal holiday to honor an individual’s birth date. In 1885, Congress designated February 22 as a holiday for all federal workers. Nearly a century later, in 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Law changed the date to the third Monday in February. The position of the holiday between the birthdays of Washington and Abraham Lincoln gave rise to the popular name of Presidents Day.”

I did a Google search for Minnesota Presidents Day and all the top results were about sales and what things were open or closed on this day. Not exactly a way to honor these men.

Tuesday, 20 May is GRIP Genealogy Institute Registration

I’m excited. Only 2 more days until registration opens. It’s an online registration process. A few more reasons to register for the Digging Deeper: Records, Tools, and Skills course for which I am the Coordinator and one of the instructors. It will be taking place online from 23-28 June in the 2024 GRIP Genealogy Institute. These are evaluation comments from students who were part of Digging Deeper in the last several years.

  • “Great chance to pick the brains of the experts!”
  • “Excellent presentations. I learned about things I was not previously aware”
  • “I’ve learned so much from my fellow classmates, including things like genealogy podcasts, computer software, and apps”
  • “Group project was lots of fun. I loved the class homework and being able to interact with other classmates”
  • “They are all terrific and I was fortunate to have such top notch instructors”
  • “Can’t think of how the Zoom experience could be improved . . . I thought it was a great experience. The tech information beforehand was helpful, and the techs kept the class experience humming along”
  • “The schedule was good, and the ease of use of zoom for groups and for asking questions was impressive”

I will also be teaching some sessions in the Not Just Farmers: Records, Relationships, and the Reality of Their Lives course led by Cari A. Taplin, CG, and the Midwest Family History Research: Migrations and Sources led by Jay Fonkert CG, during that virtual week. More on those courses and others are at

Be sure to check out the Registration section of the FAQs to be ready with a sign in link on Tuesday

GRIP 2024 “Digging Deeper” Friday Sessions and Reasons to Register

Only 3 more days till registration opens for the virtual Digging Deeper: Records, Tools, and Skills course and the other 19 courses of GRIP Genealogy Institute for 2024. June and July will be busy education months. I’ve already blogged about the Monday through Friday sessions in Digging Deeper, and the Friday sessions are below. Still trying to decide which course to take? Here are some evaluation comments from Digging Deeper students from the past few years.

  • “I liked the group project and helping others with their brick walls”
  • “The instructors were brilliant and so very helpful” Paula: How can you go wrong with Amy, Cari, Cyndi, Debbie, and me?*
  • “Syllabus is a great reference for future research”
  • “Structure, schedule, and topics were awesome”

To learn more about the Coordinators check
To learn more about the wonderful other instructors

Friday is a partial day of learning. Then we all can take a nap if need be or spend the rest of the day checking for all the tips, records, links, and books we learned about.

Post Military Service: Often Overlooked 19th & 20th Century Records  (Paula Stuart-Warren)
Bonus payments, organizations of comrades, discharge records, state level records, adjutant general records, correspondences, relief records, Congressional records, and other important items may add significant details and understanding to the basic military information for our ancestors. Membership organizations of post-military service personnel and descendants provide personal details, support for the veteran and families, and some surprising records.

Student Group Project Reporting and Analysis  (Paula Stuart-Warren)
During this session, the small groups formed on Monday do a last-minute discussion of their project. Then we will go into full-class session to report, discuss, and do final analysis and future planning on the homework project. As noted for the Monday morning sessions, the result: a solid research plan, learning from each group’s reported outcome, recognition of the value of discussion with other genealogists, and the sharing of knowledge to help attain the sought-after research goals.

Course Wrap-up, Questions

Give yourself a cool Valentine’s Day genealogy gift: EDUCATION

Treat yourself or convince your love interest that attending GRIP virtually in June or in-person in July is the only Valentine’s gift you need this year. February 20th is the opening date for registration. That is only SIX days away. Six, 6, or 3+3 days away.

The virtual week is June 23-28 and registration begins on February 20th at 1:00 p.m. EST (Noon CST). The in-person week in Pittsburgh is July 14-19 and registration begins at 3:00 p.m. EST (2:00 CST).

I coordiate and teach in the virtual course Digging Deeper: Records, Tools, and Skills which is mostly an intermediate level course with a bit of basic reminders and some more advanced information and methodology. I will also be teaching in the Not Just Farmers: Records, Relationships, and the Reality of Their Lives course and the Midwest Family History Research: Migrations and Sources during the virtual week. . .

GRIP 2024 Virtual “Digging Deeper” Course, Thursday Sessions and about the Syllabus

Syllabus. That’s a positive word for any institute student. Think 150-250 pages of links, book citations and annotations, reminders of session discussions, maps, diagrams, charts, examples, and records you should be checking, and more info than can be covered in each 75-minute session. Whew. That’s a lot of detail. If a course has been previously offered, each year’s syllabus is different from previous years. New website links, recently digitized records, previous links verified, additional pages added based on the previous year’s discussions and questions, and sometimes a new instructor is added. The 2024 edition of “Digging Deeper: Records, Tools, and Skills is no different. All five of this year’s Digging Deeper instructors are busy compiling their syllabus sections. As the coordinator, I get to review what they submit and I am always amazed at their level of knowledge, experience, and there’s always something new that I have not yet learned. Amy, Cari, Cyndi, Debbie, and I have some really good “stuff” planned for students. Don’t forget that we’ll be in a virtual classroom for four full days and one partial day.

Don’t forget that registration opens on February 20th and make sure you are ready! The FAQ section on the GRIP website is filled with helpful details, including getting ready for registration.

Now for the Thursday session descriptions. . .

Digitized Newspaper Update, Library of Virginia

A large client project was sent this morning and I am rewarding myself by doing my own research this afternoon. The Library of Virginia has updated its Virginia Chronicle digitized newspapers section with many more Virginia newspapers and years. It now encompasses almost 4.2 million pages from around the state.   

I have several collateral lines to investigate in 20th Century Virginia but figured one great granduncle was more likely to appear. My Great Grandfather, Alexander Charles Stuart’s brother, James E. Stuart, held several jobs for the U.S. Postal Service after the Civil War into the 20th Century. He began as a clerk for the Railway Mail Service and retired as Chief Postal Inspector for the Chicago region. I did a search for “James E. Stuart” Chicago and a new to me article popped up.

The Accomack News (Onancock, Virginia), of 8 March 1913, page 6, columns 3 and 4, carried a story about the Inauguration Parade for President Woodrow Wilson. A section of the parade was led by my great granduncle. In addition to his service in the two wars mentioned, he also served his country in the first World War.




Join me in more research at Virginia Chronicle!



Digging Deeper: Records, Tools and Skills at Virtual GRIP 2024 this June

One oft-repeated idea is that this Digging Deeper course is a perfect early step before taking some very advanced courses. We each judge our own ability and experience level. Digging Deeper is not a beginning level course, it’s more on the immediate level, but parts have some more advanced methodology and record background. We pride ourselves in hands-on exercises to immediately put some of the learning to work. It’s not push-ups, knee bends, or jogging exercises, but it’s research and brain exercises. Here’s the session lineup for Wednesday, June 26th. Remember, you sign up for one course that lasts five days. We stick together, share, analyze, and get to experience a course syllabus that will assist you for many years of research. More on that syllabus and on the extra afternoon sessions in a later post.

Wednesday sessions in Digging Deeper:

The Hidden Web: Digging Deeper  (Cyndi Ingle)
Finding undercover sources for genealogists means learning about how to search the hidden web. When Google and traditional search engines don’t return useful information, don’t stop there. We will explore resources that are invisible to Google and hidden deep within web sites and proprietary databases. The “hidden web” lies buried within the collections for commercial web sites, libraries, archives, and museums. We will also talk about the importance of indexes that deep-link into web sites online, thus uncovering hidden gems of information that may not be found easily through a search engine query.

Original Manuscripts: Finding Aids Online and Off  (Paula Stuart-Warren)
Manuscripts often hold details not found anywhere else. Often, these one-of-a-kind documents turn up in a repository almost anywhere where a family member resided or where a descendant donated the material. With today’s various free finding aids in print and electronically we can locate family letters, scrapbooks, church records, bibles, business records, and more that may have migrated from Pennsylvania to California, from Indiana to Texas, or anywhere else. The search may also result in an online detailed inventory of a specific collection.

Lunch Break

Finding Treasure in State Archives and Historical Societies (Amy E. K. Arner)
Most US states have a state archives or state historical society (or both). These institutions hold a variety of records useful to genealogists, including records created by businesses, educational institutions, governments at all levels, individuals, religious organizations, and more. During this session we’ll cover what kinds of records state archives and state historical societies hold and the tools available to use the collections.

Legal Savvy for the Genealogist (Debbie Mieszala)
Finding and understanding historic and modern laws, considering their impact on a research question, and recognizing legally influenced records are essential skills for genealogists. The law influenced document and record creation (and sometimes destruction), and it impacted lives. Hands-on exercises provide experience to reinforce foundations in locating historic statutory and case law.

Optional Enhancement Session: Roundtable discussion on student submitted problems. (Debbie)

More Digging Deeper Sessions for June 2024, GRIP

Four Tuesday sessions, June 24, 2024 Virtual GRIP Institute

PERSI: Using the Periodical Source Index  (Cari Taplin)
In this session, we will take a look at Allen County Public Library’s Periodical Source Index (PERSI). We will examine its history and purpose, and its new interface at the ACPL website. Participants will also gain valuable tips and techniques for getting the most out of this often-overlooked resource of accessing information in older genealogical society journals through several mini case studies using PERSI and seeing its usefulness in giving your ancestors’ stories even more life.

Probate Records: More than Wills and Estates  (Cari Taplin)
Probate courts hold the records of deceased persons such as estates, inventories, administrations, and so on. But probate records usually hold more than simply the records of a deceased person. Guardianships for both adults and minors, commitments to institutions, apprenticeships, and more are included. These records should not be overlooked because you will find information on family relationships, ages, birth and death details, land ownership, marriages, and other evidence and clues.

Lunch Break

Getting the Most from Vital Records and Their Substitutes (Amy E. K. Arner)
Vital records are usually among the first types of records genealogists use. A variety of entities produce vital records—all of which have different rules about the creation and storage of the records. Those rules change over time. Complicating matters, vital records don’t always exist for the times and places where we research. During this session we’ll cover what vital records are, how to find them, what we can use as alternate sources, and how to glean all of the information from the records.

“Digging Deeper: Records, Tools, and Skills” Monday Sessions for GRIP Institute

This is the first post about the actual sessions. Next up will be Tuesday’s sessions. Amazingly, that’s the day that follows Monday on my calendar! If I hadn’t been busy meeting an extra details research case deadline this weekend, I should have posted this Monday lineup on Monday!


Student and instructor introductions and tweaking any tech issues.

Analyzing Documents Workshop: Self-Judging Your Expertise  (Paula Stuart-Warren)
Many documents seemingly end up meaning only what is said on the surface. Surprises lurk and a keen evaluation before more research shows that you are an experienced family historian. Are there times you question your analysis of a document? It’s likely you can do better than you give yourself credit for. In these sessions we will analyze some documents together, discuss the contents, and prepare research plans. Then we will break into groups for analysis and research preparation of a different document that evolves into a class project for the week. The result: a solid research plan, recognition of the value of discussion with other genealogists, and the sharing of knowledge to help attain the sought-after research goals. This includes hands-on work.

Analyzing Documents Workshop: Group Projects  (Paula Stuart-Warren)
In this session, the students will break into groups. Each group will do analysis, a research plan, limited research, and preparation for reporting about a document that has evolved into the group homework project for the week. Each group will have the same document and each group stays together during the week to work together on this. Guidance is provided by the instructor. The result: a solid research plan, recognition of the value of discussion with other genealogists, and an opportunity to compare how each group works from the document. . .