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Monday, August 22, 2016

2016 International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences recap

I spent the first part of August in Scotland, and I have to say, it was glorious.  Not only did I tour the countryside but I presented a paper on migration in the US to the congress and met some great people. Not to mention I learned a lot and was able to geek out on a variety of subjects. And we all know that geeking out is a very, very good thing.

First off, and the reason most of my friends hated me while I was gone, is that I missed the east coast
Loch Lomond
heat wave.  Yes, while friends and family were baking in 100+ degree heat and over 120 degree heat index I was living it up in a rainy 65 degree average country.  Believe it or not, I even bought a wool sweater to wear becasue I was cold in the morning and had forgotten my cardigan at home.

Scotland was absolutely beautiful.  I was there last in 1997 and we only spent a few days driving from Glasgow to Stirling to Edinburgh.  It was great to be back and have an adventure around the area.  With the rain the highlands were an amazing shade of green with waterfalls of the heights everywhere you looked.  We enjoyed a few days as tourists around the area and of course in the city we were staying, Glasgow.

However, the reason for the trip was for me to present at the 2016 Congress.  I spoke on the first day, 10 August, about the migration patterns of three family lines from the Northeast to the Northwest United States.  Each one had a different motivating factor as well as method to get there.  As I was speaking to a European audience (1 American was in the room that I knew of) the reactions were wonderful to my stories and the information I presented.  It made my day to have a great discussion with the attendees and answer their questions.

Even better, I was able to attend a few heraldry classes and really geek out on a subject with others who are passionate about it as well.  I heard a couple great papers on funeral escutcheons as well as marshaling of arms from the Order of the Garter prior to the 1560s.  Like I said, I was geeking out a little bit.

Right now I think I will submit a paper to the next one as well.  The following years and places were announced on the last day of the event for the upcoming congresses:

  • 2018: Ararat, France
  • 2020: Madrid, Spain
  • 2022: Cambridge, England
I think I will put in for them all actually.  I have always wanted to see Madrid and Ararat is on the Mediterranean.  Somewhere I have not been before as well.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

GRIP recap, a month late

Hello everyone.  Time flies when you are having fun huh?  Or in my case, time flies when deadlines sneak up on you and you start a new job!

GRIP was such a great experience, and I wanted to make sure I gave you more information on my
experiences.  Even though it is a month late, I hope that you all enjoy my.... journal entries.

We had 49 students in the class from all backgrounds and all over the country.  Meeting so many people with such a variety of backgrounds and experiences made the week very interesting.  I thoroughly enjoyed the way we talked about everything.  While I am not sure how the other courses were taught we were able to share, discuss and theorize through all sessions.  It really made the class gel more and we became a great community for the week in our learning and sharing.

I stayed on campus in the dorms as well as ate in the cafeteria.  It seemed the most logical way to be a part of the large community and the price was hard to beat.  I had a single room and it was very nice.  It even had its own bathroom, meaning it was nicer than the dorm I had in college!

The food was also amazing.  A good variety and everything was even labeled so that I could eat according to my dietary restrictions.  For those of you have allergies or can't eat certain foods you will understand how happy that made me.  It meant that I didn't starve while I was there, which would have been bad since I get grumpy when my sugar dips.

Those that drove, or had friends in the area, were able to get off campus more.  La Roche is in a nice community with many places to eat, grocery shopping as well as other things to go out to do. I was OK only staying on campus, it actually helped me to focus on the course and spend time Pokemon hunting.

Yes, there was a group of us hunting Pokemon... it was rather amusing.

Next summer's courses are already up.  I encourage you to go look at the list.  There are a number of excellent instructors and courses up on the website.  If I am lucky I will get to go again.  Even better, is if I get to see you there too!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I've got a GRIP

This week I am very excited to be attending my first GRIP (Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh). In the past there was always some sort of conflict.  Usually a kid’s summer camp.  But, this year, it looks like I get to be the one who attends summer camp!

Yes, I called this summer camp.  It really, really is summer camp for genealogists and I am not the only one who is referring to it that way here.  I never went to sleep away camp as a kid so I personally don’t have a comparison, but I am assured this is nearly as good if not much better!

During my week here I am taking the Advanced GenealogyCourse taught by Cece Moore and Blaine Bettinger (along with several other one time instructors).  Yesterday was the first full day of courses, but I had internet issues so no posting since I got here Sunday.  Besides the instruction I am meeting new people who share the same interests I have.  Which is always a plus!  There are 49 people in my course (very large for GRIP) and while I am may not make a close connection with all of them, I think coming away with a few new connections is a good thing.

Yesterday I got up God Awful early (new internal clock thanks to my new job) and I took a walk LaRoche College Gardens, or chatting on Benches.  This is really a beautiful place.  Thankfully we only had a mild rain storm which took off the humidity so the weather has been very pleasant.
La Roche College at sunrise (yes, I was up early)
around campus.  It seems I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t sleep and I saw many of my fellow GRIP attendees out walking, reading in the

Then in class yesterday we had a bit of review and the beginnings of delving deeper into analysis tools for genetic genealogy.  Today is so far building on those lessons and taking it one more step.  I am excited to get to the case study sections and learn more about practical applications of these skills. 

Oh, and Maia’s Books is here.  You know that always means trouble. Good thing I flew and have limited space for books!


Fingers crossed I will write more tonight, tomorrow, and the rest of the week.  GRIP ends Friday, so if you don’t hear from me… well my internet went down again or I am up to my eyeballs in spreadsheets.  Either way, I will catch up with all again soon! 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

MyHeritage Launches PedigreeMap

MyHeritage Launches Online Family History Map

PedigreeMap™ plots events and photos from users’ family trees on an interactive map to provide geographical and historical insights


TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI, Utah,  — 
MyHeritage, the fastest-growing destination for discovering, preserving and sharing family history, launched  PedigreeMap™ today  an innovative way to visualize family history, optimized for tablet devices. PedigreeMap™ displays all events in a user’s family tree, such as births, marriages and deaths, as well as digital photos and scanned historical photos, on an interactive map. This allows users to trace the locations of their ancestors and gain new insights into their lives. All data is grouped by country and location, and users can easily filter their view of the map by person, family group, event type, and time period.

PedigreeMap™ comes with additional features such as place name standardization to improve data quality, and Heatmaps that showcase which geographic areas have a high concentration of activity in the user's family history.

“MyHeritage is the family history technology leader. We’re constantly developing new ways to give people insights about their family history," said Uri Gonen, Senior VP of Product Management at MyHeritage. “The first release of PedigreeMap™ helps people understand the life journeys of their ancestors, and we have interesting and original ideas lined up for the next releases.”

PedigreeMap™ is free for all users. To access it, log in to your account on MyHeritage or create a new account for free, then select PedigreeMap™ in the “Apps” menu.

About MyHeritage

MyHeritage is the world's fastest-growing destination for discovering, preserving and sharing family history. As technology thought leaders, MyHeritage is transforming family history into an activity that’s accessible and instantly rewarding. Its global user community enjoys access to a massive library of historical records, the most internationally diverse collection of family trees and ground­breaking search and matching technologies. Trusted by millions of families, MyHeritage provides an easy way to share family stories, past and present, and treasure them for generations to come. MyHeritage is available in 42 languages. www.myheritage.com

Friday, July 1, 2016

FMP Free Access This Weekend


Findmypast celebrates 4th of July with free access 
to more than 1 billion records

·         From June 29th until July 6th 2016, over 1 billion UK, US and Irish records will be completely free to search and explore on Findmypast
·         This includes all 118 million “Travel and Migration” records, 116 million US marriages, and all UK, Irish and US censuses
·         Over 7 million new US Naturalisation records and over 1.7 million US Passport Applications have also  been released, marking the first phase of two brand new collections ideal for uncovering early immigrant ancestors


Salt Lake City, Utah, June 27th 2016
Leading family history website, Findmypast, has just announced that they will be granting 8 days of free access to over 1 billion records as part of a new campaign designed to help US family historians learn more about their family's path to red white and blue. This will include free access to their  entire collection of Travel and Migration records, all US, UK and Irish censuses and all US marriage records.

The campaign has been launched to coincide with this year’s 4th of July celebrations and will provide customers with exciting new opportunities to uncover the pioneering immigrant ancestors who started their family’s American story.

Researchers will be provided with daily getting started guides, expert insights and useful how to videos designed to help them trace their family’s roots back to their earliest American ancestors and beyond. A special webinar will be hosted by expert genealogist, Jen Baldwin, at 11:00 MDT, July 1st, in which she will be sharing essential tips and tricks for getting the most out of Naturalisation records.

The campaign also coincides with the release of two new record sets that will prove incredibly useful to those looking to explore their family’s pre-American roots. Over 2 million US Passport Applications & Indexes (1795-1925), and over 7 million US Naturalisation Petitions have just been released in the initial phases of two brand new collections that will allow family historians to learn more about the first members of their family to become US citizens.

Over 1.1 billion records  will be free to search and explore on Findmypast from June 29th until July 6th 2016. This will include free access to:

·         Over 106,000 US passenger list records
·         Over 116,000,000 US marriage records
·         Over 690,000,000 US & Canada census records
·         Over 265,000,000 UK & Irish census records
·         Over 10 million new and existing Naturalisation records
·         Over 1.7 million brand new US Passport applications
·         Passenger Lists Leaving UK 1890-1960
·         Over 827,000 convict transportation records

This vast collection of travel and migration records coupled with unique UK, Irish and US data, makes Findmypast the best place for tracing ancestors back across the Atlantic and uncovering their English, Welsh, Irish or Scottish roots. Findmypast is home to more than 78 million exclusive UK parish baptisms, banns, marriages and burials, the largest collection of Irish records available online (totalling more than 110 million), and over 100 million United States marriages including millions of records that can’t be found anywhere else online.

Ben Bennet, EVP of International business at Findmypast, said: “As we come together to celebrate the birth of our nation, it’s also a great time to discover and celebrate our ancestors who came here from lands far and near.  Whether your ancestors walked through the hallowed halls of Ellis Island or arrived in one of the country’s other ports, Findmypast’s vast collection of records and resources can help you discover your family’s path to red, white and blue.” 


James Tanner of Genealogy Star said: "Findmypast.com has proved to be an invaluable aid in connecting with my English ancestors. Not only are the collections helpful, but the searches have database features that help in more easily identifying ancestors with common names. The more I use the program, the more indispensable it becomes."  

Back on the horse

Well hello world!  I am back and getting in the swing of things.  Well… trying to.  It may take me several more weeks to catch up on everything that I need to.

However, there is a big change coming up in my professional life.  As such, it does mean that my time will be once again split.  Not that I ever have an abundance of time, but I will have even fewer me time hours for personal research.

Next week I will start a new job.  The first time I will be employed outside of the home (by someone else) in nearly 16 years.  Scary!!  I accepted a part time position as a staff genealogist at Colonial Dames 17th Century in Washington, DC.  A bit scary, a bit exciting, but I am looking forward to a new adventure.  Plus the building is absolutely gorgeous and I have a library to peruse to my heart’s content.  What could be better?!

Currently I am catching up with client reports and things that I owe people.  I do have some new family history breakthroughs that I am typing up, so those stories are coming as well.  Oh, and dad had moved in with us.  I have a research partner now.  He even has a NARA researcher’s card.  Not sure who is more excited, me or him.  In fact, I hope to get him set-up and comfortable as a guest blogger on here.  I think it will be a cool thing.


If you would like to see or listen to an upcoming lecture make sure to check out my presentation page.  There a quite a few coming up, and I am booking into 2017!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Pre-order Genealogy Basics Today!

I am excited to announce that a project I have worked on for the past year is ready for release.  My new book on Genealogy Basics from In 30 Minutes is available for pre-ordering as a paperback or kindle.


From the website:

Genealogy Basics In 30 Minutes is written in a friendly, easy-to-understand style that avoids complex jargon. There are lots of examples, case studies, and advice that can help would-be family historians quickly get up to speed.
In addition to listing best practices for conducting genealogical research, Genealogy Basics In 30 Minutes also warns readers about the many pitfalls of family research, from “brick wall” mysteries to time-wasting online searches
This is a very exciting time, and I hope you will check it out! Think ahead to those people you know who are just getting started.  I know this book will be a great resource for beginner genealogists.  So pick one up for them today!