Genealogy Presentations

I’m happy to give one of my existing presentations or to discuss customizing a special genealogy or history talk for your group.


Research Methods

Genealogical Proof for the Everyday Genealogist

How do we know if the facts we’ve uncovered about our ancestors are correct? How do we avoid attaching somebody else’s ancestors to our family tree? The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) is our guide to producing reliable research results. This introduction to the Genealogical Proof Standard will get your research moving in the right direction and help you avoid errors and frustration.

Timelines: A Path to Your Next Research Steps

So you’ve done all this research—now what? How do you figure out what you have and what to look for next? Organizing research results so we can determine the accuracy and reliability of evidence is a perennial problem for genealogists. Timelines are a powerful tool, allowing us to see relationships between information items, enabling us to draw conclusions and see what research remains to be done. They can help us turn seemingly impossible research projects into manageable ones.

How Research Plans Can Up Your Genealogical Game

Research is more effective and productive if we make a plan before we dive in. Without planning, we run the risk of overlooking or misunderstanding important records. Learn the steps and techniques of research planning that will save time and frustration and can even help break down brick walls.


Bounty Land: It’s Complicated

Bounty land was offered as compensation for soldiers who fought in the Revolution, War of 1812, and Mexican War, but veterans of these wars didn’t simply take up residence on their land grants. Some did, but many people who weren’t veterans ended up with these lands. Learn about the laws, all the people who got involved, and where to find the records.

Probate Records: Wills and a Whole Lot More

Probate records can be some of the richest genealogical resources. Yes, they can contain wills, but often the best information comes from the other records in the packets—and our ancestors didn’t even have to die to make an appearance in a probate action. Learn about how to find probate records online and mine them for genealogical gems.


Find Your Family History in Free Online Newspapers

Newspapers can be a bonanza for genealogical information and family stories, but accessing them can often be costly or require travel. Learn how to find free online newspaper archives, both U. S. and international, that can advance your research and help you flesh out your family stories.

Dive Deeper into FamilySearch

FamilySearch has millions of records. Putting a name in the search form only gets you a small percentage of their indexed records. Beyond that, they have unindexed collections and other digital materials that will never show up in a general search. Learn how to dive deeply into FamilySearch’s record collections and come up with amazing finds.

Finding and Using Digitized Manuscript Collections for Genealogical Research

Manuscript collections can contain genealogical gems. Letters, diaries, photographs, histories, and many more information-packed wonders reside in repositories around the world.  Many repositories are digitizing parts of their collections and making them available online, so we don’t have to visit the repository to access the information we’re looking for, but finding these collections can still be a challenge. Learn how to search for online collections, use finding aids to determine their usefulness for our research, and locate amazing records.

Doing a Deep Dive in Ancestry’s Collections

Filling out a search form on Ancestry only returns a small percentage of the millions of records available on the site. Learn how to search on Ancestry so you can find all records your ancestor may be mentioned in.

Prospecting for Family History in Unexpected Places

Many records of genealogical value are hiding in places we might not think to look for them. How do we discover those hiding places? Like a prospector searching for the mother lode, we can employ a search strategy to help us uncover a gold mine of information in unexpected places.

Working with a Professional

Why, When, Where, How, and Who: Hiring a Professional to Help with Your Research

Sometimes we just can’t do it ourselves—we need help to break through brick walls, find elusive records, or determine our next research steps. Professional genealogists can help with all that and more: helping organize your genealogy, writing or editing your family stories, or interpreting your DNA results. Learn why, when, and where you might need a professional, how to find one, and how to determine if that person is the right pro for you.

Genealogical Education

Free Online Genealogical Education

Ongoing education is critical for our success as genealogists. There’s just too much to learn for us ever to say we’re done with our educations. Fortunately for our budgets, we have many wonderful online choices that don’t cost us anything but a little of our time. In this presentation, we’ll cover free webinars, hangouts, podcasts and videos that can sharpen our skills and broaden our horizons.

Your Education Plan for Going Pro

How do you prepare to become a professional genealogist? What are the best education programs to give you the biggest bang for your buck and to prepare you to take clients and run your own genealogy business. Learn to put together an education plan that will get you to your goals as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Reconstructing Our Family Stories

Chasing Uncle William Through the Wilds of Cyberspace

Our ancestors should be more alive to us than names and dates on a chart. Follow the amazing life of William Crout, Civil War veteran, hotel owner, rancher, and local character, and learn how it’s possible to reconstruct life stories in surprising detail with resources available online. Along the way, we’ll talk about some sound research methods.

Reconstructing the Lives of Our Farming Ancestors

It’s a rare family tree that doesn’t contain at least some farm families, since until the latter part of the 19th century farmers made up a majority of workers in America. It may be hard for us to envision what daily life was like for our farming ancestors as we try to recover their stories, and we may be tempted to say our ancestors were “just farmers.” But farm families were remarkable people.  Learn how genealogical records and social history resources can help us reconstruct the life stories of your farming ancestors.

What is Social History and Why Should a Genealogist Care?

Social history is the history of ordinary people and how they lived their daily lives. It seeks to fill in the rich details of the past. Learn how social history can both improve your research skills and help you better understand and tell the stories of your ancestors’ lives.

How Advertising Brought Our Ancestors to the Midwest

Business owners, land speculators, and communities wishing to grow all turned to various forms of advertising to entice people to migrate to the Midwestern territories and states. This presentation will examine how newspaper advertising, pamphlets, gazetteers, and books were aimed at prospective migrants from the eastern parts of the U.S. and prospective immigrants from Europe to get them to come and work, buy land, and settle in these sparsely-populated frontier areas.  We’ll look at what kinds of messages these ads used in order to make hard work and pioneer living seem attractive.

Reconstructing the Lives of Our Blacksmithing Ancestors

For centuries blacksmiths, who worked with iron and other metals, were indispensable community members. They made a huge variety of products, from swords and armor to cooking pots and hinges, from nails, tools, and farm implements to horseshoes, wagon axles, and fire tongs. Every community in used to have its own blacksmith. Learn what life was like for our ancestors who followed this trade.

“Use Lots More Apples”: Vintage Cookbooks as Genealogical Sources

Vintage cookbooks can be an excellent source of genealogical information and social history that can fill in and add depth to the lives of our ancestors, especially our women ancestors. Learn how to find and use these fascinating resources.

How Settlers Guides Can Help Us Understand Our Ancestors’ Lives

Guide books written to persuade and assist settlers to migrate to sparsely-populated areas contain a treasure trove of information about the details of everyday life for our ancestors. Find out where to locate these amazing resources and how they can help reconstruct our ancestors’ stories.

Sharing Our Family Stories

Turn Family History Facts into Stories You Can Share

You’ve uncovered lots of wonderful facts about your ancestors and you want to share them with your family, but pedigree charts put them to sleep. You need to turn those facts into stories. Does the idea of trying to tell the stories of your ancestors seem like too big a job? Two simple principles can get you started writing your family stories: look at what the facts imply and “take small bites.” This presentation will introduce a four-step process for putting those principles into action, allowing you to share your family stories with ease.

Get Organized to Write Your Family Stories

Sharing our family stories with others is critical, so those stories don’t get lost. But it can be very daunting to know how to get started. Learn some ways to organize your space, your time, your ideas, and your research results that will make it easier for you to write them up.

How to Blog Your Family Stories the Easy Way

We have so many stories that could be lost forever if we don’t share them. But writing these stories can seem like an overwhelming task. How do we even start? Learn how to share these stories with family and friends the easy way, by blogging them in manageable chunks. We’ll look at both how to write and how to blog, including examining different blogging platforms.


The Erie Canal and the Opening of the Midwest

The Erie Canal revolutionized 19th-century travel and offered our ancestors a high-speed route from the eastern United States to the Midwest. It made settlement of the Old Northwest Territories economically possible by providing an efficient means of exporting agricultural products to the markets and ports of the east. But it was also one of the most challenging and fascinating projects ever undertaken in America.

Exodusters: The Exodus of Freedmen to Kansas in the 1870s

The South was not an easy place for Freedmen after the Civil War, and many moved to homesteading colonies in Kansas for a new start. Learn about this important chapter in the history of Kansas and of African Americans.

The National Road: America’s First Federal Highway

Built between 1811 and 1837, the National Road was the first federally-funded highway in America. Extending from Maryland to the frontier of Illinois, this migration route allowed thousands of people to settle in the Midwest.

Border—What Border? Our Ancestors Who Called Both Canada and the USA Home

Movement from the United States to Canada was unrestricted and unrecorded until April 1908. The U.S. began recording the entry of Canadians along its northern border in 1894. Before that, many thousands of people lived cross-border lives, without visas, work permits, passports, or immigration records. Learn how to find these elusive ancestors.

Before Roads and Rails: Waterways to the Midwest

Before improved roads and the advent of the railroads, travel by water was the easiest and fastest way to the newly-opened territories of the midwestern United States. Our ancestors traveled them, worked on them, and lived by them. Learn how to reconstruct the stories of their travel and livelihood.

Colonial American Migration Routes and Modes of Travel

When our Colonial ancestors arrived on the shores of North America in the 1600s and 1700s, many of them very quickly began migrating west. They followed rivers and created roads into the wilderness to found new settlements on the frontier. Learn about where they traveled and how they got there, as well as how to uncover the stories of their lives.

The Influence of Free and Cheap Land on Migration

From the beginnings of North American settlement, free and inexpensive land has been a spur to migration. Land grants, military bounty land, affordable public domain land, homesteads, and railroad lands have all lured our ancestors to new areas. Learn how our ancestors obtained land and how to find records that will help you track their movements.

The Influence of War on Migration in America

From Colonial wars to the 20th century, war has influenced our ancestors’ migrations. Some migrations were voluntary and some were not. Learn about migrations resulting from war and how to find records to trace your migrating ancestors.

Following Ancestral Migrations: Three Case Studies

Following migrating American families in three case studies covering a Colonial migration, a move from Massachusetts to Illinois by way of Vermont and New York after the American Revolution, and a move from Illinois to Nebraska to homestead. We’ll look at what kinds of records we can use to follow ancestral migrations and fill in their stories.


Our Quaker Ancestors: Their History and the Records They Left

Quakers were among the earliest settlers in North America and as they moved west, they were often the earliest settlers in newly-opened territory. Quakers were amazing record-keepers. Not only did they record births, marriages, and deaths, they kept extensive records on those who came into their local meetings and those who left. Transgressions by members of the community were publicly discussed and recorded, and as they came to believe that slavery was evil their records on Quakers who kept slaves became extensive. Learn about the history of these pioneering Americans and how to find the rich records they left behind.

Slavery, Quakers, and the Underground Railroad

Quakers’ relationship with slavery evolved. Early Quakers owned slaves, but later Quakers came to feel that slavery was incompatible with their beliefs and worked to overthrow slavery. Many took the radical step of actively helping enslaved people escape to freedom in Canada by participating in the Underground Railroad. Some even helped finance life for those who escaped. Learn about this fascinating chapter in American history.

Quaker Resources in the Family History Library and Other Archives

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has hundreds of resources for Quaker research, some of which have been digitized. In addition, a number of archives at Quaker institutions of higher learning contain sizable collections of Quaker resources. The Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College, the Quaker Archives at Guilford College, the Friends Collection at Earlham College, and many more offer major opportunities to learn about our Quaker ancestors. Learn how to find and use these resources to further your research.

History of Quakerism – Testimonies and Beliefs

The Religious Society of Friends was inspired by George Fox in northern England during a chaotic period of the mid-1600s. The religion rejected many norms of the established Church of England. Its rejection of priests and sacraments and adoption of a theology of the ‘Inner Light’ threatened British society. Many Quakers were persecuted for their faith and as a result sought sanctuary in North America. This lecture highlights key historical events of the Friends, its leaders, and the evolution of their belief system.

Quaker Women’s Meetings and their Records

Up until about 1880, Quakers held separate Men’s and Women’s Monthly Meetings. The women’s meetings approved marriages, along with the men’s meetings, and disciplined women members of the community. The meetings were also a source of empowerment for Quaker women. The records of women’s meetings reveal wonderful details about the life of Quaker communities and the actions of our ancestors. They also reveal information about the status of individual Quaker women in the community.

New England Quaker Records

The story of Quakers in New England is not a happy one. When Quaker missionaries Mary Fisher and Ann Austin arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a groundswell of religious persecution followed. After imprisoning the women, the colony sent them back on the ship they’d arrived on. Massachusetts and Connecticut banned Quakers from settling in their colonies and hanged those who dared to return after being banished. Rhode Island became their oasis until King Charles II halted the persecution. Missionary work continued throughout New England which resulted in many conversions. This lecture will explore the history of the ‘Yankee Quaker’ and the records of the New England Yearly Meeting (America’s first yearly meeting).

Following a Quaker Family – New Jersey to Iowa the Long Way Around

Successful Quaker research requires a familiarity with typical Quaker migration routes, and no two Quaker migration events are the same. This was true for the Hunt family of Burlington County, New Jersey. Once they began to move, they covered a lot of ground. Follow them from New Jersey to Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, and on to Ohio, then moving again to Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa. This case study will also identify when and where the family ceased to be members of the Society of Friends.

African American Research

Introduction to African American Research

Learning to research African American ancestors is a two-part project. First we learn sound principles for genealogical research, and second we learn the special skills and knowledge necessary for finding ancestors of African descent. This presentation will introduce the principles of genealogical research and discuss records we can start using to reconstruct ancestral lives.

Intermediate African American Research

This presentation focuses on finding ancestors in Reconstruction-era records and Civil War military records, as well as records that help identify the last slave holder, which is key to being able to research enslaved ancestors. Learn how to assemble evidence from a number of sources to identify ancestors and provide a firm basis for further research.

Exodusters: The Exodus of Freedmen to Kansas in the 1870s

The South was not an easy place for Freedmen after the Civil War, and many moved to homesteading colonies in Kansas for a new start. Learn about this important chapter in the history of Kansas and of African Americans.

Military Research

Beyond the Records – Putting Flesh on the Bones of Your Civil War Ancestor

Over three million Americans were in uniform during the Civil War. It’s becoming easier to find the facts of our ancestors’ service, but how do we reconstruct their experiences? This presentation will show you how to fill in the blanks between the facts, allowing you to tell your ancestors’ stories.

What Did You Do in the War, Granny? Women in the Army in World War II

Over 150,000 women served in the Army in World War II. Women’s military service in this time period helped change expectations and perceptions about women’s role outside the home. Learn about their pioneering wartime service and how to find records for the women in your family who served.

Finding the Stories of Military Women in World War I

Thousands of women served in and with the United States military in the Great War. Learn how to uncover their stories in official records and other resources.

State-specific Research

Miners, Cattlemen, Merchants, and More: Finding Colorado Immigrants and Settlers

Colorado was settled by people from a wide variety of backgrounds, and if you have ancestors who lived in Colorado there are a number of online and repository resources for finding the records they left and learning about their lives in the Centennial State. Presentation includes some colorful case studies.

Miners, Lumbermen, Farmers, and More: Finding Your Michigan Roots

Michigan was settled by people from a wide variety of backgrounds, and if you have ancestors who lived in Michigan there are a number of online and repository resources for finding the records they left and learning about their lives in the Wolverine State. Information applicable to other Midwestern areas.

Canadian Research

Digging Deeper into the Ontario Collections on Ancestry

Ancestry has over 200 collections of records for the province of Ontario, but putting an ancestor’s name into a search form only skims the surface of these collections. Learn how to dig deeper into Ancestry’s resources to uncover genealogical gold mines.

Border—What Border? Our Ancestors Who Called Both Canada and the USA Home

Movement from the United States to Canada was unrestricted and unrecorded until April 1908. The U.S. began recording the entry of Canadians along its northern border in 1894. Before that, many thousands of people lived cross-border lives, without visas, work permits, passports, or immigration records. Learn how to find these elusive ancestors.


COLORADO ROOTS: “Miners, Cattlemen, Merchants & More: Find Your Colorado Roots”

QUAKERS: “North Carolina Quakers: Their History and the Records They Left”

MIDWEST: “How Advertising Brought Our Ancestors to the Midwest”

RESEARCH METHODS: “Genealogical Proof for the Novice Genealogist,” “Chasing Uncle William Through the Wilds of Cyberspace”

MIGRATION: “The Erie Canal and the Opening of the Midwest”