June 4, 2016

NGS 2016 Conference Photo Recap, Part 2

Previously I wrote about my experiences the first two days I was in Fort Lauderdale for the NGS 2016 Family History Conference (see NGS 2016 Conference Photo Recap, Part 1). I continued to enjoy the conference programming, the Florida weather, and the camaraderie of fellow genealogists the remaining three days. Here are some of my favorite presentations from Thursday, May 5 through Saturday, May 7:

Chromosome Mapping Workshop with Angie Bush (T200)—It takes a real enthusiast to get me into a lecture hall at 8:00 am to do science and techie stuff for nearly three hours, but Angie has that magic touch. She started by explaining what chromosome mapping is, what criteria we should use, and how mapping can show genetic relationships. Then she gave us step-by-step instructions to make our own chromosome maps, using data from known cousins and Kitty Cooper’s Chromosome Mapping Tool. I used data from my mother-in-law and her first cousin, hoping to identify the DNA segments they share through their maternal grandparents. And guess what? I did it! By the end of the workshop I had a colorful chromosome map and a new confidence in my ability to use this tool on my own. How cool is that?

“Going Beyond the Bare Bones: Reconstructing Your Ancestors’ Lives,” by Tom Jones (T226)—Tom raised some excellent points in this lecture about weaving information from genealogical records together to develop an ancestor’s story. He talked about the importance of understanding records (such as probate, land, court, and military records) in the context of your ancestor’s life, social groups, and local and national events. If you’re thinking of ordering audio recordings from PlaybackNGS, this one would make an great choice.

I enjoyed visiting with a number of colleagues at the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) luncheon, where J. Mark Lowe was the guest speaker.

Shelley Bishop, Angela McGhie, and Carla Cegielski at the APG luncheon

“An Ancestry for Robert Walker of Rockingham County, NC,” by Pam Stone Eagleson (T241)—Pam presented an intriguing case study involving multiple pieces of indirect evidence, which she analyzed and correlated with DNA evidence to establish the parents of Robert Walker. Like many complex cases, it required a thorough investigation of siblings, in-laws, associates, and neighbors. l always enjoy hearing about the process of solving challenging problems and the research behind a NGSQ article like this.

“Dissection & Analysis of Research Problems,” by Elizabeth Shown Mills (T251)Elizabeth outlined a clear 10-step process to dissect tough research problems and develop plans for solving them. Her syllabus included worksheet templates to use with each step. To drive home the importance of not only citing but also appraising sources, she asked audience members to make a pledge to appraise every source they use. Her 10-step process offers valuable insight into her workflow, and it’s powerful stuff indeed.

Elizabeth Shown Mills answering audience questions

“Reasonably Exhaustive Research: The First Criteria for Genealogical Proof,” by Elizabeth Show Mills (F302)To illustrate the first tenet of the GPS, Elizabeth likened reasonably exhaustive research to a bulls-eye target. You typically start by focusing on the center ring: evidence on the person of interest. You then expand your focus in increasingly widening rings to encompass the person’s FAN club, less obvious sources, topical studies, and more. Elizabeth walked the audience through a particularly involved case that required 900 hours and the outermost rings of the bulls-eye to prove. Her step-by-step methodology made the concept of reasonably exhaustive research seem more tangible and approachable. This session was live-streamed and is still available as part of a video package from PlaybackNGS.

“How to Use GEDmatch.com to Optimize Your DNA Testing Experience” by Ginger Smith (F353)Ginger gave a great overview of using GEDmatch to analyze data from autosomal DNA tests, beginning with how to upload your results from AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, or 23andMe. She discussed running one-to-one, one-to-many, and X-chromosome comparisons, then went on to cover phasing and more advanced utilities. I appreciated that she used simple terms to explain the value and limitations of each tool that GEDmatch offers. The crowd that surrounded Ginger after her talk testifies to the need for more of this kind of information.

Ginger Smith fielding questions about GEDmatch

“Using Griffith’s Valuation to Identify Your Ancestor’s Origins: A Case Study” by Donna Moughty (S409)—Donna’s fast-paced yet thorough discussion of the valuations of Ireland was exactly what I needed to finally understand these often cryptic records. In addition to explaining how and why the valuations were done, she interpreted them column-by-column. She also talked about related records and databases for finding Irish families. I’ve made some progress with my husband’s Irish ancestors lately, and after Donna’s talk I’m eager to look for them in Griffith’s. Note: this session was not recorded.

“20th and 21st Century Research: Resources, Methods, and Skills” by Debra Mieszala (S412)Debra reviewed methods of finding living and recently deceased individuals who may be hard to trace due to modern privacy barriers. She talked about databases frequently used by forensic genealogists. Given an interest in finding living relatives for possible DNA comparison testing, I see an increasing need for this kind of specialized skill set.

“I Rest My Case: Constructing a Convincing Proof Argument” by Vic Dunn (S421)Vic’s presentation concentrated on the last tenant of the Genealogical Proof Standard: a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion. He discussed formats, approaches, and usages of proof summaries and proof arguments. To illustrate his points, he shared how he constructed a proof argument for a published article, and offered tips for effective writing.

I thoroughly enjoyed the NGS conference and felt it was well worth my time and money to attend. I go to genealogy conferences for two primary reasons: to learn and to connect. The learning occurs in seeing presentations, reading the syllabus, and talking to vendors in the exhibit hall. The connecting happens informally as I gather with colleagues and friends at lunch and after hours to share thoughts and news. I also enjoy meeting new people whenever I can.

I’ve seen a number of comments that the 2016 NGS conference didn’t draw as many attendees as previous ones have. I’m sure that’s partly because the southeastern coast of Florida isn’t exactly a central location for most of the U.S. In all honesty, though, the sheer number of people in attendance at a conference doesn’t factor that much into my overall experience.

What matters most is the quality of the learning opportunities, as well as the enjoyment I get from making and renewing friendships with others who share my passion for genealogy. And on both of those accounts, I felt NGS 2016 was a success. It takes an incredible amount of work over a long period of time to host a major genealogy conference like this. Thanks to all the planners and volunteers who worked so hard to make it happen. 


May 15, 2016

NGS 2016 Conference: Photo Recap, Part 1

While it may have seemed quiet here at my blog the past few weeks, real life has been anything but. I went from the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference in Cincinnati from April 28-30 to the National Genealogical Society Conference in Fort Lauderdale from May 3-7, then spent a week on vacation at the beach with my family. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that experiencing things to their fullest often doesn't leave much time for writing. Happily, I'm now able to offer a brief recap of NGS 2016, which I plan to post in two parts.

I arrived in Fort Lauderdale a day early to attend Tuesday’s “Putting Skills to Work” workshop sponsored by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) Education Fund. Several of us ended up walking all the way around the exterior of the conference complex before finding an open door, so I was a bit harried when I finally arrived at the right place. It was a pleasure, then, to be greeted by three friendly BCG associates at the reception desk. This was my first time attending a BCG workshop, and it was every bit as helpful and informative as I hoped it’d be.

BCG Workshop registration with Sara Scribner, CG, Stefani Evans, CG, and Melinda Henningfield, CG
My morning workshop was “Spreadsheets 201: Manipulating Data to Dismantle Brick Walls,” presented by Jeanne Larzalere Bloom. It was illuminating to see the types of spreadsheets Jeanne creates and the various ways she sorts data to draw comparisons. The classroom setting and extended time gave her a chance to really get into the subject. Three takeaways from this workshop were:
  • In addition to logging research, spreadsheets are also a powerful tool for correlating information
  • Break data down into small pieces for easy manipulation (for example, use separate columns for first and last names)
  • Color coding is a great visual tool for identifying patterns and similarities

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG

In the afternoon I learned to “Reach for the Power Tools: Transcriptions & Abstractions” with David McDonald. In this workshop, we transcribed documents from various time periods, learned to strike out unnecessary verbiage, made abstracts, and considered what research questions the documents suggested. The time went fast. Three takeaways were:
  • Exact means exact—every mark on a document must be noted in a transcription
  • Study other records from the same time and place to judge what is boilerplate and what is not for your abstract
  • This is more art than science, and practice helps

David McDonald, D.Min., CG
By the time the workshops concluded, conference registration was open and people were starting to pick up their materials for the next day.

The conference opened bright and early on Wednesday, May 4. Keynote speaker Connie Lester spoke about some lesser-known figures in Florida’s past. She’s working to preserve and improve access to Florida social history sources with a digital initiative called RICHES. Since social history plays a big role in learning about our ancestors’ lives, I think this is a great program.

The exhibit hall opened at 9:30 am. As sessions weren't scheduled until 11:00, most people took the opportunity to make a first pass through the vendor booths. There's been some discussion about attendance and exhibit hall traffic at NGS 2016. Here's my observations, for what they're worth:

  • There were a good mix of vendors, with genealogical institutes, societies, magazines, podcasts, software developers, and more well represented
  • Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, and FindMyPast all had large displays with special programming
  • A space was set aside in the back for social media use and interviewing
  • The BCG Certification booth was consistently busy with people looking at portfolios 
  • The exhibit hall was unfortunately located on the first floor, far away from the lecture rooms on the third floor, making it impractical to visit the exhibits during the 30-minute session breaks
  • It was missing a big bookstore vendor (such as Maia's Books) to draw people in 
  • The food concession had a very limited menu and long wait, so a lot of people went off-site for lunch, meaning less traffic for vendors
  • The three biggest vendors (Ancestry, FamilySearch, and MyHeritage) were all right up front as people came in, so the buzz was concentrated there rather than being distributed throughout the hall

Personally, I was surprised by how quiet the exhibit hall felt in contrast to the speaker presentations, which seemed well attended considering how many were running at the same time and how spread out the rooms were.

Hourly sessions began at 11:00, with ten lectures per session. That’s a lot of choices, and most of the time I was torn between two, three, or even four lectures. To kick things off, I chose “When Worlds Collide: Resolving Conflicts in Genealogical Records” with Judy Russell. I’m glad I did. Judy spoke about different methods to deal with conflicting evidence in order to reach a credible conclusion. Her lecture, like most others, is available for purchase from PlaybackNGS, and I highly recommend it.

Judy Russell, CG, aka The Legal Genealogist
After lunch, I attended “A New Document! Now What?” presented by J. Mark Lowe. I’ve heard Mark talk about research planning before, but find I always pick up something new because good speakers are continually updating their presentations. Besides, I’m in a different place, learning-wise, than I was three or four years ago. One takeaway from this lecture is that the more specific your research question is, and the more specific your plan is, the greater your chance of success.

I finished the day with Gail Miller’s “Developing a Successful and Efficient Research Plan.” While the description of her lecture sounded similar to Mark’s, in fact it complemented it well. I liked Gail's emphasis on knowing all about the locality you’re working with before you even attempt to develop a research plan. I also appreciated her advice to literally lay everything you currently have on a problem (including a map) out in front of you, then ask yourself what’s missing.

J. Mark Lowe, CG, Linda McCauley, and Gail Miller, CG
After a full day, it’s always nice to go out for dinner with colleagues and friends—especially when the view from the restaurant involves palm trees and water.

I enjoyed meeting many of my blog readers at NGS 2016, and hope you all had as much fun as much as I did. I'd love to hear your thoughts or comments about the conference. Stay tuned for Part 2 shortly...


April 17, 2016

Meet Me in Ft. Lauderdale

It’s hard for me to believe, but in just two weeks I’ll be flying to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the NGS 2016 Family History Conference. I’ve been looking forward to it for months, and suddenly it's just around the corner. Here are some of the things I'm most excited about:

Several of the nation’s leading genealogists are presenting new lectures that I hope to hear, including Elizabeth Shown Mills, Tom Jones, Mark Lowe, Judy Russell, Rick Sayre, Josh Taylor, and many others. There are so many good speakers and topics that it’s going to be very hard choosing between them for each time slot.

I’m also hoping to hear presentations by some speakers that are new to me, and on subjects I’m less familiar with. Exploring new territory is one of the most beneficial aspects of attending a National Genealogical Society conference, I’ve found.

My week kicks off with the BCG pre-conference workshop, “Putting Skills to Work,” with Jeanne Larzalere Bloom and David McDonald. A chance to hone my skills with an awesome duo from the Board for Certification of Genealogists in an interactive, small group setting. What could be better?

The exhibit hall promises to be a buzzing place, with big displays by the likes of Ancestry, FamilySearch, Find My Past, and My Heritage; tables offering help from national and state genealogical societies; and a host of vendors demonstrating and selling genealogy-related books, maps, software, archival products, and services. Good thing I’ve been saving up for this.

Speaking of demonstrations, the Genealogy Gems booth will be offering free 30-minute power sessions by Lisa Louise Cooke, Diahan Southard, Jim Beidler, and Lisa Alzo. These are always fun and informative.

I can't wait to spend some time with friends and colleagues from other cities and states—without a doubt my favorite part of any big conference. I also hope to meet new friends and readers. I love talking with others who share my passion for genealogy, and life in general. (As if you can’t tell.)

Last but not least, Fort Lauderdale is a beautiful place, and the weather should be fabulous.

Will I see you at #NGS2016GEN? If you haven’t registered yet, you can get all the information you need at the conference website, but you’ll want to hurry, because pre-registration ends April 22. Of course you can always register at the door, too. Hope to see you there!

- Shelley

March 25, 2016

Emma Scheibel Steele, 1894-1952

March is Women’s History Month, and it’s a good reminder for us to tell the stories of the females in our family tree. Today I’d like to tell you about my great-grandmother, Emma Scheibel, who married Homer B. Steele.

Emma Scheibel Steele and Homer Steele, with daughter Wilma, 1919

Emma is an important branch on my family tree because she’s my mother’s mother’s mother. In DNA terms, that means she’s my direct mitochondrial line ancestor. From her, and her mother before her, and her mother and so forth through umpteen generations, I’ve inherited my mitochondrial DNA type. It’s a genetic pathway to the past that I don’t have for any other ancestral line.

Emma Laura Scheibel was born on 6 March 1894 in Columbus, Ohio. Her parents were Ludwig Scheibel and Pauline Treebte or Treebto (which I’ve learned is actually spelled “Treptow”). On the birth register, her name was recorded as Pauline.[1] I don’t know whether that was an error on the clerk’s part, or whether her parents later changed their minds about her name, but she appears as Emma in every other record created about her.

Emma’s father, Ludwig Scheibel, was born on 29 September 1839 in Germany, possibly W├╝rttemberg.[2] He sometimes went by the American name Louis. Her mother, Pauline Treptow, was born in Blumenfelde, Kr. Konitz, West Prussia, on 25 February 1855.[3] They married in Columbus on 13 April 1880. It was Ludwig’s second marriage.[4] A widow, he already had a son, Peter Scheibel, from his first marriage.

According to my grandmother, Wilma (Steele) Herrel, Ludwig and Pauline retained a lot of their native customs and spoke German at home. In public, they spoke English with a heavy German accent. Knowing this, I imagine Emma grew up speaking both English and German.

When the census was taken in June 1900, Emma was six years old and not yet attending school. Ludwig Scheibel, age 63, was a harness maker, and owned the family’s home at 428 E. Fulton St. He had immigrated to the U.S. in 1852 and was a naturalized citizen. Pauline, age 45, had immigrated in 1875. She had given birth to nine children, but only five were living. They were Louisa Scheibel, age 15; Willie Scheibel, 13; Augusta Scheibel, 9; Emma; and Albert Scheibel, 4.[5]

On 11 April 1907, when Emma was 13 years old, her mother Pauline Scheibel died of tuberculosis.[6] Those had to be difficult years for the family, as her brother Willy died as well. By summer 1910, Emma’s school days were behind her. She was 16 years old and working as a nurse in a hospital.[7]

But there was another blow yet to come. On Christmas day 1910, Ludwig Scheibel died of apoplexy (stroke).[8] Emma and her siblings were orphans.

I’m not sure how Emma met Homer Burdell Steele, a native of Cheshire, Gallia County, Ohio. Homer worked as a shipping clerk for the Federal Glass Company in Columbus, and lived in the same part of town. Perhaps their paths crossed at church. Rev. Hines married Emma and Homer on 20 May 1915, when she was 21 years old.[9] Their first child, Wilma (my grandmother), was born 23 September 1917.[10]

Emma and Homer’s second daughter, Rosemary Steele, was born 28 November 1919.[11] After Rosemary, they had four boys in succession: Kenneth Steele, born 1 March 1925[12]; Homer G. “Junior” Steele, born 26 November 1929[13]; William “Billy” Steele, born 2 February 1931[14]; and Ronald Steele, born in 1932.

In addition to her children, Emma also cared for her invalid father-in-law. Wilma explained, “My grandmother Minnie King Steele lived with us many years as Grandfather George Steele had a stroke & could not work. Grandmother worked at Federal Glass Co. (now out of business) with my father. My mother took care of Rosemary, me & Grandfather.”[15]

Wilma identified the picture below as the last one she knew of that shows the entire family. It was probably taken in the summer of 1939. In the back row, from left to right, are Wilma, Emma, Rosemary, Kenny, and Homer Steele. In the front, from left to right, are Billy, Junior, and Ronald.

Tragedy struck on 14 November 1939 when Billy, playing in the basement with a friend, accidentally started a fire. “The buckle on his shoe caught on a wire on baled wax paper & he lit a match to see what he could do,” Wilma recalled.[16] The waxed paper ignited and Billy, unable to free himself, perished in the fire. He was eight years old.

I imagine that was something that haunted Emma the rest of her life.

Time went on, although it seems Emma was not well as she reached middle age. “My father always took care of my mother as she had a heart condition,” Wilma noted.

Sadly, Emma lost another son to another accident. Junior had enlisted in the Navy after high school, and, at 20 years old, was posted in the Panama Canal Zone. He was off duty but helping a friend do some repairs on radar equipment when he touched a live wire. He was electrocuted instantly and died on 18 May 1950.[17]

Emma succumbed to congestive heart failure two years later, on 23 November 1952. She was 58 years old. She was buried in Sunset Cemetery in Columbus, along with her sons Billy and Homer Junior.[18]

My grandmother remembered Emma as a good mother and home maker. While she had few outside interests, she strongly believed in God, home, and family, and wanted her daughter to be happy and prosperous.[19]

My mother remembers Emma, too, particularly the way she made homemade German noodles. She would roll the noodle dough out and cut it into long strips, then slice it into noodles. Those raw noodles looked really good to a little girl! But Grandmother Steele wouldn’t permit anyone to taste before cooking. Now that I think about it, maybe that was a result of the challenges of feeding a big family through the Great Depression.

There’s something that struck me as I wrote this. You see, I’ve had this information about Emma for quite a while; it’s not new research. But it wasn’t until I sat down and wrote this profile that I actually began to see her life. I think there’s a big difference between bits of information in a database and a story that pulls them together into a cohesive narrative, even a short one like this. The process of writing it out as a narrative somehow creates something bigger and more engrossing than you think when you’re only looking at the pieces individually.

It also makes me realize I have more research to do on Emma’s family. Writing does that—it stimulates you to fill in the gaps and reach further into the records. Yes, it takes time, but it’s time well spent in the end.

Is there a woman in your family tree that you’d like to understand better? If so, you might try writing a little profile or vignette for her. Lisa Alzo offers a month’s worth of “Fearless Females” writing prompts to help you (see her March 2016 blog archive). Gena Philibert-Ortega shares some of her favorite tips and resources for researching females in her Women's History Month 2016 series. I hope you enjoy finding and telling the stories of the women in your family history, too.


[1] Franklin County, Ohio, Probate Court, birth records, vol. 6, p. 30 (1894), Pauline Scheibel; Ohio History Center (OHC) microfilm #BV10,944.
[2] “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” digital image, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org: accessed 3 Nov 2013), death certificate #66095 (1910), Ludwig Scheibel; citing original records, Ohio Dept. of Health, Ohio History Center, Columbus; Family History Library (FHL) microfilm #1,952,768.
[3] Evangelische Kirche Grunau (Kr. Flatow), “Taufen, Heiraten, Tote 1850-1859,” p. 107-108, entry 17, Auguste Pauline Treptow (baptized 11 March 1855); FHL microfilm #1,496,973, item 2.
[4] “Ohio County Marriages, 1789-1994,” digital image, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org: accessed 3 Nov 2013), Ludwig Sheibel and Paulina Trabtan (1880); citing Franklin County, Ohio, marriages, vol. 15, p. 285, Probate Court, Columbus; FHL microfilm #285,148.
[5] 1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio, Ward 4, E.D. 55, p. 6A, dwelling 123, household 141, Ludwig Scheibel; digital image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com: accessed 3 Nov 2013), citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1267.
[6] Columbus, Ohio, Board of Health, death certificates, 1907 vol. 2 (1 March – 30 April), no. 351, Paulina Scheibel; Ohio History Center, Columbus, OHC microfilm #GR9874.
[7] 1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio, Ward 2, E.D. 43, p. 1, dwelling 13, household 14, Lewis Scheibel; digital image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com: accessed 4 Nov 2013), citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1180.
[8] “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” FamilySearch, death certificate #66095 (1910), Ludwig Scheibel.
[9] Franklin County, Ohio, Probate Court, marriage records, vol. 60, p. 315, Homer Steele and Emma Scheibel marriage (1915), Columbus.
[10] Ohio Department of Health, birth certificate #77908 (1916), Wilma Lucille Steele; Office of Vital Statistics, Columbus.
[11] “U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” database, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com: accessed 21 Mar 2016), Rosemary Naomi Steele Rhoten.
[12] “U.S. Social Security Death Index,” database, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com: accessed 6 July 2014), Kenneth N. Steele (1925-2013).
[13] Ohio Department of Health, birth certificate #98192 (1929), Homer George Steele; Office of Vital Statistics, Columbus.
[14] Ohio Department of Health, birth certificate 11272 (1931), William Steele; Office of Vital Statistics, Columbus.
[15] Wilma Steele Herrel, Grandmother’s Book, scrapbook, 1989; privately held by Shelley Bishop. This 9” x 11” book contains notes, descriptions, photographs and memorabilia ca. 1917-1989; the author (now deceased) gave it to Bishop in 1989.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Ibid. Also, Homer G. Steele obituary, The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio), 20 May 1950, p. 2A.
[18] “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” digital image, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org: accessed 21 Mar 2012), death certificate #70642 (1952), Emma L. Steele; citing original records, Ohio Dept. of Health, Ohio History Center, Columbus; FHL microfilm #2,246,396.
[19] Wilma Steele Herrel, Grandmother’s Book.

March 14, 2016

A new badge: NGS 2016 Conference Social Media

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference committee recently sent me an email announcing that I’ve been accepted as part of their official 2016 social media team. I’m happy to have the opportunity to share my excitement for the conference with all of you!

The NGS 2016 Conference will be held May 4-7 in sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Not that long ago, some of us were joking about how national conferences seem to favor cold locations and dates over warm, tropical climes. Guess we can’t complain anymore. Margaritas, anyone?

NGS has a dedicated 2016 Conference website with all the information potential attendees need—a full program brochure, information on hotel accommodations, and online registration. This year's theme is "Exploring the Centuries: Footprints in Time." They’re offering an early registration discount through March 31. Interest in the conference has been so strong that they’ve added more hotels to the original block.

I’m actually going to Fort Lauderdale a day early so I can participate in the Board for the Certification of Genealogists (BCG) Workshop, "Putting Skills to Work," on Tuesday, May 3. This is a full-day immersion in two topics for intermediate and advanced genealogists. Current BCG President Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG, will delve into “Spreadsheets 201: Manipulating Data to Dismantle Brick Walls.” Past-president Rev. David McDonald, CG, is presenting “Reach for the Power Tools: Transcriptions & Abstractions.” I’m really looking forward to these small group workshops with two of my favorite lecturers.

But that doesn’t mean the conference is just for experienced researchers. Everyone, even those just starting out, will find plenty of opportunities to learn, grow, and connect with others who share their passion for family history. Add in a bustling exhibit hall and after-hours social activities, and you’ve got a fun-packed schedule. Oh, and did I mention that some of the hotels even have free shuttles to the beach?

If you have any questions about the conference, feel free to ask in the comments box below and I’ll try my best to answer. And do let me know if you’re planning to be at NGS in May. I’d love to see you there!


March 5, 2016

Got Irish Ancestors? You're in Luck!

View from the Wicklow Mountains

If you’re researching Irish ancestors, there’s a lot of good news these days. New databases and digitized original records are making it easier than ever to find your family in the Emerald Isle.

Yes, Irish research still has its difficulties. Nothing is going to bring back the historic records lost when the Four Courts building in Dublin burned down in 1922, or the census records of 1861-1891 that the government destroyed. But the clamor for genealogical resources has inspired some helpful substitutes, as well as wider access to surviving records.

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, companies are also offering special discounts and access to their Irish collections. Here’s a rundown of some recent announcements:
From FindMyPast.com:

From FamilySearch.org:

From Ancestry.com:

From RootsIreland.ie:

From AncestryIreland.com:

National Archives of Ireland, Dublin

To keep up with the latest releases and developments, I recommend following the Irish Genealogy News blog by Claire Santry. Her companion website, Irish Genealogy Toolkit, provides a wealth of information and links to help you with your Irish family history research.

The photos you see here were taken during my trip to Ireland in May 2015. We had a great time, and I can’t wait to go back. Hopefully we’ll be able to see some ancestral sites next time. My husband has recent Irish roots—his grandfather, Harry Baxter, and great-grandfather, Robert Baxter, both immigrated from Belfast, Northern Ireland, in the early 20th century. I believe I have Scots-Irish ancestry as well, but it’s much further back in time, and I still have a lot of research to do. But each new database, finding aid, and online record collection helps bring that goal a little closer. I hope it does for you, too. Slainte!



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