August 27, 2012

Thinking of SLIG at Back-to-School Time

Every year around this time, I feel the tug of the new school year. Give me a fresh notebook and something to learn, and I’m hooked. Fortunately, in the field of genealogy, there’s no shortage of learning opportunities.

In January 2011, I attended the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, affectionately known as “SLIG,” an annual institute hosted by the Utah Genealogical Association. I was fortunate to be in Paula Stuart-Warren’s class, American Research and Records: Focus on Localities. It was a great experience, and the perfect class to complement my first trip to the Family History Library. Not only did I benefit from Paula’s contagious enthusiasm and boundless knowledge of record types and research strategies, but I also received on-site help in learning to use the FHL’s amazing resources. And I met a lot of wonderful people to boot.

Since I had only recently started blogging, and tended to stay at the FHL until they kicked us out each night or I collapsed (usually both), I didn’t write much about my experiences at the time. There was just too much going on. I think my excitement shows, though, in my post Striking Gold in Salt Lake City. Even now, I marvel at the care Paula showed in mentoring her class of intermediate genealogists—most of whom had been researching for years—through some lesser-known resources and locality-based strategies.

Why do I bring this up now, at the end of summer, long after my week there? Because with back-to-school vibes in the air, it’s the perfect time to think about registering for SLIG 2013, which is slated for January 14-18. Paula will be offering Focus on Localities again this year (she alternates it every other year with Focus on Families). But that’s only the start of your options at SLIG. Eleven tracks, each featuring talented and dedicated instructors, are being offered, and any one of them would make a good choice.

For the scoop on SLIG 2013 courses, accommodations, registration, and other details, see my article Becoming a Brighter Genealogist in Salt Lake City in the current issue of The In-Depth Genealogist newsletter. (Oh sure, you could go straight to the UGA website, but I hope you’ll enjoy the article first!) In it, I also talk about the 2012 British Institute, which is coming up in October and is still accepting registrations. I haven’t had the chance to personally attend the British Institute yet, but with the high caliber of their instructors, you can’t go wrong.

So if you’re yearning to go back to school, too, you might consider spending a week in Salt Lake City. I know I’d love to go to SLIG again. Now where’s that Magic School Bus when I need it?


August 21, 2012

Joseph B. Sanborn and Mary Jane Smith Sanborn: Tombstone Tuesday

Loudonville Cemetery sits on a serene hillside in the heart of Loudonville in Ashland County, Ohio. This monument in the older section of the cemetery marks the final resting place of Joseph Beverly Sanborn, born March 6, 1810, in Chichester, New Hampshire, and his wife Mary Jane Smith Sanborn, born September 16, 1810, in New Hampshire.(1) Joseph B. Sanborn was a schoolteacher in Loudonville for many years.(2) Buried with them is their son, George P. Sanborn, who died at 11 years old.

The inscription reads:
MARCH 6, 1810
MARCH 8, 1882
SEPT. 16, 1810
MARCH 19, 1870
DEC. 30, 1833
SEPT. 25, 1845 (3)

Joseph B. Sanborn was my husband’s great-great-great-great-uncle.

(1) For Joseph B. Sanborn’s birth date and place: William H. Jones, Vital Statistics of Chichester New Hampshire 1742-1927 (Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, 2000), p. 35. For Mary Jane Smith’s birth place: 1850 U.S. Census, Hanover Township, Ashland County, Ohio, population schedule, p. 126B (stamped), p. 252 (written), dwelling 71, household 71, J.B. Sanborn; digital image, Ancestry ( accessed 24 June 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 658.
(2) 1860 U.S. census, Loudonville, Ashland Co., Ohio, population schedule, p. 177 (stamped), p. 197 (written), dwelling 1358, household 1401, Joseph B. Sanborn; digital image, Ancestry ( accessed 24 June 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 930.
(3) Joseph B. Sanborn, Mary Jane Smith, and George P. Sanborn tombstone, Loudonville Cemetery, Loudonville, Ashland County, Ohio; photographed by Shelley Bishop, June 2012.

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August 15, 2012

A Shy Smile for the Camera: Wordless Wednesday

Wilma Steele, about 1921, Columbus, Ohio

I love old candid photos. Maybe that’s because so many tend to be posed and stiff. Although a bit out of focus, this one captures my grandmother’s shy smile. I’m estimating she was nearly 5 years old here. Why was she the subject of attention that day? Was it September 23rd, her birthday? Or was it, as I suspect, her first day of school? Either one might explain why the adults are in the background, rather than with her in the picture. Too bad the photographer cut their heads off, though!

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August 10, 2012

15 Websites for Genealogy Education

Would you like to sharpen your genealogy research skills? Learn more about a particular topic? Take your research and writing skills to a whole new level? With back-to-school season at hand, now is the perfect time to think about your goals and opportunities for genealogy education.

We're fortunate to live in an age of plentiful choices, with more options for learning than ever before. Some are short and oriented to a particular topic. Others are designed as longer, more structured programs. Some are free or available at nominal cost, while others require a considerable investment. Institutes and conferences usually involve travel. Skill-building sites, on the other hand, allow you to learn at home any hour of the day. They all fill a niche in the growing demand for quality learning opportunities.
Here are 15 of the top websites for genealogy education today, grouped by type:

Study at Home Programs
Boston University Programs in Genealogical Research
Family Tree University
National Genealogical Society educational courses
National Institute for Genealogical Studies
ProGen Study Group

Genealogy Institutes
British Institute
Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh
Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research
National Institute on Genealogical Research
Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy

Websites for Skill Development
Board for Certification of Genealogists skillbuilding articles
Evidence Explained: Elizabeth Shown Mills
FamilySearch Learning Center

National Conferences
Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference
National Genealogical Society Conference

(Update 10/6/12) And here’s a bonus list of sites for webinars:

Genealogy Webinars webinars
Association of Professional Genealogists webinars
       Members’ archives: log in, click “Professional Development”
Dear Myrtle webinars
GeneaWebinars (calendar and announcements)
FamilyTree Magazine webinars
Illinois State Genealogical Society webinars
Legacy Family Tree webinars
Michael John Neill webinars
RootsMagic webinars 
Southern California Genealogical Society webinars
Utah Genealogical Association webinars

While this is by no means a comprehensive list, I truly believe there’s something on here for everyone, from beginners to advanced learners. Your time will be well spent no matter which options you choose.

So sit down and browse awhile. Think about what you’d like to learn, and how. If the time isn’t right to make a long commitment right now, try a short course, and consider the longer one for the future. The important thing is to keep learning. Genealogy is a field of continuous education. Even highly esteemed professionals will admit they’re still learning. I know I certainly am!

And once you’ve decided on something and signed up, treat yourself to a visit to an office supply store to buy some new supplies. After all, there’s nothing like an empty binder, a package of tab dividers, and fresh highlighters to get you in the mood to go back to school.

(Note: I write a column called Gen Ed for The In-Depth Genealogist digital newsletter, where I discuss many of these genealogy education options in more detail. Check out the archives for more information.)

August 4, 2012

Come to the Dublin Irish Festival for Genealogy Help

If you’re within striking distance of Central Ohio this weekend, be sure to visit the Dublin Irish Festival, which is celebrating its 25th year. As the second largest Irish festival in the nation (after Milwaukee, according to The Columbus Dispatch), it’s a lot of fun, with live music and Irish dancing on seven stages, as well as good food, events, and shopping. As an added benefit, you can get free help with your questions about U.S. and Irish genealogy.

Three exhibitors will be handling queries at the ever-popular Genealogy Tent all weekend:

Dwight Radford—Dwight is a knowledgeable, friendly professional specializing in Irish and Scots-Irish research, in addition to African-American genealogy. He has helped me quite a bit with my husband’s Northern Ireland ancestors in previous years. If you have Irish ancestors in your family tree, I highly recommend having a few questions in mind to ask him.

Irish Roots Café—Michael O’Laughlin is a prolific author and publisher of Irish resource books, including surname books for every county in Ireland. His exhibit space is always a hub of activity. While writing this, I noticed that he hosted Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak on episode #10 of his popular Irish Roots Café podcasts. Copies of his books will be available for browsing and purchase.

Franklin County Genealogical and Historical Society—this group, my local society, will field all types of questions about U.S. research and resources. We’ll have packets to hand out on starting your family history search, and computers to show visitors how to find information online. While most of the people who visit our booth have a casual interest or are newcomers to genealogy, we also get people who have already done some research and pose more challenging questions. We welcome them all with individual consultations. 

Between the three exhibitors, we usually have a crowd around the tent, and frequently a line for consultations. It’s fun and interesting work. One of my most rewarding experiences last year was talking to a girl of perhaps 12 or 13 years old. I suggested she start by asking her older relatives for help in filling out family group sheets and a pedigree chart. She came back the next day with some pages neatly filled out, eager to know what to do next. It’s neat to plant those seeds, even though you can’t see how or when they might sprout.

If you come to the Dublin Irish Festival on Sunday, August 5, be sure to stop by and say hi to me at the Genealogy Tent. And if you think you stand a chance in the “Best Legs in a Kilt” contest that afternoon, may the luck of the Irish be with you!

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