Classes/Workshops


Hey! This is happening!

Clipped image from Event Page including Photo of Bernice Alexander Bennet, with date and cost information.

I feel pretty strongly about supporting this group and program. Ms. Bernice Alexander Bennett will be the featured speaker at the Michigan Genealogical Council’s Virtual Fall Family History Seminar on Saturday, September 18th. Ms. Bennett is a MAAGI Instructor, Blog Talk Radio Host, Author of Tracing Their Steps: A Memoir–the winner of the 2021 New Generation Indie Book Award and the Phillis Wheatley Award. A recent project has also including helping African American descendants identify their Homesteading Ancestors–which resulted in this nifty page documenting my 3rd Great Grandfather Samuel Lindsay.

Sessions for the day include:

USCT Civil War Widows Pension Records Tell the Story will discuss the anatomy of a Civil War Widows Pension file and several examples to illustrate the value of using these records. 

Black Homesteaders at the Crossroad of Freedom will answer these questions: Who were the homesteaders? What is the Homestead Act of 1862? What are the eligibility requirements? What is the application process? and What can you find in the land entry papers? 

What can you find with your Library of Michigan Card? (Presented by Tim Gleisener) Learn about resources available to Library of Michigan cardholders for family history research including the Grand Rapids Press historical archives, the Michigan Chronicle, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Toronto Globe and Mail, and Michigan Sanborn maps.

Writing and Telling Your Story. Do you have a story to tell and don’t know how to write or tell it? This session will explore how you can turn your genealogical research into a compelling and engaging family story. 

Follow the Witnesses will show how following witnesses on documents can reveal the community history.

Researching Your Family’s History at the Archives of Michigan. (Presented by Kris Rzepczynski) An introduction to the Archives of Michigan, this program will explore the genealogical collections available there.

Register for the event here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2021-virtual-fall-family-history-seminar-with-bernice-alexander-bennett-tickets-165251498681

Join us!

Jess

As always, I’ve fallen behind here but also have a ton of blog post ideas running around in my head. This one took a while to mull.

Many of you know I attended the Midwest African American Genealogical Institute this year and even though virtual, it was a wonderful experience. I started off right at the beginning in Track 1A Fundamental Methods and Strategies (the equivalent of an intermediate course) run by Dr. Shelley Murphy. Speaking as someone who has been at this since high school and presenting for 8 years, I still got a lot out of MAAAGI and would highly suggest the institute to everyone. I used the time and classwork to step back and really look at how I approach my research and organization.

The courses at MAAGI are such that people may choose to repeat tracks, but also could jump around based on their education needs. But I felt like it was worth knowing how they present the fundamentals before jumping out into the other courses. I think it was a great place for me to start. And again, even virtual, the week afforded me time to learn and reflect on my research surrounded by people who also love genealogy and the challenge of African American research—a major plus of genealogy institutes in general.

My heartfelt thanks to Dr. Murphy, Judy Russell, Nicka Sewell-Smith, Toni Carrier, and Ric Murphy and all my classmates. I hope to catch up with you all at Allen County Public Library for an in person track soon.

A mortgage I finally spent time transcribing and studying from Aug 1870. This section reads: State of Arkansas, County of Bradley
Be it known that I Sandy York of the State and county aforesaid being indebted to E. B. Turner in the sum of sixty-two dollars fifty cents being
one half the value of one certain roan mare colt an in consideration of the sum of one dollar to me in hand paid the receipt where of is hereby acknowledged have bargained and sold and by these presents do grant bargain…

Happy hunting!

Jess

I’ve never been great about sharing my events… I’m working on it… along with blogging more, researching more, and scanning more. Somehow that pesky (but really fun) fulltime job tends to get in my way. That said, I’m stepping out from my (mostly) behind the scenes duties on Saturday to lead off a virtual series featuring three fabulous Michigan presenters: Matt Pacer (3/13), Katherine Willson (3/20), and Ginger Ogilvie (3/27). Click on the image below for the pdf flyer. The four programs will be Saturday mornings in March, 11 am EST. It’s free but you do have to register for the individual programs to receive the program links. Check it out! Registration is open now: https://bit.ly/2OyhWEZ

Happy hunting,

Jess

Edit: As of March 12th this event has been cancelled.

This one snuck up on me. Join us on Saturday, 14 March 2020 at the Downtown Lansing Library. On Saturdays street parking is free and there is a lot behind the library with entrances on Washington and Kalamazoo that’s also free. Join us!

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I may never catch up (because life) but the  #52 Ancestors writing prompts are still great! And I enjoy teasing them out in different directions. So, that said…

The week 4 prompt was ”Close to Home” and I had a bunch of different ideas of what I wanted to talk about, but then life happened. However, that included getting to present in a number of venues (thank you WMGS, Redford Township District Library, Grand Rapids Public Library, and LAAAGS) in February. Those experiences redirected my ideas for this prompt. Instead of spotlighting a specific ancestor or family member this time I want remind everyone to take advantage of the resources you have “close to home.” I realize I’m extremely lucky in my local community—we have multiple societies, great resources libraries from public branches to the State Archives and Library. But regardless of where you live, I think there’s a very good chance that there are people ready and willing to talk genealogy.

LAAAGS2020WGCMy last event of the month was presenting at and participating in a joint program hosted by our local African American genealogical society and two area churches and I was overwhelmed by the turnout, interest, and discussions. And listening to the many speakers, it reminded me that in my community there is so much experience to be shared, stories to be told, support to be given. Hearing how these avid researchers worked through their brick walls gave me so many ideas for my own. Sharing that I as one of the presenters still have a ton of brick walls,  I think helped other newer genealogists. Comparing notes with new acquaintances researching in the same communities gave everyone in the discussion new ideas.

If you are able to get out and make connections locally—with a group you’re able to commiserate with, or brainstorm with, or simply cheer each other on… it helps. Don’t overlook your local resources—try a society, a library program, or a genealogy workshop. And talk to people, ask your questions, ask for advice, share your experiences—all politely and while listening at least as much as you talk.

Give it a try!

Jess

P.S. The fact that I finally finished this as events across the country are being cancelled because of the Coronavirus is not lost on me. But I still think the point is good in normal times.

P.P.S. This also is not meant to knock the fabulous online community I have found. Shout out to  BlackProGen, #genchat, and Genealogy Twitter in general, as well as the Virtual Genealogical  Association.

GSMCLogoI’m honored to be presenting four talks at the Genealogical Society of Monroe County, MI’s 42nd Annual Spring Seminar on March 16th at Monroe County Community College.

I’m presenting:

  • The ABC’s of DNA & Genealogy
  • British Isles to Canada to Michigan
  • Scandalous Ancestors
  • Road Trip! No, really, it’s not all online!

I’m really looking forward to it and have had fun updating my slides! See that attached flyer for more details: 2019GSMCSeminarFlyer

Hope to see you!

Jess

It’s been a weather eventful winter here in Michigan and January and February felt like we were just hanging on for dear life. But in the background plans were being made. So, stay tuned for a number of event announcements, starting with this one (below) put on annually but my local library system, Capital Area District Libraries. There are sessions for all skill levels and time for discussion with fellow researchers. Follow this link for a pdf of the handout: Family History Open House 2019 Final.

Join us!

Jess

FamilyHistoryOpenHouse

There are lot of reasons to take advantage of the educational opportunities offered through the genealogical communities—local, regional, or larger. Keeping up with new resources, learning new shortcuts, or having it hammered home that there are places where there are no shortcuts. But another reason I have heard echoed at many an event is the simple reminder that there is work to do still. So, this weekend saw me wandering through New England records after seeing a couple of great presentations by David Allen Lambert of the New England Historic Genealogical Society at the 2018 Abrams Foundation Family History Seminar hosted by the Archives of Michigan and the Michigan Genealogical Council last week.

I’d been neglecting my New England lines lately and this was a good kick to get me checking my documentation and filling out parts of the tree I hadn’t worked on since very early in my research—meaning it needs a lot of clean up. Most of the weekend was spent on the Laphams, Gilberts, and Johnsons whose lines trace back into Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Not only did I track down the collaterals that I had missed before, but it confirmed something I had been told but never located good sources for… that Hannah Johnson Gilbert DuBois’ father did serve in the Revolutionary War. As is happens his widow, Mary Joiner, had a hard time getting her pension so it turned out to be a nice sized file of information including the extract below confirming their marriage.

Proof of marriage between David Johnson and Mary Joiner from Mary's Widow's Pension Application.

Find out what’s happening around you–Conference keeper is a good resource: http://conferencekeeper.org/–and get inspired to do the work!

Happy hunting,

Jess

P.S. Thanks all who sat in on my TB & Genealogy talk, you were a great audience and I hope it gave you some ideas for your own research!

20180602_151241So, in the realm of way overdue… I’m jumping back into the blog and I want to start out by saying a HUGE thank you to everyone who made my first national conference presentation a success last month at NGS. That includes fellow speakers, WMGS family and friends, Michigan Genealogical Council friends, and NGS staff.  Another big thanks to everyone who made it to my session on Cluster Research at the end of Saturday after a long week of events. I basically told them to slow down and put more work into their research. It can be an overwhelming but so very fruitful. And finally, I’d like to extend a special shout out to my friends at the Archives of Michigan and The Genealogy Center at ACPL…. You all are fabulous!

Also, as a follow up to the Cluster Research program. I am in the same boat as everyone. Unless you’re lucky, you don’t start out doing it all correctly—properly analyzing every part of a document, properly sourcing your information, following out all the possible leads, etc. I’ve still got my share of things to clean up, follow out, and just do more work on. Writing and prepping for presentations helps me figure out what I’ve missed and work on what might otherwise feel like an overwhelming backlog of clean up.

Happy hunting (and research clean up when necessary),

Jess

I got out bright and early Saturday morning for Tim Pinnick’s packed and very informative presentation on newspapers which introduced me to Kenneth R. Mark’s The Ancestor Hunt. Which, of course, just made me want to go back to wandering newspaper archives.

I also enjoyed presentations by Wevonneda Minis on Asylum records and one by Janice Lovelace on Railroad records. And I closed out the conference by attending Diahan Southard’s “YDNA and atDNA” program which had a case study that mirrors a possible “non-paternal event” we may have identified in my family.

Again, I learned a lot at the conference, met new people and/or finally had time to talk to people I’d barely met before. I also felt reinvigorated with ideas to take back to my home societies that I’m hoping can be worked into our long-range plans.

If you get a chance, try a national genealogy conference like NGC 2018 in Grand Rapids or FGS 2018 in Fort Wayne. Hotels for both are already open!

Happy hunting,

Jess

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