Thursday, March 30, 2017

At-Home Learning Opportunities for 2017

© Nick Youngson / / CC BY-SA 3.0
You probably know by now that there are a plethora of opportunities to increase your knowledge on genealogy research processes. Many of them are accessed from your home for free. Here are the webinars that are offered during the month of April 2017.

Family History Library Webinars
The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has published their March, April, and May classes, including many free webinars. Most of the classes offered in those months are for the Beginner, but there are a few in April for the Intermediate researcher. Visit the Family History Library Classes and Webinars wiki page for the schedule and links to upcoming webinars and their accompanying handouts.  Scroll down to the Past Webinars & Handouts section for links to the recordings and handouts of past webinars. Both the upcoming and past webinars are grouped by country and topics:
  • FamilySearch & FamilySearch Family Tree
  • General Research
  • Africa
  • British Isles
  • Scandinavia
  • Asia
  • Latin America & Spanish
  • Indexing Workshops
  • United States and Canada
  • and more

Legacy Family Tree Webinars
Legacy Family Tree webinars is known for its quality genealogy webinars by professional and well-known genealogists. Every Wednesday afternoon, and once a month on Friday evening, a new webinar is broadcast live for free. The webinar is recording and available for free viewing about a week following the broadcast. After that, you must be a subscribed member.

It is necessary to pre-register for the webinar if you wish to attend live. The entire 2017 year of webinars are available for registration by visiting the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website. Occasionally, a special webinar as slid in on short notice, like Blain Bettinger's Exploring AncestryDNA's New Genetic Communities announced last week and scheduled for Thursday, March 30. It is a good idea to check the schedule frequently or to subscribe to the Legacy Family Tree News in order to catch those special broadcasts.

The webinars scheduled for April are:
  •  Preserve, Share, and Search Your Digital Pictures with Google Photos by Geoff Rasmussen on April 5
  • Your Whiteboard in the Cloud: Trello for Genealogists by Lisa Alzo on April 12
  • Complete Photo Restoration in 4 Easy Steps by Eric Basir on April 14

  • Neighborhood Reconstruction: Effective Use of Land Records by Mary Hill on April 19
  • Finding and Using Land Ownership Maps by Rick Sayre on April 26
  • Researching Criminal Records by Ron Arons on April 28

Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) Webinars
The BCG offers monthly free webinars "as part of an ongoing series that supports our mission to provide education for family historians." (President Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG). In late July, 2016, BCG partnered with Legacy Family Tree Webinars to host, produce, and publish all future BCG webinars (go here to read the announcement). The BCG webinars are stored on a separate webpage on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website. These webinars are broadcast live the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 5pm Pacific, and the recordings are available for free viewing for a limited time. The March 21 webinar Are You My Grandpa? Men of the Same Name by Rebecca Whitman Koford, CG, is still free through March 31, 2017. April's webinar will be The Genealogy in Government Documents by Rick Sayre scheduled for April 18, 2017.

Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS) Webinars
Sponsored by FamilySearch, ISGS webinars are broadcast live the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 8pm Central Time. The 2017 upcoming webinars are described on their Upcoming Webinars webpage. The live broadcast is offered free to everyone, but you must pre-register. Recordings are available to ISGS members indefinitely. Visit their website for infomation about their organization and the genealogy education opportunities.

April's webinar is Tracing slave and slave owner Ancestors with DNA and Genealogy by Nicka Smith on April 11. A printable brochure of the ISGS webinars for 2017 is found here.

Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS) Webinars
SCGS webinars are offered twice monthly (the first Saturday and third Wednesday). The live broadcasts are free and open to the public; the recordings are available only to SCGS members. You must register to participate. The Saturday webinars are held in the morning (10am Pacific) and the Wednesday webinars are held in the evening (6pm Pacific). Visit their 2017 Webinar Series webpage for the scheduled broadcasts this year. The April webinars are:
  • Finding Scottish Ancestors Online by Nancy E. Loe on April 1
  • So Many Historic Books: How Can I Find My People? by James M. Baker on April 19

 BYU Family History Library Webinars
Separate from the Family History Library above, the BYU Family History Library hosts a series of online webinars that allow you to learn from family history experts without being required to go to the library. All webinars can be held on any evening. It is easy to connect to these webinars and view them on your own computer or mobile device.  The Online Webinars Webpage has a form you can fill out to receive emails on upcoming webinars. The schedule is usually posted there a month in advance; currently, the March and April schedules are there. Some of the April webinars are:
  • International Research with the Family History Guide on April 6
  • How You Can Help with Record Preservation on April 11
  • Researching in a Library or Archive on April 13
  • Digging Deeper into Google for Genealogists on April 14
  • Beginning Danish Research: Sorting out the places on April 18
  • Buying Technology: A Genealogist's Primer on April 20
  • Finding that Genealogical Gold Right Under Your Feet on April 25
You can also access past webinars and handouts on this page. The archived webinars are sorted into categories including, DNA,, Foreign County, Legal Record, Maps, Military Record,, and Newspaper training.

Other Webinars Offered
Many genealogy societies broadcast live webinars for free. Most provide archived recordings to their members, but some offer the recordings free. Some examples are:
Another excellent source of free webinars is the Family Tree DNA Webinars series. These free webinars are on genetic genealogy and DNA ancestry testing related topics. All webinars are open to the public and are recorded for later viewing.

If you find other sources for free at-home learning opportunities, please share them in the comments section below.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Announcing a New Special Interest Group for Jewish Genealogy

Sephardi Jewish couple from Sarajevo in traditional
clothing. Photo taken in 1900.
Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

The Tucson Family History Center is sponsoring a Jewish Special Interest Group (SIG) beginning April 5, 2017. This is a wonderful opportunity for those who have Jewish roots to learn how to find their ancestors. The Jewish  SIG will meet at 3pm on the first Wednesday of each month in the Family History Center.

This SIG is not intended to replace the Southern Arizona Jewish Genealogy Society, but rather to enhance the learning experiences of attendees. The Jewish SIG will be a hands-on learning opportunity where an in-depth examination of one or two topics will be explored with time for attendees to put the lessons into action at the Center computers or their own laptops. There will also be opportunities to share information with each other at the meeting.

 Moreen Ferdi will be the SIG facilitator. There is no need to register in advance, just show up with a desire to learn and to share what you know with others.

Moreen is considering adding an evening meeting time for those that cannot meet during the weekday. If you have an interest in the evening time slot, please send an email to  You may direct any questions about the SIG to that email address as well.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Online Irish Records are FREE for a Limited Time

Two of the "Big 4" genealogy websites are offering FREE access to their Irish records in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

For five days only, Findmypast is offering free access to the largest collection of Irish records online for FREE.The free access starts on today, Monday 13 March, at 2 am (MST/PDT) and ends on Friday 17 March at 4:59 pm (MST/PDT). During this time you can enjoy all 116 million of Findmypast's Irish records completely free.

Highlights of their Irish collection include:
  • Over 30 million Irish Birth, Marriage, Death and Parish records
  • Over 15 million Census, Land & Substitute collections
  • Over 30 million detailed Court & Prison records
  • Over 350,000 records from World War 1, the Easter Rising & more
  • Over 2.3 million Social History & Directory records
The only collection exempt from the free access is the Irish Newspapers collection.

In addition to free access to their Irish collection, Findmypast is offering a free downloadable Irish family history guide here.

Visit the Findmypast blog by clicking here for details on how to access the Irish records during the free period.

Ancestry is also offering free access to their Irish records until 8:59 pm (MST/PDT) on Sunday, 19 March 2017.  To see a full list of the records in the featured collection, please click here. To get started searching the collection on, please click here. To download their free guide with 10 tips for finding Irish ancestors, click here.

Monday, March 6, 2017

March is International Women's History Month

Group of women photographed walking along a street, 1920-1930. Wikimedia Commons. Item is held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.
Historically, women were cast into the shadow of their fathers, husbands, and sons, leaving little or no record of their existence or of their life experiences. Many women of the past have fought inequality and championed causes for the benefit of society, allowing future generations of women to reap the benefits of their work.

Harris & Ewing, Washington, D.C. [Pennsylvania on the Picket Line-- 1917]. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>
The first Women's Day was celebrated on February 28, 1909 in New York. Women's Day was celebrated annually for the next 68 years, mainly in socialist countries.   The United Nations officially recognized March 8 as International Women's Day in 1975 to honor our women. This was extended to include all of the month of March as International Women's History Month. Throughout the month, various community events and television presentations will be staged to look back on women's achievements.

Du Bois, W. E. B. , Collector, photographer by Askew, Thomas E., 1850?-1914. [Four African American women seated on steps of building at Atlanta University, Georgia]. [or 1900] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.
Not all achievements are world changing. The struggle to feed and clothe their children, as most of our ancestors did, is praiseworthy. President Trump issued a proclamation on March 1, 2017, proclaiming March as Women's History Month. The proclamation states, in part:
America honors the celebrated women pioneers and leaders in our history, as well as those unsung women heroes of our daily lives.  We honor those outstanding women, whose contributions to our Nation's life, culture, history, economy, and families have shaped us and helped us fulfill America's promise.

We cherish the incredible accomplishments of early American women, who helped found our Nation and explore the great western frontier.  Women have been steadfast throughout our battles to end slavery, as well as our battles abroad.  And American women fought for the civil rights of women and others in the suffrage and civil rights movements.  Millions of bold, fearless women have succeeded as entrepreneurs and in the workplace, all the while remaining the backbone of our families, our communities, and our country.
He calls upon all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. Here are a few ideas on how you can celebrate Women's History Month:
  1. Explore the Library of Congress' Women's History Site ( 
  2. Write stories about a few of the women in your family tree. Share the story with others in your family, or publish it on a blog, in Facebook, or in your online tree.
  3. Learn more about how to find your female ancestors by watching Judy G. Russel's class Mothers, Daughters, Wives: Tracing Female Lines on RootsTech 2017's Thursday session (
  4. Read a book about the social history of women to gain a better understanding of what your female ancestors' daily lives were like (
  5. Read a book about a woman or group of women that impacted your ancestor's, and your, lives. The presidential proclamation mentions many of those women by name (
If you have other ideas on how to honor our women, post them in the comments below.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

He's Back! Thomas MacEntee Speaking at FHSA Seminar March 10-11

Did you miss seeing Thomas MacEntee when he was in Green Valley on February 4? Or do you wish you could have seen more of him while he was there? Don't despair! We are getting a Do-Over! The Family History Society of Arizona is bringing him back to southern Arizona and adding a special Friday evening session to the line-up.

The Family History Society of Arizona annual seminar will be held at the Mesa Inter-Stake Center, 830 E. 2nd Avenue, in Mesa, Arizona. Thomas will speak on The 15 Habits of Highly Frugal Genealogists at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 10, 2017.

The seminar continues on Saturday, March 11, 2017, at 9:00 a.m. with  a new topic that was not presented in Green Valley. The day ends at 2:40 p.m. and includes these 4 topics:
  1. Mapping Your Genealogy from A-Z and In-Between
  2. After You're Gone: Future Proofing Your Genealogy Research
  3. Building a Research Toolkit
  4. Genealogy Do-OverTM: A Year of Learning from Mistakes
Click here to visit the Family History Society of Arizona's seminar webpage for details and to register. But hurry! Lunch is not guaranteed after Monday, March 6.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Tracing Your Irish and Scots-Irish Ancestors Seminar

Emigrants Leave Ireland by Henry Edward Doyle 1868
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Fintan Mullan and Gillian Hunt of the Ulster Historical Foundation will be presenting a two-day seminar on March 3 and 4, 2017 at the Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library in Phoenix, Arizona.

Many Irish records were destroyed in 1922, making researching your Irish ancestors very difficult. But many other records survived and have recently come online.

Different topics on Irish and Scots-Irish research will be presented each day of the seminar. Advance registration is required and must be made for each day separately. Click here to visit the Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library website for details and to register.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Free access to all UK records at this weekend is giving FREE access to more than 1 billion UK & Irish records this weekend only. Free access to these records is starting at 2:00 p.m. ET (12:00 noon Arizona time) today, February 17, 2017, and ends at 11:59 p.m. ET (9:59 Arizona time) on Monday, February 20, 2017.

Click here to visit their UK & Irish Records page to see a full list of the records in the featured collection and get started finding your ancestors.

NOTE: After the free access period ends, you will only be able to view the records in the featured collections using an Ancestry Worl Explorer or All Access paid membership.