Category Archives: Continuing Education

Gratitude List

I have been enjoying the beautiful Fall colors this Fall, here in Minnesota. They have lasted a long time this year. I love the variety.

I am grateful for the variety of opportunities I have been able to enjoy this year in genealogy. They have added wonderful color to my life as well. Here is a brief list.

  • I have benefited from volunteering at my local Family History Center. I get to keep my skills up in various forms of research and I also get to learn from the patrons that come in.
  • I have had the opportunity through my association with the Germanic Genealogy Society and the German-American Society Partnership we have begun, to connect with other Germanic genealogists and society leaders from all over the U.S. and in various parts of the world.  We are coming together to promote Germanic Heritage – a fabulous cause.
  • I have spoken to various groups in the area and have been able to share in my enthusiasm for researching my family roots in various records.
  • I have connected with some awesome individuals within the Association of Professional Genealogists – Northland Chapter.  Our local chapter is a supportive of its members and many are very active in the genealogical community as well.
  • I am grateful to have attended several conferences that have added to my genealogical well of knowledge and stirred up details that I had forgotten about.  Conferences are also a fun place to connect with others – I have even found a relative or two!

The best way to find genealogy friends is to get involved in the community.  I have found value in society memberships, even those far from my home.  I love communicating with others in social media and giving support and also finding assistance when I need it.

I love that in October when the Fall color was at its peak we also celebrated Family History Month and as a nation we celebrated all of our trees.  May you find gratitude in your genealogy during the beginning of this holiday season.

After the conference…

It had a great week at the FGS/RootsTech conference.  So much wonderful insight, knowledge, and ideas were shared.  Now what to do with all of that?  I worry that I will forget what I have been taught.  While attending a genealogy conference I am able to focus on just genealogy, and how I want to apply what I am learning.  But when I return home, there are wonderful distractions such as my living family members that need my attention.  When life returns to its’ normal routine, will I remember the ideas I had?

Something that I started doing at SLIG (Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy) this year, was in my notes of what the speakers were saying, I also included the ideas that came to me about how to apply what they were teaching.  “This might work for researching _____ family” or “This topic would make a good article or presentation.”  I also created another document just for ideas to bring back to the Germanic Genealogy Society where I am currently president.  FGS is great about teaching society leaders and members how to strengthen their local societies.

Will I forget?  While I still need to remember to read over my notes and handouts, it is surprising to me how much I do remember.  The facts come back to me often unexpectedly.  Attending a conference with other genealogists is fun because you can brainstorm with those you meet about your specific research and share knowledge and experience.  I try to attend several each year so I can sometimes be reminded of what I have learned in the past, and also so I can gain additional skills.  It is also fun to be around large groups of people that don’t think you are strange for being passionate about family history.

Another Month, Another Conference

The month has flown by, it feels as though I just got back from Salt Lake City and now I am off again to attend the FGS/RootsTech combined conference.

I love attending conferences.  RootsTech is HUGE and adding the FGS classes only adds to my stress of which class I want to attend each hour. #SoManyGoodChoices

I try to do as much preparation as I can prior to the conferences I attend.  Here are a few of my tips:

  • Print business cards

    Even if you do not have a business, conferences are a great place to meet new contacts and having your name, email address, contact info, etc on a card is very convenient.  I like to use my name tag to place cards I collect and a few cards to hand out.  Some people like to print double-sided cards and put their surnames on the back.

  • Write on the back of collected cards

    If you collect cards write on the back – why that card is important.  Is it is a distant cousin, fellow researcher, etc.

  • Print address labels

    At conferences, especially large conferences, there are always lots of drawings. Having an address label you can put on the slips rather than writing out the same information is so much easier and saves a lot of time.  Often these slips also ask for your email address as a method of contact, or a phone number at the conference.  Making your own labels allows you to add additional information if you choose than just your name and address.

  • Dress in layers

    Conference rooms temperatures can vary.  Some are too cold, others are very warm.

  • Extra charger

    One of my newest purchases was for an extra battery charger for my cell phone.  While I have tried in the past to bring my charger with me, it can be difficult to find a spot by a plug or the time to recharge my phone.

  • Review the syllabus in advance

    I try to download the syllabus as soon as I can when that is an option.  My home internet is more reliable and less bogged down than those available at hotels or at the conferences themselves.  I also try to download the handouts if they are available because by looking at them it helps me decide what classes I really want to attend.

  • Prepare a Research Plan

    If you are going to an area that has nearby research facilities, check out their online catalog.  Are there items that interest you?  Do as much preparation as you can from home so you can maximize your time researching.

I am going to have a very busy week and I’m looking forward to another opportunity to increase my genealogy knowledge. I am excited to reconnect with friends and acquaintances this week and hope to make some additional ones.


SLIG- Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy

Conferences are so rewarding. I am in Salt Lake City this week attending the annual Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy.  I am looking forward to a week of being educated from several experts about German Research. I am attending the Advanced German Research track with a couple of friends I have met through the Germanic Genealogy Society.

  • I enjoy the classes and the suggestions I hear that I can implement in my own research and as I help research for others.  I often write in the margins of my notes the surnames of families that a particular tip/website/resource could be useful.
  • I enjoy the camaraderie between researchers as we support each other in our research goals.
  • I really enjoy having conferences in Salt Lake City because it means research time in the Family History Library.

It is going to be a great week.

Learning Languages

Doing genealogy research will ultimately mean running into an unfamiliar language.  Whether it is Latin when reading Catholic records, reading Foreign Church records, or Ethnic churches here in the U.S. we will all need to learn some new terminology.

There are many books, websites, and wikis that can be Googled for genealogy terms or word lists to get us started.  I have been able to learn to read Norwegian, German and Latin records without a lot of formal training.  Reading for basic facts can be accomplished by learning the terms for vital records, dates, and learning patterns of records.

There may come a time when you will want to learn more.  The offerings in your area may differ.  Some community education programs offer language classes as do many colleges.  You can also Google the language you would like to learn with specific terms.  For example if you search “learn Norwegian free” you will be given many free online programs.  Some libraries such as my Hennepin County Library System offer online language study for those with library cards through their website.

In the age of “there’s an app for that” there are also applications that you can download to your mobile devices.  I was recently introduced to DuoLingo.  It is a free app and/or a website that currently offers 5 different languages with an additional 9 others in various stages of development.  My 11 year old niece has been using it to learn Spanish.  I am currently using it to help me better understand German.  Will it help me become fluent?  Perhaps not, but it will help me understand the language better.

Whatever your chosen method of study, at some point in genealogy research you will need to learn more about the country and language of your ancestors.  Thankfully we have a lot of options to choose from.