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Lectures

Reed and Elissa Powell are available to speak at your next seminar or society meeting. The topics below have been well received by national, regional, and local audiences. Please E-mail us to discuss your date, program and budget.

You may view our current schedule here.

The following lecture videos are available at www.FamilySearch.org in the "Research Courses" section and also through the below links:
"Choosing the Best Continuing Education Opportunities" (taped at the APG Professional Management Conference, Knoxville, Tennessee, 17 August 2010)
"Get Paid For Your Passion: Becoming a Professional Genealogist" (taped at the APG Professional Management Conference, Little Rock, Arkansas, 2 September 2009)
"BCG Certification Seminar" (taped in November 2008 with Dr. Thomas Jones)

In April 2011, Elissa earned the additional credential Certified Genealogical LecturerSM (CGLSM) from the Board for Certification of Genealogists as CGL no. 33.

Lectures by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL include:

THE BASICS

PENNSYLVANIA

METHODOLOGY

CEMETERY RESEARCH and RECORDING

PROFESSIONAL

SEARCHING THE INTERNET

SOCIETY MANAGEMENT

Lectures by Reed B. Powell include:

Lectures Given by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

Your Own Detective Story:
The How & Why of Genealogy

Level: Beginner
Length: 1 hour (there is also a shorter version of this talk that can be given as an introduction to genealogy to general audiences of non-genealogists)
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

Each person's genealogy is their own detective story which must solve the "who, what, when, where, why, and how" of the family history. This informative and inspirational lecture explores reasons for "Why even bother" with genealogy. These range from legal, medical, scholarly, and religious, to just curiosity or for a family reunion. After discussing reasons "Why," "How to begin" your search and stay organized is the main focus of the lecture. Research tips, how-to's and how-not-to's are peppered throughout the presentation that includes the five essential genealogical forms and what to take on a research trip. Heirloom preservation and Internet resources are also introduced so that the beginner does not start off on the wrong foot. This lecture should give the beginner a solid foundation of how to record the information they gather with source citations and gives them many tips on staying organized with preservation of materials and artifacts for future generations in mind.

SUMMARY: Learn why and how to efficiently begin your research, stay organized, and what is available through traditional and Internet sources. Research tips, 'how-to's and 'how-not-to's are peppered throughout the lecture.

Beating the Bushes: Using the GPS to Find Jacob Bush's Father
Level: Intermediate/Advanced
Length (optional): 1 hour lecture or 2 hour workshop
Equipment needed: Screen and computer projector

This case study illustrates how following the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) to collect all records and correlate the evidence helps to determine kinship. The Bush family of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania is traced through land, probate, census, tax lists, and church records to find that there are three Bush families who happened to interact sometimes but did not appear to be related. Sifting out the "red herring" family records from the family being sought was a process that will be shown in this lecture. The answer comes in widening the scope of the search to include all spelling variants of the surname and creating a timeline of events.

SUMMARY: Eli Bush's grandfather was reported to be Daniel Bush, but was his father Jacob? Come see the research process unfold as land, probate, census, tax lists and church records are correlated. Watch out for pitfalls such as different men with the same name and other red herrings.

WHAT'S A PROTHONOTARY?:
PENNSYLVANIA'S COURTHOUSE RECORDS

Level: Beginner
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

Pennsylvania courthouses have some unique terms and an indexing system that may not be familiar to every researcher. This lecture will help the attendee gain a better understanding of those terms, the Russell Index System, and the types of records contained in the three major offices in every Pennsylvania Courthouse: the Recorder of Deeds, the Register of Wills, and the Prothonotary, and how to navigate those offices.

SUMMARY: Confused about where to look for records in Pennsylvania courthouses and what kind of index system they use? This lecture will show you the way to navigate through these original documents to find your hidden family treasures.

Finding Buried Treasure in the Published Pennsylvania Archives
Level: Beginner and Intermediate
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

The published Pennsylvania Archives set, containing 138 volumes, is the most valuable research tool for Colonial (1681-1774) and Revolutionary (1775-1783) records including baptisms, marriages, militia, land warrantees, tax lists, and immigration records. Understanding how to access these volumes is a key to success in finding your early Pennsylvania ancestor. The wide variety of records found include militia rolls, tax records for the late 1700s, early marriage records in a place where civil registration began in 1885, oaths of allegiance from new foreign immigrants in a time before passenger lists, original land warrantees, election results, and baptismal records among many others. The series is not well-indexed, but the indexes that do exist for the most part are buried among the volumes themselves. Other resources have been developed to access the records. This lecture will give an understanding of the value of the records, the limitations, research strategies, and keys to access in book, Internet and CD-ROM form.

SUMMARY: The Published Pennsylvania Archives set is a most valuable source for Colonial and Revolutionary era records.

Sailing Into the Sunset:
Tips for Finding Your Ancestors on Passenger Lists

Level: Beginner and Intermediate
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

Passenger lists are a wonderful resource for finding out more about the origins of immigrant ancestors. Most people have at least one immigrant ancestor who arrived by ship, but the records that have been kept over the years are mostly chronological. This lecture reviews the history of why passenger lists were recorded in an attempt to understand what types of records exist. Various indices, research aides, examples of records and where to find them are all discussed. Internet sources will also be presented.

SUMMARY: Understanding passenger lists and what indices exist are key to your success in finding your ancestor's record. Resources and aides in both printed and electronic versions will be discussed.

The Research Cycle: Don't Pedal Backwards
Level: Beginner / Intermediate
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

This lecture will examine the necessary steps to the successful research cycle from data collection to data comparison, analysis, and evaluation. Examples of common problems in analysis and evaluation will be shown and discussed, including how much proof is enough. Standards for citing sources, proof, and note-taking will be addressed as given in The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual. The attendee should come away with a better understanding of the research cycle and realize that consistent application of research methodology will lead to a better chance of success. A case study helps to illustrate the points from forming the question through data collection and analysis to the conclusion.

SUMMARY: The key to successful research is more than just data collection. It is the knowledge of how to fit all the information together using the proper methods of research in a consistent manner.

Messages From the Grave:
Listening to Your Ancestor's Tombstone

Level: Beginner and Intermediate
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

In order to find an ancestor's tombstone, the burial ground must first be found. Tips are given on how to find the different cemeteries depending on the time period, type (church or commercial), and economic condition of the deceased. Tombstones are the last monuments to our lives on this earth. In their shape and inscribed symbols, they can speak of the lifestyle of the deceased or the attitude of death of the loved ones left behind. They are being destroyed by many factors, which make them illegible or eradicate them altogether. Abandoned and "lost" cemeteries can be found through records and natural signs. Discussion includes ways to read "illegible" stones, which may be the last time a person may hear the tombstone "speak." This colorful slide lecture illustrates these techniques and shows what problems are encountered in reading a variety of markers and what might be done to overcome them. Internet sources and resources are also discussed throughout the lecture.

SUMMARY: This color slide show illustrates tips for finding cemeteries and tombstones using regular and Internet sources, and illustrates reading techniques that make worn inscriptions jump out and "speak" to you.

Even When There Is No Will There Is a Way:
Examining Probate Records

Level: Beginner / Intermediate
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

Eager researchers who only examine the Index to the Wills and think there is nothing recorded for their ancestor who did not have a Will sometimes overlook probate records and indexes. This lecture will discuss how to find the probate records and, using examples from Pennsylvania and Ohio, what treasures are found in them. Note that this lecture expands on the examples given in the Pennsylvania Courthouse Records lecture.

SUMMARY: Just because your ancestor did not leave a Will is no reason to not examine the records of the Probate office. The details surrounding the distribution of your ancestor's property at the time of his death may surprise you, or give you that clue that furthers your research.

How Did My Pennsylvania Ancestor Get Here?:
Migration Trails Out of the Keystone State

Level: Intermediate
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

All you know is that your ancestor was "born in PA." How can you find out where? This lecture focuses on the migration routes leading west out of Pennsylvania so that tracing them backward is an easier job. The various ethnic groups such as the Germans, Scots-Irish, English, Irish and Welsh moved for many reasons to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and other places, and left behind clues in the areas they passed through. They followed Forbes Road and the National Road (now Route 40), the canals and the railroads in their westward push to find new opportunities for land, jobs, and family connections. Some men were rewarded with land for military service, and some had a pioneering spirit. No matter what drove them, they were naturalized and married in places they may not have settled. Finding these records can be difficult unless one knows their migration path, and the laws and customs of the time. Internet resources will also be presented where appropriate.

SUMMARY: Considering the trails and reasons why your migrating ancestor left Pennsylvania will give you some clues as to where you might search for his origins there.

Windows to the Past: Newspaper Research
Level: Intermediate
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

Newspaper research is more than just obituaries. Many lifetime events are recorded in newspapers which can be invaluable especially when vital records did not exist. Once the attendee understands what types of info they may find, they will learn how to access the newspapers in various research locales and incorporate the data into their research. Online sources, transcription projects, archives on microfilm and by subscription, detriments to believability and how newspapers can enhance a family history will all be discussed.

SUMMARY: Newspapers contain more than obituaries -- they record many important events in our ancestor's lives and can be a substitute for missing vital records. Learn how to access them online and off in order to reap the huge rewards that are hidden in their pages.

Hiding Behind Their Skirts: Finding Women in Records
Level: Intermediate
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

Women traditionally and historically have not participated as fully as men in creating records and therefore are not as accessible to researchers. Research for our women ancestors must be done by connecting them to others in their family, social, economic and church circles. Maiden names may be discovered on the records of the women's children, church records, courthouse records, etc. The trick is to ever-widen the sphere of influence and discover all possible records referring to the subject and her family. This lecture gives concrete examples of how to search for the lost women on our pedigree.
For a newspaper article on this topic see http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05296/592235.stm

SUMMARY: Because they change their names during their lives and because of the historical status of women, finding your ancestresses can be challenging. Learn some of the techniques and unusual records that may contain information on the missing females in your family tree.

Rubik's Cube Genealogy:
A New Twist on Your Old Data

Level: Intermediate
Length: 1 hour
Equipment Needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

We all accumulate family data and perhaps organize it into pedigree charts and family group sheets. By looking at the data differently and giving it a new "twist," we can see patterns and holes emerge. Lineage applications may point out weaknesses in our proof of descent from a certain ancestor. By writing the family narrative, whether for a book or a short article for a newsletter, new questions requiring further research are made evident. Even formulating a query for an Internet list will cause us to take a new look at our data. By sifting through old data collected years ago with our more mature genealogical eyes we can see things and relationships we would not have recognized earlier. Placing our ancestors in history through timelines can point out reasons why the records are in the jurisdictions they are found and give suggestions on where to look further. Using land platting techniques will point out relationships previously hidden from the casual observer. Many ideas are presented to help the attendee think about how the data they have already accumulated may give the next clue to continued successful results.

SUMMARY: By twisting your data by sources, geography and chronology, holes and discrepancies will become more apparent, and may suggest further clues. Discussion includes: timelines, genograms, lineage society applications, land platting, and writing the family narrative.

Evaluating Sources on the Internet
Level: Beginner and Intermediate
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

This lecture will discuss the differences and reliability factors between scanned images and transcribed data and how each should be approached when choosing to incorporate the data into our own research . Learning the source of your source is important. A discussion of original and derivative sources, primary and secondary information, and direct and indirect evidence is presented in order to understand which elements lend to the believability of a document or piece of data. A case study using an EllisIsland.org index entry which points to a mis-linked manifest is analyzed and solved. The attendee will gain insight into records that seem so easily available on the Internet and how to feel confidant in their reliability.

SUMMARY: All kinds of data is available on the Internet, but how can one evaluate what is true? Learn what kinds of data are more reliable than others and why, and how to weigh conflicting pieces of information.

Publishing for Fun & Profit: Your Project Should Be Fun & Future Generations Will Profit
Level: Intermediate and Advanced
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

This lecture will go through the various stages of publishing using a tombstone reading project as an example. Included are fact finding, proofing, selecting a printer and marketing. Discussion of what should be included in the project includes histories, maps and indices. This will appeal not only to people and societies who would like to get into the very worthwhile endeavor of preserving cemeteries in a published form, but also the individual who is doing his or her own family history or project and wants to know about the costs and processes of printing. Publishing the information on the internet will also be addressed.

SUMMARY: Using a tombstone transcription project as an example, learn what it takes to produce a quality publication from A to Z: defining the scope of the project, writing, proofing, editing, selecting a printer, and marketing. Publishing on the internet will also be addressed.

Using the Genealogical Proof Standard in Everyday Problems

Level: Intermediate
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

This case study illustrates how following the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) to collect records and correlate evidence helps trace a Pennsylvania family's possible movement to Ohio and Indiana. The Colglazier family, said to be of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, is traced through land, probate, census, tax lists, and military records to find if they are indeed the same family who moved west. Four research questions are posed with proposed solutions demonstrating various analysis techniques. The audience is then asked if each solution meets the GPS.

SUMMARY:

Is David of Pennsylvania the same one who settled in Indiana? Did he serve in the Revolutionary War? Come see the research process unfold and if you agree the case is "proven."

Ignite Your Society With That Pioneer Spirit:
Developing a First Family Program

Level: Society Management
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

This lecture is intended for society management members to consider the advantages of beginning a First Families or Pioneer Families Lineage Program in their society. The effort of putting together such a program benefits a society in the increased membership and scholarship knowledge of their area, as well as any profits from fees and published information. The members benefit as well from making connections with other cousins who have submitted their lineages, honoring their ancestors, and encouraging them to prove their lineage with documentation.

Discussion will include various aspects of the project:

Ø      How to define the cut-off date by which the pioneers were in the area, and if there might be other criteria (certain geographic area, ethnic group, or religious affiliation, etc.)

Ø      What forms are needed for the application and judging processes, including rule sheets.

Ø      How to advertise the new lineage society.

Ø      Giving recognition to successful candidates through a special event, certificate, ribbon, etc.

Ø      What to do with the information once you have collected it.

Ø      Will the project continue or is it just a one-time event?

SUMMARY: Learn the advantages and considerations in starting up a First Families Lineage Program in your society. Not only do you benefit by increased membership, but you also gain documented knowledge of the families who settled your area, and your members gain new family connections.

The Dreaded Research Report

Level: Intermediate / Advanced
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Computer projector

Many people enjoy collecting data on their family and even putting it into lineage-linked software programs, but few relish writing their findings in a collated narrative or report in order to share them. This lecture will try to take the pain out of that process by demonstrating that writing is actually part of the research process and drives future research questions. Appropriate compilation standards and report types as mentioned in The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual will be illustrated. Included are Research Reports, Proof Summary and Proof Argument, Narrative Lineages, Pedigrees and Genealogies.

The Board For Certification Of Genealogists:
What Is It and How Do I Apply?
Level: Advanced
Length: 1 or 2 hours
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

This can be a 1- to 2-hour workshop on the history of the BCG, the application process and the requirements for each category. Since the final application is judged against the BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, practicing good standards will be emphasized. This workshop would be appropriate for anyone thinking of becoming certified, whether they are a professional, an advanced hobbyist, a genealogical lecturer or instructor, or a librarian dealing with genealogists.

SUMMARY: If you are curious about the Board for Certification of Genealogists, how it can help you, and the application process, then this is the workshop for you! It provides information on becoming certified, whether you are a professional, an advanced hobbyist, a genealogical lecturer or instructor, or a librarian dealing with genealogists.

Managing A Cemetery Reading Project Efficiently

Level: Society Management, or All levels
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

This lecture will go through the various stages of a tombstone-recording project, which endeavors to preserve the inscriptions in a published format. The biggest question is usually how to manage the data readings from the cemeteries. Different methods of storing and gathering will be addressed including databases, websites, word processors, and publishing software. While considering how to input the data, the output must also be considered, whether it will be a printed book, CD-ROM, or website. Discussion of what should be included in the project includes histories, maps and indexes. Unique marketing ideas for the final product will be presented. Also addressed will be the efficient management of the project and its volunteers, as coordination is key to any large-scale project.

SUMMARY:

Learn what it takes to have a successful cemetery reading project which endeavors to preserve the tombstone inscriptions in a published format. Managing both the data and the volunteers is addressed.

Thinking Outside the Index: Advanced Search Techniques

Level: Intermediate / Advanced
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

This lecture examines why some records cannot be found using present indexes and gives alternative methods for searches and alternative search engines. Finding these hidden treasures usually helps to burn brick walls.

  • Why information can't be found (Few records, variant spellings, records lie, historical context ignored, difficult records not consulted, records not analyzed together)
  • Looking at things a different way (Use extant records, be open to spelling variants, reexamine what you know, collect all documents, read contemporary historic accounts, access obscure records, look at records in context of the whole person)
  • Common Problems (Handwriting/transcriptions, name format, common surname, jurisdictional boundary changes)
  • Search techniques (Index tool limitations, Ancestry.com search tips, Soundex and how it applies to searches in Ancestry.com)
  • Internet tips (Wildcards, Boolean operators, choosing the right search engine for the job)

SUMMARY: Failure to locate information is attributed to many reasons. Searching databases with advanced techniques such as truncation, wild card, Boolean, and using non-standard fields, all help massage the data in ways that can help identify people otherwise overlooked. Tips for choosing the right search engine will also be discussed.

Eating an Elephant: Managing Large Projects

Level: Intermediate / Advanced
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen; possibly a computer projector
The seven steps to managing a large project are:
  1. Visualize the end result. (What is the goal and what does it look like?)
  2. Parameters (what to include, how much latitude, resource limitations, deadlines and milestone dates)
  3. Break the project into smaller bites.
  4. Prioritize bites.
  5. Use the right tools. Are they on hand? If not, acquire them and learn to use them. Tools illustrated include software, computer hardware and the Internet.
  6. Reevaluate often and adjust schedule.
  7. Finish a bite to feel accomplishment.

Large project examples include a family history booklet for a special occasion, a printed family history, and the certification application process.

SUMMARY: Facing a large project is not so intimidating with good planning, the right tools, and thoughtful analysis. Organizational tips for paper and computer will also be discussed.

Twenty Years of Stuff - Now What Do I Do?

Level: Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen; possibly a computer projector

Whether a researcher has been collecting information for a long time or has suddenly inherited someone else's research, they will need to:
1.) Organize it,
2.) Decide what is valuable and what isn't,
3.) Make it available to others through some type of publication, and
4.) Provide for the collection's survival.
This lecture will encourage organization (both paper and computer) and preservation of the materials; analysis and writing the family history using standard numbering systems including NGSQ and the Register systems. Evidence analysis and source citations will be discussed as will the use of computer programs as tools for organization and writing. Discussion also includes the use of artifacts and photographs in the family history and a genealogical will or codicil for the disposal of both the material and paper collections.

SUMMARY: Have piles of documents and loads of information, photographs, and artifacts? Organization, preservation of what is essential, and publication of the family history will be discussed as well as consideration of the collection's final disposal.

Get Paid for Your Passion: Becoming a Professional Genealogist

Level: Intermediate / Advanced
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen; possibly a computer projector
Many genealogists, hooked on the thrill of the chase, would like to know more about what it takes to become a professional and get paid for their passion. This lecture explores psychological, educational, and physical requirements for achieving that goal. Since many businesses fail within one to three years, tips are provided to help the attendee evaluate whether this is for him/her and what it takes to be successful.
  • Defining Professionalism
  • Adjust mental attitudes and do a self-assessment
  • Tips for success
  • Learning Progression
  • Continuing Education: institutes, major conferences, and other workshops and seminars
  • Guided Study and Self-Instruction Opportunities
  • Keeping up to date: newsletters, e-mags, etc.
  • Finding a Mentor – networking suggestions
  • Specializing – study an area in depth
  • Collecting ready reference material
  • Hanging out your shingle: advertising and business practices
  • Credentials – public and private reasons to consider

 SUMMARY: You love the thrill of the research hunt and think it would be heaven to be paid too. Learn what you need to consider before and during your transition to becoming a professional.

Write As You Go!

Level: Intermediate / Advanced
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen; possibly a computer projector

This lecture encourages the attendees to begin the writing process before they ever look at a research record as a tool for organization and analysis. It starts out using the same general principles as "The Dreaded Research Report" but goes through how to practically apply them to build a report, along with advice and time-saving tips. Choosing the appropriate report style for the project data and goals and building the report segment by segment is demonstrated.

SUMMARY:

Learn how to be an efficient researcher by using the writing process as a vehicle to drive research and not as a separate activity.

Lectures Given by Reed B. Powell

Building Your First Website
Level: Beginner and Intermediate
Length: 90 minutes
Equipment needed: Computer projector and screen

Genealogy and the Internet
Level: Beginner and Intermediate
Length: 90 minutes
Equipment needed: Internet connection, computer projector and screen

Genealogy and Multimedia
Level: Intermediate and Advanced
Length: 90 minutes
Equipment needed: Computer projector and screen

Using Scanning to Enhance Your Family History
Level: Intermediate
Length: 90 minutes
Equipment needed: Computer projector and screen

 

This page last updated 29 June 2011.

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