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Seminar topics and links
Three dozen choices in five categories:
General, Technology, Canada, Europe and England.
Some of them work well together, and others don't.
Check with Dave before making your final choices.
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Making the most of FamilySearch -- Family History Library in Salt Lake City has the largest collection of family history materials in the world. Its website, FamilySearch is the most important genealogical resource on the Internet. Learn how to use the site to its full potential.
Death Records: Bringing Research Back to Life -- No other vital event creates as many potential sources as a death. There is a goldmine waiting for genealogical researchers, including death registrations, obituaries, church registers, cemetery records, probate files and more. This talk explains some of the key sources, with a discussion about how to use them mots effectively.
Old Newspapers in the Digital Age -- Researching in old newspapers no longer means sitting at a microfilm reader for hours on end, winding through a seemingly endless string of news stories and advertisements. Today, the results we seek could be a matter of minutes away, thanks to the many digitization projects that have placed millions of newspaper pages on the Internet. This presentaton is designed to help you achieve the best results from your work, and takes a sneak peek behind the scenes in the digitized world.
A Sense of Place and Time: Putting Ancestors in Context -- Charts alone don't tell the stories of your ancestors; to produce meaningful reasearch, you need to understand the local geography and history in the areas where they lived. Your ancestors were affected by local events, after all -- they were not living in isolation. This talk explains why certain information is valuable, and how to locate it. It includes examples based on Dave's own research.
Your Library in the Cloud: A genealogical guide to digital collections -- There are billions of scanned pages on the Internet -- a collection that few physical libraries could match. The problem is that pages relevant to your research can be difficult to track down. This session provides ideas on how to find the documents that will help you learn more about your families, or the local histories of the areas where they lived. Includes web links.
Mythbusters! Challenging some common beliefs -- Our family name has been spelled the same way for generations, right? And a 20-year-old in the early 1800s could expect, what, another 20 years of life? And while we're at it, let's say that England or Scotland had the best parish registers. Many family historians have been led astray because of common misconceptions. This talk tackles some of those beliefs, with examples of why they are not always correct.
Trinkets and Treasures: Things Your Ancestors Left Behind -- Family history research should involve more than websites, old pieces of paper and microfilm. There are tangible pieces of evidence as well. These might include items your ancestors used or created, and they will help you to gain a better understanding of the lives they lived. They also serve as a reminder of times past. Think of the stories they can tell!
Seven Habits of Highly Successful Genealogists -- It doesn't matter where you are researching, certain practices will help increase your chances of success -- and the quality of the information that you collect. Keep these seven points in mind as you work, and you will be less likely to be led astray.
Genealogy 101 -- Why do we do what we do? What are the basic sources to use? A primer of the basics of family history research. Hint: Start close to home, then work from there. Includes web links.
Civil Registration and Public Records -- Civil registration documents -- sometimes known as vital statistics -- provide basic building blocks for many genealogical projects. This is a summary of some of the records available, and how to put them to the best use. There are indexes online, and sometimes even digitized copies of records. Includes a list of Web sites to use.
The Search for Frank Liddell: A Case Study -- Frank Liddell was born in Coleraine, County Derry, Ireland in the 1880s. Or was he? Frank came to Canada in 1910. Or did he? Why doesn't he appear in any of the records? Why is there no trace of the first 25 years of his life? Checking all available source documents reveals the answers -- and raises many, many more questions. This is a great detective case. Includes web links.
The Geography of Genealogy -- It is impossible to do comprehensive genealogical research without an understanding of where your ancestors lived. There are several good reasons to use geographic tools in your research. They help you to determine where you are from. They will also help you to find records dealing with your family. Maps and atlases help genealogists sort out where their ancestors lived in relation to regional and national boundaries, churches, rail lines, and other factors that help determine which records hold most hope. Geographic tools will also give you a sense of what life was like for your ancestors. This talk provides a basic overview of what to look for, and how to use the information that you find. Includes web links. (Please note that there are versions of this talk tailored for Canadian research, for English research, and for European research.)
Tracing Forward to Find Distant Cousins -- Stymied in your search for distant cousins -- your living relatives? Trying to find other descendants of your ancestors? You need to start in the past and trace forward. Researching subsequent generations can be difficult, because people leave clues regarding where they are from, but not necessarily where they are going to. That doesn't mean it's impossible; there are plenty of sources that will help you. Many Internet sites can help -- but it pays to know which ones are essential, and which tricks to use. Includes a list of Web sites to use.
The Errors of Our Ways -- Many times, well-meaning family history researchers find themselves at a dead-end because they took a wrong turn without realizing it. This session includes a dozen examples of errors that have been made and how those errors could have been avoided. It may inspire you to take a second look at some of your research practices. This session is perfect for starting a conference. More thoughts are on the Errors of our ways Web page.
Write Your Family History -- One of the best ways to create a lasting memory of your ancestors is to tell the stories of their lives. While a genealogical chart can seem daunting (or even worse, boring) to a non-genealogist, a narrative is accessible. A well-written story will make other family members much more aware about, and more interested in, the research that you are doing. This talk -- by a genealogist who has been a journalist since 1972 -- includes some ideas that will help you get over your writer's block. It might even inspire people to start writing more stories for the society's journal. Includes a list of Web sites to use.
Get Them Talking -- Interviewing relatives and strangers for genealogical information can be rewarding or frustrating. Results will vary widely, and one of the key factors will be the amount of preparation you have done. Here are many tips and strategies, culled from almost four decades as a journalist. When people would rather not talk, it is usually possible to get them to open up. There are ways to break the silence -- and ways to determine if they are telling the truth. The examples include some questions you should never use. There are also pointers for recording the information using different kinds of equipment. See this Web page for more information and some links.
Christmas: A Special Time for Genealogists -- Some classic Christmas works were based on family history. Besides, it is a good time to connect with relatives, isn't it? (Warning: This talk is only suitable in November or December!)
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Genealogy by Google -- Google is an invaluable tool for genealogists. It pays to know some tricks, including effective filtering and search strategies. Don't forget Google Books, Google Maps, Google Images and the historic newspaper collection. You will quickly discover that a simple search simply scratches the surface of what is available to genealogists. Includes a list of Web sites to use.
Blogs, Posts, Tweets and Apps -- The Internet provides several tools that seem perfect for genealogical researchers. They can help you find distant relatives or people researching in the same area as you. Consider using blogs -- online logs that you can use to share information on any topic. Or try Facebook, the social networking tool that makes it easy to share information with family members across generations, distances and family lines. Learn to use social networks to share research, stories and workloads as you work on your family's history. Try Twitter, which is perfect for short bursts of information that might trigger responses from your contacts. Try Youtube if you have videos to share. There is also Skype, among other voice over Internet services. And do not forget the iPhone, the iPad and the iPod Touch, which have applications -- apps, they are called -- that might make your research easier. There are several other tools that can make your life much easier, including PDAs, GPS receivers, Wi-Fi and more. Includes a list of Web sites to use.
Travel Smart With Technology -- Visiting an ancestral community is one of the greatest thrills a family historian can have. The experience provides a wealth of information, both from local archives and by simply walking the streets. But to make the most of the experience, it helps to prepare. This session will help you get ready for a trip to explore your family's roots. It also includes tips for using tools that might not have obvious genealogical connections. For starters, consider taking a Global Positioning System receiver, a netbook, a hand-held device such as an iPod Touch or a Palm, and a digital camera -- and don't forget the value of making extra copies of everything you discover. And if you don't want to travel with an electronic arsenal, you can still use technology to gain a better sense of an area before you set out. Attendees will benefit from a presentation designed to help travelers, both real and virtual, to maximize their research into family connections outside Canada. Includes web links.
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Destination Canada -- More than seven million people arrived in Canada from Europe, the United States and Asia between 1815 and 1930. This session deals with the wide variety of sources that deal with immigration to Canada, including ship passenger lists (available from 1865 through 1935), border crossing records, and naturalization and citizenship documents. Many of these sources have been indexed and placed online, making it possible to access them quickly and easily. It pays to know, however, the scope and limitations of those Internet resources, and how to obtain information from other sources. Includes a list of web sites to use. Dave is the author of the book Destination Canada.
The Great Canadian Census Quiz -- Test your knowledge of the Canadian census, one of the greatest resources available to family historians. This session will make you more aware of the history of the census, its potential for reseachers and its limitations. Here's a hint, though: Just because someone appears in the census does not mean he was even alive! The way the census was taken ensured that errors would appear in the finished product. We take this source for granted, but it is important to understand why it was taken, and what limitations might have been imposed. Although the first nominal enumerations were done in the French colonies in 1666 and 1667, the most useful census returns date from 1851 through 1916. They provide snapshots of the population every five or ten years, and make it easier to sort out family units and relationships. This talk includes a list of web sites to use.
Mining the Canadian Census -- Canadian census records are a tremendous source of genealogical information. Although the first nominal enumerations were done in the French colonies in 1666 and 1667, the most useful census returns date from 1851 through 1916. They provide snapshots of the population every five or ten years, and make it easier to sort out family units and relationships. To be most effective, a genealogist will need to understand the scope and limitations of the census, and to know which supporting documents will enhance the information found in the returns. This session includes a summary of finding aids and indexes. This talk includes a list of web sites to use.
Canadian Migration Patterns -- People have been coming to this country for centuries. Understanding the flow of people will help you understand how your family fits in the history of the country. Look for specific sources and their locations, probable routes, places of origin for group migrations, and the influx of people directly from the United States, Europe and Asia.
Canadian Genealogy on the Internet -- Canada has hundreds of websites of prime value to genealogists, but it is important to know which ones will give the most value for the time you invest. Which sites to use? That will depend on which of the 10 provinces and three territories your family called home. Several sources should be checked by everyone, but some of the best finds will be in the regional or local websites. This session will quickly guide you to the top sites, where it will be possible for you to make good progress on your Canadian lines. Links are on CanGenealogy, the most accessible Canadian link site.
Canadians in the First World War -- The First World War touched virtually every Canadian. Between 1914 and 1918, 240,000 men were killed or wounded -- from a country with a population of just eight million. Today, researchers can learn about Canada's soldiers, including facts about their family and where they served. It makes sense to also look for context - what happened to those who survived the war, and to the family members who waited at home for news. Much of the information is available on the Internet (assuming you know where to look). Includes a list of web sites to use.
Family History in Western Canada -- Western Canada is the youngest part of the country; serious settlement did not begin until thousands of people arrived from San Francisco for the Fraser River gold rush in 1858. They were followed by millions of people from just about everywhere. Today, it is possible to find plenty of information about the people of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Some national and regional sources will help, but it pays to know the differences among the four provinces. The first thing to do is to sort out the geography, because two of the provinces are barely a century old. Includes a list of web sites to use.
Family History on the Canadian Prairies -- You don't necessarily have to go there to trace your ancestors in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba - a lot of information is available on the Web, through the mail, and at your local library. This session offers insight into some of the lesser-known sources of information, as well as an explanation of the Dominion Land Survey, the basis for the farm divisions on the Prairies. Includes a list of web sites to use.
Family History in British Columbia -- A review of the most important sources, with an emphasis on the Internet. The session includes a look at history, because it is impossible to do effective research without understanding the development of the province.
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Introduction to Eastern European Family History -- Boundary changes and unfamiliar languages can make research in countries such as Ukraine and Poland difficult, but there are ways to get past the hurdles. Using geographic tools will make it easier for you to discover which records might be available, and where they are held. With more material being placed online every year, it is possible to make progress that would have seemed impossible not that long ago. Includes a list of Web sites to use.
The Geography of Genealogy in Europe -- It takes a few special tricks to find places in Germany and points east. The researcher can save time by consulting the best sources. This lecture includes several samples from the problems Dave has been asked to solve over the years. Includes a list of Web sites to use.
Two Dozen (or more) Ways to Research Germans from Russia -- For many years, researchers have had great difficulty researching these roots. Today, a huge amount of material is available, if you know where to look. Much of that is on the Internet, with several key sites -- including www.odessa3.org-- providing a lot of information. There are also societies that might help, and don't forget the value of a trip to your ancestral homeland. Includes a list of Web sites to use.
If It's Tuesday This Must Be Lidzbark-Warminski: On the Road in Eastern Europe -- A light-hearted look at travelling to do research in Eastern Europe. It's worth it, just to trudge down the dusty streets where your ancestors walked. Also, to fight with the local police, to fall on your face in a forest, to argue with the archivists, and more. Researching in countries such as Poland and Ukraine is not as easy as researching here, so you should keep your expectations in check -- and just enjoy the experience. Includes a Web page with more information.
The 1930s: Stalin's Arrest Files -- Records held by the KGB in the former Soviet Union can provide a wealth of information on families of people who were arrested. The prisoners often gave information about neighbours as well. This session includes many examples taken from KGB files, as well as tips on how to gain access to the material. Includes a Web page with more information.
The 1940s: Forced from Their Homes -- The Einwandererzentralstelle series of films, from the Captured German Documents collection at the U.S. national archives, has been a tremendous source for Germans from Russia. Dave has purchased 70 of the films, covering every family in his mother's ancestral village in Volhynia. These films reveal rich detail about life in the German colonies. Includes a Web page with more information.
Volhynia? Where is Volhynia? -- You won't find it on any modern maps, or on many old ones, for that matter. But Volhynia is home to more than a million people, and was a prime destination for Germans in the middle of the 19th century. This session explores the history and geography of the region in the northwest corner of modern-day Ukraine. (And don't forget to look at Volhynia.com as well.)
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The Geography of Genealogy in England -- Knowing about geography will help you to find records dealing with your family. Maps and atlases help genealogists sort out where their ancestors lived in relation to regional and national boundaries, churches, rail lines, and other factors that help determine which records hold most hope. This talk provides a basic overview of English sources, and how to use the information that you find. Includes web links.