I am, by my very nature, a lifelong learner. Although I love attending conferences and institutes in order to improve my genealogical research skills, those only happen once or twice a year. I've found some great ways to continue learning in the meantime, and one of those is watching webinars. Watching a webinar (or web-based seminar) on your computer is sometimes even better than being at a national conference - you don't have to do all that walking, you can watch at midnight in your pajamas and slippers, and (if you're watching a recorded or archived webinar) you can stop it to go get lunch or let the dog in. I've found webinars to watch in a couple of different places online. The blog GeneaWebinars has a calendar and a fairly up-to-date listing of upcoming webinars. Legacy Family Tree
has sponsored some terrific webinars. A few professional genealogists, such as Michael John Neill
and Michael Hait
, present webinars for a low fee. A couple of months ago, I saw an announcement for a webinar on Selective Service Records of World War 1, sponsored by the Friends of the National Archives, Southeast Region in Atlanta. It was a simple matter to sign up with my name, email address, city and country.
When I clicked "Submit", I was greeted with a Registration Complete screen, with a link to click on when the webinar was about to start. However, there was no need to save that page, because I also got an email with that link in it. Most webinar producers are thoughtful enough to send a confirmation email, a reminder email the day before, and a last reminder email a few hours before the webinar begins. I like reminders! I usually check into the webinar about 5 minutes before it begins. Sometimes there will be an introductory
few minutes, explaining how you can participate in the webinar, by either calling in on your phone, or typing a question for the presenter. If you happen to miss the live broadcast, very often the webinar is archived on the hosting website for several days. For example, I missed the live broadcast of Marian Pierre-Louis' "Cracking the Case of Nathan Brown's Parents" on November 2, so I watched it the following day. All I had to do was click on the link
, and the webinar began playing in the browser window. This was an excellent webinar - Marian stated what she would be covering, and told us of getting the background information on this family. She included photos of original documents such as deeds that provided clues:
and showed us how seeing the places on a map make a difference in our conclusions about the family and their removal to another town. And for the grand finale, she revealed how she discovered that Nathan Brown was descended from Roger Williams, the founder of Providence, Rhode Island! Webinars are great fun, and you can watch them at home, at your own convenience
. I'm signed up for several upcoming webinars, including:
- "It is Well With My Soul: Finding Ancestors Amid the Rubble of Disaster and Misfortune (Thomas MacEntee, Nov. 9, on Legacy Family Tree)
- "Creating a Shareable CD with Legacy and Passage Express software" (Jefferson Shupe, Nov. 16, on Legacy Family Tree)
- "Tracing Immigrant Ancestors" (Lisa Alzo, Dec. 7, on Legacy Family Tree)
- "Military Personnel Records" (Kevin Pratt, Nov. 14, on Friends of the National Archives, Southeast Region)
- "Digital Books and Sites for Genealogists" (James Tanner, Jan. 4, on Legacy Family Tree)
- "Pilgrims and Patriots: Discovering Your Massachusetts Ancestors" (Marian Pierre-Louis, Jan. 18, on Legacy Family Tree)
What a great way to learn something new!!
As I said, I'd given up on genealogy. Permanently. Or so I thought. Through the 1990's and into 2000, I refused to get interested, even when I saw books on Genealogy and the Internet on my library shelves.
In 2003, my 99-year old grandmother, who lived in Michigan with her daughter, my Aunt Ethel, was beginning a long, slow decline. Aunt Ethel called and asked me if I could do some online research into assisted living or adult family home facilities in their area. Being the librarian that I am, I immediately went to the Library of Michigan website. I did find a state-wide review of facilities, and was able to give my aunt some names and phone numbers of places to check out. In the process of exploring the library website, I noticed a sidebar that said, "Search the 1870 census index for Michigan." Immediately I thought of my great-great grandfather Stacy Clay Thompson, whom I'd never been able to find, either in Pennsylvania, where he was born, or in Michigan.
So, not expecting much, I typed his name into the search box. In seconds I had my answer - 14-year old Stacy Thompson was living in Blair, Grand Traverse County (where I never thought of looking for him), boarding with another family and attending school.
To say that I was impressed was putting it mildly! Immediately I thought, "Ooooohhhh - this has possibilities!" So I plugged in another name, that of another great great grandfather, Marshall Jackson Chase, who (according to family notes) had taken his small family from Ohio to Michigan in the 1850's. Once again the search found him in seconds - living with his wife Mary Ann, their two children George Carlos and Florence, and his sister-in-law and niece, Louisa and Eva Catlin. I had no idea they ever lived in Lansing.
It didn't take me long to swing into action. I knew I needed an up-to-date genealogy software program, so I went online to read some reviews, and chose Legacy Family Tree, because it was available for download immediately, was user-friendly and a reasonable price. I decided early on that I would be entering all my information from the beginning, using the binders of original records and family papers that I'd collected. I subscribed to Ancestry, and started reading online genealogy newsletters.
I was on my way!