Saturday, June 2, 2012


Congratulations to our newly elected SGS Board Members. New board members this year are Director of Membership, Pat Younie; Director of Education, Ida Skarson McCormick; and Director of Publications, Jill Morelli. Many, many thanks to Linda Fitzgerald, Lynn Magnuson, and Annette Dwyer who filled those positions (respectively) this past year. Retiring Director of Membership Linda Fitzgerald has graciously agreed to fill the position of President of SGS for the coming year. Profuse thanks to her!

With the change of leadership comes a change in this blog. Due to low readership and even lower participation in the monthly surveys, the Board decided to discontinue this blog. This will be the last post. We will attempt to remove it from the web as of June 15th. Thank you to those of you who have taken the time to respond to the surveys and comment on previous posts.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Another Great Seminar

Yesterday's all-day seminar with George G. Morgan was a great success--both in terms of audience comments (thank you to those who turned in evaluations) and in terms of revenue for SGS.The SGS Seminar Committee did an excellent job of organizing the event and anticipating people's needs--no mean feat given that we were using a totally new location. It's a pity the MOHAI auditorium will be a pile of rubble by the time our next seminar comes around. The weather's cooperation was a big plus, given how little space was available for dining. I, for one, enjoyed sitting outside and soaking up a few rays before heading back into the auditorium.
I am always amused that the seminar evaluations always include a few comments that the presentations were "too basic" or "too simple" AND comments that they were "too advanced" and "too fast-paced." It seems to me that this says more about the range of experience of our attendees--from total "newbies" to professional genealogists--than to the speaker's presentations.
Personally, I found George's presentations entertaining, informative, and well-organized. Since I've been doing genealogy research for over 30 years, I can't say that I learned anything totally new, but I was reminded of some things I really should be doing to organize my research (creating those chronological profiles with source citations) and to break down some of my brick walls (taking some more meaningful "sidesteps" in my research as opposed to wandering aimlessly through families).
I hope that everyone who attended learned something useful and left with a renewed energy to dive into their research.
Kudos to the Seminar Committee and all our wonderful volunteers. And, of course, to George Morgan for traveling all the way across the country to educate us.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Reverse Genealogy Webinar

Have you been keeping up with the FREE Legacy Family Tree genealogy webinars?
If not, you might want to check out their webinar website at
Last week Megan Smolnyak Smolnyak presented a webinar titled "Reverse Genealogy: Finding the Living." You'll need to scroll down a ways to get to the listing and WATCH NOW button. If you want to watch it for free, you have until May 7th.
Our own Mary Roddy has given several informative and interesting presentations on finding living relatives. Megan Smolnyak takes a slightly different approach and suggests some additional resources to use.
I heartily recommend that you take advantage of this free opportunity to hear Megan speak....and definitely check out the other free webinar offerings from Legacy Family Search. They're offering a great educational opportunity to the worldwide genealogy community.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Finding Your Roots

I just finished watching the 6th episode of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on PBS. It featured the family histories of Robert Downey, Jr. and Maggie Gyllenhaal. I thought this particular show was absolutely fantastic and I'm trying to figure out why I liked it so much.
Both "stars" seemed to be genuinely interested in their family histories and in their DNA results.
Both family trees were traced waaay back in time. Both Robert and Maggie seemed genuinely surprised at how long some of their ancestors had lived in the U.S.
Maggie's family included Swedish royalty and a connection to Henry the first of England. The fact that she has a cousin who has spent years researching the Gyllenhaal line and hasn't contacted her was a bit troubling to me. Surely he must have tried contacting her, right?
The Eastern European history that was woven into the stories was also fascinating. It added credance to my theory that my husband's Swedish-Finn grandfather left Finland to avoid conscription into the Russian Army.
And I loved the footage of the county court records. I have no idea which courthouse was filmed, but it made me want to dig through some deed books!
What else did you like or dislike about this episode? Please click the "comment" button below and share your thoughts.

Monday, April 2, 2012

1940 Census Release

It's April 2nd at 10:30 AM and I'm already totally frustrated with NARA and their much hyped 1940 census release.
After all the assurances that they planned for and could handle the huge demand they generated, they certainly haven't lived up to their promises.
I, for one, believed the hype and thought they'd have sufficient capacity to handle the pent-up demand from millions of genealogists.
Not so.
Unfortunately, Dick Eastman was right in his prediction of massive frustration and lack of access.
I naively thought that I could just zip into the site and download the ED where most of my mother's family was living in 1940.
So far I've tried to access that ED about 10 times and haven't gotten past the little circle spinning around.
Have any of you had any better luck?
A few states are already up on, but not mine (of course).
I suspect that we in Seattle would have had better access if they'd released the 1940 census on microfilm. At least then we could run over to our very own NARA branch and scroll through the pages!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates

This weekend PBS is beginning a new Henry Louis Gates series called "Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates." According to my KCTS9 guide, the first two shows in the 10 part series will be aired this Sunday, March 25th, at 8:00 and 9:00 pm. Unfortunately, it doesn't tell me which celebrities will be featured. According to the show's website (, it could be any of the following: Branford Marsallis, Harry Connick Jr., John Lewis, Cory A. Booker, Barbara Walters, Geoffrey Canada, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Angela Buchdahl, Rick Warren, Yasir Qadhi, Samuel L. Jackson, Condoleezza Rice, Ruth Simmons, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr, Sanjay Gupta, Margaret Cho, Martha Stewart, John Legend, Wanda Sykes, Michelle Rodriguez, Adrian Grenier, and/or Linda Chavez. Given that there are 24 names and 10 shows, I'm guessing that some "celebreties" will get more air time than others.
I have to admit not recognizing all of the names in the above list. Guess I'll have to watch the show to find out who they are and why they were selected.
And, of course, I'll be watching "Who Do You Think You Are?" tonight to find out about Helen Hunt's ancestry.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Amazing Records at NARA

If you'd like to see some truly amazing record images, click here.
These are images of family records found by NARA staff in the case files of Revolutionary and War of 1812 pension and bounty land warrant applications.
It appears to me that "Wikimeda Commons" has provided two images of each record, one at a high resolution and the other at a lower resolution. They are labeled, but I haven't figured out how to get a list of the captions so you can scan the surnames.
If any of these records are for YOUR family, I'd love to hear it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Quick Sheets

Have you used any of the "Quick Sheets" published by The Genealogical Publishing Company over the years? Several years ago SGS purchased a number of the QuickSheets created to accompany Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained book on citing genealogical sources and I bought one of them. It's been a lifesaver for me. She actually generated a series of QuickSheets for citing different kinds of sources.
Now Ms. Mills has a new QuickSheet available: The Historical Biographer's Guide to the Research Process. You can read all the details here. I haven't actually seen a copy, but it sounds like a quick "how-to" guide to the research process, data organization, and evidence analysis. The description on the GPC website ends with "If the objective of research is to reach conclusions and establish proof, this QuickSheet will get you to your goal with absolute confidence." I'm not sure how 4 laminated pages can make this happen, but it's certainly an interesting premise.
What was more surprising to me was to see that GPC and Elizabeth Shown Mills have developed two other QuickSheets related to DOING research (as opposed to CITING research sources):
--The Historical Biographer's Guide to Cluster Research (the FAN Principle)
--The Historical Biographer's Guide to Finding People in Databases & Indexes
These sound like they could be potentially very useful.
Have any of you readers seen/used any of these?
Please offer your comments by clicking on the "comment" button below.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are? is back!

The season 3 premiere of the Ancestry/NBC series Who Do You Think You Are? will air Friday evening, February 3rd, at 8:00 pm with a show on Martin Sheen's ancestry. The Ancestry blurb says "Award-winning actor and activist Martin Sheen embarks on an epic journey into both sides of his family history. It takes him to Dublin, Ireland and Madrid, Spain, where he discovers that a commitment to social justice runs deep in his roots." Sounds interesting, doesn't it?
Next week's show will feature Marissa Tomei and a trip to Italy.
The rest of the season will include ancestral searches for Blair Underwood, Reba McEntire, Rob Lowe, Helen Hunt, Rita Wilson, Edie Falco, Rashida Jones, Jerome Bettis, Jason Sudeikis and Paula Deen. Sounds like there will be something for everyone this year!      
Obviously WDYTYA? must be financially successful, since this year's series is 12 weeks long. Weren't the first two years just 6 episodes?
While we're talking TV, mark your calendar now for a new PBS series, "Finding Your Roots", featuring Henry Louis Gates Jr., debuting on Sunday, March 25th. The program's website is loaded with videos and "getting started" help. Check it out at

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Have you got a Genealogy Bucket List?

Jill Bell, author of the Geniaus blog, wrote about creating a genealogy "bucket list" yesterday. She's preparing for a trip to Salt Lake City and RootsTech2012 as an official blogger. Here's her suggested list of questions to use in creating your list:

The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you would like to do or find: Bold Type
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type
You are encouraged to add extra comments after each item
  1.      1.  The genealogy conference I would most like to attend is...
  2.      2.  The genealogy speaker I would most like to hear and see is...
  3. The geneablogger I would most like to meet in person is...
  4. The genealogy writer I would most like to have dinner with is...
  5. The genealogy lecture I would most like to present is....
  6. I would like to go on a genealogy cruise that visits....
  7. The photo I would most like to find is...
  8. The repository in a foreign land I would most like to visit is...
  9. The place of worship I would most like to visit is...
  10. The cemetery I would most like to visit is ......
  11. The ancestral town or village I would most like to visit is......
  12. The brick wall I most want to smash is...
  13. The piece of software I most want to buy is....
  14. The tech toy I want to purchase next is .....
  15. The expensive book I would most like to buy is...
  16. The library I would most like to visit is.....
  17. The genealogy related book I would most like to write is....
  18. The genealogy blog I would most like to start would be about....
  19. The journal article I would most like to write would be about...
  20. The ancestor I most want to meet in the afterlife is....

Is there anything else on your Genealogy Bucket List?
A number of bloggers have posted their bucket lists. You can see their responses (and Jill's) at
What does your bucket list look like?
How can completing such a list help you organize your genealogy research?