Presentation Topics

1 - Katherine R WillsonKatherine’s passion for genealogy combined with practical and creative strategies keeps her audience fully engaged and actively participating in these energetic, entertaining presentations.  She is available to speak to your society or organization on the topics listed below, and additional presentations can be customized to fit any organization’s needs.

The fee for a one hour presentation is $115 plus travel expenses (round-trip mileage calculated at the IRS reimbursable rate).

The fee for a day-long seminar (consisting of two one-hour presentations in the morning and two one-hour presentations in the afternoon) is $450 plus the following travel costs:

  • mileage or airfare
  • transportation to/from airport (if flying)
  • airport parking (if flying)
  • 1 or 2 nights hotel stay (no host homes)
  • lunch during the seminar

Participants leave each presentation with handouts, the tools necessary to do their own research and the inspiration to do it!

HOW TO BEGIN RESEARCHING YOUR FAMILY TREE – Has family lore led you to believe that you’re related to an historical figure? What “black sheep” are lurking in the background of your family tree? Build your family tree as you discover how to gather basic information, fill in common charts, locate public records, and navigate Internet resources. Overcome obstacles and avoid common pitfalls with the resources that provided that will guide you through your research.  Handouts provided.

LITTLE-KNOWN & RARELY-USED GOOGLE RESOURCES & SEARCH TIPS – Many genealogists barely scratch the surface of what Google has to offer.  This presentation offers tips & techniques for doing more efficient research utilizing Google’s full capabilities, and discusses Google Alerts, Google Books, Google Maps, Google Scholar, Google Translation, Google Images and more. Handouts provided.

THEY DID WHAT?!?!?  FINDING ARCHIVED ARTICLES ABOUT YOUR ANCESTORS – Learn where to find free archived digital news articles from the past, as well as comparisons of the paid subscription sites for accessing archived digital news articles.  Helpful search tips (common OCR substitutions and the use of abbreviations and hyphens in news articles) and handouts are included in the presentation.

WHICH WAY DID SHE GO??? FINDING THOSE ELUSIVE MAIDEN NAMES – Use a comprehensive checklist (provided) to locate the documents most likely to contain a female ancestor’s maiden name.  Search tips for locating the listed documents is included in the discussion.  Handouts provided.

WHO/WHEN/WHERE:  WRITING THE MOST EFFECTIVE QUERIES – Are you getting the responses you hoped for when you posted your queries online or sent them out via email or postal mail?  This presentation discusses important tools and techniques for writing a query that will get the most effective results.  Handouts provided.

WRITING DOWN THE BONES:  PRINTING YOUR FAMILY HISTORY – Genealogists often quip, “The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn’t write.”  It doesn’t matter that you’re not done – we’ll never be done!  So let’s talk about taking the materials you already have in your possession and putting them in an order that will allow you to print copies for family members.  You can always add pages later!  Handouts provided.

WHEN YOU HIT A BRICK WALL, HIT THE GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH CHECKLIST – Create a timeline, compare it to the comprehensive genealogical research checklist, consult your correspondence logs and locate gaps in your research to focus on next steps that can break down your brick wall.  Samples of all forms provided.

SOLVING GENEALOGICAL MYSTERIES WITH FACEBOOK’S 10,000+ GENEALOGY/HISTORY PAGES & GROUPS – Facebook is quickly becoming a favorite resource among genealogical researchers for its vast networking capabilities.  With the formation of many thousands of regional and surname-specific genealogy groups, Facebook is breaking down brick walls that have blocked researchers for years – often within 24 hours of posting a query!  This presentation introduces members to Facebook as a genealogy tool and will guide the participants through the creation of an account (while maintaining privacy), joining groups, managing notifications, and efficiently utilizing Facebook for specific genealogical needs.  Participants will be given handouts as well as a link to a free downloadable PDF file listing 10,600+ genealogical/historical pages & groups on Facebook.

IT WON’T DIE WITH YOU!!! THE IMPORTANCE OF A GENEALOGICAL CODICIL TO YOUR WILL – When you die, what will happen to the genealogical materials you’ve accumulated throughout your research?  Do your loved ones know what to do with your collection after your death, or are you at risk of losing it all to the trash bin when your estate is cleared out?  A genealogical codicil to your will can clearly state your wishes, and this presentation will discuss the many options available to you.  Sample copies of codicils will be distributed.

LOCATING LIVING RELATIVES (REVERSE GENEALOGY): WHERE, WHY & HOW – Let’s step away from researching our deceased ancestors and attempt to locate living relatives who might be in possession of Great-Great-Grandma’s family Bible, photos of Civil War ancestors, or letters written from the home country.  We’ll discuss online sites that allow us to look for potential living relatives at no cost and methods for contacting them without sounding like a scammer or a phisher!  Handouts provided.

THEY DIDN’T ALL COME THROUGH ELLIS ISLAND!  FINDING & ANALYZING PASSENGER LISTS – If as many ancestors came through Ellis Island as families are led to believe, the island would have sunk!  Learn about the multiple points of departure from Europe, ports of entry into the U.S., how to find passenger records online, and how to analyze these lists as a means of filling in your ancestors’ life stories.  Handouts provided.

FILLING OUT YOUR FAMILY TREE WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK – There are so many paid subscription sites for genealogy on the internet, but there are twice as many sites providing the same information at little or no cost!  Learn how to trace your family tree without “breaking the bank” by using free online sites, local resources, inter-library loans and more.  Handouts provided.

MILITARY RECORD RESEARCH – How can you determine which major conflict your ancestor might have served in?  Which records may have been generated during that time, and where are they held?  We’ll learn about the various places we might look to determine whether an ancestor served in the military and what we might expect to find in his or her military records.  Handouts provided.

NATURALIZATION RULES, RECORDS & REPOSITORIES – Are you wondering why your female American-born ancestor naturalized?  Curious about the rules regarding your immigrant ancestor’s naturalization process?  We’ll discuss the general rules regarding naturalization during specific time periods, as well as which courts hold the paperwork, and how to order these records.  Handouts provided.

WHAT STORIES ARE YOU MISSING FROM THE STATE & FEDERAL CENSUS INFO? – Most genealogists use completed State and Federal Census forms when beginning their family tree research, but are you overlooking those “untold stories” that are often revealed to us in the sometimes-overlooked or ignored portions of these census forms?  Learn how to put together the stories that make up the “dash” of your ancestors’ lives by digging deeper into census research.  Handouts provided.

SEEKING DEAD PEOPLE:  GETTING THE MOST FROM CEMETERY RESEARCH ONLINE & IN PERSON – In addition to locating your ancestors’ graves and gathering birth & death information from the headstones, have you also checked with the cemetery office to see if additional information exists?  Have you contacted the funeral home to see if they’ve maintained records?  Have you searched online for your ancestors’ graves to see if others are also researching the same families?  Find photos, family trees, obituaries and death certificates in your cemetery & funeral home research using tips & techniques provided in the handouts.

TOP 10 DOS & DON’TS FOR PRESERVING FAMILY MEMORABILIA – Are you storing your family’s precious photos and films in an attic or basement?  Learn why these locations might be the worst places in your home to store heirlooms & memorabilia, and discover the best materials, methods and places for storing them instead.  Handouts included.

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