Presentation Topics

Katherine’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 60-minute in-person or virtual presentation plus a 15-minute Q&A is $175 plus travel expenses, if applicable, which may include mileage at the IRS rate or airfare; transportation to/from the airport; airport parking; hotel costs (no host homes); and meals at the IRS per diem rate). Recording of presentations by the contracting organization and/or attendees is not allowed. 

Participants leave each presentation with handouts, the tools necessary to do their own research and the inspiration to do it! For more information about having Katherine speak to your group, please fill in the form at the bottom of this page.

SPECIALIZED PRESENTATIONS (general presentations at bottom):

America’s Westward Expansion: A Timeline – This presentation examines U.S. Congressional acts and other major events that comprised westward migration between 1787 to 1890. Particular attention is paid to the laws regarding territorial boundaries, stances on slavery, and wars against Mexico and Native Americans.

America’s Westward Expansion: Records of Travelers & Service Providers – We will discuss the records generated during our ancestors’ westward trek across America, the online and offline locations of those record sets, and helpful search strategies that will allow us to create a fuller picture of our ancestors’ experiences. This presentation includes discussions on cowboys, traveling preachers, midwives, Harvey Girls, and other service-providing occupations during the western migration.

And There I Take My Stand: Women’s Suffrage in Michigan – A celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage with an overview of historical contributions from Michigan’s passionate and determined citizens. 

The Link Between Anti-Immigration Sentiment, Prohibition, The Mafia, and the U.S. Border Patrol – 20th century American legislation aimed to curb alcohol use was influenced by nativism and resulted in a rise of organized crime, which led to the establishment of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Preserving Veterans’ Voices – This step-by-step tutorial assists individuals and organizations in creating a collaborative community project to record local veterans’ stories before it’s too late. This community-wide project brings together diverse groups, using the unique resources and skills of youth groups, scouting chapters, genealogical & historical societies, libraries & museums, educational institutions, and more.  

The New Deal Programs of the 1930s – This discussion of President Roosevelt’s programs to restore American prosperity during the Great Depression focuses on the programs’ direct and indirect effect on our ancestors, and where we might find records mentioning their participation.

Social Reform Movements of the 19th Century – This presentation examines the beginnings of the women’s suffrage movement, as well as those movements favoring free public education, prison & asylum reform, and temperance. We will discuss the inspiration behind these movements, the records that may indicate your ancestors’ involvement, and where to locate those records. 

Our American Ancestors’ Experiences of 18th, 19th, and 20th Century Financial Crises – This session examines the series of events that culminated in major 18th, 19th, and 20th century financial panics in America. We will discuss the day-to-day effect that these crises had on our ancestors, as well as the record sources that may provide evidence of those effects.

The 1918 Influenza Pandemic and Its Effect On Our American Ancestors – More Americans were killed by the global 1918 Influenza (Spanish Flu) Pandemic than in the Great War. This virus had tragic implications on our ancestors’ communities and in their own families. Review the timeline of the pandemic’s spread, the direct and indirect effect of this health crisis on individuals, and the sources to consult for a greater understanding of its impact. 

Our European Ancestors’ Voyage to America – Learn about your immigrant ancestors’ voyage from Europe to the United States, and how those journeys changed from the 18th century through the 20th century. How did our ancestors prepare for the journey? What immigration restrictions & quota laws did they face? How were ports of departure and arrival chosen? What was the ticket cost? How long would the journey take, and what were the expected ship accommodations?

Records of New York City’s Emigrant Savings Bank – In 1850, officers of New York City’s Irish Emigrant Society founded the Emigrant Savings Bank as a safe place for Irish and other immigrants to keep their money. Learn about the types of records kept for borrowers and depositors (containing detailed genealogical information), as well as how and where to access these records. Handouts provided.


Resources for Genealogical Research in Foreign Countries – Once you’ve discovered your immigrant ancestor’s home country, how will you go about finding documents generated while s/he was still there, and how will you research his/her parents?  We’ll discuss available resources for beginning your research in foreign countries, including how to locate foreign language genealogy terms and online maps providing contextual information on shifting country borders.

Introduction to Genetic Genealogy: Using DNA Tests for Family History – This presentation introduces the basic principles of genetic inheritance, the types of tests currently being marketed by the big DNA companies, and examines the pros, cons, and ethics of DNA testing.

Using Maps in Genealogy – There are a vast number of map types that can assist us in our genealogical research and add context to our ancestral stories. This presentation examines both historical and contemporary maps (census, plat, topographic, insurance, military, railway, etc.) as well as where to find them online and offline.

50+ Sources for Finding Ancestral Photos Online & Offline – If you haven’t inherited photos of your ancestors, learn about multiple potential sources (more than 50!) that you may have overlooked, including printed media, organizations, digital/online sources, and even distant relatives that you may not know about (with tips on initiating contact that ensures a response).

They Didn’t All Come Through Ellis Island: Finding & Analyzing Passenger Arrival 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 arrival lists online, and how to analyze these lists as a means of filling in your ancestors’ life stories.

Creating Google Alerts for Genealogy – Google Alerts notify genealogists when information about their ancestors is published online in the U.S. or in the home country of immigrant ancestors. Learn tips for creating the most effective Google Alerts in a who-when-where format, utilizing a variety of search operators, as well as techniques for managing the delivery of these notifications.

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.

Introduction to Military Records 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.

Naturalization: Rules, Records, and 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.

Using Social Media for Genealogy – Discover the genealogical benefits of searching, following, and reaching out to others on a wide variety of social media sites. Discussion will include a review of message boards, blogs, Facebook, Flickr, Google search tips, Google Alerts, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, podcasts, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube.

Facebook’s 16,700+ Genealogy/History Pages & Groups – Facebook’s thousands of regional and surname-specific genealogy groups are a favorite resource among many genealogical researchers. 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 demonstration on using a free downloadable PDF file listing 16,700+ genealogical/historical pages & groups on Facebook.

40+ Sources for Finding Maiden Names – 40+ possible sources to consult when searching for a female ancestor’s maiden name. Discussion will include search tips for locating these sources.

Genealogical Timelines & Research Checklists – Create a timeline with what you know, identify gaps, consult a genealogical research checklist for sources to fill those gaps, and record your queries on a correspondence research log. Discover the magic of methodology that may break down those brick walls.  Samples of all forms provided.

Reverse Genealogy: Locating Living Relatives – 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!

Finding Historic Newspaper Articles Online & Offline – 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.  Discussion includes helpful search tips, common OCR substitutions and the use of abbreviations and hyphens in news articles.

Who/When/Where: Writing 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.

Publishing Your Family History in Forms, Reports, or Books – 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. Let’s talk about taking the materials you already have and organizing them to share with family members, whether it’s as reports, forms, charts or narratives.

What Stories Are You Missing from State & Federal Census Data? – 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.

Exploring the Features of – is the largest free genealogical website in the world. This presentation demonstrates how to effectively search for your ancestor in digitized records, books, and online family trees, as well as how use the catalog, the Learning Center, and wikis to better understand what’s available in your ancestral area.

Seeking Dead People: 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.

Adding 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.

75+ Free Sources for Filling Out Your Family Tree – There are many paid subscription sites for online genealogy, but there are many more sites providing the same and/or similar information at no cost!  Discover 75+ sources for tracing your family tree on a budget.

How to Begin Researching Your Family Tree – Has family lore led you to believe that you’re related to a 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.

Please fill out this form for additional information on scheduling a presentation: