Saturday, September 4, 2021

Digging Deeper to Find Missing Records

When I was little, one of my favorite things to do outside was to dig holes. Deep holes! Holes that might eventually lead to China, even! In my backyard, my friend Ben and I would compete to see whose hole was deeper. During elementary school, I would dig in the playground sand until I hit that beautiful Virginia clay I could make things out of. And when I went to the beach, I would dig until I hit water.

As determined as I was as a child, am I as determined with the holes in my genealogy research? Have I left any research question shallow and forgotten? Where might I return to take my research just a bit deeper?

Well, guess what, y'all? I found a hole in my research recently and it was a great learning opportunity for me. I was *so* sure that a marriage record for a particular couple simply didn't exist. Or, if it did, it was in a different state. 

But then I found that marriage record! How could it be so? I had written *two* research reports about this couple, and still hadn't found that elusive record. What changed?

When we are working on a research question, our goal should be to search in all the available places to find the evidence we need to answer that question. We need to nurture a critical eye, we need to be thorough, and we need to know WHERE to look.

In my search for a particular marriage record, I had a few pieces of information that could help me:

  • The man was single in 1920 and a widower in 1930.
  • The woman died in 1926 in Richmond, Virginia.
  • The man lived in Powhatan County, Virginia, in 1920 and in Chesterfield County, Virginia, in 1930.
  • The woman was born - according to her husband as the informant on her death certificate - in North Carolina.
  • I had both people's whole names - but the surnames are unfortunately very common.
Where would you search first for the marriage record? Here were my thoughts:
  • Powhatan or Chesterfield County, Virginia - where the man lived before and after.
  • Richmond City, Virginia - where the woman died.
  • North Carolina or even South Carolina (where the woman's parents were possibly from).
Where had I looked?
Helpful resources that wouldn't help this case because of years covered:
I searched all of these databases, but they are only that - databases. The marriage record images for later years are available on Ancestry, but not for the years between 1920 and 1930. Where might I find a marriage record in Chesterfield or Richmond? The Library of Virginia lists available records on their microfilm. These microfilm are accessible at the Library of Virginia in Richmond, and they're viewable on computers. This helps researchers who can then save images to a flash drive. 
Great news, right!? They're available at LVA! But guess what, folks? I didn't search these microfilm. I made the mistake we might all fall into sometimes in earlier stages in our research. We assume if we didn't find it before, we must have searched all of these resources. 

The researcher we are today isn't the same researcher as we were yesterday. Today, we have more experience!

So what did I do? I first checked to see if those marriage records were accessible online at FamilySearch. There I found this database collection:
But that must be the same database as the ones available on Ancestry right? I mean, they share so many records with Ancestry... Don't assume, y'all! Just don't do it. Because guess what I found after a simple search in that collection? The index to their marriage in 1922 in Richmond, Virginia! 

We should never stop at an online index. We need to view the actual record - if at all possible. In this case, the Richmond City marriage register is on microfilm and is digitized by FamilySearch; it's accessible, though, only at a Family History Center or an Affiliate Library. Luckily, I have an Affiliate Library 10 minutes from my work. 

So I took a trip to that library and now I have a digital image of their entry in the Richmond City marriage register from 1922! I just need to see if the original marriage certificate is available. That might have additional details not available on the marriage register.

Lessons
  1. Dig deeper. Think you already looked there? Well, you should have a research log that tells you if you looked there already. If not, start keeping a research log of where and when you looked for a record.
  2. Discover what's out there. You can't know what you don't know. If you don't know the available databases, available microfilm, or digitized records...you can't know where to search or browse for records.
  3. Sometimes records DO exist. Sometimes they don't. But the fact that you haven't found them *yet* doesn't mean they're not waiting to be found.
  4. Don't ASSUME. Just don't do it, y'all! I assumed in this case and it cost me time and frustration.
*****

Family history and genealogy research takes determination. It takes the focus and concentration of a 6-year-old boy from Chesterfield County on a quest to make it to China. It takes the humility of a child too to know when to admit that we haven't looked everywhere, just yet. 

In your research, have you left a research question with a shallow search? Have you dug everywhere you can? 

Your ancestors deserve the best researcher, the most passionate story-teller, and the dignity of being remembered. So let's encounter your ancestors through family history and remember the past made present today!

*Photo by Jeremy McKnight on Unsplash

Thursday, May 20, 2021

TIGR 2021 is coming soon!!

Can you believe it's already mid-May!? If you're anything like me, time might feel like it's flying these days. I wanted to make sure you've gotten the chance to register for TIGR 2021 before it's too late!

This June 13–18, 2021, you have a great opportunity to further your family history at the Texas Institute of Genealogical Research (TIGR) hosted by the Texas State Genealogical Society!

But as you might imagine – with an event coming up in less than a month – there aren't many spaces left. So this is the heads up that there are SOME spaces left in the following courses:


Click on the links in each of the course titles above to learn more about the amazing course content, the instructors, and the schedule for each. 

You can learn more about all of the faculty at TIGR by clicking here.

Registration 

Each course is limited to 40 participants; registration is $475 and is open until May 31, 2021. 

To register, click here.

*****

Have you attended a genealogy institute before? I hope you'll consider registering for one of this year's TIGR courses! But don't forget – time is running out! So register today!

If you have any questions about TIGR this year, don't hesitate to ask me; I'll do my best to help you find answers to your questions.

Your ancestors deserve the best researcher, the most passionate story-teller, and the dignity of being remembered. So let's encounter your ancestors through family history and remember the past made present today!

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Discover DNA Fundamentals at TIGR

DNA testing for genealogy has become one of the most popular topics today in family history. As with any new tool or newly discovered record set, there's a learning curve as we work to most fully utilize all that this can offer our research. There are conferences with a variety of classes on using DNA, there are weekend conferences dedicated to the subject, and there are even institutes on DNA as well. 

This summer, from June 13–18, 2021, you have the opportunity to explore the various uses of DNA to further your family history at the Texas Institute of Genealogical Research (TIGR) hosted by the Texas State Genealogical Society! 

DNA Fundamentals for Genealogy

The institute on DNA this year at TIGR is called DNA Fundamentals for Genealogy.

Over the course of one week, this institute will cover Y-DNA (paternal line), mtDNA (maternal line), autosomal DNA, X-DNA, and how to use these types of DNA for your research. There will be an emphasis on hands-on learning, and using DNA tools to answer your brick wall research questions. Daily homework will allow you to put these skills to work and the instructors will guide you to better understand the newest and most useful DNA resources.

You can explore the full schedule here.

Course Instructors

This course is coordinated by Patti Lee Hobbs. Additional instructors are Dana Leeds, Jennifer Stone Randolph, and Debbie Parker Wayne. 

Patti Lee Hobbs, CG, this TIGR course coordinator, has a BA in biology and instructs on the use and analysis of DNA testing for genealogy. She is a professional genealogist, assisting at the Springfield-Greene County Library in Springfield, Missouri, and is a trustee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. She has taught at IGHR and GRIP and has published an article in the March 2017 issue of the NGSQ.

Dana Leeds, has a BS in Biology Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and later taught middle school science. She is known for her DNA match cluster organizational tool, the Leeds Method. She has taught her method of working with DNA matches at numerous conferences and various societies.

Jennifer Stone Randolph, MSc, has a BA in Anthropology and an MSc in Epidemiology. She is a professional genealogist focusing on New England and using DNA for unknown parentage. Additionally, she is a Research Scientist at Dartmouth College and is a genealogy lecturer. 

Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, co-authored Genetic Genealogy in Practice with Blaine T. Bettinger in 2016 and is the author of the online course through NGS Continuing Genealogical Studies: Autosomal DNA. She has lectured on forensic genealogy and genetic genealogy at various conferences and has coordinated institutes on DNA at IGHR, GRIP, and SLIG.

You can learn more about all of the faculty at TIGR by clicking here.

Using DNA in Genealogy

I am so excited that TIGR has this course on DNA this year! It is such an important topic, and the instructors are fantastic! You can learn more about this institute by watching the introductory video by Patti Lee Hobbs at the TIGR YouTube channel. 

You can learn more about using DNA for genealogy by reading some of my past blog posts:

Organizing DNA Matches

Using Descendancy Research and DNA to Scale a Brick Wall

A DNA Inspired Family Reunion - Part 3

Cracks in an Impossible Brick Wall

Registration 

The course is limited to 40 participants, so register today! Registration is open now, and if you sign up before April 30, 2021, the cost is $425 for non-members of Texas State Genealogical Society. 

Registration after May 1,2021 is $475 and is open until May 31, 2021.

To register, click here.

*****

I love using DNA in my research. In fact, it's part of my daily research - using autosomal DNA as well as Y-DNA research to work on some of my hardest-to-crack brick wall cases. I'm sure this insititute is going to be vital to breaking down the brick walls in the research of those who attend it.

Have you attended a genealogy institute before? I hope you'll consider this year's TIGR course on DNA Fundamentals for Genealogy!

If you have any questions about TIGR this year, don't hesitate to ask me; I'll do my best to help you find answers to your questions. 

Your ancestors deserve the best researcher, the most passionate story-teller, and the dignity of being remembered. So let's encounter your ancestors through family history and remember the past made present today!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Texas Roots before 1845

Do you have ancestors or relatives who live(d) in Texas? Have you wondered how to research Texans before Texas became a state in the union?

I've written about TIGR before, giving an overview of the institute, and I also detailed the TIGR course on "African Americans in the South". This post will highlight another of the excellent course offerings this year.

Dive into Texan genealogy with "From Spanish Rule to Republic: Research in the Lone Star State," the week-long course at the virtual Texas Institute of Genealogical Research (TIGR) this June 13–18, 2021!


Texas became a state when the Republic of Texas was annexed by the United States on 29 December 1845. Power was formally transferred to the new state from the Republic on 19 February 1846.

Once a part of the United States, Texans would appear in U.S. Federal records like any other state. But where does one go to find those very same Texans before this important date of 1845? How does a researcher find a Texan during the Republic of Texas or in the time of Spanish Rule?

From Spanish Rule to Republic: Research in the Lone Star State

"This course will provide a foundation for researching ancestors in pre-statehood Texas. Students will learn how to find and analyze key record collections from the Spanish, Mexican, and Republic eras, and gain an understanding of what life was like for their ancestors in those time periods."

Highlights of the course

  • Hispanic Research Fundamentals
  • Spanish Colonial Texas 1703-1836: Jurisdictions and Migration
  • Catholic Records
  • Language techniques
  • Land records
  • Colonial censuses
  • Civil registrations
  • Tax and military records

To read the full schedule of this institute course, including all of the sessions during the week, click here.

Faculty

There are excellent faculty at TIGR, bringing a breadth of research experience, professionalism, and teaching skills. This course is coordinated by Kelvin L. Meyers and Colleen Robledo Greene who are joined by six other instructors from various disciplines. 

Kevin L. Meyers - Co-Coordinator - Kevin is a fifth generation Texan, a professional forensic genealogist, and is the director of TIGR. He specializes in southern brick wall problems, and has taught at IGHR and SLIG.

Colleen Robledo Greene - Co-Coordinator - Colleen is a librarian, genealogist, and educator especially focused on methodology and Hispanic research. Her personal research is focused on Mexico, California, and Texas. 

Henrietta Martinez Christmas - Henrietta is a native New Mexican - with deep roots documented to 1598 with soldiers coming with Oñate. She is a researcher, author, and historian whose work has appeared in books, exhibits and other historical points of interest in New Mexico.

Frank de la Teja, PhD - Frank is a professor emeritus, the past Chief Executive Officer of the Texas State Historical Association, and is a published author and editor. He has served and worked in numerous organizations in Texas from the archives to the State Board of Education to genealogical societies.

Kevin Klaus - Kevin is a researcher in the Texas General Land Office Archives and Records Program Area. He focuses on the German settlers in Texas and has a background in anthropology, archaeology and public history.

John A. Sellers - John is a native Texan, a researcher since 1985, and a nationally recognized speaker. He has conducted extensive research in Texas and Louisiana. John is also Mayor of Sulphur Springs.

Brian A. Stauffer, PhD - Brian is from Wyoming and has a PhD in Latin American History. His focus is on religious and agrarian history of Mexico and Mexican Texas. He is a published author, and is the Translator and Curator of the Spanish Collection at the Texas General Land Office.

Ari Wilkins - Ari is an experienced genealogist and speaker specializing in African American research and migration. She is the owner of Black Genesis, a genealogical consulting company, and is a Library Associate at Dallas Public Library. 

Registration

The course is limited to 40 participants, so register today! Registration is open now, and if you sign up before April 30, 2021, the cost is $425 for non-members of Texas State Genealogical Society. 

Registration after May 1,2021 is $475 and is open until May 31, 2021. 

To register, click here.

*****

Texas history reaches back much further than statehood. Researching Texans before 1845 requires different skills, knowledge, and tools for success. "From Spanish Rule to Republic: Research in the Lone Star State" is a great way to dig deeper into Texan genealogy!

Have you been to an institute before? Are you ready to take the dive deeper into one of these great topics? Register today!

If you have any questions about TIGR this year, don't hesitate to ask me; I'll do my best to help you find answers to your questions. 

Your ancestors deserve the best researcher, the most passionate story-teller, and the dignity of being remembered. So let's encounter your ancestors through family history and remember the past made present today!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Connect at RootsTech Connect

RootsTech Connect goes live next week! I hope y'all are as excited as I am! In this post, we'll look at what will make this conference unique and how you can connect at RootsTech Connect.

RootsTech is the largest genealogy conference there is. And this year, it'll be FREE and accessible wherever you live! It's a three-day event from 25–27 February 2021 with both live content as well as access to content all year long. Think of this year's event as the kickoff for a year's worth of amazing online content.

How it all works


The first thing y'all need to know is the way this year's unique event will function. There will be four sections of the conference: Main stage, Expo Hall, Sessions & Guide Me, and Connect. 

Main stage events have a schedule - which you can view here - but if you miss any of the keynote sessions, they all have other times that they'll play as reruns. The Expo Hall will be your chance to view all of the great innovation in the tech and family history field. Also, you can live chat with exhibitors from their booth and watch demos. The sessions are the meat of the conference so we'll talk more about those below. Connect is your chance to connect with others - both speakers and your long-lost family!

A global event


This year, RootsTech Connect will be a truly global event. Keynote speakers will be from around the globe, sessions will be in multiple languages, and there will be localized content for participants. 


RootsTech Connect by the numbers (as of 16 February):
  • 314,908 registered (so far)
  • 224 countries and territories represented
  • 89% of registrants have never been to RootsTech before
  • 11 languages represented in sessions 
  • 18 languages represented in the ExpoHall
RootsTech connections

Not only is RootsTech going to bring people together from around the world, but there are many ways to connect with family history.
There is a lot to do at this year's conference, so click here to learn what organizers want you to know. And if you'd like to learn more about Jen Allen - the woman behind the RootsTech magic - you can read about her here

How to participate

When you register for RootsTech, you're essentially sending your RSVP for the conference. This way, the conference knows to expect you. Anyone can view the sessions and content, but only registrants can take full advantage of the RootsTech Connect experience. 

If you register - and use your free FamilySearch login - you'll be able to create a playlist for all the sessions you'd like to watch. Think of this as your Netflix or Prime watch list. As you create your list, RootsTech Connect will give you suggestions for other sessions you might want to attend based on your added content. Isn't that amazing, y'all!?

If you're using your FamilySearch account, you'll also be able to Find your relatives at RootsTech Connect! So far, I have 300 cousins going to RootsTech! But I'll have to wait until the conference starts on February 25 to connect with them. So far, of those who have registered, there will be 991 Williamses at RootsTech Connect: 824 from the United States, 67 from the United Kingdom, and 34 from Australia. That's a lot of people! How many people attending have your surname?

When you can get started

Since this is such a global event, the timing might be confusing for some. But don't fret! You have three days to connect with family and other participants, but you get to enjoy the content all year! You can begin to add content to your playlist at 11pm EST on Wednesday February 24. The new RootsTech website will also go live Wednesday morning so you can get acclimated to how it'll look. The ExpoHall will have a preview at 7pm EST - four hours before the livestream starts at 11pm EST. 

Don't forget to register today for RootsTech Connect and share what you're learning on social media with #RootsTechConnect wherever you connect with your family and friends!

*****

I'm just a LITTLE bit excited about RootsTech Connect this year, y'all! I hope you'll join me in what is sure to be an amazing experience. I look forward to learning, connecting, and sharing with all of you.

This conference has a vision to become a globalized learning library. Be part of genealogy history and connect at RootsTech Connect!

Your ancestors deserve the best researcher, the most passionate story-teller, and the dignity of being remembered. So let's encounter your ancestors through family history and remember the past made present today!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Black History Month in June

Every February, we celebrate the profound impact of African Americans in the United States and around the world. But for genealogists tracing African American family history, every month is Black History Month. Each and every day is about encountering and celebrating the strength of grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, ancestors and kin whose varied experiences together form the chorus of American history.

While we lift up the stories of African Americans every February, genealogists and family historians have a unique opportunity this June to experience Black History during a week of intensive study of African Americans in the South.

African Americans in the South - TIGR

Texas State Genealogical Society hosts a week-long institute for anyone looking for a more intensive experience to improve their genealogical skills. This year, Texas Institute of Genealogical Research (TIGR) is going virtual and will be held June 13–18, 2021. Last month, I wrote about all of the courses available, but I'd like to share more about a new course available this year!

This June, TIGR has its first course focused on African American research in the South. Coordinated and taught by Ari Wilkins, along with five other instructors, this course will cover records and tools for researching African Americans from the antebellum South through the 21st century.

The full course schedule is available here. According to Ari Wilkins, the "curriculum has been carefully crafted to aid in a methodical research of African American genealogy." 

Instructors

As if the course description weren't enough, the opportunity to work with these great instructors should have you searching for the registration button! Ari Wilkins is "particularly excited about TIGR’s inaugural African American course and our line up of faculty with diverse expertise" including "members with library backgrounds and academic research."

Ari Wilkins, this TIGR course Coordinator, is an experienced genealogist specializing in African American research and migration. She is the owner of Black Genesis, a genealogical consulting company, and is a Library Associate at Dallas Public Library. She's a well-known genealogical speaker and brings her passion to this awesome collaboration at TIGR.

Deborah A. Abbott, PhD specializes in African American research, manuscript collections, and genealogy methodology. She is a retired professor of Counseling, a lecturer at IGHR (Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research) and SLIG (Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy), a published writer, and is active in the genealogy community in her native Ohio and around the country. 

Sharon Batiste Gillins has a 40+ year career in education including as an Associate Professor, genealogy lecturer, and adjunct faculty at IGHR. She is currently a Research Associate at the Mary Moody Northern Endowment in Galveston, Texas.

Tim Pinnick has taught at IGHR and MAAGI (Midwest African American Genealogy Institute), is the author of numerous articles and the book, "Finding and Using African American Newspapers." In addition to being a national speaker and being a member of numerous genealogy societies, he also served on the board of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.

Shamele Jordon is a professional genealogist, producer, writer, and lecturer. She is an award-winning producer and instructor, and researched for the PBS series Oprah's Roots: African American Lives I and II. She is a board member and faculty at IGHR, and is involved in societies in Philadelphia and in New Jersey. 

Franklin Carter Smith is a DNA specialist, a licensed attorney, genealogist, and is currently a Senior Library Service Specialist at the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research of the Houston Public Library. In addition to several published articles, he co-authored "A Genealogists Guide to Discovering your African-American Ancestors" with Emily Anne Croom.

To read more about each faculty member, you can click here.

Juneteenth 2021

This year, Juneteenth falls on the Saturday at the end of TIGR. With Juneteenth's roots as Emancipation Day in Texas, TIGR will have a special celebration!

TIGR faculty member Sharon Gillins will be giving a special Juneteenth presentation that will be open to all institute students! Just another great reason to join this course at TIGR this year!

Registration

The course is limited to 40 participants, so register today! Registration is open now, and if you sign up before April 30, 2021, the cost is $425 for non-members of Texas State Genealogical Society. 

Registration after May 1,2021 is $475 and is open until May 31, 2021.

To register, click here.

*****

Black History is American History. Genealogical research in the South necessarily involves African American genealogy, along with its unique challenges. African Americans in the South, the inaugural institute course at TIGR, is your opportunity to dive deep with renowned lecturers and experienced researchers.

Have you been to an institute before? Are you ready to take the dive deeper into one of these great topics? Register today! 

If you have any questions about TIGR this year, don't hesitate to ask me; I'll do my best to help you find answers to your questions.

Your ancestors deserve the best researcher, the most passionate story-teller, and the dignity of being remembered. So let's encounter your ancestors through family history and remember the past made present today!

Monday, January 25, 2021

Dydd Santes Dwynwen Hapus

Shwmae! Dydd Santes Dwynwen Hapus!

That's Welsh for, "Hello! Happy St. Dwynwen Day!"

Who's St. Dwynwen and why am I writing this in Welsh? Let's take a journey to Wales where we'll discover the story of a Welsh saint named Dwynwen. And from there, we'll meet the fastest growing language on Duolingo and the freshest Welsh language music!


Saint Dwynwen

Welsh culture has a particular appreciation for the arts. The Welsh are known for their music and their singing. Part of their native folk tradition involves a rich culture rooted in Christian history. One of the early Christians there was a Welsh girl named Dwynwen who is now known as the Welsh patron saint of lovers.

The story of Saint Dwynwen is one of a love that could not be. She and a man named Maelon Dafodrill were in love, but Dwynwen's father forbade the marriage. You see, her father had already promised her to another man. Distraught, she prayed that she could fall out of love with Maelon - then maybe the pain would ease. 

As with any ancient story, there are mythical components to this story as well. For instance, an angel appears to Dwynwen with a potion to help her fall out of love; her beau, Maelon, is turned into a block of ice. Dwynwen was given three wishes and she asked that: Maelon be thawed, that she would never have to marry, and that God would help those in love. In thanksgiving, she became a nun and settled on an island off the coast of Anglesey, now known as Ynys Llanddwyn - Dwynwen Church Island.

Dydd Santes Dwynwen

Saint Dwynwen's Day - Dydd Santes Dwynwen in Welsh - is celebrated on 25 January each year as a day to celebrate love. Think of it as the Welsh version of St. Valentine's Day. 

The Welsh give and receive cards and go out to celebrate with their loved ones at dinners or concerts. Here's an article about St. Dwynwen's Day for context. To learn more about how Welsh people celebrate this special holiday, here's a great article from the BBC.

The Visit Wales site has a page about today's celebration as part of their discussion of Welsh culture and traditions. Included is the image above for a free greeting card you can print out and give to that special someone - whether a love or a friend - in your life. 

Welsh language

In a special way, St. Dwynwen's Day is also something of a Welsh language day too. Today sets the Welsh apart from everyone else celebrating 14 February as the day of love. Greeting cards come with Welsh language phrases and there's even something else that makes today a day for Welsh language learning!

Five years ago today, Duolingo put out their free course to learn the Welsh language. The Welsh government has a goal of 1 million Welsh speakers by the year 2050, and partnering with new programs like Duolingo's is helping people around the world - like me - to learn some of this ancient language. Read the Guardian's article about the surge in Welsh learning here

Why does Wales have a goal to increase Welsh learning? Less than 29% of their population speaks the Welsh language. But after centuries of decline - often by systematic suppression in the education system - there is a resurgence of the language in Wales. 

Back in October 2020, I wrote about the beginnings of my Welsh language journey.  I was on a 23 day streak then, and today I'm now on my 139th day in a row of studying Welsh! I'm loving it! Besides using Duolingo's free app each day, I also listen to Welsh music and try my best to find videos on Welsh culture. 

Welsh Music

The Welsh are a singing people. Known for generations for their choirs, their modern music is not to be ignored.

For traditional Welsh songs, I love Cynefin, for folksy songs, Calan is a must listen. Eve Goodman has a beautiful mix of original and traditional songs. But if you're looking for contemporary Welsh music from all styles and from various artists, check out Lwp's YouTube channel for the newest popular music out of Wales. 

For a fun combination of Welsh language learning, some comedy, and fresh music too, go over to Miss O'Hare's channel. That reminds me, you can't forget Eadyth Crawford, whose bilingual electro-soul will captivate you!

*****

Genealogy isn't always about specific people - it's also about encountering a culture along with its language and music. On this St. Dwynwen's Day, I hope you'll take a moment to show your love with those around you. Share a smile, give a cwtch (Welsh for a hug), or give some encouragement to someone who needs it.

Dydd Santes Dwynwen Hapus! Happy Saint Dwynwen's Day!

Your ancestors deserve the best researcher, the most passionate story-teller, and the dignity of being remembered. So let's encounter your ancestors through family history and remember the past made present today!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

International Greek Ancestry Conference

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in family history and genealogy. While some cultures have more challenges in this pursuit than others, Greeks often assume the task is an impossible one. But it's not! If you'd like to learn more about researching your Greek roots, I have great news to share!

From Friday January 29th through Sunday January 31st, there is a FREE and virtual event to discover more about Greek history and genealogy! As this will be an international event, the times vary over three days:
  • Friday, Jan. 29: 7:45pm-10pm EST
  • Saturday, Jan. 30: 12:15pm - 3pm EST
  • Sunday, Jan. 31: 2pm-5:30pm EST
For the full schedule including times, presentation topics, and speaker bios visit Greek Ancestry's page for the International Greek Ancestry Conference.

I will be presenting on two topics:
  • “Why Orthodox Christians Should Do Their Genealogy”, at 8:45pm on Friday
  • “Using DNA in Greek Genealogy” at 4pm EST on Sunday

Why Orthodox Christians Should Do Their Genealogy
While Greeks come from a variety of faith backgrounds, the majority have ancestors who were Greek Orthodox Christians. Learn some Orthodox reasons to study one's family history.

Using DNA in Greek Genealogy
Have you taken a DNA test only to be shocked by your ethnicity results? Discover common ethnicity estimates for Greeks from different regions, why they're different, and why your results are perfectly normal!

To watch live for free, you can join us at Greek Ancestry's YouTube channel.

We're in the news, too! You can read more as reported by the National Herald and Greek Reporter.

*****

I hope you'll join us for the first ever International Greek Ancestry Conference! 

Σας περιμένουμε! We await you!

Your ancestors deserve the best researcher, the most passionate story-teller, and the dignity of being remembered. So let's encounter your ancestors through family history and remember the past made present today!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Texas Institute of Genealogical Research

Do you have ancestors who lived in the South? Are you interested in learning more about using DNA for your genealogical research? Then you need to hear more about the Texas Institute of Genealogical Research!

Texas State Genealogical Society hosts a week-long institute for those of us looking for a more intensive focus to hone our genealogy skills.

This year, Texas Institute of Genealogical Research (TIGR) is going virtual and will be held June 13–18, 2021. And I'll be helping all of y'all learn more about this great opportunity as a TIGR Ranger!

What's an institute?

An institute is like a going to a conference but is more narrowly focused. Instead of taking various classes on different topics, an institute allows students to focus on one course with various classes every day for a week. It's also more intensive so it allows you to get as much out of a topic in your limited time. 

This is the ideal next step for anyone interested in taking a more serious dive into a particular genealogical subject. If you want a course that is already designed, with one primary instructor - but also including other great teachers - then an institute is for you!

Courses at TIGR

At TIGR 2021, there are four courses from which you can choose. Click on the course title to go to the full schedule for that course.

Registration

Each course is limited to 40 participants, so you certainly want to register soon! Registration opened on Friday, January 8th, so don't wait too long either!

If you sign up before April 30, 2021, the cost is $425 for non-members of Texas State Genealogical Society. 

Registration after May 1,2021 is $475 and is open until May 31, 2021.

To register, click here.

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Have you been to an institute before? Are you ready to take the dive deeper into one of these great topics? Register today!

If you have any questions about TIGR this year, don't hesitate to ask me; I'll do my best to help you find answers to your questions.

Your ancestors deserve the best researcher, the most passionate story-teller, and the dignity of being remembered. So let's encounter your ancestors through family history and remember the past made present today!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Time Measured by RootsTech

When I was a kid, I measured time by school years. As a college student, time was measured by semesters. And then I discovered the beauty of connection; time was measured from how long it was until my favorite Orthodox college student conference every winter. In my 20s, my year was measured by my vacation time. And now, in my 30s, I measure time from genealogy conference to genealogy conference!

So guess what's coming y'all! RootsTech Connect!


This year, RootsTech is all virtual - thanks 2020 - and it's going to be FREE! If you haven't registered  yet, it's SUPER easy and fast. Just click here, put in a few details, and you're all done! 

Join genealogy enthusiasts from around the WORLD from 25–27 February 2021 for around the clock family history education and connection. 

Soon, you'll be able to see all the classes you can attend from the comfort of your home.


On top of all the great speakers, you'll get to listen to four keynote speakers: Lorena Ochoa, professional golf player from Mexico; Francesco Lotoro, pianist from Italy; Sharon Morgan, African American writer and genealogist; and Nick Vujicic, motivational speaker from Australia. Click here to learn more about them and why they'll be speaking at RootsTech Connect. 

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Have you registered yet? What are you waiting for!?

Your ancestors deserve the best researcher, the most passionate story-teller, and the dignity of being remembered. So let's encounter your ancestors through family history and remember the past made present today!

Christmases Long Long Ago - Part 2

Merry Christmas y'all!

In today's post, I'll be sharing the second part of the sermon I gave on 20 December 2020. Before reading on, make sure to read Christmases Long Long Ago first! 

Scripture & Hymns

Scripture and our hymns reveal that Christmas has nothing to do with a pagan holiday and everything about our radical belief that Jesus Christ is God became man – that God, the creator of everything – came and lived a life like us. That God is with us!

Let’s look at St. Paul’s letter to the Church in Colossae. Here St. Paul is talking about Christ:

"He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities - all things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent." - Colossians 1:15-18

This is a radical, radical passage for a Jewish man in the first century to be writing about another human being. He’s saying that Jesus Christ is God, that He didn’t somehow become God, or that he appeared like God. But that Jesus Christ is the image of God the Father, that He is the only way that we see God. That He’s the first-born, that He before all creation was begotten of the Father as we say in the Creed. That everything that we see and everything that we don’t see is because Jesus – before He took on flesh from the Virgin Mary – made it so.

This is an amazing passage that echoes through into the Creed that we say every Sunday. Now, I also want us to look at some of the hymns that we sing during Christmastime to show what it is that we’re celebrating.

One says:

"I see here a strange and paradoxical mystery. * For, behold, the grotto is heaven; * cherubic throne is the Virgin; * the manger a grand space * in which Christ our God the uncontainable reclined as a babe; * Whom in extolling do we magnify."

 

It’s talking about the cave that the Virgin Mary gave birth to Christ in. Oftentimes we think of it as a barn but the Church in its icons show it as a cave where the animals were living in. And the Church refers to the cave as heaven itself – reflecting on this mystery. Similarly, the icon above the altar shows the Virgin Mary with the words Πλατυτέρα των Ουρανών (Platytera ton ouranon), the one that is wider than the heavens. The one who in the mystery of the incarnation contained Christ. In this icon we also see Christ on the Virgin Mary’s lap, as if she is the throne of God. So the hymn is also comparing her to the angels that form the throne of God.

During Christmas, Orthodox Christians greet one another with, “Christ is born” and respond “Glorify Him!” This greeting comes from the katavasias hymns of Christmas:

"Christ is born; glorify Him! * Christ is come from heaven; go and meet Him. * Christ is on earth; arise to Him. * Sing to the Lord, all you who dwell on the earth; * and in merry spirits, O you peoples, praise His birth. * For He is glorified."

In another hymn, the Church refers to Christ as the tree of life that is blossoming forth at Christmas.

"O Bethlehem, prepare, Eden is opened unto all. * And be ready, Ephrata, for the Tree of life * has in the grotto blossomed forth from the Virgin. * Indeed her womb is shown to be spiritually * a Paradise, in which is found the God-planted Tree. * And if we eat from it we shall live, and shall not die, as did Adam of old. * Christ is born, so that He might raise up * the formerly fallen image."

As opposed to the tree in the garden of Eden that after eating from it, Adam and Eve began to die, now we have this tree that through Him we have life.

And then we have a BEAUTIFUL hymn in the Hours on Christmas Eve. This hymn echoes Holy Friday’s hours during Holy Week. On Holy Thursday night, while Christ is being brought around the Church on the cross, we sing, “Today He who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon a tree.”

A similar hymn, but referring to Christ’s birth is sung during the Hours of Christmas Eve morning:

"Today, He who holds the whole world in His hand is born from a Virgin. (3) He who is impalpable in essence is wrapped in swaddling clothes as a mortal. God, who in the beginning established the heavens of old, is lying in a manger as a newborn babe. He who rained down manna for the people in the wilderness is nursed by His mother. He who is the Bridegroom of the Church is summoning the Magi. And He is accepting their gifts, now as the Son of the Virgin. We adore Your Nativity, O Christ. We adore Your Nativity, O Christ. We adore Your Nativity, O Christ. Also show us Your divine Epiphany."

It's showing this paradox about what we believe as Christians. That this mystery of this great God who has showered his love upon His people throughout the Old Testament is now living among us in this mystery. So why does any of this matter?

Why celebrate Christmas?

Why does it matter that we celebrate Christmas? Why do we celebrate Christmas?

After all, I love the lights, I love the Christmas trees and the presents, the tinsel and the ornaments. But that’s not what Christmas is about. I love family, I love carols and Christmas meals – especially pecan pie - , but that’s not what Christmas is about. And I love the hymns and the scripture readings, and the night-time service on Christmas Eve. But that’s not even what Christmas is about. We have Christmas because CHRIST IS BORN!

What I mean is: Christmas isn’t about this or that. It’s about Jesus Christ Himself and us preparing our hearts to meet Him together with the Church.

We believe in a God who is bigger and greater than we can ever imagine. Yet…that God who is greater than everything came to experience life as we live it. He came to sanctify this life, to make our existence holy, to renew creation, and ultimately to die (not to take our place but) to destroy the power of death and sin in our lives by rising from the dead.

We believe in a God who became man, born into an imperfect family just like we were born into imperfect families. Because it shows us that God doesn’t wait for us to be perfect first, but He comes to us and makes us holy.

Christ is risen because Christ is born. And this is joy because we’re connected to Him through our baptism, through Holy Communion, and through all the sacraments of the Church.

Grandma Nora's Decorations

Recently, I heard a story from Christmastime about my Grandma Nora that gave me goosebumps. She passed when I was only 2 weeks old, so I never got to make Christmas memories with her.

She loved nature, she loved her garden, and she loved her family. It must have been painful for her once my family became Jehovah’s Witnesses and they could no longer celebrate Christmas together.

But one Christmas, my Grandma Nora had found all these praying mantis nests which she had placed around the house as decoration. Well, you guessed it. They hatched! So somehow years later, at my first Christmas, when she couldn’t be with us, God was letting us know that we could share a little bit of her joy too.

I pray that your Christmas is filled with just as much JOY – hopefully a few less praying mantises – and that you have the peace in knowing that Christ is born! Glorify Him!

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I love getting to share family stories and these special memories with all of y'all. Thank you for humoring this not-entirely genealogy related post and I wish you and yours a blessed remainder of the Christmas season and a happy new year!

Your ancestors deserve the best researcher, the most passionate story-teller, and the dignity of being remembered. So let's encounter your ancestors through family history and remember the past made present today!

Digging Deeper to Find Missing Records

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