Tag Archives: genealogy institute

Laura G. Prescott SLIG Scholarship Announced

One of the best, brightest, kindest, and most selfless genealogists in the genealogy community, Laura Prescott, has decided to enter hospice care after years of fighting a tough battle with cancer.

The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) has announced a scholarship in her honor. As if the writing of this post, the fund has reached over $14,000!

What a wonderful gift to remember and honor such a kind and generous person whose smile would just light up a room!

You can read the full details and how to donate here: https://ugagenealogy.blogspot.com/2018/07/new-laura-g-prescott-slig-scholarship.html?m=1

Please consider a donation, no matter how small, to help honor this lovely person and gift the community with a wonderful legacy in her memory for years to come.

SLIG Scholarships available!

I will have the awesome opportunity to co-coordinate a course at SLIG 2018 with my colleague Kathryn Lake Hogan, titled “The Third Coast: Research in the Great Lakes Region.” You can view the entire course outline by clicking here ( slig.ugagenealogy.org) and finding Course 2. You can also view a short video about our course:

(I’ll write more specifics about the course in a later post.)

Is your genealogical budget a little tight? Or would you like financial assistance to attend? If so, I want to let you know about some great scholarship opportunities for SLIG 2018. The following was sent out by Debra A. Hoffman, Assistant to the Director of SLIG:

Planning to attend the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) in January
2018? There are several scholarship opportunities available for SLIG

SLIG Jimmy B. Parker Scholarship
*Deadline June 20, 2017*

Named in honor of Jimmy B. Parker, whose legacy of service to the
genealogical community covered more than 50 years, this full-tuition
scholarship will be awarded to an individual who has “demonstrated
commitment to genealogical excellence and community involvement”. The
winner will be announced July 1st and their course of choice pre-reserved.
Full details here: http://ugagenealogy.org/cpage.php?pt=424.

SLIG Scholarship for First-Time Institute Attendees
*Deadline June 20, 2017*

This fund, opened at SLIG 2016, was created to enhance scholarship
opportunities for SLIG students. Donations have been made by Maia’s
Bookstore and SLIG students. More details and submission requirements may
be found here https://ugagenealogy.org/cpage.php?pt=448.

ASG Scholar Award, American Society of Genealogists

This award provides “financial assistance for a developing scholar to
attend one of five academic programs in American genealogy.” The award,
which will be given in October, will apply toward a SLIG 2018 course of
study. To find out more, visit their website

AncestryProGenealogists Scholarship
*Deadline TBD for SLIG 2019*

Established to “foster and support professional genealogists in their
ongoing development efforts.” Scholarship covers tuition and specific other
expenses to attend one of the four US-based genealogical institutes.

Unfortunately, due to a lot of complicating factors, applicants won’t be
aware of the courses to be offered for SLIG 2019 until after they have
completed their application. For that reason, we offer the opportunity to
have open dialogue with the director if needed to help you rank SLIG in order of attendance preference on your application. (send an email to: director@slig.ugagenealogy.org and use the subject “AncestryProGen scholarship question for 2018”)

You can learn more about the AncestryProGenealogists Scholarship on their
website https://www.progenealogists.com/scholarship.

My 2017 Plans…at least so far

calendarI know it has been an incredibly long time since I have posted anything. I’d like to report that I have been away on a fancy vacation, backpacking across Europe or something equally as exciting and adventurous, but let’s be real here. I’m a parent and a self-employed genealogical researcher and speaker. Who has time for adventures like that? (Well, unless it’s research-related, right?)

This doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy! The biggest thing that has happened is that I have taken a position as the Case Manager for my friend and colleague Deena Coutant of DigiDeena Family History Solutions. This means I am working to supervise all of the projects she’s got going, sending them to contractors, helping with marketing ideas, and working on research projects as needed. This job has been keeping me quite busy, especially as I get stabilized and familiar with the processes, and learn how to work with the contractors Deena already had in place, and helping to hire new contractors. It is an exciting time and we are having a great time working together!

I have also been busy getting my speaking schedule in order for the coming year. Here is what I have on the calendar so far:

*all times in Central time zone unless otherwise noted

There are several other items I have in the works, but the details aren’t firmed up yet, so when those items are worked out I will be sure to update this page and my calendar.

Here’s to 2017 being an awesome genealogy year!

Summer and Fall Schedule

The summer is fast approaching! It seems like Christmas was not that long ago. (Don’t tell anyone but I still have a string of Christmas lights hanging on our banister.) Since April is already here, I thought I’d take a moment and share my Summer and Fall travel and speaking schedule with you. Exciting things are on my horizon and I hope to see some of you at one of these events!



  • May 7 – 15, my spouse and I will be taking a trip to Salt Lake City for nothing but research, research, research!
  • May 21 – I will be attending the Austin Genealogical Society Annual Seminar featuring Thomas MacEntee.


  • June 2-5 – I will be attending the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, and will be presenting on Sunday.
  • June 15-25 – I will be on a family vacation to Detroit Lakes, MN with a few genealogy stops tucked in somewhere along the way.
  • June 26- July 2 – I will be attending GRIP and taking the Forensic Genealogy course.


  • July 9 – I will be speaking at the Austin Genealogical Society, Education Program – “Intermediate Concepts in Genealogy”
  • July 17 – 22 – This year I am lucky enough to attend both weeks of GRIP. The second time, I am taking the Practical Genetic Genealogy course.


  • August 3 – I am presenting a webinar for the Minnesota Genealogical Society titled “The Third Coast: How the Great Lakes Shaped America”
  • August 13 – I will be speaking at the Austin Genealogical Society, Education Program – “A Tour Through Major Record Types”
  • August 25 – 27 – I will be attending GenStock to see what it’s all about! (Click here to read a blog post from Rev. David McDonald, CG who attended last year.)


  • August 31-September 3 – I am attending the FGS Annual Conference in Springfield, IL.
  • September 17 – I will be presenting an all-day seminar in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas for the Village Genealogical Society.
  • September 22-25 – I am attending the APG’s Professional Management Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I will also be presenting a program on Thursday titled “PERSI Possibilities: Better Research with ACPL’s Periodical Source Index”



  • November 11-13 – I am considering attending the FamilyTree DNA Conference in Houston, but we will see what my budget and energy will allow by then. After writing up this list, this one may have to wait until next time.
  • November 17 – I will be speaking at the Sun City (TX) Genealogy meeting.

Wow! I’m exhausted just writing this up! Well, that’s what’s in store for me for the rest of the year. I’ve got other projects underway as well. So, if you find yourself near me at any of these events, be sure to say ‘hi’!

How I Got Started

photo-13I recently had a reader ask me how I got started, more specifically, where I took my first genealogy class. So here is a quick summary of my genealogical education.

I have always enjoyed research. In college I was an art major and spent a semester as a research assistant for my art history professor. It was a blast. Also, I was one of those weird kids who was delighted every time a research paper was assigned in class. I love being in libraries and archives and this is probably one of the aspects of genealogy that drew me in.

When my first child was born in 2000, I felt myself losing brain cells. There’s only so much Sesame Street and Bob the Builder one can take in a day before their vocabulary is reduced to one-syllable words. As a stay-at-home mom I needed an outlet, some place where I could hang out with and converse with adults that also had a purpose. I had been dabbling in genealogy for a little while by this point so I found a local genealogical society and joined. (Hi Boulder Genealogical Society!)

A genealogical society usually offers lectures, classes, regional conferences and other people with experience from whom you can ask questions and grow as a genealogist. At the society I attended, I learned about genealogical methods, records, and other topics as well as about conferences and classes I could attend. Shortly after this I attended my first national conference in 2003. A national conference has the benefit of having a lot of lectures to choose from on a large variety of topics. You can also meet other people who are also researching their family history and begin a wider network of genealogists.

As for actual classes, I attended any regional conference that came my way. I begin in the Denver-metro area and there were many active genealogical societies who brought in a lot of high-caliber genealogists. I also began attending week-long institutes that focus on one topic for an entire week. And now I have found many online opportunities such as free or for-pay webinars that I enjoy attending in my sweat-pants and slippers in the comfort of my own home. I wrote a series of blog posts about these institutes which can be read here.

Other educational pieces I’ve done are:

So in a nutshell, that’s how I got started … and kept going … and am still doing. I enjoy all aspects of genealogy from the research to teaching to attending classes to writing.

Reviving, Refreshing, Reviewing … And we’re back!

This was NOT me in Salt Lake City.
This was NOT me in Salt Lake City.

I recently spent almost 2 weeks in Salt Lake City for research and to attend the APG PMC and SLIG. (Thanks Grandpa for being “mom” for me!) It was beautifully snowy the first week (along with slippery sidewalks and cold temps) and sunny but smoggy the second week. Basically I’m not a fan of winter in SLC when you are trying to get around outside. But it will not deter me from attending again next year! I’m pretty tough. I had such a great time just being surrounded by the topic that I love, with people who love the same boring (but not to us!) topic. I got to know the best people more closely. I don’t think I ever laughed so hard in my life. One night, I literally had a face-ache from laughing so much. (You know who you are.)

I am absolutely a huge fan of SLIG. It was my first time attending and I had an outstanding time. I think a large part of that was because of the friends I made and people I connected with beyond Facebook! I took the Advanced Practicum which is a different type of course. Everyday you get a new problem to work on, a case study that has been worked on and nearly completed by genealogists in the field, who then turn the problem over to the class with varying degrees of information to get us started. We then had 24 hours to work on the problem. We met everyday at 4pm to discuss our findings and get the next problem. I won’t go into the details of how it all worked, but the class was very interesting. I enjoyed seeing how others would go about solving the same problem, the different thought processes, and the sometimes different, sometimes same results.

After SLIG I needed about a week to readjust to life. I had gotten out of all of my routines and I was exhausted! Living out of a suitcase gets old after a while, even though I love to travel. I did very much enjoy coming down from my hotel room to a nice continental breakfast and giant pots of coffee everyday. I didn’t have to worry about that part of my day everyday. It’s back to making my own coffee and bed again. And back to the blog. I have a fun plan for February’s theme so I’ll “see” you here soon!

Genealogy Institutes – Part Five

It is an unfortunate fact that genealogy institutes only have so many seats for each class. If I have gotten you excited to attend an institute, great! Now, I want to share with you some tips for getting registered and sitting in one of those precious few seats. Have you ever bought concert tickets online? If so, the process is similar. If you have not, here are some tips.

Classroom (Photo credit: James F Clay)

Each institute’s registration process is a little bit different so first you will want to become familiar with their website, locate exactly which page you need to be on to register. You may also want to set up an account ahead of time, if possible, so when it’s time to register, you don’t have to go through the entire process of entering your name, address, phone, and so forth. Once they make public the date of registration, mark that date on your calendar. I enter it into my Google calendar which also syncs with my iPhone calendar, so that on the day of registration I get a reminder before it’s too late. When the day arrives, be sure you are at your computer at least five minutes ahead of the registration time, find the correct page, and log in if possible. Then sit there and wait.

At about one minute till, I start clicking the “refresh” button on my browser. The webpage will not automatically refresh when the site opens for registration, so you’ll need to force your browser to do it for you. [UPDATE: The GRIP registration page has been changed to include a countdown timer to registration. When that expires, the page will automatically refresh for you. On their new system, it is actually to your disadvantage to click the “refresh” button.) Once that magical registration screen appears, get busy filling in the blanks. You’ll want to get through the process as quickly as possible as some of the courses have been known to fill up in a matter of minutes. Some institutes might require you to pay right then and there with a credit card. I know that both IGHR and GRIP allow you to pay by check as long as they receive the payment within 30 days of registration.

After that’s done, take a deep breath. You made it!

Up next, what to expect during the institute week and a few concluding thoughts.

Genealogy Institutes – Part One

IMG_3920_1024This summer I attended two outstanding genealogy institutes, IGHR and GRIP. I attended my first last summer and I am hooked. If I had unlimited resources, I’d attend them as much as possible! Genealogical institutes are great because you get to delve into one topic, in-depth for a full week. Also, being in the same class with the same people all week allows for networking and relationship building that one might not get at other educational events. Plus, there tends to be more time to ask questions from the instructors that might not be available at national conferences when they (or you) might need to rush off to another lecture.

Over the next several posts, I am going to share some of the information I have collected to help those of you who have never been to one know what to expect, what to pack, things to consider ahead of time and other tips to enjoy these great opportunities for genealogical education.

Before you go there are few things you’ll want to consider. First of all, you will want to consider your travel arrangements. Depending on where the institute you will be attending is located, you may want to fly. However, taking a car, train or bus are also viable alternatives. You will want to decide if you will stay in the dorms, a hotel or on a friend’s couch (or guest room). Will you want to take advantage of the cafeteria meal plan, eat out or pack your lunch. Also, when you are there, depending on where you stay you will want to determine if you will need daily transportation to and from the venue. I usually have to locate the nearest coffee shop when I travel. And don’t forget to plan some extra time for sight-seeing. Why go all that way if you can’t see some of the local attractions while you are there?

Here is my packing list (besides toothbrush and underwear):

  • banquet clothes (often there is a banquet and you might want to dress up a bit)
  • comfy clothes (for sitting in class all day, all week)
  • walking shoes
  • computer or iPad or other electronic devices
  • power cords (you don’t want to forget these, been there)
  • business cards (if you have them as there are plenty of networking opportunities)
  • highlighters, pens, pencils, notebook, sticky notes, etc.
  • backpack/bag to carry your stuff in all week
  • cash (my trip to Pittsburgh this year included a day of sightseeing that encountered many “cash only” establishments)
  • camera (if you don’t use your phone)
  • extra reading materials (plane rides are excellent times to catch up on NGSQ reading)
  • an umbrella (if you think you’ll melt, I personally don’t own one as I have never needed it here in Colorado, some might want one though)

While I’m sure there are other things to bring. If you have been to an institute and would recommend something else, please feel free to add it to the comments below. Over the next several posts I will be looking at the 5 major institutes and give some of the unique details about each.

IGHR Starts Tomorrow!

One of the beautiful wooded areas on the campus of Samford University. Photo taken by the author.

Samford University in Birmin’ham, Alabama is a gorgeous campus teeming with beautiful architecture, wonderful magnolia trees and apparently snakes. It is in its 174th year as a private university. I have lived in Wyoming and Colorado since 1988 and having been in a dry climate for that long I had nearly forgotten about lush, green vegetation, rolling hills, rivers, lightning bugs and all other things that come along with just a little bit more precipitation.

I am here attending my first ever IGHR (Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research). Tomorrow I will have the pleasure of learning from Elizabeth Shown Mills for an entire week! I am excited (and truth be told, a little bit nervous) to be here. There are many rumors that the nightly homework can be quite involved!

Today was the welcome dinner where I got to meet and visit with some of my colleagues and fellow classmates. I especially enjoyed the time getting together with the ProGen Study Group, past and present. What an amazing group of people. The mentors and coordinators are truly interested in promoting genealogy as a profession and in giving each individual participant their attention when needed. Many of my fellow students I have never met in person, so have a chance to put a face with the name is really fun.

Since sleep might be scarce for the rest of the week, I think I will turn in early tonight!

A GRIPping Review

There are far too many ways to make puns on this new Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh or GRIP or GRIPitt’s name. That’s not a complaint, a compliment really. Not much you can do with IGHR (pronounced “eye-ger”) or SLIG (pronounced, well, “slig”). Don’t take that as a criticism of those other institutes. I’ve never been to one. GRIP is the first week-long institute I’ve ever attended. I’ve had “attend an institute” on my genealogical to-do list for quite some time and I probably wouldn’t have attended this one if it weren’t for some awesome genea-buddies who enticed me with a free room and splitting other costs 3-ways.

As a result, I think I will forever be attending institutes when it comes to advancing my genealogical education. It was so awesome to be focused on one topic for the entire week rather than taking part in a smorgasbord of topics all day long for several days until your head is spinning. I’ll still attend conferences but I feel those would be more for the social aspects of networking and re-connecting with genealogical friends face-to-face rather than via email or Facebook.

I had the great honor of taking Joshua Taylor’s “Beneath the Homepage: Problem-Solving with Online Repositories.” Honestly, I went to hear Joshua speak more than the topic at hand. I had worried that the program would be a little too “beginner” for me (I mean, I have been using the Internet since Al Gore invented it and Google finds most of that stuff on the internet anyway, right?) but I have admired Joshua’s work since I first met him when he came to Denver several years ago and spoke at the Colorado Genealogical Society’s Annual Seminar. I was delighted to find another “young” person who is maybe even more in love with genealogy than I am. I mean no offense to those of you who are “older” because all I mean by this is that it seems many genealogists come by the occupation of genealogy around retirement age and not when you are 4 years old and having your grandmother teach you all about your family OR in high school when you are assigned a family tree project and you realize that your branch of the family stems from the “black sheep” as it were and you really know very little about that branch of the tree. Most of us don’t have those experiences and then stick with it as an actual profession. Most of my genealogical friends have been consistently at least 20 years older than me (with a few exceptions, you know who you are) and it has only been recently that genealogists close to my age group have begun to join the ranks.

Well, I learned that Google doesn’t find “everything” on the internet and sometimes you have to dig for it. So shovels in hand we spent a week digging through website after website after website. I only managed to “delicious” a fraction of them but the class was so enlightening on many levels. I have a new appreciation for phrases such as “digital collections,” “digital archives,” “virtual gallery,” and so forth. I learned far more than I wanted to know about Dublin Core, EAD, MARC and Library of Congress Authorities. Mainly we just dove right into those repositories’ sites. Think of a place. Most likely it has within driving distance (although on the internet this isn’t an issue) a local public library, a college or university, a state repository such as a state historical society, library or archive, and they all have governmental entities. I was surprised at how many of these entities have begun putting up digital collections of actual records on their websites. And if they didn’t have the actual records online, many many many had awesome finding aids that describe what they do have on location. Even then, if you know anything about an archival repository, you know that something like only 60% of their collection has been processed and cataloged. So while many, many records are going online everyday, STILL we need to visit these repositories. I think we would be really cutting ourselves and our research short if we rely solely on the Internet for our sources.

I could go on about this class, but really you should find a time to take it yourself. Joshua was an excellent teacher. Very patient with those of us with technology handicaps, very patient when we asked him to “go back” and show us again, very patient with those of us in the end stages of pneumonia so we coughed a little more than normal and were possibly disruptive. He was very pleasant to ask questions to; every question was met with “That is an excellent question…” It was great to be in a smaller classroom with 20 other people rather than in a huge conference room with 200 other people, for a change.

My traveling companions and I stayed off-campus since one of us had a free hotel stay (bargain!) and we bought “community” food and packed our lunches everyday. (I will be ok if I never eat a PB&J again.) We found the LaRoche College Student Community Room to be quite comfy with couches and tables where we congregated for breaks and lunch and to compare notes about our sessions. Probably by far my favorite pun from this institute’s name was the fact that my genea-buddies and I began to refer to ourselves as “GRIPpies” and we got quite silly about it. But only in private. NEVER in the public eye. Well, almost never. (Except that time we told Joshua Taylor at NGS in Cincinnati that we were his “GRIPpies” and couldn’t wait for July. Pish posh, I bet he doesn’t even remember that.)

Thank you GRIP organizers for a great institute experience, thank you Joshua Taylor for an awesome class and thank you genea-buds for bringing me along. Next year the room is “on me” … well, I found us a free room I mean.