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Laura's Presentations (click underlined titles for more detailed descriptions)

~ Diaries & Journals: Finding and Using These Valuable Resources: Personal diaries and journals add unique perspectives and
  authenticate the lives of our ancestors. Learn where to find and how to use these valuable resources.

~ Find Your Military Ancestors on Fold3: Learn tips on how to successfully navigate the Fold3 website to find your military
  ancestors. Explore American history through the words of those who lived it by locating their stories in pension files, service records,
  and other original military documents on Fold3.

~ How the Internet Makes Us Sloppy Genealogists: Discover ways to be a better online researcher. Explore examples of how the
  Internet is leading genealogists down error-strewn paths and review ways to counter the lure of quick results.

~ How to Manage a Large Genealogy Database Project: Avoid the stumbling blocks, revel in the successes, and learn how to manage
  large genealogy projects. We'll discuss working with committees and volunteers, communicating effectively, and deciding which software
  programs best tie a project together.

~ loc.gov: Using Our Nation's Library Online: Explore maps, diaries, newspapers, manuscripts, photos, and many more treasures from
  the history of our nation and your ancestors. All within the Library of Congress - our nation’s library online - at loc.gov.

~ Locating Digitized Images Online: From maps to personal documents, we'll explore how and where to find digitized images and hidden
  treasures on websites across the Internet.

~ Playing Hide-and-Seek with Ancestors in City Directories: Explore the history and growth of city directories, their value to genealogists
  researching urban and suburban families, and tips for using them to trace family migrations, addresses, careers, and events.

~ Publish Your Genealogy Online: Explore options for publishing your genealogy online. Decipher choices relating to appearance, access,
  cost, and privacy. Learn simple, attractive solutions for showing off your research.

~ Researching Your Ancestors on the Internet: Learn the pleasures and pitfalls of doing genealogy online as we explore popular as well
  as unexpected websites for genealogy and family history.

~ Researching Your Civil War Ancestors Online: Whether your ancestor fought for the Union or Confederate cause, there are records
  available describing his service. They can reveal personal details about him and his family that may be located nowhere else. Many of these
  documents are now online. Others can be ordered through the National Archives and state organizations. We’ll explore service records,
  pension files, and other military records, as well as documents relating to the Civil War that are important in helping us understand it better,
  including photos, maps, and manuscripts.

~ The Rest of the Story: Using Manuscripts to Create a Family History: Tap into great repositories of historical treasure! Discover where
  to find information about your ancestors in special collections and why manuscripts and artifacts are essential to building your family's story.

~ Spinsters & Widows: Gender Loyalty within Families: Your female ancestors and their sisters had few public rights, but often wielded
  an unspoken power in deeds, wills, and personal accounts. Probe the records and discover maiden names, relationships, and the voice of
  women in 19th-century America.

~ There's an App for That!: Explore a day in the life of a genealogist using only apps to research at home, in a library, courthouse, cemetery, or
  anywhere else our relatives may take us.

~ Through the Looking Glass: Making Sense of Digital Genealogy: The Internet is a genealogist's greatest resource and worst enemy.
  Case studies and methodology presented in this talk will explore the absurd and the practical, as well as stress the importance of finding
  balance between digital and traditional sources.

~ Timelines: Placing Your Heritage in Historical Perspective: Match historical events to an ancestor's life, or synchronize one ancestor's
  events to another's through timelines. Literally the outlines of our ancestors' lives, timelines lead us to solutions and surprises.

~ Treasures Within the Ivory Tower: Finding Family in Academic Archives: College and university libraries are historical repositories for
  their communities and their special collections are overlooked resources. Your ancestors did not have to attend a college for you to find them
  through this unique town-and-gown connection. Learn where to look, what you can find, and the most efficient techniques to get the information
  you seek.

~ Turning Fiction into Fact: Are those stories Grandma told really true? Learn helpful, systematic strategies to discover the truth behind family
  legends, identify strangers in family photos, and correct the family record without losing the charm of the myth.

Presentations for Mac Users

~ A Mac User in a PC World

~ Publish! Bringing it All Together on a Mac

Find Laura's bio here!

Diaries & Journals: Finding and Using These Valuable Resources

Description - This lecture explains the advantages of using diaries, letters, and journals in compiling a comprehensive and appealing genealogy. Opinions and observations written by our ancestors or someone who knew them add a personal dimension to names, dates, and places. We'll explore a few examples of the different types of journals and diaries available, where to find them, and how to apply what you find to your research and your family history.

The syllabus material will include online resources for locating diaries as well as a broad array of primary repositories of personal artifacts. Methods for locating elusive materials will also be discussed.

Synopsis - Personal diaries and journals add unique perspectives and authenticate the lives of our ancestors. Learn where to find and how to use these valuable resources.

Audience Level - Beginner to intermediate

How to Manage a Large Genealogy Database Project

Description - The easiest way to manage a large number of family relationships is with a genealogy database, using any of several excellent family tree programs on the market. However, entering data, establishing proper citations, and adding new content can become a nightmare when dealing with tens of thousands of names over a dozen or more generations. Many family associations, one-name studies, and community projects rely on genealogy software to keep generations and families straight. They count on volunteers to do a lot of the work and someone needs to coordinate it all. Managing data from many sources, organizing volunteers to enter information properly, paying researchers to do targeted tasks, and coordinating everything for publication, while also keeping an overseeing board or committee happy, is a monumental task. This is one elephant (or perhaps dinosaur) that must be eaten "one bite at a time."

This lecture outlines the various elements of coordinating a large family project, details the importance of communication and data standards, reviews time management skills, and the various software programs needed to tie a project together. It doesn't involve in-depth explanations of how to run the more popular software programs, but it will consider the main contenders, provide examples of working with GEDCOMs, and review the value of online family tree databases. There is an emphasis on using Legacy Family Tree and TNG software programs as samples of easy mediums to work with. (The speaker has no vested interest in either of these vendors.) As project manager and genealogist for the Nickerson Family Association, and contributor to other large family databases, the speaker uses her experience to instruct others about the stumbling blocks and successes of managing large genealogy database projects.

Synopsis - Avoid the stumbling blocks, revel in the successes, and learn how to manage large genealogy projects. We'll discuss working with committees and volunteers, communicating effectively, and deciding which software programs best tie a project together.

Audience Level - Any and all, but particularly helpful for societies and associations.

loc.gov: Using Our Nation's Library Online

Description - One of the most rewarding, yet overlooked, free resources online is loc.gov, the website for Library of Congress. Explore maps, diaries, books, manuscripts, photos, and many more treasures from our nation’s history. It’s much cheaper than a trip to Washington, DC, yet more rewarding than many of the sites genealogists typically use, as it provides a dimension of social history to your research. Visits to loc.gov will immerse you in U.S. history, with national treasures as the lure.

Synopsis - Explore maps, diaries, newspapers, manuscripts, photos, and many more treasures from the history of our nation and your ancestors. All within the Library of Congress - our nation’s library online - at loc.gov.

Audience Level - Any and all.

Locating Digitized Images Online

Description - An ancestor's signature, land record, photograph, or diary may be available online in a digitized format. The current push to digitize a repository's collection and publish it online has brought a flood of maps, books, images, and photographs onto the Internet. Some sites do a great job of digitizing and presenting their collections, others do not. Some items are easy to find, others are well-hidden. Some sites charge fees to access their online records while others present images free-of-charge. Copyright issues will be discussed briefly. Actually viewing an ancestor's picture, handwriting, or ancestral home on a computer screen can be a grand accomplishment for many genealogists.

Synopsis - From maps to personal documents, we’ll explore how and where to find digitized images and hidden treasures on websites across the Internet.

Audience Level - Beginner

Playing Hide-and-Seek with Ancestors in City Directories

Description - City directories fill in location gaps between state and federal censuses. They serve as substitutes to lost records and help us understand how people and families moved within and between communities. Your ancestor did not have to live in a city to be recorded in these directories. Often, outlying towns are included in a larger directory, or stand on their own.

City directories pre-date telephone books yet continued long past when telephones were standard in every household. Through them we can learn where people lived on a year-to-year basis, who their neighbors were, if they owned or rented, and where they worked, as well as interesting facts about their neighborhoods and the businesses they may have frequented. City directories help us untangle people with common names by analyzing similarities and differences within lists of names, occupations, and addresses.

Many city directories can be found online, but there are other ways to find them. Explore the history of city directories and learn how they can help us find our ancestors throughout their lives.

Synopsis - Explore the history and growth of city directories, their value to genealogists researching urban and suburban families, and tips for using them to trace family migrations, addresses, careers, and events.

Audience Level - Any and all.

Publish Your Genealogy Online

Description - After putting many years and a lot of effort into family research, many genealogists consider ways to share their work with family, colleagues, and even the world, using the newest technologies available. There are several choices for publishing a genealogy on the Internet, or even on a DVD or flash drive, some of which may appear daunting at first. Sharing genealogy data today is easier than many realize. This lecture will discuss the fundamentals of publishing family data to a website, whether it is done through a big-name genealogy site, or by using genealogy software and a personal domain.

We will explore options for appearance, access, costs, and privacy issues. Even without a computer-based genealogy program, there are some reasonable alternatives for placing a genealogy online. Whether you use a PC or a Mac, or even a public computer at your local library, you have choices for software, online access, and the final presentation. We’ll also review additional important considerations like degree of interaction, multi-media, and sources.

Synopsis - Explore options for publishing your genealogy online. Decipher choices relating to appearance, access, cost, and privacy. Learn simple, attractive solutions for showing off your research.

Audience Level - Intermediate - requires some degree of comfort using computers and the Internet.

Researching Your Ancestors on the Internet

Description -The Internet offers family historians a treasure trove of resources and information. But for every website with accurate records and family trees, there are many others that are rife with falsified data. We'll explore a couple of the most popular genealogy sites like Ancestry.com and FamilySearch, as well a few that may surprise you. Most sites can be accessed free of charge, others are available for a fee. All are among the most useful and reliable resources for anyone pursuing genealogy at any level.

Synopsis - Learn the pleasures and pitfalls of doing genealogy online as we explore popular as well as unexpected websites for genealogy and family history.

Audience Level - Beginner to intermediate

The Rest of the Story: Using Manuscripts to Create a Family History

Description - Manuscripts, memorabilia, and artifacts stored within the special collections departments of libraries, museums, and universities around the nation are some of the most underused resources available to genealogists. These are resources not found online, although references to them can be discovered there, and some repositories are making efforts to digitize them. Probing special collections requires more energy, time, and patience than the average genealogist is accustomed to, but the rewards are often beyond expectations.

Participants will learn how to be productive in identifying appropriate collections, what to expect during a visit, and how to use the resources most effectively. Particular examples, some humorous, some disappointing, some triumphant, will be elaborated upon.

Synopsis - Tap into great repositories of historical treasure! Discover where to find information about your ancestors in special collections and why manuscripts and artifacts are essential to building your family's story.

Audience Level - Beginner to intermediate

Spinsters and Widows: Gender Loyalty within Families

Description - A maiden aunt's will, or a widow's land deed can bring insights into relationships and social status not found anywhere else. Public records tell more of a story than many people realize. Strong-willed women and women with possessions left legacies that we can uncover now. A prenuptial agreement from 1848? Got one!

Personal accounts within diaries and letters left by our female forebears are also vital resources for exploring relationships and the support structure enjoyed by women in the past. Examples from the speaker's work as well as stories from other genealogists will show how brick walls were hurdled and empty spaces in genealogy charts completed once the women's accounts were uncovered. Most examples are taken from nineteenth century sources.

Synopsis - Your female ancestors and their sisters had few public rights, but often wielded an unspoken power in deeds, wills, and personal accounts. Probe the records and discover maiden names, relationships, and the voice of women in 19th-century America.

Audience Level - Beginner to intermediate

There's an App for That: Big Rewards Using Today's Small Devices

Description - Explore a day in the life of a genealogist using an iPad or iPhone. We’ll visit traditional places like courthouses, libraries, and cemeteries, yet use technical resources. This brings us into the world of “apps,” applications designed for tablets and smart phones. In addition to a few family tree apps, we’ll also explore apps for imaging, voice recording, data storage, using the cloud, mapping, organizing, and syncing with ourselves and others.

Synopsis - Explore a day in the life of a genealogist using only apps to research at home, in a library, courthouse, cemetery, or anywhere else our relatives may take us.

Audience Level - Beginner to intermediate

Through the Looking Glass: Making Sense of Digital Genealogy

Description - The places we visit online and on our computers would appear as bizarre to our ancestors as Alice’s trip through the looking glass. The Internet has become an essential resource for genealogists, but we can’t do all our research online. We’ll discuss how to balance traditional research with modern methods, explore the pitfalls of trusting what you find on subscription and free websites, and review some entertaining case studies that highlight the importance of pursuing your family history both online and off.

Synopsis - The Internet is a genealogist's greatest resource and worst enemy. Case studies and methodology presented in this talk will explore the absurd and the practical, as well as stress the importance of finding balance between digital and traditional sources.

Audience Level - Any and all

Timelines:  Placing Your Heritage in Historical Perspective

Description - This topic stresses the importance of placing ancestors within their historical, social, and political environment. Events and customs shaped their lives. If we understand where they fit in and the circumstances that impacted their lives, we understand a little more about who they were, where they lived, what they did, and how they interacted with colleagues, peers, and relations. Some genealogy software programs have basic timeline potential. Excel spreadsheets, basic word processing programs, and mapping software can also add to a better understanding of a person's place in history. All these possibilities will be reviewed and applied.

What events shaped the lives of our ancestors? From simple to difficult, the questions are always in a genealogist's mind: Who was president when my immigrant ancestor arrived in Boston? Where was my great-great grandfather living when his future wife was born? Why did they marry so late? What brought one family into contact with this other family in my lineage? Did a war or epidemic cause a change in quality of life for my ancestors in this location, in this time period? Many questions can be answered when we place events, migration patterns, and customs on a visual plane beside a record of our ancestors' life events.

Synopsis - Match historical events to an ancestor's life, or synchronize one ancestor's events to another's through timelines. Literally the outlines of our ancestors' lives, timelines lead us to solutions and surprises.

Audience Level - Intermediate

Treasures Within the Ivory Tower: Finding Family in Academic Archives

Description - Academic institutions are great repositories of knowledge, so it is no coincidence that they keep thorough records of people who studied or taught on their campuses. Alumni and alumna are important sources of revenue and prestige. Keeping track of students during their undergraduate years and throughout their lives is essential to the institution. These records, retained within a school's archives, include diverse resources that family historians find useful. Clues discovered at an ancestor's alma mater help piece together lives and create stronger family connections.

There is a lifelong partnership between schools and their graduates, creating bonds of communication that are a boon to genealogists looking for interesting details. In addition to class lists, yearbooks, and academic files, there are alumni records documenting post-graduate lives, photographs, correspondence, dissertations, and curriculum vitae! If your ancestor was a college official or professor, you will find research work and academic papers. You may even discover an archival mother lode: diaries, letters, and personal effects, bequeathed by an ancestor to his or her alma mater. This lecture discusses where to look for college-educated ancestors, what can be found online, and many examples of documents and records retrieved from academic archives.

Synopsis - College libraries are historical repositories for their communities. Academic special collections are overlooked resources even if your ancestors did not attend college! Learn where to look, what you can find, and the most efficient techniques to get the information you seek.

Audience Level - Beginner to intermediate

Turning Fiction into Fact

Description - Genealogists are detectives at heart. We regularly stumble across unsubstantiated tales and rumors in need of clarification and verification. We have countless photos, family stories, and scraps of correspondence to interpret with little or no references with which to place them into context. In this lecture we discuss strategies to understand how to take an uncited, perhaps apocryphal story or unidentified family memento, and discover the truth behind the family legend. Emphasis is placed on how to think outside the box to find related clues. Practical methodologies are explained with examples of debunked myths within the speaker's own genealogy. Also discussed will be the importance of facing facts and then disseminating accurate information. It is important to set the record straight when it is verified that an ancestor did not arrive on the Mayflower, a great-great grandmother was involved in a shady profession, or a military distinction really belonged to the distant cousin, not the genealogist's forebear.

Synopsis - Are those old stories Grandma told really true? Learn helpful, systematic strategies to discover the truth behind family legends, identify strangers in family photos, and correct the family record without losing the charm of the myth.

Audience Level - Beginner

Mac Topics

A Mac User in a PC World

Description - Genealogists who prefer using Macintosh computers and software face unique challenges in the Windows-dominated world of computerized genealogy. This lecture explores popular genealogy software programs made expressly for Mac OS as well as other applications and databases regularly used by genealogists in their research. A short segment of this lecture will review how Mac data goes "on-the-road" by syncing to an iPad.

While the world is becoming more Mac friendly and more people are switching from PCs to Macs, attendees will learn how to deal with roadblocks that Windows users innocently place in their paths. They will learn where to find information and resources online that are helpful to genealogists using Macs. This lecture has been appropriately updated to include the advances in the most current Mac operating system, as well as the current changes made by distributors of genealogical information and software. Also, for die-hard PC users, we'll explore some options for using Windows on your Mac.

Synopsis - Mac users are genealogists, too! Learn how to easily research and share your work in a Windows-dominated world by using the right tools and applications on your Mac. We'll explore Mac-specific software applications, cloud computing resources, and a few iPad apps.

Audience Level - Beginner

Publish! Bringing it All Together on a Mac

Description - There are simple and elegant Macintosh applications that a genealogist can use to publish a family history. Use the most basic tools to integrate your data into an interesting compiled genealogy. Take it up a notch to a more complex presentation using photos, movies, and scanned images. The next step may be to publish it online or create a PowerPoint or Keynote slide presentation. The ultimate in presenting a genealogy that all ages and relations will enjoy is to create a DVD using multimedia resources or simply put it all online. All can be done, even by a beginner, on a Mac.

This presentation, while using some basic software applications, will be better appreciated by a more experienced Mac user. A lot of work goes into producing the final outcome of a genealogy project. Rather than reviewing the details of gathering and organizing data, the presenter will walk the attendees through each process using data and resources she has already compiled. They will ultimately gain an understanding of how to apply their data and resources into the same sequence to produce anything from a simple written genealogy to a full-blown multimedia presentation.

Synopsis - Create books, slide shows, websites, and DVDs using your Mac and some basic software to produce a basic, or multimedia, genealogy that will "wow" your friends and relatives.

Audience Level - Intermediate