Sunday, July 23, 2017

Where are the records?

From online collections to libraries to major research centers, the records you seek can be found in a variety of places.  The FGS 2017 “Finding Records” track on Saturday, September 2 will give you ideas for finding the records that can unlock the clues to your past.


Libraries: Getting the Most Bang For Your Buck



Learn how to save money and time by using libraries’ services and collections to the fullest extent.
  • Time: 8:00-9:00 AM
  • Skill level: Beginner, intermediate

Ari Wilkins is a genealogist and a member of Dallas Public Library’s genealogy staff. She formerly served on the Texas State Genealogical Society’s executive committee.

Why The Genealogy Center? Collections & Services of a Leading Family History Research Center

by Curt B. Witcher MLS, FUGA, IGSF


This presentation will provide an up-to-date and detailed look at an international family history collection that continues to grow and continues to be more accessible to researchers.
  • Time: 9:30-10:30 AM
  • Skill level: Beginner, intermediate

Curt B. Witcher, MLS, FUGA, IGSF, is manager of The Genealogy Center at Allen County Public Library, founding president of the Indiana Genealogical Society, and a former president of NGS and FGS.

Where Would You Go If You Had Five Days in Washington, D.C.?

by Pamela Boyer Sayre CG, CGL, FUGA


This session provides answers about where to get research results in Washington, D.C., and how to stretch available funds for the best use.
  • Time: 2:00-3:00 PM
  • Skill level: Intermediate

Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA, is a former NGS director of education and publications. She coordinates/teaches in courses at IGHR, SLIG, and GRIP.

Using All the Features of FamilySearch

by David E. Rencher AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA
Sponsored by FamilySearch


Learn the breadth and depth of the programs and features of the FamilySearch organization and website. The genealogical landscape has changed dramatically in the last decade—learn what FamilySearch has done to adapt.
  • Time: 3:30-4:30 PM
  • Skill level: Beginner, intermediate, advanced

David E. Rencher, AG, CG, FUGA, FIGRS, is the chief genealogical officer for FamilySearch. He has been a professional genealogist since 1977 and is a past president of FGS.

Researching Manuscript and Special Collections in Historical Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs)

by Deborah Abbott PhD


These institutions hold important documents that give a true-to-life picture of the lives of African Americans before, during, and after slavery. The archives and special collections of these colleges/universities hold manuscripts, photographs, personal accounts, Bibles, genealogical information, etc.
  • Time: 5:00-6:00 PM
  • Skill level: Intermediate, advanced

Deborah Abbott, PhD, is a genealogist specializing in African American research, genealogy methodology, and manuscript collections. She is an instructor at IGHR and SLIG and a trustee for the Ohio Genealogical Society.

Register Now!

Join us for the FGS 2017 National Conference, “Building Bridges to the Past,” in Pittsburgh, PA, August 30-September 2, 2017.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

FGS Announces Webinar Series on Society Management

Monthly webinars will be free to the general public.


The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) announces the launch of our Society Management webinar series, scheduled to begin July 20, 2017. This series of free events will bring a much-needed aspect to the array of learning opportunities currently provided in the genealogical community; focusing solely on the leadership and management of non-profit societies.

The series will begin July 20, 2017 at 7:00pm central with a presentation by Fred Moss discussing The Open Death Records Initiative. The August session will feature David Rencher, CG, presenting on the best practices – and challenges – surrounding The Nominating Committee.


Each month thereafter will feature a new and interesting topic, ranging from recruitment and volunteer management to technology, publications, and working with your local tourism board. 

Registration will be necessary, and regular updates will be shared via the FGS Voice blog, FGS Voice Newsletter, and social media. Webinars will occur every 3rd Thursday of the month.

Registration for the July program can be found here.

Speakers interested in presenting topics should contact Jen Baldwin, Education Chair, at education@fgs.org.

Are you looking for a rewarding and beneficial way to volunteer? The Education Committee at FGS could use your expertise. Please contact Jen Baldwin at education@fgs.org

Friday, June 23, 2017

Pittsburgh’s Military Museums and Memorial Sites

Pittsburgh has a long military history and its residents continue to understand the importance of keeping history alive for future generations.

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum

Photo Credit: Colleen O’Laughlin, WPGS Publications Chairperson

During the Civil War, Pittsburgh’s industries and residents were vital to the Union Army.  In the 1890s the Grand Army of the Republic, a service organization of Union Civil War Veterans, wanted a permanent place to commemorate the military service and sacrifice by local veterans of Allegheny County and the idea of for Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum began to take shape.

The massive building based on the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus in Asia Minor was completed in 1910.  It is located in the Oakland neighborhood of the city and sits adjacent to the University of Pittsburgh. Soldiers and Sailors is the United States’ only memorial that is dedicated to honoring those who served in all branches and capacities of military service.

For more than one hundred years, Soldiers and Sailors has collected personal mementos and artifacts from veterans and their families to help illustrate the experiences of the veterans from the Civil War all the way to today’s conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. As you walk through the four halls of the museum, visitors will see uniforms, military equipment, artillery, and personal items. The museum halls feature large bronze plaques that contain the names, regiments, companies, and muster dates of 25,000 men from Allegheny County who served in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Photo Credit: Colleen O’Laughlin, WPGS Publications Chairperson

The front lawn and the walkway of Soldiers and Sailors features cannons, cannonballs, and a torpedo. Two large bronze statues of a soldier and a sailor stand guard at either side of the main entrance to the building. 

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum 

4141 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Hours of Operation: Monday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm 

USS Requin Submarine

Photo Credit: Colleen O’Laughlin, WPGS Publications Chairperson

There is another Pittsburgh museum dedicated to military service. The USS Requin submarine has been moored along the north shore of the Ohio River as part of the Carnegie Science Center since 1990.  Visitors have permission to go below to tour sections of the Cold War-era submarine and see how 80 sailors lived and worked under the high seas.

USS Requin Submarine

Carnegie Science Center

One Allegheny Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15212


Open daily (weather and river conditions permitting) 

10 am – 4:30 pm

These remarkable museums allow visitors to gain a new perspective on history. Being able to see just a glimpse into the experiences of our veterans will bring a new understanding of their sacrifice and patriotism.

 - guest post by Colleen O’Laughlin, WPGS Publications Chairperson




Monday, June 19, 2017

Learn How to Build Your Family Tree with DNA

FGS2017 has 9 sessions + 2 workshops to help with that!


Genealogists around the world are using DNA to break down long-standing family history research brick walls.

At the FGS National Conference in Pittsburgh, our genetic genealogy experts will help you learn what you need to know — whether you are just a beginner or want to learn more advanced methods of using DNA test results.

On Thursday and Saturday of our 4-day conference, we have devoted a full track to DNA for genealogy learning, and on Saturday, we have two more sessions dedicated to learning all about Ancestry DNA.

If you want a more in-depth experience, then we have two 4-hour workshops that will help you dive deeper into using DNA for your genealogy research. Click here to learn more

Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD


Advanced Third-Party Tools

Together we will examine some of the advanced tools from GEDmatch, DNAGedcom, and others. We will also examine some of the new third-party tools that have launched in the past year or so.

Gale French


Why oh Y-DNA for Genealogy— Basics of Y-DNA Testing

Sponsored by Family Tree DNA
This class will introduce you to Y-DNA and how it is used in genealogy. Y-DNA testing is the process of getting your Y-chromosome results for comparing with other testers. The Y-DNA test offers males a clear path from you to a known or likely direct paternal ancestor(s). It is great for genealogists wanting to confirm a paternal line. The course will also show how women can use the test by recruiting a father, brother, cousin, or uncle to do the test. Good genealogy is verified by an accurate paper trail; great genealogy is supported by DNA results.

Janice Lovelace, PhD



Getting Started with DNA

Sponsored by MyHeritage
Autosomal, mitochondrial, Y-DNA— what do these terms mean and where do you start? This session focuses on the basics of genetic genealogy as it takes a beginning look at DNA testing for the genealogist.


Diahan Southard


The Combined Power of Y-DNA and Autosomal DNA: A Case Study

Using a case study, learn how Y-DNA and autosomal DNA testing helped one family to better understand their own past and gave them incentive to reach out and connect with others. We will cover methodology and the sociology of this kind of situation and best practices for you and your family as you strive to forge bonds with others in a non-traditional way.

Three Powerful Ways to Find Your Best DNA Matches

Sponsored by MyHeritage
Anyone with an autosomal DNA test likely has a long list of potential relatives. But how do you make the most of those matches? Which matches are worth your time and effort? Learn to use genetic and genealogical clues to filter and sort your matches to make the most progress with your test results.

Anna Swayne


Making Family Discoveries Using AncestryDNA

Sponsored by Ancestry
Learn about how DNA works, what’s new at AncestryDNA, and how to get the most out of your DNA matches. We’ll provide an overview of AncestryDNA and how it can help validate your research and find new leads. 

Working with your DNA Matches

Sponsored by Ancestry
Do you want to learn more about what you can do with your DNA matches? Get tips and tricks on how DNA matching works and how you can leverage the tools at AncestryDNA to answer your genealogy questions.

Panel Session: Ask the DNA Experts


by Blaine Bettinger PhD, JD, Judy G. Russell JD, CG, CGL, Diahan Southard

Ask DNA experts your questions about DNA testing for genealogy. Angie Bush, MS, will serve as moderator for this panel featuring Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD, Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL, and Diahan Southard. What does the future hold? What ethical and legal issues should be considered when DNA testing? What tests, tools, and tricks do these experts use that may help in your research?

Register Now!

Join us for the FGS 2017 National Conference, “Building Bridges to the Past,” in Pittsburgh, PA, August 30-September 2, 2017. Register now to get the early-bird price which ends July 1, 2017.



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