Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August webinar to discuss the Nominating Committee




In the August, 2017 FGS webinar, we will invite David Rencher, CG, CGL, to present on "The Nominating Committee."

In order to maintain a healthy organization, we must all put great value in this piece of the society puzzle. David Rencher will provide an in-depth look at the role of this important committee in your genealogy society, and its impact on the organization’s longevity.

All of the issues and challenges facing your society may be solved with a successful nominating committee. This program will help you to learn to assess your own needs and find qualified candidates to grow your society – you need more than warm bodies!

The webinar will be conducted on August 17, 2017 at 7:00pm Central time. Please register in advance. The webinar will be recorded and will be available for viewing on the FGS website shortly after its conclusion. September's topic will be Borrowing Corporate Strategy Techniques for Your Society - this is a must-see presentation! 


Each month, the FGS Webinar Series 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 blogFGS Voice Newsletter, and social media. Webinars will occur every 3rd Thursday of the month.


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

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Document Conservation Resumes for War of 1812 Pension Files





Message from the President


Today, the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) announced the resumption of conservation of the War of 1812 Pension Files.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) is pleased to announce National Archives staff have recently resumed document conservation of the War of 1812 Pension files covering surnames M(Moore)-Q. Document conservation is the essential first step in digitizing these files. Our digitization partner, Ancestry.com, has scheduled image capture of these newly conserved documents to begin the second week of September 2017. As capture resumes, new images will be added to Fold3.com on a rolling basis. The Federation and the dedicated volunteers of the Preserve the Pensions project have worked tirelessly for well over a year to negotiate a resolution to the work stoppage. This portion of the project plan is expected to be completed by third quarter 2018.
Many in our community have expressed frustration with the lack of new information on the status of the Preserve the Pensions project, ongoing negotiations and the safety of donated funds. As incoming President, I had an obligation to hold any response to those concerns until I could evaluate the history, speak candidly with the Preserve the Pensions team and meet with our partners. From the outside, and with perfect hindsight, it is easy to see a few opportunities missed to share more with you, our supporters. I stand behind the Preserve the Pensions team even so. They have worked incredibly hard to bring this unprecedented fundraising and preservation effort this far.

As frustrating as it may be to hear, FGS is limited in how much it can share with the community at large regarding ongoing negotiations with partners. As an organization, we most certainly may not reveal the internal discussions between our partners. That simple fact of business leaves you, our funding supporters, at times without satisfactory answers to your questions. While I will do everything in my power as FGS President to keep you apprised going forward, I will likely never satisfy your questions completely. With that in mind, and with the current project plan in place, I am able to share with you a very brief outline of events.

A security incident at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facility in St. Louis led to a work stoppage of digitization projects for security review. This incident was unrelated to the Preserve the Pensions project in Washington D.C., however, our project was impacted.  The Federal bureaucracy is a slow-moving beast, as many of us have experienced outside of genealogy.   The completed review led to new security and project protocols. These protocols imposed new cost, space, and completion date constraints on the project. Neither conservation nor digitization could resume without a renegotiated project plan. These negotiations were difficult and time-consuming as each partner fought for their organization’s priorities. Ultimately, each partner compromised where they could to bring this important preservation project back online. The negotiations, however, are not over. The project plan above is a test of both the new project protocols and the compromises each of us made. It is a proof of concept. As this new project plan is put into practice, NARA, Ancestry.com, and FGS will continue to work together to evaluate the process with an eye towards negotiating the project plan for the final phase of conservation and digitization of surnames R-Z.

I can assure you, the funds you have so generously contributed to this effort are secure. In accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), funds donated for a specific purpose must be separate from general operating funds. Your donations were deposited into a restricted fund. Any monies FGS provided for matching campaigns were moved from our operating capital into this restricted fund. Digitization and other project expenses were spent from the restricted fund.

While the total value of the project was originally projected to be $3.456 million, FGS was responsible for raising only half that amount - $1.728 million - due to the very generous match by Ancestry.com. This valuation was based on a projected 7.2 million pages in the War of 1812 Pensions collection at a total cost of $0.48 per page image. The new project plan has added to the total cost of the Preserve the Pensions project.  However, the number of images for the first half of the collection was less than originally expected.  We anticipate this trend will continue in the second half of the collection. Therefore, FGS stands by its decision to close community fundraising for the project.

On behalf of the board of the Federation and the dedicated volunteers of the Preserve the Pensions team, I have heard and acknowledge your concerns. Your support of this project has been both overwhelming and inspirational. As a first of its kind effort to crowdfund preservation of a genealogically-valuable collection, there was no roadmap. The Preserve the Pensions team is dedicated to seeing this project through until the very last page of the very last pension is online. We will evaluate the successes and shortcomings of the project as implemented before proceeding to a new project. In the meantime, we will work to regain your trust by being as forthcoming as the realities of these sensitive negotiations will allow.

FGS remains grateful to the community for your contributions; this project would not have been successful without the energy of all of you behind us. I welcome your questions or concerns at president@fgs.org.

--Rorey Cathcart, FGS President

PRESERVE THE PENSIONS ANNOUNCES RESUMPTION OF DOCUMENT CONSERVATION AT NATIONAL ARCHIVES

DIGITIZATION SOON TO FOLLOW



The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) is pleased to announce National Archives staff have recently resumed document conservation of the War of 1812 Pension files covering surnames M(Moore)-Q. Document conservation is the essential first step in digitizing these files. Our digitization partner, Ancestry.com, has scheduled image capture of these newly conserved documents to begin the second week of September 2017. As capture resumes, new images will be added to Fold3.com on a rolling basis. The Federation and the dedicated volunteers of the Preserve the Pensions project have worked tirelessly for well over a year to negotiate a resolution to the work stoppage. This portion of the project plan is expected to be completed by third quarter 2018.
The War of 1812 pensions are among the most frequently requested set of materials within the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), yet had never been microfilmed or digitized. Through a fundraising effort unprecedented in the genealogical community, more than 4,000 individuals, 115 genealogical and lineage societies, and industry leaders such as FamilySearch helped FGS secure the funds, matched by Ancestry.com, to preserve and share this invaluable genealogical resource. The images already captured, as well as those soon to be, are hosted at Fold3.com for free, forever.
 “We are grateful to our partners Ancestry.com and NARA for their support and willingness to continue working with us towards this successful outcome. We appreciate their recognition of the unique nature of this project and the community who worked so hard to fund it.” – Rorey Cathcart, FGS President
The Federation is committed to seeing the entire collection conserved, digitized and freely online at the earliest possible date. We will continue work with our partners to secure a timeline for the remaining portion of the War of 1812 Pension files.

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.



Friday, June 16, 2017

Summer 2017 Issue of FORUM is Out


If you need more from your genealogy software, Elizabeth O'Neal has advice for shopping around in "Desperately Seeking Software: How To Find Your Perfect Match." 

For those of you heading to Pittsburgh for the FGS 2017 conference in August, Marilyn Cocchiola Holt, MLS, gives you "A Guide to Research Facilities in Pittsburgh and Nearby Areas."


Rachel M. Popma has tips for newsletter and journal editors in "Society Publications: How to Find Valuable Content for Your Readers." 

In "Google for Nonprofits," Denise Barrett Olson explains how to use these simple yet powerful tools to streamline society management. 


And that's not all. 

Table of Contents

3 ...... Editor's Message

6 ...... President's Message: Full Circle by Rorey Cathcart

8 ...... Desperately Seeking Software: How to Find Your Perfect Match by Elizabeth O'Neal

13 ...... FGS 2017 Conference: A Guide to Research Facilities in Pittsburgh and Nearby Areas by Marilyn Cocchiola Holt, MLS

18 ...... Society Publications: How to Find Valuable Content for Your Readers by Rachel M. Popma

23 ...... Google for Nonprofits by Denise Barrett Olson

28 ...... Next Generation: Consider Sponsoring a Scholarship by Shannon Combs-Bennett

30 ...... Forensic Genealogy: The Case for Turning Down Contingency Fees by Helen Haldeman Daglas

32 ...... Records Preservation & Access: RPAC News, Dawes Rolls, Digitized Records & More by Linda McCleary, MLS

36 ...... Reviews

47 ...... Before You Go . . .


How to access FORUM:

Current FGS Member Society Leadership: Sign-in now to start reading immediately or download it to read on your desktop or mobile device. (After signing in, click on FGS FORUM – Latest Issue in the sidebar.) Don't forget to renew your membership in order for your society's leadership to continue to access FORUM and its archives.

Current FGS FORUM subscribers (individuals): sign-in now to start reading immediately or download it to read on your desktop or mobile device. (After signing in, click on Volume 29 No. 1 to read.)

Who can subscribe to FORUM? Anyone. You don't have to be a member of a genealogical society in order to subscribe.

Not already a subscriber? You can subscribe today to FGS FORUM.

Genealogical Society Leaders: If your society is not a member of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, become one today and let your society's leadership begin accessing FORUM and its 25+ year archives which is just one of the many benefits of FGS membership. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Improve Your Results with 5 Sessions by Ancestry Experts

FGS 2017 Ancestry Track


Today’s spotlight is on #FGS2017 Platinum Sponsor, Ancestry.com. Part of their sponsorship is Saturday’s Ancestry Track, when Ancestry's experts will be on hand to help you improve your family history research results! 


Crista Cowan


Crista Cowan has worked at Ancestry.com since 2004 and is known there as The Barefoot Genealogist. She frequently speaks at genealogy events around the country.


The Difference Between Searchers and Researchers


There is a difference between searching and researching. We need both skills to climb our family tree. Using the Ancestry search engine as an example learn how these powerful tools can help us be good searchers AND good researchers.

  • Time: 3:30-4:30 PM
  • Skill level: Beginner, intermediate

Anna Swayne


Anna Swayne has 11 years of experience in DNA genealogy, with 5 of those at AncestryDNA. Her focus is educating on the power of DNA and the story it can unlock.


Working with your DNA Matches


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.

  • Time: 8:00-9:00 AM
  • Skill level: Beginner, intermediate, advanced

Making Family Discoveries Using AncestryDNA


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. 

  • Time: 9:30-10:30 AM
  • Skill level: Beginner, intermediate, advanced

Juliana Szucs


Juliana Szucs has worked at Ancestry.com for 18+ years. She is a regular blogger on the Ancestry blog and is a social community manager and staff genealogist on the research team.


Getting the Most from Ancestry


Juliana will guide you through the resources and tools available on Ancestry, sharing strategies that will help you find the best route to your ancestors. 

  • Time: 2:00-3:00 PM
  • Skill level: Beginner, intermediate

Street Savvy Discovering Your Urban Roots


Feeling overwhelmed with research in the big city? Juliana will share tips that will help you pin down your ancestors in cities—large and small.

  • Time: 5:00-6:00 PM
  • Skill level: Beginner, intermediate



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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