Saturday, April 22, 2017

Get practical, hands-on experience at workshops

Conference workshops allow attendees to get hands-on experience in specific topics. The FGS 2017 National Conference in Pittsburgh offers four two-hour workshops that cover:
  • caring for keepsakes
  • research planning
  • storytelling
  • transcribing and analyzing
All workshops require pre-registration to attend.

Caring for Keepsakes

Bring your questions to this hands-on preservation workshop to learn how to archive family Bibles, photo albums and scrapbooks, quilts, documents, and memorabilia. Explore best practices for digitizing photos, documents, and awkward artifacts. Learn how to construct simple archival containers to hold books and fragile documents.

“Caring for Keepsakes” will be held Thursday, August 31, 2017, from 2:00-4:00. Tickets are $25. Skill level: Beginner, intermediate, advanced.

Denise May Levenick, MA (English Literature), is a writer, researcher, and instructor specializing in archiving and sharing personal and family artifacts. She is the creator of the award-winning blog, The Family Curator.

What Next? Hands-on Research Planning
by Paula Stuart-Warren CG, FMGS, FUGA

Analysis of information, recognition of detail gaps, and the creation of research goals form the basis for excellence in our quest. Success improves with careful planning, small group discussion, and proven techniques to develop step-by-step research plans. This hands-on workshop involves a variety of records and geographic areas.

“What Next? Hands-on Research Planning” will be held Thursday, August 31, 2017, from 2:00-4:00. Tickets are $25. Skill level: Intermediate.

Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA, works internationally in genealogical and historical research, lecturing, and consulting. She is a course coordinator for SLIG and GRIP and former board member of APG and FGS.

Preserve Your Roots Through Storytelling: James Leech’s 1763 Passport Unlocks Leech Family Migration Story

This workshop will cover the process and application of storytelling to family history research and working through an exercise that will allow the participants to begin working on the creation of their own stories. Bring results of prior research with you.

“Preserve our Roots Through Storytelling” will be held on Saturday, September 2 from 9:00 to 11:00 AM. It is sponsored by the Ulster Historical Foundation. Tickets are $25. Skill level: Beginner, intermediate.

Mary Jane Kuffner Hirt, PhD, recently retired as professor of political science at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She developed and taught a university-wide, upper-level synthesis course, Climbing Your Family Tree.

Getting the Most Out of Your Research
by David McDonald, DMin, CG

How does a researcher find the gems buried in a document and use the information to advance their research efforts? A workshop-style session to analyze handwritten documents, develop research plans, and analyze the material contained therein.

“Getting the Most Out of Your Research” will be held on Saturday, 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Tickets are $25. Skill level: Intermediate.

David McDonald, DMin, CG, is a trustee and past president of BCG. He has presented at multiple national conferences since 2005. Particular interests: migration, religions and their records, US Midwest, British Isles, and Germanic research.

Workshop Registration

Advance registration is required for all workshops. You can register for workshops when registering for the FGS 2017 conference.

If you have already registered for the conference and received a confirmation email, then you can 
use this form to add registration for any workshop to your schedule.

Workshop seating is limited so register early!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Are you ready to dive deeper into DNA?

Using DNA for genealogy can help you break down long-standing family history research brick walls.

At the FGS National Conference in Pittsburgh, we have two special four-hour DNA workshops. The DNA workshops will help you dive deeper into using DNA for your genealogy research. Both DNA workshops are sponsored by Ancestry ProGenealogists and require pre-registration in to attend.

Connecting the DNA Dots

“Connecting the DNA Dots” is a beginner-to-intermediate level workshop. It will help participants maximize the use of their DNA test results to answer genealogical questions. There will be discussion of types of DNA tests available and examples of genealogical questions they may help to answer.

Participants will also learn how to review and evaluate their own results, join appropriate surname or haplogroup projects, and upload their data to other testing services and websites. Lastly, participants will determine other family members to test and how those tests may benefit their genealogical research.

“Connecting the DNA Dots” will be held on Friday, September 1, from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Tickets are $60.

Using Genetics and Genealogy to Smash Through Brick Walls
by Blaine Bettinger PhD, JD, Angie Bush MS

“Using Genetics and Genealogy to Smash Through Brick Walls” is for genealogists with intermediate-to-advanced DNA experience. This is a four-hour, hands-on workshop designed to help participants maximize the use of various third-party tools and websites for autosomal DNA.

We will discuss the in-depth use of spreadsheets for organization, the tools available at DNAGedcom (ADSA, GWorks), Tier 1 tools available on GEDMatch, and Kitty Cooper’s Chromosome Mapper. Workshop participants should have accounts with GEDMatch and DNA GEDcom and have multiple sets of autosomal raw data to work with. Each participant should come to class with a research goal in mind.

Pre-requisites for “Using Genetics and Genealogy to Smash Through Brick Walls”

Since this is an advanced workshop, pre-requisites are required. If you do not meet all of the pre-requisites, you won’t get the most from this workshop and should not register.

  • Must bring a laptop to the workshop. (This cannot be an iPad or tablet.)
  • Must have a minimum of three close, known family members tested, with access to their resultsT
  • The raw data for these tests must be uploaded to GEDmatch.
  • For visual mapping, these three family members should be siblings.
  • For segment mapping, these close family members should be cousins. Ideally, attendees will have a mix of cousins and siblings tested so they can do both types of mapping, but one or the other is acceptable. 
  • Must have the DNAGedcom Client ( installed and working on your computer.
  • The DNAGedcom Client works primarily with AncestryDNA tests.
  • Attendees should have at least one test at AncestryDNA. 
  • Must have a basic knowledge of spreadsheets (e.g., Excel). 

“Using Genetics and Genealogy to Smash Through Brick Walls” will be on Saturday, September 2. Tickets for this workshop are $60. Advance registration is required. 

Workshop Registration

Advance registration is required for both DNA workshops. You can register for workshops when registering for the FGS 2017 conference

If you have already registered for the conference and received a confirmation email, then you can use this form to add registration for either DNA workshop to your schedule.

These DNA workshops will likely fill quickly.  Don't delay!

About the Instructors

Blaine Bettinger, PhD (Biochemistry), JD, is an intellectual property attorney by day and a genetic genealogist by night. He authors the long-running blog The Genetic Genealogist.

Angie Bush, MS (Biotechnology), is a professional genetic genealogist with Ancestry ProGenealogists and director of Region 1 for NGS.

Diahan Southard, with 15 years in the genetic genealogy industry, instructs at all levels of interest. She has a passion for genetic genealogy and a gift for making the technical understandable.

Monday, April 10, 2017


Online registration is now open for the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ 2017 National Conference. 

The conference will be held August 30 – September 2, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA. This year's local host is the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society and the theme is "Building Bridges to the Past." Register by July 1, 2017 for the early-bird discount at

Attendees can look forward to strengthening their research abilities no matter their skill level or area of interest. The program is available online. An 8-page pdf  is also available to download.

Rorey Cathcart, FGS President, shares, “FGS Conferences offer genealogists of all skill levels an incredible learning opportunity as well as a chance to meet others who share their passion. Whether you are beginning your genealogy adventure or have been at it for decades, FGS welcomes all. With a day devoted to programming for society leaders and members, followed by three days of genealogy programming that features world-famous speakers, exciting workshops, a variety of special events and luncheons, FGS 2017 has something unique to interest all attendees. Don’t miss your chance to join the Federation for a fun-filled and informative experience in Pittsburgh!”

Conference Highlights
Keynote Speaker
Rick Sebak makes unusual television programs. His slightly wacky documentaries now celebrate various aspects of modern American life and the unexpected charms of Pittsburgh. In “Take the Unexpected Bridge,” he will explore the idea that when searching for information of any sort, from historic and genealogical to gastronomic and adventurous, often the best route is along unfamiliar roads and across unexpected bridges.

Conference Sessions
Learning opportunities abound in the FGS 2017 program. The program includes four full days of sessions, workshops, and interactive seminars. Learning tracks include Immigrant/Ethnic, Records, Regional, DNA, Methodology, Analysis, Skills, African American, Land & Taxes, Religion, Occupations, and more. Attendees of all skill levels will find new ways to uncover more about their family history.

Exhibit Hall
The large exhibit hall will feature the latest software, books, maps, databases, and gadgets on the market for family historians. Many genealogical organizations will be present to share information as well. Society Showcase will feature representatives of FGS Member Societies to share how their society can help attendees with their family history.

Special Events
Wednesday evening's event is sponsored and hosted by Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society. Registrants are invited to a dinner cruise along Pittsburgh’s three rivers on board the Gateway Clipper Princess. Friday and Saturday evening offer a special treat for baseball fans. FGS is partnering with the Pittsburgh Pirates to offer discounted tickets for games against the Cincinnati Reds.

Focus on Societies
Wednesday, August 30 is Focus on Societies Day. Sessions are jam-packed with ideas and tools to help societies promote themselves, develop projects, increase membership, and leverage technology. D. Joshua Taylor will kick off the day with the plenary session. He will discuss ways to package genealogical societies for non-genealogical partners, including local media, donors, charitable organizations, and politicians.

Librarians’ Day
Tuesday, August 29, is the pre-conference event sponsored by ProQuest. Librarians, archivists, and other information professionals won't want to miss this event. It will be a full day of sessions focused on serving family history researchers.

Platinum sponsors include leading family history companies, FamilySearch, and MyHeritage. Bronze sponsors include AncestryProGenealogists and Internet Genealogy/Your Genealogy Today. For the complete list of sponsors and partner organizations, visit

Also visit the conference website for details including links to conference hotels, research opportunities, and more. Keep up with conference news and announcements by reading the FGS Voice blog and by subscribing to the FGS Voice Newsletter.

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