Category Archives: Professional Development

Five Years of Homestead Genealogy

This week marks five years since Homestead Genealogy (formerly Homestead Genealogical Research) was created, and with one hundred and thirty-five blog posts to date, although my pace may ebb and flow, I expect no shortage of research to share in the months and years ahead.

Thank you to the GeneaBloggersTRIBE for wishing Homestead Genealogy a Happy 5th Blogiversary. I appreciate the genealogy blogging community as well as all of my readers!

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Another Genealogical Year in Review

The year 2017 has not been particularly conducive to genealogical pursuits as entertaining a busy toddler and coordinating an out-of-state move definitely take their toll on one’s available research time! However, I’m glad that I’ve met my personal goal of sharing a dozen blog posts over the course of the year, including ten family history stories, and that I’ve made several exciting genealogical discoveries along the way. I’ve also enjoyed continued collaboration with a cousin on our research into a family of Danish immigrants, with plans to co-author a book (eventually!), and have connected with researchers located as far away as Germany and Denmark.

Beyond my own genealogical endeavors, I took on a couple of freelance projects and made time for a few activities within the genealogical community:

  • In May, I took part in a moderated discussion about genealogical research prior to a performance of The House in Scarsdale at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center in Pasadena, California. As the autobiographical production included themes related to the playwright’s family history, it was an interesting discussion.
  • Also in May, I was featured in a YouTube interview hosted by the NextGen Genealogy Network. Like all speaking engagements, this was out of my comfort zone, but it’s always a pleasure to chat with my friend and colleague Eric Wells.
  • I made a brief appearance at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in June, my fifth year attending this event. I moderated a discussion, “The Next Generation: Young Genealogists and Your Society,” with panelists Lisa Medina, Deborah Sweeney, Eric Wells, Randy Whited, and Paul Woodbury, all of whom helped to make my first conference speaking engagement go as smoothly as possible.
  • While at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree, I co-hosted a meetup of the NextGen Genealogy Network where I enjoyed visiting with old friends and new.
  • I continued to volunteer as Content Coordinator (and interim Treasurer) with the NextGen Genealogy Network through June, when I decided that after nearly four years with the organization, it was time to pass the torch to make way for fresh perspectives. The energetic young genealogists who make up its Leadership Team make me confident that the organization will continue to grow and thrive!

Now, having recently relocated from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest, I am eager to become acquainted with the local genealogical community through the Seattle Genealogical Society, the Puget Sound Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists, and the 2018 Northwest Genealogy Conference. I also look forward to connecting and reconnecting with relatives who have also made the Pacific Northwest their home—and, once the dust has settled and boxes are unpacked, setting up my genealogy work space once again!

Five Years at the SCGS Jamboree

This was my fifth year attending the Southern California Genealogical Society’s Jamboree, which took place 9–11 June in Burbank, California. It was my fourth year hosting a meetup of the NextGen Genealogy Network, and my first year as a speaker.

“The Next Generation: Young Genealogists and Your Society” with Eric Wells, Deborah Sweeney, Lisa Medina, Melanie Frick, Randy Whited, and Paul Woodbury. Photograph courtesy of Victoria Wells.

On Saturday, 10 June, I moderated a panel discussion, “The Next Generation: Young Genealogists and Your Society,” with a stellar team of panelists: Lisa Medina, Deborah Sweeney, Eric Wells, Randy Whited, and Paul Woodbury. One hour flew by as we discussed how genealogy societies can welcome young genealogists, how societies can avoid making them feel out of place or undervalued, and what makes a young genealogist want to engage with a society. I was glad to see many society leaders in attendance, and there were a number of questions and comments from the audience which made for an interesting discussion.

“The Next Generation: Young Genealogists and Your Society.” Photograph courtesy of Victoria Wells.

Following the panel was the fifth annual meetup of the NextGen Genealogy Network, which I co-hosted with Eric Wells. We had a good turnout including several familiar as well as new faces! I was glad to have a chance to meet the recipient of the 2017 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant, Mindy Jacox.

2017 NextGen Genealogy Network Meetup at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree.

This was also my briefest year at Jamboree due to an unavoidable scheduling conflict. I only managed a quick peek at the exhibit hall and a few hellos with friends, and, unfortunately, was unable to stay for any other sessions. However, even in the short time I was there, I could tell that the conference organizers put on another fun and high-quality event. There were many sessions I would have loved to have seen, from DNA analysis to cluster research to dating fashion in old photographs. Next year!

A Genealogical Year in Review

Since I began blogging in August 2013, I made an effort to never miss a single month as an opportunity to share a snippet of family history on this blog. Over the course of three years, I shared over one hundred research findings, favorite old photographs, and updates on my experiences at genealogy conferences and beyond. However, this past August, a special new addition to our family meant all self-imposed deadlines were off.

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Despite the blogging hiatus and the transition to full-time motherhood, which I absolutely love, 2016 was still a banner year for my personal genealogical endeavors:

  • I attended the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and shared what I learned on Adventures in Genealogy Education, a blog by Angela McGhie. While in Salt Lake City, I also logged a number of hours with old German records on microfilm at the Family History Library.
  • The NextGen Genealogy Network continued to occupy my time, and I contributed a resource for societies interested in engaging young genealogists. My proposal to lead a panel discussion on the same topic at the 2017 Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree was recently accepted, and I look forward to the discussion with a fun team of panelists.
  • Speaking of the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree, I attended in 2016 for the fourth time, hosted a meetup of the NextGen Genealogy Network, and was honored to receive the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Genealogy Grant, with many thanks to Denise Levenick, blogger behind The Family Curator.
  • Through the month of August, I also continued in the position of editor of the APG eNews for the Association of Professional Genealogists, as well as in a volunteer position as a proofreader of the NGS Magazine for the National Genealogical Society. I thoroughly enjoyed being involved with these incredible organizations.
  • In addition, I was featured on Geneabloggers, wrote about my passion for antique photographs for MyCanvas, completed several memorable client projects (including copyediting Deborah Sweeney’s Lots of Love, Daddy: The World War II Letters of Roscoe and Gladys Yegerlehner), delved more deeply into DNA research, conducted interviews, photographed family historical sites in South Dakota, and made some exciting research discoveries of my ownalong with, of course, adding a new generation to the family tree…

2017 is likely to be a less-involved year, genealogically-speaking, but I look forward to researching, writing, and sharing many more family history stories in the months to come!

2016 SCGS Jamboree and a Special Award

This was my fourth year at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in nearby Burbank, California, and a memorable one at that. I was honored to be awarded the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Genealogy Grant, with many, many thanks to Denise Levenick (The Family Curator), a staunch supporter of young genealogists. In previous years, the grant has been awarded to a student, a profile I no longer match. However, this year, it was decided to award it to any active young genealogist, and I couldn’t have been more surprised and delighted when I received the call informing me that I would be the recipient. The Southern California Genealogical Society also provided a complimentary conference registration.

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Sunday Scholarship Breakfast, 2016 SCGS Jamboree: Paul Woodbury (Legacy Tree), Denise Levenick, Melanie Frick, and Jessica Taylor (Legacy Tree)

The award was presented at the Sunday Scholarship Breakfast, sponsored by Legacy Tree Genealogists and featuring speaker Paul Woodbury on the topic, “Preparing Good Ground: Fostering Genealogical Interest for Coming Generations.” I think everyone came away with chills after hearing about Paul’s experience visiting the abandoned home of a French ancestor that featured his family history carved into its stone walls. (This also happened to be my husband’s first genealogical event, and it made a good impression!) The Family Curator’s press release is available here.

The Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Genealogy Grant includes a cash award which I look forward to putting towards, in part, the proper archival preservation of my own family archive, hopefully bringing greater organization (and peace of mind!) to my ever-growing collection of old photographs and documents. Stay tuned!

I was glad to attend a number of excellent sessions at this year’s Jamboree, including speakers Tom Jones and Elissa Scalise Powell on methodology and Michael Lacopo on German genealogy. I can hardly wait to dive into Archion.de, a new online database of German records. Other standout sessions included topics ranging from adoption to migration to pre-1850 census records, and I especially enjoyed Jane Neff Rollins’ “Sensitive Subjects in Genealogy: What to Conceal, What to Reveal.” Selected sessions from Jamboree can be viewed for free until July 5.

As always, Jamboree is a social as well as educational event, and it was nice to catch up with geneafriends, fellow geneabloggers, and former classmates from the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. I also hosted a meetup for the NextGen Genealogy Network and had a great time sharing what’s new with our organization—including a community directory that will allow young genealogists to connect with their peers. I’ve loved being a part of NGGN as it’s grown and evolved over the past several years and always enjoy getting a good group together to chat at Jamboree. Until next year!

2015 SCGS Jamboree

It seems there has hardly been a chance to catch my breath since I was in Missouri for the NGS Family History Conference last month – and I suppose with good reason. My husband and I managed to fit a road trip with visits to ten states in ten days (not to mention three national parks in twenty-four hours) in between! This past weekend, then, only added to the blur as it was time to attend my second conference of year: the Southern California Genealogical Society’s Jamboree in nearby Burbank, California.

There were several memorable sessions and I made a point to Tweet some of the many highlights. I started off learning how to create a “Genealogy Disaster Plan” with Denise Levenick and picked up some great tips about how to handle an abundance of genealogy materials, including a recommendation for a fireproof safe for irreplaceable items and guidelines for backing up digital files. Levenick even shared a “Genealogy Preparedness” checklist, available for download at The Family Curator. I also enjoyed a case study on tracing common surnames (the “Jones Jinx”) from Tom Jones, insight into the records of poor ancestors from Paula Stuart-Warren, thoughts on immersion genealogy and family history travel from Lisa Alzo, and songs and stories of farming ancestors from Jean Wilcox Hibben.

Another informative session was “Genetic Genealogy and the Next Generation” led by Blaine Bettinger and Paul Woodbury. As a big fan of genetic genealogy (my grandparents have submitted to multiple DNA tests for me at this point!), I agreed with their suggestions that DNA offers a tangible opportunity for education and engagement among youth within the realms of both genetics and family history. What was especially interesting to me was a discussion of the correlation between an interest in genealogy and the number of generations of displacement from one’s cultural roots.

NextGen Genealogy Network Meetup, 2015 SCGS Jamboree

Of course, the Jamboree provided a great opportunity to socialize with several friends and fellow genealogy bloggers. This included Deborah Sweeney, who kindly provided me with a copy of her beautiful new book about the lives of her grandparents during World War II, Dear Mother, Love Daddy. I also hosted an informal meetup of the NextGen Genealogy Network and was glad to see nearly twenty attendees stop by our table, whether fellow “young genealogists” or our staunch supporters. It was a great way to conclude my last day in Burbank, as I chose to attend the conference virtually on Sunday. After so much of the past month spent away from home, it was nice to be able to catch up some things around the house while listening in on the free live stream of selected sessions – including one by sixteen-year-old genealogist Matthew Hovorka! The next generation of genealogy is here indeed.

Read about the 2014 SCGS Jamboree here.

Copyright © 2015 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

2015 NGS Family History Conference

Last week was spent at the National Genealogical Society’s 2015 Family History Conference in St. Charles, Missouri. This was my third NGS conference in as many years, and as always, it was a fantastic time of education, inspiration, and connecting with colleagues and friends.

IMG_0792Despite missing the first morning and final afternoon of the conference, I managed to pack in fourteen sessions in addition to the NGS luncheon and a lovely breakfast hosted by Findmypast. (No, I didn’t get much sleep.) From legal lingo with Judy Russell to tracing kinships through indirect evidence with Elizabeth Shown Mills, I came away with plenty of new ideas for tracking down some of my more elusive ancestors. Other sessions ranged from Federal Military Pensions to Scandinavians in the Midwest, and I also enjoyed learning about Illinois resources, pre-statehood and beyond, as a number of my ancestors entered Illinois Territory more than two hundred years ago.

One standout session was Baerbel Johnson’s “So You Think You Want to Get Married: German Marriage Records, Laws, and Customs.” Let’s just say that all of the obstacles in the way of marriage during different points in German history – including age restrictions (brides had to be twenty-two and grooms had to be twenty-five!), parental permission, proof of means of support, and taxes galore – go a long way in explaining just why so many German children may have been born out of wedlock.

My favorite discovery from a session? That would have to be HistoryGeo.com, a resource that maps “First Landowners” and can pinpoint the exact site of your ancestor’s land on Google Maps in just a few clicks. This eliminates the need to painstakingly cross-reference historic plat maps with modern road maps as I did last summer when identifying the location of the homestead of one of my ancestors. If you have any first landowners in your family tree, this is a resource you won’t want to miss.

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At this year’s conference, I especially enjoyed getting to spend time with two fellow members of the Leadership Team of the NextGen Genealogy Network. We hosted an informal meetup event for other young genealogists in their twenties, thirties, and forties – and those who lend their support, including a friend of mine from graduate school. A handful of us stuck around to swap our best family stories into the night, and from black sheep to DNA discoveries, we covered it all. It was the perfect way to pause and unwind halfway into the conference!

All in all, I was impressed with the stellar organization of this year’s conference by the National Genealogical Society, the St. Louis Genealogical Society, and conference center staff, as well as the tireless speakers, volunteers, and exhibit hall vendors. The conference center was a short walk from my hotel, and there was a Cracker Barrel in between – what more could one want? Oh, food trucks, of course. Lots of fun details of the conference were captured on Twitter under #NGS2015GEN.

I didn’t have the chance on this trip to explore what historic St. Charles and St. Louis have to offer, but I will definitely need to return at some point for a research venture – after all, my southern Illinois ancestors settled just a couple of hours away. Now I know how to find their land!

Read about the 2014 NGS Family History Conference (Richmond) here.
Read Ten Tips for NGS Family History Conference Attendees here.

Copyright © 2015 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.