Category Archives: Forensic Genealogy

TGP 47 – Megan Smolenyak

Featured Guest

Megan Smolenyak

Megan Smolenyak2 is a real life history detective who loves to solve mysteries. You might Megan Smolenyakhave spotted Megan or her handiwork on Top Chef, Who Do You Think You Are?, Finding Your Roots, Faces of America, Good Morning America, the Today Show, The Early Show, CNN, PBS and NPR.

Her news-making discoveries include uncovering Michelle Obama’s family tree, revealing the true story of Annie Moore, the first immigrant through Ellis Island, and tracing Barack Obama’s roots to Moneygall, Ireland. Formerly Chief Family Historian for Ancestry.com, she also founded Unclaimed Persons.

Megan is the author of 6 books, including Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing and Who Do You Think You Are? (companion to the TV series), and conducts forensic research for the Army, BIA, coroners, NCIS and the FBI.

Contact Links

Websites – Megan Smolenyak and Honoring Our Ancestors

Facebook – Megan Smolenyak

Twitter – @megansmolenyak

Pinterest – Megan Smolenyak

Other Links   

Unclaimed Persons

Seton Shields Genealogy Grant

Megan Smolenyak at The Huffington Post

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

I got myself a virtual assistant right out of the gate . . . Even if you don’t think you’re ready for one yet, explore the possibility.

Recommended Book

Take Time for Your Life by Cheryl Richardson

Productivity Tool

Timehop

Advice

“In terms of genealogical careers, do what excites you.

Action Item

For your action item today I want you to think about where your career is going to be in 5 or 10 years. What will the world of genealogy look like then? How would your services change if all records were online? Or if all genealogy clients asked for DNA interpretation along with their researched family tree? What if the main demand was for heir research or perhaps mineral rights?  What other directions might genealogy go in that might not be obvious now? Also, think about your interests and your passions. If you research, for example, colonial Pennsylvania, what can you do to ensure that your business will continue to grow and make use of new technology? Can you harness photos or videos to find a new way to share the results of the research you’ve done? Or perhaps can you find new ways to work with professionals from other disciplines such as archeologists, biographers, or k-12 text book writers.

So what I’m suggesting is that you take a morning or evening walk and allow your mind to consider the future, your future. Think about it now so you can be ready to create it for yourself or to grab opportunity when it comes.

Direct link to this post: http://www.thegenealogyprofessional.com/megan-smolenyak/

TGP 47 Megan Smolenyak

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TGP 46 – Melinde Lutz Byrne

Featured Guest

Melinde Lutz Byrne, CG, FASG

Melinde Lutz Byrne, CG, FASG, is immediate past president of the American Society of Genealogists (elected 1993), and has been credentialed by the Board for Certification of Genealogists since 2010 (no. 1001). Trained as a cultural anthropologist (China, pre-Mao), invertebrate paleontologist, and archivist, she has written over fifty books and numerous Melinde Lutz Byrnearticles. Her specialties have been identifying women’s maiden names and naming the 200 Africans in Massachusetts Bay Colony before 1680. This year is her fortieth as a practicing genealogist.

In 1976 she began research on a Midwestern family with a pattern of twins and triplets. In 1985, after a year as a stringer for Blake and Blake, Genealogists, she coined the term “forensic genealogy” research services. She became interested in forensic cold cases in 1990, took on apprentices, and continued historical work with, among other things, Robert Charles Anderson’s Great Migration Study Project. In 1992 she submitted research to Mary Claire King and Tom Roderick in early mtDNA lineage studies and through 2015 served on the now quiescent genetic genealogy standards committee.

Melinde has been editor of three state journals and president of four societies. She has served as co-chair of NERGC, Genealogy Symposium day for ALA, and a program chair for the Northwest Chapter of American Archivists. She is a graduate of the 2007 NIGR (now Gen-Fed). She teaches forensic genealogy for Boston University and a graduate genealogy practicum for Excelsior College. In 2011 she trained with Betty Pat Gatliff to do forensic facial reconstruction and learn why two artists had created such different images of her 1971 NH Jane Doe. She continues to work with cold case law enforcement on naming the unknown dead.

Currently, Melinde is Program Director for Boston University’s genealogy offerings in their Center for Professional Education; Program Director for Excelsior College’s genealogy offerings in their Center for Professional Development; and co-editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

Contact Links

Website – Center for Professional Development at Excelsior College

Website – Boston University Online Genealogical Research Program

Other Links   

New England Historic Genealogical Society

The American Genealogist (TAG)

National Genealogical Society Quarterly

The Great Migration Study Project

Lost Babes: Fornication Abstracts from Court Records, Essex County, Massachusetts, 1692-1745 by Melinde Lutz Byrne

American Society of Genealogists

The Donald Lines Jacobus Award

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

If [you] haven’t already taken a class, I would say take a class. If you have taken a class and you’re not a member of a society, join the society.

Recommended Book

Hannah’s Heirs: The Quest for the Genetic Origins of Alzheimer’s Disease by Daniel A. Pollen

Advice

“Take a class.

Action Item

For our action item today, it’s an easy one. I want you to take a class or a whole course. Don’t just research the possibilities, actually take a class. Before you start protesting, for this reason or that, there are lots of free online classes. If you can listen to this podcast then you have the ability to take a class. At the very least watch a free webinar.  There are lots of free webinars and you can watch them right from your smart phone. Go to the Geneawebinars.com website and you’ll see the full listing of them there.

Direct link to this post: http://www.thegenealogyprofessional.com/melinde-lutz-byrne/

TGP - 46 -Melinde Lutz Byrne

NEWS

The call for presentations for the 2017 Southern California Genealogy Jamboree has been extended to September 2, 2016. This Call for Presentations pertains to the Jamboree conference, the SCGS Genetic Genealogy conference and the workshops, as well as the 2017 Jamboree Extension Series webinar program. Speakers must submit proposals through the online portal which can be found at http://2017callforpresentations.questionpro.com/

Many people might not know that there is always an open submission for Legacy Family Tree Webinars on their website. The live presentations are scheduled annually at this time of year but proposals are also welcome and considered for recorded member-only presentations. Go to familytreewebinars.com and scroll to the bottom of the front page to find the speaker webinar submission link.

Another Legacy news item – the Board for Certification of Genealogists has formed a partnership with Legacy Family Tree Webinars to host and produce future BCG webinars. Members of Legacy Family Tree Webinars will have access to the BCG recordings. The BCG webinars are held on the third Tuesday of the month when scheduled. The next webinar will be on September 20th and Rick Sayre will present Finding Evidence of Kinship in Military Records.

The APG Professional Management Conference is coming up at the end of September. It will be held at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It’s going to be a terrific professional learning and networking experience. There’s still time sign up. Just head over to http://www.apgen.org/conferences for more information.

During the interview we discussed the genealogy program at Excelsior College. There are new classes both in Genetic Genealogy and the Practicum in Genealogical Research starting on September 6, 2016. The deadline for enrollment is coming up on August 31st.

 

TGP 31 Alvie Davidson – Private Investigator

Featured Guest

Alvie Davidson, CG

Alvie L. Davidson retired from Naval Intelligence in the U.S. Naval Reserve
after 22 years of service. Since then he has been a Florida state licensed
private investigator, specializing in missing persons and genealogical
applications of investigations. He is the past District Director of the
Florida Association of Licensed Investigators and recognized by the Circuit
Court of numerous Florida counties as an expert in the field of ProbateAlvie Davidson on The Genealogy Professional podcast
Investigation.

Alvie is certified as a CG (Certified Genealogist) by the Board for Certification of Genealogists, Washington, DC.

He is an alumni of the National Institute on Genealogical Research, Washington, DC (1998); and the Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research, Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama (1999 and 2000). He is the founder (1981) and President of the Imperial Polk Genealogical Society, Lakeland, Florida.

Currently on the teaching alumni of Samford University’s IGHR for classes
each year.

Alvie is author of “Florida Land – Records of the Tallahassee and
Newnansville Federal Land Office 1826-1892″ (Heritage Books,
Bowie, MD 1988) and has published articles in The Genealogical Helper.
He has lived most of his adult life in Central Florida. Additional information can
be found at http://www.floridadetective.net.

He joined the Lakeland Chapter SAR in March of 1998 and was elected to the
position of Registrar and has held that office since that time. He has served as
President of the Lakeland Chapter SAR . Awarded the Kendall medal for
the 3rd highest number of members inducted into a chapter in the United
States.

Alvie has served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional
Genealogists (APG) for a 10 years as a director.

 

Contact Links

Florida Detective website

Other Links

Florida Department of Agriculture – Private Investor license

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

“Find somewhere where you can get some confidence. Self confidence is a key to success “

Recommended Book

 Professional Genealogy edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills

The Source edited by Loretto Szucs

Productivity Tool

iPhone

Drop Box – Tool for sharing large files

Advice

“If you want to become a professional genealogist, set your sights high and go for it. Get a good education and go to as many conferences as you can afford. “

Action Item

Alvie talked about the importance of investing in your own business. That can take the form of buying equipment or it can be spending money on education and conferences. Either way you need to keep pushing yourself forward so that your business can succeed.

ACTION:

This week think about some areas where you could re-invest in your own business.  Is there a task that you do that could be done more quickly if you have the right equipment?. Would having a smart phone or tablet help you be more productive? Are you investing in your own education? Make a list of 5 items where you could or should be investing in your business. Then think about a plan to figure how to you are going to make it happen.

Direct Link to this post:

http://www.TheGenealogyProfessional.com/alvie-davidson

TGP 20 Cathi Desmarais – Vermont Research

Featured Guest

Cathi Becker Wiest Desmarais, CG

Cathi is a full-time professional genealogist and owner of Stone House Historical Research, established in 2008. In addition to family history research, Cathi works on U.S. Army military repatriation cases, finding next-of-kin and family DNA donors for unrecovered soldiers from past wars. She also locates missing or unknown heirs and beneficiaries for law firms and title insurance companies. Her work has given her broad U.S. and Cathi Desmarais on the Genealogy Professional podcastinternational experience, with a particular emphasis on Ireland, Vermont, and Pennsylvania.

Cathi currently serves as the Vice-President of the Association of Professional Genealogists and as a board member and mentor program coordinator for the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy. Cathi’s writing has been published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Crossroads, The NYG&B Record, and the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly.

Cathi earned an M.S. Ed. from the University of Vermont, and has attended the Forensic Genealogical Institute in Dallas, Texas; the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP); the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University; the National Institute on Genealogical Research in Washington, DC; and Boston University’s Genealogical Writing course. She has lectured locally as well as at the GRIP and the Forensic Genealogy Institute.

Contact Links

Stone House Historical Research website

Stone House Research on Facbeook

No Stone Unturned blog

Cathi Desmarais on Twitter – @cathidesmarais

Other Links

Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy

Association of Professional Genealogists

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

Write down your goals. Get them down on paper. Where do you want to be a year from now? And then break down your goals into quarterly, monthly and weekly tasks. Stay open to new possibilities.

Recommended Book

“If you want to improve your writing, I would recommend Getting the Words Right by Theodore Cheney. That was on our bibliography in the writing class taught by Tom Jones and John Colletta a couple of summers ago at Boston University, and it had a big impact on my writing.

I also learn about writing by reading other people’s family history books. I loved Only a Few Bones by John Colletta, The Journey Takers by Leslie Huber, Running Away to Home by Jennifer Wilson, and Annie’s Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg. ”

Productivity Tool

Harvest – time tracking tool

Asana   project management platform 

Advice

“Take your business seriously. Prepare yourself well.”

Action Item

This week we are focusing on the practical. We can start our work week off better if we determine ahead of time what we need to accomplish. Sometimes we start out with the best of intentions. Then somehow our week gets away from us. Our focus this week will be on settings goals and creating to-do lists.  While Cathi talked about setting weekly, monthly and even quarterly goals we are going to focus just on weekly goals.

ACTION:

Make a to-do list for the next 7 days. Prioritize your do-to list in order of importance. You can even separate tasks by days if you like. Print out your to-do list and keep it on the desk next to you or pin it to the wall near your computer.

Next, tackle what you fear most. Whatever is on your list that you want to do least – do that first.  Hold off on accepting, or perhaps just scheduling, new tasks or projects until your existing to-do list is complete. Cross of each item as you finish it to get that sense of accomplishment!

 

Direct Link to this post:

http://www.TheGenealogyProfessional.com/cathi-desmarais

TGP 13 Leslie Brinkley Lawson – Forensic Genealogist

Featured Guest

Leslie Brinkley Lawson

Leslie Brinkley Lawson, full-time professional genealogist, specializes in forensic genealogy (missing & unknown heirs, probate research), providing due diligence and kinship determinations. Clients include attorneys, executors, guardians, banks, probate firms, private clients. She is a regional and national speaker.Leslie Brinkley Lawson - Forensic Genealogist

As a forensic genealogist Leslie Lawson has completed genealogy research for attorneys across the United States. She has a range of experience from proving family lines to reuniting family members as well as proving parentage for those unable to speak due to injury or disability [dementia, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia].

Leslie currently serves as the President of the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy (CAFG) and President of the Oregon Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists. Visit her website: www.LawsonResearch.net.

Contact Links

Leslie’s website – Lawson Research Services

Facebook – Lawson Research Services

Leslie on Twitter – @llawson3967

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

  1. Join APG and fully investigate that website.”
  2. “Set goals for the month, the quarter and the year and have a close friend who is going to keep you accountable to those goals.

Recommended Book

Professional Genealogy edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills

Mastering Genealogical Proof by Dr. Thomas W. Jones

The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy by Val D. Greenwood

Productivity Tool

Drop Box – Tool for sharing large files

Mozy – Backup service for computer files

Snag It (by TechSmith) – screen capture software

Sunrise – Calendar App

Advice

“Create templates for everything. Create a template for your report form, for your citations using Evidence Explained. Make yourself a template of every citation you use on a regular basis.”

Genealogy Idol Competition video where Michael Hait describes creating macros for citations. (free to watch)

Action Item

Leslie talked about networking and finding cients. Are you doing everything you can to find new clients? Here’s a check list of active and passive ways to make yourself visible to potential clients.

ACTION: Go through the list and rate how you are doing in each area. Commit to making improvements in your weaker areas.

Passive

  • Do you have a full and complete profile on a Professional Organization Website? (such as APG, BCG, ICAPGEN)Do you have a website?
  • Do you have a social media presence? (Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+)
  • Do you have a business card (try VistaPrint for inexpensive business cards

Active

  • Do you respond to discussions on a professional association list?
  • Do you respond to queries on general genealogy lists? (such as surname or geographic specific lists)
  • Do you participate in groups on LinkedIn where you’re target clients are active?
  • Have you joined societies related to your niche and volunteered so that you get to know other members?
  • Have you advertised online or in print magazines where your target clients are known to spend their time?
  • Do you write a blog related to your expertise?
  • Do you network?

What other ideas can you come up with that I’ve left off the list?

 

Direct Link to this post: http://www.TheGenealogyProfessional.com/leslie-lawson

 

 

TGP 5: Cinamon Collins – Tennessee Genealogist

Featured Guest

Cinamon Collins

Cinamon Collins has been conducting genealogy research for the past 16 years and taking clients for the past two years. She enjoys the chase and the thrill of discovery. Cinamon has the good fortune of having adventurous ancestors who have migrated and traveled Cinamon Collinsthrough many states, allowing her to become familiar with various archives.

Before turning genealogy into a full time career, Cinamon was an elementary school teacher and professional photographer. It is not unusual to find her traipsing around cemeteries putting her photography skills to use.

Cinamon has completed the Boston University Genealogical Research Certificate Program, the National Genealogical Society Home Study Course, ProGen Study Group (9), National Institute of Genealogical Research (NIGR) Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis, and is a graduate of the 2012 Forensic Genealogy Institute. She also volunteers at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

You can check out Cinamon’s website at: www.crcgenealogy.com or follow her adventures on her blog: www.misadventuresofagenealogist.blogspot.com or on Twitter: @CinamonC.

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

Join the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG)

Recommended Book

Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones

Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills

Productivity Tool

Evernote – a tool to help you organize and remember

Advice

“Think outside the box. Look for alternative sources of information that are not the expected.”

 

TGP 3: Melanie Holtz focusing on Italian Research

Featured Guest

Melanie Holtz, CG

Melanie Holtz, CG, is the owner and principal researcher of Lo Schiavo Genealogica . She is a Certified Genealogist specializing in Italian research.

She has 20 years experience in genealogical research and has worked extensively in all Melanie Holtz, CGtypes of Ital­ian records. Lo Schiavo Genealogica has worked in all regions of Italy, San  Marino, and the formerly Italian island of Corsica.

As a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), Melanie abides by the Code of Ethics set forth by that organization. She served on the APG Board of Directors  in 2010 and is again serving the organization between 2013–2014. Her work on the APG Professional Development committee has helped to expand the educational services offered by the organization. She also belongs to the North Carolina Chapter and serves as Vice-President and Director of Programs. Melanie is also a member of the Utah Genealogical  Association (UGA).

Learn more about Melanie at her website www.HoltzResearch.com

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

Make an honest assessment of what you can do right now in your business.

Recommended Book

BCG Standards Manual

Professional Genealogy edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills

Productivity Tool

Pages application for iPad

OfficeTime application to track hours and expenses

Google Docs (now Google Drive) to track work and log employee time cards

Advice

“Don’t take too long educating yourself. Get started.”