Monthly Archives: February 2014

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:

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


“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.


  • 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


  • 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?


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TGP 12 LaDonna Garner – Reaching Out to Clients

Featured Guest

LaDonna Garner, CG

LaDonna Garner, CG is a historic preservationist, researcher, and volunteer focusing in the Southeastern Missouri area. She is the St. Louis Genealogical Society’s African American Special LaDonna Garner, CG - Genealogy and Historic PreservationInterest Group Leader, and a member of several organizations including the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Association for Gravestone Studies and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Board-Certified in Genealogy in 2006, Garner has been researching her family history for nearly 30 years. Her current focus surround projects of recording the history of cemeteries in Missouri African-American communities, client assistance in genealogical brickwalls and consultations in historic landscape preservation. Her passion for cemetery preservation was inspired by her interest in family lineage and role as Founder/Secretary of the Mt. Zion Cemetery Board to preserve Mount Zion Cemetery, Festus, Missouri which was established by African American settlers in the circa 1880s and closed in circa 1973.

She  is former vice president and editor of Jefferson County (Missouri) Genealogical Society and a member of St. Louis (Louisiana) Genealogical Society. She is a graduate of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) course – American Genealogy, the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR), 2009 and attendee of the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR).

Contact Links

LaDonna’s website – Leafseeker Consulting

Leafseeker blog –

Leafseeker Consulting on Facebook

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

Take advantage of local or state or even online business management courses.

Recommended Book

A Graveyard Preservation Primer by Lynette Strangstad

Productivity Tool

Adobe PDF – For sending clients files and reports in a printable format


“Overall, whatever level of genealogy you want to do and whatever aspect you want to focus on for your business, I say you go for it no matter who tells you you can’t and not matter who looks at you like you’re crazy because it all works out.”

Action Item

LaDonna talked about several obstacles she has encountered during her career such as working in isolation and helping her local community become comfortable with her genealogy services.  There are many obstacles that we face both when we are starting and growing our genealogy business. They vary from the voice in your head that says you can’t do this to the voice of friends and family that say you shouldn’t embark on a career in genealogy. Other times obstacles can include your desire to become certified before opening up shop or a mismatch in services to local needs. It’s time to tackle these obstacles head on!

ACTION: Make a list on paper of all the obstacles that are preventing you from starting your genealogy business or keeping you from moving forward. Next take each obstacle one by one and determine how you are going to work around it. Will it be by creating a plan to get certification? Or perhaps by finding a mentor who can guide you through the bumps? Or perhaps you will focus on how you can explain to your loved ones why this is important for you and then show them your business plan! By writing down your obstacles you can clearly identify them and then you can specifically determine how to remove them so they won’t hold you back.

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TGP 11 Israel Pickholtz – Jewish Genealogy in Israel

Featured Guest

Israel Pickholtz

Israel Pickholtz – A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-born genealogist who has been living in
Israel since 1973. His personal research includes single-surname research in Galicia (formerly Austria, now Ukraine) as well as families from Slovakia, Poland, Belarus, Hungary and later in the US, UK and Israel. From there he developed skills relating to more general Jewish genealogy, including Holocaust research.

Israel  has participated in grave translation projects, searches for missing relatives and Genealogist Israel PickholtzHolocaust-era insurance claims, as well as traditional genealogy research using European, American and Israeli sources.

His most frequent assignments from Israeli sources involve locating and photographing graves, locating living people, Mandatory Citizenship records, records for Galician residents in the 1920s and 1930s, inheritance matters and Holocaust research.

He has lectured at the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) conferences on Jewish Genealogy in the United States, as well as other subjects in Israel.

Israel has served on the Board of the Israel Genealogical Society, as Secretary of Gesher Galicia and as Town Leader for Jewish Records Indexing-Poland (JRI-Poland). He currently serves as Secretary of the Professional Jewish Genealogists Group.

Contact Links

Israel Pickholtz on Twitter – @allmy4parents

Israel’s blog –

Israel Pickholtz on the Association of Professional Genealogist’s website

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

Comment on other people’s blogs. Put your name out in any way you can that doesn’t make you look like a fool.

Recommended Book

My 15 Grandmothers by Genie Milgrom

Productivity Tool

Drop Box – File Sharing
Gmail – Israel uses Gmail as a spam filter


“Write and write and write and get your name out there. If you can do a blog, do a blog.”

Action Item

Israel mentioned in the interview that he contacted me by leaving a comment on this blog.  This is a great idea to get started interacting with the genealogical community, both before and after you become a professional.

ACTION: Your action item this week is to start interacting with the genealogical community by leaving comments on other people’s blogs. First, target a type of blog that is of interest to you. Perhaps that would be an ethnic blog like an Italian genealogy blog or location focused such as one on the state of Nebraska.  Then go to, a blog directory site founded by Thomas MacEntee, to find blogs on your topic.

Next start to “follow” (read them regularly) those blogs. Notice how frequently they publish new posts.  Lastly, provide thoughtful responses in the comments to what you have read in the blog post.  You are now on your way to building relationships with others in the genealogical community!

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TGP 10 Michael Strauss – Diversifying Services

Featured Guest

Michael Strauss, AG

Michael L. Strauss, AG – Professional Genealogist, Author, and Lecturer — is an Accredited Michael Strauss, AGGenealogist for the Eastern States Region with the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGEN). A native of Pennsylvania and a resident of Virginia, he has been an avid genealogist for more than 30 years.

Strauss holds a BA in History and is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran. He is a recipient of a grant from the Foundation for Coast Guard History in Spokane, WA and received a research scholarship from the General George C. Marshall Foundation in Lexington, VA.

He currently serves as President of the Virginia Beach Genealogical Society since 2012. In addition he is a published author and is currently an expert witness in kinship estate matters in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Strauss is an approved genealogist for the United States Army to locate DNA-qualified family members of MIAs from WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam and is a licensed Private Investigator in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

He is a Civil War re-enactor with the 99th New York Infantry. He also likes to appear at lectures in uniform and with real artifacts in order to give the audience the most realistic experience possible.

Contact Links

Michael’s website –

Frederickburg, Pennslyvania History website –

Information on Civil War Re-enacting – Camp Chase Gazette

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

Look at different records that you haven’t been exposed to before.

Productivity Tool

Drop Box – File Sharing

Google Drive– Collaborative File Sharing


“Genealogy is full of serendipitous moments. Let your ancestors find you because they will.”

Action Item

Michael is both an Accredited Genealogist and a licensed private investigator. He would like to obtain his CG as well because he believes strongly in furthering his education.

ACTION: Explore educational opportunities and licensing that could diversify and further your career.  Would you benefit from obtaining a CG or an AG? Are you interested in discovering what’s involved in becoming a licensed private investigator?

Determine what certifications and/or licenses might fit in with your business and future business goals.  Next, find out what is involved in achieving these goals. Then plan a time line for when you might realistically achieve these goals. It could be now, in three years or even in ten years. Determine what works best for you.

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