All posts by Marian Pierre-Louis

TGP 53: Melissa Barker – The Archive Lady

Featured Guest

Melissa Barker

Melissa Barker

Melissa Barker is a Certified Archives Manager and Public Historian currently working at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives. She lectures, teaches and writes about the genealogy research process, researching in archives and records preservation. She conducts virtual webinar presentations across the United States for genealogical and historical societies. She writes a popular blog entitled A Genealogist in the Archives and is a well known book Reviews Editor for the FGS Magazine FORUM and Utah Genealogical Association Magazine Crossroads. She writes a bi-weekly advice column entitled The Archive Lady published at Abundant Genealogy. She writes history pieces for her local newspaper The Houston County Herald called From the Archives. Her Professional Genealogy expertise is in Tennessee records and she is currently taking research clients. She has been researching her own family history for the past 30 years.

Contact Links

Website – A Genealogist in the Archives

Facebook – The Archive Lady

Twitter – Melissa Barker

Best Advice Ever Received

“Find out what you love to do and figure our how to make an income at it.”

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

“Watch webinars. They are a great educational tool which you can access right now from your home.”

Recommended Book

Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher by Drew Smith


“Always remember that not everything is online. You need to contact or visit an archive.”

Action Item

One thing that really struck me was how Melissa created a niche, that worked within her constraints, by promoting herself as a webinar-only speaker. I like the way she bucked convention by not following the traditional speaker path.


For your action item this week I want you to think out of the box the same way Melissa did. In her case, she chose to do webinars-only instead of in-person speaking events. Is there a path you’re not following because of constraints due to a full-time job, family responsibilities, location, cost or something else? Try to think of a way around the problem.  You don’t need to stick to traditional rules with your business. Make it your own and push yourself out of your comfort zone to make it happen.

If you like, head to the TGP Action Group on Facebook and share your obstacles and we’ll see if we can come up with solutions.


The Genealogy Professional podcast is now available on Spotify. Search for either Marian Pierre-Louis or genealogy to find it. Don’t forget to follow!

I’m trying to get on a bi-weekly schedule for the podcast. Eventually I’ll settle on an exact release date twice a month. But in the meantime you can expect a new podcast generally every two weeks.

Direct link to this post:

TGP 52 – An Stofferis, French Genealogy with a Belgian Twist

Featured Guest

An Stofferis

An Stofferis

An Stofferis is an experienced historian and founded International Genealogy Services, which is based in France. She was born in Belgium and studied history at the Catholic University of Leuven specializing in cultural history of the middle ages, modern times, and contemporary history. 

Also at that time, she conducted an extensive genealogical research about the origin of the Belgian scientist Joseph PLATEAU (1801-1883). In March 1996, she was successful in bringing together the different branches of the PLATEAU family to a reunion in Ghent. Her frequent visits to PLATEAU’s descendants resulted in direct access to a very large number of sources for the history of this family. Some sources remained unknown, but gave her the opportunity to uncover new scientific and family data.

In 2010, An Stofferis prepared and presented a biographical article on the decoration painter Antoine PLATEAU (1759-1815) :
A. Bergmans & A. Stofferis, un des meilleurs peintres de fleurs de son temps – Biographie d’Antoine Plateau, dans Een belvedère aan de Schelde. Paviljoen De Notelaer in Hingene (1792-1797), Brussels, 2010, p. 557.

In 2004 An Stofferis obtained her master’s degree in Tourism & Management at the University Antwerp Business School. That same year she moved to France and began working at the Belgian Embassy in Paris. But her passion for history and genealogy was very present. In 2012 she decided to expand her genealogical knowledge by following a course in Historical & Probate Research. 

An Stofferis is fluent in Dutch (native language), French, English and German. Some or all of these languages may be necessary to fulfill a project, as records were created in different languages, depending on the time and the place.

An Stofferis is a member of the Syndicat de généalogistes de France ‘SYGENE’ ( ) and  of the Association of Professional Genealogists (  An Stofferis has become member of ‘Interpret Europe’ ( 

Contact Links

Website – International Genealogy Services

Facebook – International Genealogy Services

Twitter – IGS Genealogy

Best Advice Ever Received

“To be honest in your work and in your accountancy. ”

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

To take a risk and if you have a dream to go for it.

Recommended Book

Guider les jeunes sur la piste de leurs ancêtres by Évelyne Duret 


Don’t give up your dream.

Action Item

An is building her business based on choosing her service (heir research), analyzing her strengths (her familiarity with many foreign languages) and identifying her ideal target clients (law firms on the north coast of France who need both French and Flemish speaking researchers and familiarity with Flemish history and records). By identifying who most needed her unique services she was able to showcase her strengths and make a strong case for getting hired.


For today’s action item, I’d like you to take a stab at doing the same thing. Choose a service, analyze your strengths and identify ideal clients. Your strengths should include qualities or skills that differentiate you from everyone else who does the same service. For instance, many genealogists offer heir research services but not so many researchers in France offer the service along with knowledge of the Flemish language.

Let’s take an example of a genealogist who offers research services in colonial New York. His/her strength could be their ability to read both 17th century English and Dutch handwriting. Who could the potential target clients be?  The obvious answer would be private clients who have New Netherland ancestors. But let’s think beyond that. How about authors who write about New York history, New Netherland history or even simply colonial America. You could also potentially market your services to museums and curators focused on colonial America.

Strengths can be lots of things, from proximity to an in-demand location (think of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City), to a specific skill such as understanding how a surveyor does his job which might be good for interpreting old deeds, or more familiarity with a particular record group than anyone else around.

Put all of this together and see if it helps you look at your business in a new light.

Direct link to this post:

TGP 51 – Jennifer Campbell, Personal Historian Services

Featured Guest

Jennifer Campbell

Jennifer Campbell, Heritage Memoirs

Jennifer Campbell founded Heritage Memoirs in 2003 following 25 years as a writer and editor. During her career, she interviewed and wrote profiles of hundreds of people, but did not get any of her own family’s stories before her father died and her mother developed dementia. Recognizing the great and final loss when the histories are not written down, she joined other pioneers in the personal history field and built her company, one story at a time.

Heritage Memoirs and Jennifer Campbell have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Toronto StarMore and Elle magazines, CNN Money, Gannett newspapers (publishers of USA Today), Costco Connection, and Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, among others.

Contact Links

Website – Heritage Memoirs

Best Advice Ever Received

Do what you do best and farm out the rest.

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

Read the book Start and Run a Personal History Business by Jennifer Campbell

Recommended Book

Bringing Your Family History to Life Through Social History by Katherine Scott Sturdevant

Productivity Tool

Computer, digital recorder Edirol R-09 (the current version of this is the Roland R-07), and Mac Family Tree software.


If you’re an introvert learn how to do self promotion. You can do this by reading the book Quiet by Susan Cain.

Action Item

For your action item this time around let’s focus on PR. This has two parts – you can choose to do one or both.


If you’re an introvert read the book that Jennifer mentioned Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain so that you can become more comfortable promoting yourself.

If you’re not an introvert then give some thought as to how you could possibly make use of some PR. Have you done something recently that would be newsworthy that you can send to a local newspaper? Maybe a project that you have been working on related to a local historical figure. Or maybe you’ve recently earned a credential. If nothing comes to mind then create a plan to do something that could become a newsworthy event.

Direct link to this post:

TGP 50 – Cari Taplin

Featured Guest

Cari Taplin

Cari Taplin, CG
Cari Taplin, CG

Cari Taplin,CG is related to Roy Rogers. Or at least that’s what her family told her. As a result, finding her true heritage has been her focus since the year 2000. She is a native of Wood County, Ohio but migrated to Wyoming, Colorado and now Pflugerville, Texas which is just outside Austin. Cari holds the Certified Genealogist® credential and has served in a wide variety of volunteer and leadership positions for state, local, and national societies. She currently serves on the board of the Association for Professional Genealogists and is the Vice President of Membership for the Federation of Genealogical Societies. As the owner of GenealogyPANTS, she provides speaking, research, and consultation services. Cari focuses on midwestern and Great Lakes states and methodology. Cari Taplin, CG is an internationally renowned genealogist. She has authored numerous articles for genealogy magazines and scholarly journals. She is a popular presenter at conferences and seminars around the world.

Contact Links

Website – Genealogy Pants

Facebook – Cari Taplin, CG

Other Links   

The Association of Professional Genealogists

The Board for Certification of Genealogists

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

Join the Association of Professional Genealogists.

Recommended Book

The Life of Pi by Jan Martel

Productivity Tool

Evernote and time check app called Toggl


Join a local society to meet like minded people, a mentor or friends.

Action Item

Actually I’m going to give you two action items! We’ll touch on two topics that Cari mentioned – tracking clients and education.


First, if you’re a professional who takes clients or does speaking engagements or writes articles – basically someone who get paid by someone else for work – I want you to start tracking the requests you are getting for work. Who is contacting you, how are they contacting you and what are they asking for? And does the communication lead to paid work? If you are a client researcher, you can track potential clients. If you’re a speaker, you can track requests for presentations. If you’re a writer you can track your writing proposals. And if you already track all of this I want you to spend some time with your data to see what you can learn from the information.

Second, if you’re not a professional I’d like you to focus on one of Cari’s other topics – education. If you’re a member of APG you could go listen to that webinar she mentioned. The one by Jeanne Bloom about how to track your clients. If you’re not an APG member, you could watch a free BCG webinar. They are broadcast live the 3rd Tuesday of every month at

Direct link to this post:

TGP Episode 50 features Texas genealogist Cari Taplin.

One Tip for Starting Your Genealogy Business

I received an email from Anna with the following question

“Hello, I have been doing research over 20 years, what are some tips would you suggest to start my business? “

I’ve been thinking about this very question recently!

I feel strongly that this is the answer for anyone thinking about becoming a genealogy professional providing client research services.

Put all the business stuff aside. Forget about your business name, marketing, social media, and all that other stuff.

What I want you to do is to write a report.

Of course, it’s not as simple as that.

First, come up with a research question. It can be from your own ancestry or a local historical figure that was a veteran or something similar. This project will take you 4 hours – just as if a client had given you that time limit. Make sure you choose a topic that can be addressed in that time frame. Otherwise you would need to have a little chat with yourself, the same way you would with a client, that you should change the scope to make it more realistic!

Next, do the research. Here’s the most important part.

Write the report as you research!

That means start the report. Before you even start your research.

For examples of professional reports see the BCG Standards Manual or the BCG website. For this particular report I would choose a Limited-project Client Report: Formal Format where you specify the subject, contract details, research problem, etc.

While you are writing the report make sure you are doing your citations for each document or record as you encounter it. Yes, you will probably have to re-organize your report a little bit as you go or at the end. As you’re writing make sure that what you are researching and providing to the client relates specifically to the research question.

Don’t cheat on this step. The point of this exercise is to establish behaviors that will lead to success as a professional. The other important aspect of this exercise is to force you to establish a process that will reinforce your own success.

Choose how you are going to create those citations.

Choose how you are going to store the information you find.

Will you use a genealogy software program? If so, you need to learn how to create citations easily in that program so that they are available for reference as you write the report.

Maybe you will choose to write directly into a word processing file instead and skip the genealogy software. Will you have a crib sheet of templates to refer to for easy access? What will make creating the citations a seamless part of your process?

When the four hours are over – STOP.

That means both the research and the report writing.

How did you do? Did you answer the research question? Or are you hours away from completing the task according to the scope of the question?

We’re not done yet!

Now, repeat this task two more times!

That’s right. Two more times. Two more research questions and two more 4-hour reports written as you go. Hopefully you will see some improvement in your ability to stay on task and an increase the speed at which you create citations and type up your research.

Success depends on your creating a process that supports your business. All businesses, regardless of type, need systems in place to allow them to act in a professional manner and deliver professional quality work.

You can’t start a business until you are sure you can deliver a professional product in a professional manner.

If you struggle with this task then perhaps you might think about holding off starting your business and seeking some further education such as the ProGen Study Group or the BU certificate in genealogy program or perhaps a week-long genealogy institute.

If you complete the three report tasks and you are comfortable with the process then move right ahead into business planning (which can be addressed in another blog post).

If you have questions as you complete this task, leave them in the comments below or use the TGP Facebook page.

After thought:

I think this really applies to all genealogists not just genealogy professionals. Finding a good process to record your sources is critical for your own sake. If you don’t create the citations then you won’t remember where you found the information. Just make sure that you find the right system that will allow you to create them easily and without fear. If your current process is too cumbersome, find another process or program.

AncestryProGenealogists Offers Scholarship Program

Scholarship Opportunity

AncestryProGenealogists is offering a contest to award a scholarship to the genealogy institute of your choice! What a great opportunity to advance your genealogy education!

There will be four prizes awarded – one scholarship to each of the major genealogy institutes in the United States:

  1. Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed), Washington, D.C., July 10-14, 2017.
  2. Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), Pittsburgh, Penn., June 25-30, 2017, or July 16-21, 2017.
  3. Institute on Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR), Athens, Ga., July 23-28, 2017.
  4. Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), Salt Lake City, Utah, tentatively scheduled for January 21-26, 2018.

Those who enter the contest will be able to rank the institutes in their order of preference.

Please see the AncestryProGenealogists website for details and the fine print!

Deadline: December 31, 2016.

Good luck everyone!





Call for APG 2017 PMC Presentations

Call for Presentations
Deadline 23 December 2016

Speaker Opportunities

The Association of Professional Genealogists will hold the 19th annual APG Professional Management Conference on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 29 September – 1 October 2017, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Washington, D.C. – Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia.


APG is now accepting proposals for the following categories of presentations for the 2017 APG Professional Management Conference:

– Classes presented by an individual or panel – one hour in length
– Workshops – two hours in length
– Discussion groups led by one or more individuals
– Poster sessions – informal discussions of a topic during networking time, posters to remain accessible to attendees at other times

PMC presentations should challenge professional genealogists to increase their genealogical research skills, evaluate and improve their current businesses, and meet the demands of the 21st Century client. Prospective speakers are encouraged to consider creative ways to educate and inspire professional genealogists.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

– Advanced genealogical research skills or methodology (for example, little-known or little-used records, truly complex case studies demonstrating advanced methods)

– Technology (for example, hardware and software to assist in research, writing, lecturing, and business management; platforms for podcasting or doing ones own webinars or instructional videos; website development; genealogy’s technological future; hands-on workshops are particularly of interest)

– DNA (for example, becoming a genetic genealogist, understanding DNA results, how to educate clients about DNA, when is DNA useful for a client project and when isn’t it)

– Business skills (for example, business organization and management, business plans and goal setting, collaborating with other genealogists on a client project)

– Marketing and branding strategies (for example, marketing with social media, how to establish a brand for ones business, creative marketing strategies that have worked, discussion session in which the group reviews/critiques websites)

– Speaker or lecturer training (for example, writing effective speaker proposals, effective use of visuals, crafting a dynamite presentation, overcoming fear of public speaking)

– Genealogical writing and publishing (for example, report writing, editing one’s own work, writing articles for different publications, self-publishing platforms)

– Client relationships and communication (for example, managing client expectations, communicating unexpected or unwelcome findings, explaining complex research)

– Certification and Accreditation (for example, meeting the GPS, strategies for success, educational preparation)

– Organization and time management (for example, how to organize ones office for efficiency, how to manage client projects, how to manage speaking engagements, planning efficient use of time)

– Career paths for professional genealogists (for example, forensic genealogy, house histories, dual citizenship, conference planning, producing videos for clients, lineage society work, providing archiving services)

– Success stories that inspire (for example, solving a difficult research case, breaking into a new line of genealogical work, taking a risk and how it worked out)

– Washington, D.C. (for example, orientation to the city for first-time visitors, orientation to using a D.C. repository)

Successful proposals will offer innovative, unique, and out-of-the-box approaches to topics and to presentation and teaching methods. Presentations that feature case studies and practical examples, or that offer hands-on learning or discussion, are encouraged as they offer powerful learning opportunities for attendees.


Half of attendees have been professional genealogists for five years or more and 56% hold a master’s or doctoral degree. 57% are lecturers themselves, and 37% are genealogical authors and writers. Almost all attendees (83%) offer genealogical research services for clients, and many hold or have held leadership positions in local, state, and national genealogical societies.

Successful proposals will recognize the knowledge, professionalism, and accomplishments of attendees and will seek to take their skills to the next level.


Presentations must be new and original. They should not have been presented prior to the 2017 PMC other than at the local level. Individuals who submit multiple proposals will be considered for multiple presentations. Proposals from non-APG members will also be considered.

Submit proposals via email to in PDF format. Proposals are due by Friday, 23 December 2016.

Proposals must include the following:
– Name, address, phone number, and email address of the presenter(s)
– Title of the presentation and category (from the list above)
– Summary of the presentation (not to exceed 100 words)
– Detailed description of the presentation (not to exceed 1,000 words)
– Explanation of how the presentation meets demands faced by professional genealogists (50-75 words)
– Presenter biography highlighting qualifications and expertise in the proposed topic (75-100 words)
– Presenter experience: list of presentations given in the last 18 months, including topic, audience, and location
– Indicate whether or not you are willing to have your presentation recorded and broadcast for the virtual PMC (Granting permission does not guarantee your presentation will be recorded or broadcast.)
– Submit one PDF file per proposal. Name the file with your surname and the presentation title, for example SMITH Running a Genealogical Business.

Presenter Compensation
Presenters giving lectures or workshops will receive:

– Complimentary PMC registration and digital syllabus
– Lunch for the day of the presentation
– Reimbursement for flight or mileage at the current government rate up to $700

– All-inclusive honorarium per presentation:
$400 for a one-hour presentation by an individual or panel
$650 for a two-hour workshop
$550 for a one-hour keynote presentation

Presenters leading discussion groups will receive
$50 for a one-hour discussion group led by one or more individuals

Presenters providing poster sessions will receive
Complimentary PMC registration for a poster session

All one-hour presentation proposals will be considered for keynote spots.
Royalty payments for syllabus sales and recording of the live-streamed session following the conclusion of the PMC will be detailed in the speaker contract.

APG does not pay separate hotel costs.

Annette Lyttle
2017 PMC Coordinator





APG PMC 2016 Recordings Now Available

If you weren’t able to attend the APG Professional Management Conference (PMC), you have a second chance to enjoy the classes!

*** Please note: the recordings are only available to APG members. If you wish to purchase them you will have to become a member. ***

Thirteen sessions were recorded and are available along with the handouts.  You can purchase all 13 For $160 or you can purchase individual recordings for $20 each. The syllabus can also be purchased separately for $13. Click here for more details.

Creating a Social Media Marketing Strategy with Marian Pierre-Louis

Creating a Social Media Marketing Strategy

One of my three sessions was recorded and is included in both the full download and individually.  Here are the details:

Title: Creating a Social Media Marketing Strategy
Speaker: Marian Pierre-Louis

Description: You may have a good handle on social media but are you really maximizing the benefit to your business? Every business-from solo practitioner to small firm to non-profit organization-should have a social media strategy. You should have specific goals and a plan so that your social media efforts will be targeted and help you see results that will reinforce your business. We’ll walk you through the steps to get you there.

More details here.

Here’s the official press release:

PMC Syllabus & Recordings for Sale

Did you miss the 2016 Professional Management Conference in Fort Wayne? Thirteen presentations were recorded and are now available, plus a PDF download of the full conference syllabus. Go to to access the order form. The video recordings are $20 each, or you can order all 13 recordings for $160. The syllabus can be purchased for $13.

Recordings will be available online October 3 and will remain available for 90 days. A link to each recording will be sent to you via a separate email after purchase.

The following presentations are available:

* Ancestral Social Network Analysis – Michael Hait, CG

* Creating a Social Media Marketing Strategy – Marian Pierre-Louis

* Designing Effective Websites: Connecting with Your Intended Audience – Carla S. Cegielski

* Genealogy for Love and Money – Mary Tedesco

* Getting the Most Out of Y-DNA – Blaine T. Bettinger, J.D., Ph.D.

* Goal Setting for Genealogists – Janice Lovelace, Ph.D.

* Setting Rates as a Professional Genealogist – Billie Stone Fogarty, MEd

* State of the Profession [Opening Session]- Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL

* Succession Planning for Your Genealogical Business – Kellie Jo Bergheimer, M.Ed., MSM

* Traveling for Clients: Unique Challenges and Opportunities – Mary Penner

* Working With a Client’s DNA – Blaine T. Bettinger, J.D., Ph.D.

* Working With an Editor: Get Published! – Christy Fillerup

* Writing About and Citing DNA Test Results – Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL





Post APG PMC Participation Wanted for Podcast

The APG PMC 2016

I’m just back from the APG Professional Management Conference (PMC) and what a great time it was!

As the only conference specifically geared toward genealogy professionals I would like to do a post-PMC episode that focuses on the benefit people got out of specific sessions or just the conference in general.

I would love to hear from attendees, speakers, committee members and board members. This would involve a (up to) 15 minute recording of you for the episode.

If you have time to record on Tuesday or Friday and you’re willing to share your thoughts, please send me an email at and please include your preference for day (Tuesday or Friday) and time of day.





Ontario Genealogical Society accepting speaking proposals

Speaking Opportunity from the Ontario Genealogical Society

The Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) is now accepting proposals from speakers for their monthly webinar series in 2017.

They  are looking for a wide range of one-hour webinar presentations.


OGS  invites proposals on a wide range of topics, in particular:

  • Ontario-specific topics (laws, records, land, history, etc.)
  • Ethnic research (Scottish, Irish, English, African-Canadian, German, etc.)
  • Canadian military research
  • Loyalist research
  • Ontario land research
  • DNA/genetic genealogy
  • Methodology and skill-building
  • Technology and trends in genealogy
  • Interesting case studies (Ontario specific)
  • Organization and project/time management


Selected speakers receive an honorarium for each webinar presentation.

Speakers may submit up to three proposals for consideration. All submissions will be reviewed and only those who are selected will be contacted by October 10, 2016.


Learn more and submit a proposal.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: October 2, 2016 – Noon (12:00 PM ET) If you have any questions please contact: