Category Archives: Educational Opportunities

TGP 56: Elissa Scalise Powell – Genealogy Educator

Featured Guest

Elissa Scalise Powell

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, a western Pennsylvania researcher for over 30 years, is the co-director of the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), and Genealogy as a Profession course coordinator at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR). She was an instructor and module creator for Boston University’s Genealogical Research Certificate program (2008-2016). She was the mentor for ProGen Study’s first and 25th groups and author of two chapters in the 2018 Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice and Standards book. She was the course co-coordinator of the AG/CG Preparation Course at the 2010 and 2013 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG). She won the Association of Professional Genealogists 2017 Professional Achievement Award. She was honored in 2010 with the NGS President’s Citation in recognition of outstanding, continuing, or unusual contributions to the field of genealogy. She is a regional and national speaker on such topics as Pennsylvania records, methodology, professional development, and society management.

She was a Trustee for the Board for Certification of Genealogists for nine years, their President (2012-2014), and past Outreach Committee Chairperson for eleven years. She was a Director for the Association of Professional Genealogists for six years; taught genealogy courses at the local community college for fourteen years; co-edited a cemetery book series, appeared on the PBS-TV show Ancestors2 cemetery episode and on the Travel Channel’s Dead Files in the 2015 “The Instigator” and the 2019 “Devil’s Advocate” episodes. She is a past-President of two local Pittsburgh area societies and a contributing author to many publications including the NGS Quarterly and the APG Quarterly.

An NSDAR member, she is also a lifetime member of the Ohio Genealogical Society; the Medina County Chapter, OGS; and the Baltzer Meyer Historical Society (Greensburg, PA) which was named for her ancestor.

Contact Links

Website – Powell Genealogical Services

Facebook Page – Powell Genealogical Services

Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) – https//

Links Mentioned

The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) –

Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research –

Western Pennsylvania Genealogy Society –

North Hills Genealogists (Pittsburgh) –

The BCG Standards Manual –

Thing You were Most Afraid of

I wasn’t afraid of anything. I just went ahead and never looked back.”

Best Advice You Received from Someone Else

“Create a demand and then supply it.” –Elizabeth Shown Mills

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

“Create an education plan. Picture where you want to be and assess where you are now. Then fill in the gaps.”

Recommended Book

Only a Few Bones by John Phillip Colletta

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell


We are all on this earth to teach, to learn and to love. Think about how you will do that.”

Action Item

Your action item today comes straight from Elissa. Create an education plan. Picture where you want to be and assess where you are now. And then fill in the gaps. No matter what your niche is in genealogy this is a good exercise to do.


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!

If you’re a YouTube you can also find all the episodes of the podcast on YouTube. Don’t expect any video. It’s just an audio-only file with a picture but I’ve put it over there because some people are more comfortable with that platform.

Join the TGP Action Group on Facebook! You can find it at

If you’re not on Facebook, follow the Genealogy Professional on LinkedIn. You can get new episode notices there. Go to Linkedin and search for The Genealogy Professional and hit the follow button.

I’m continuing in my effort to get back 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.

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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!





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





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


“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 website and you’ll see the full listing of them there.

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TGP - 46 -Melinde Lutz Byrne


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

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 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 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-43 Gen-Fed with Malissa Ruffner

Featured Guest

Malissa Ruffner discusses Gen-Fed

In this episode Malissa Ruffner discusses details of the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed), a five-day program focused on researching federal records. Gen-Fed was formerly known as the National Institute on Genealogical Research.

According to Gen-Fed‘s website, “The Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed) is held at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. (Archives I), headquarters of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), official repository of the permanently valuable records of the United States government. Federal records document a wide variety of interactions between ordinary citizens and the government—in some cases providing unique genealogical information, and in others, biographical and contextual detail that enriches understanding of our ancestors’ lives.

TGP-43 Gen-Fed with Malissa Ruffner

About the Institute

Gen-Fed is designed to instill a methodological framework and foster creative thinking about relevant records—setting the stage for federal discovery. Geared towards experienced genealogists, archivists, historians and librarians, it is a unique opportunity to explore holdings unavailable elsewhere.

The institute has been a leader in genealogical education since its founding in 1950 as a three-week comprehensive program. It has evolved throughout its history in response to growth in genealogical education, advances in record access, and changes in technology. Its trustees are representatives of the American Society of GenealogistsAssociation of Professional GenealogistsBoard for Certification of GenealogistsFederation of Genealogical Societies,National Genealogical Society, and the institute’s alumni association. The National Archives, a non-voting member, provides strong support, on-site classrooms, and a welcoming atmosphere.

After a hiatus in 2015, the institute returns to its traditional July schedule in 2016 with a new name that reflects its mission.”

About Director Malissa Ruffner

Sachs Photography
Sachs Photography

Malissa Ruffner, a resident of Baltimore, Maryland, earned a Bachelor of Arts from Goucher College and a law degree and a Master of Library Science degree, both from the University of Maryland. In addition to genealogy, she has worked as a lawyer, and in schools, libraries and archives. Her genealogical pursuits include client work, writing and blogging, lecturing, and participation in conferences and institutes, including NIGR, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University, the Genealogical Research Institute at Pittsburgh, Forensic Genealogy Institute, ProGen, and “Come Home to New England” at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Malissa currently serves on the Maryland Genealogical Society Board of Directors and on the Intellectual Property Committee of the Board for Certification of Genealogy.

Contact Links

Gen-Fed 2016

Are you ready for Gen-Fed?

Other Links

National Archives and Records Administration

Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives edited by Anne Bruner Eales and Robert M. Kvasnicka


What I would like you to do is to choose an archives or library in your local area that you’ve never been to before. Then spend some time exploring their online catalog and guidance resources.  Try to get an overview of what records and resources they have available.

Next, if possible, try to explore some specific genealogical searches and see if the archive has records that might help you in your research. If so, make a research plan and plan a visit. If not, see if you can plan a visit anyway and see if what you learned online about the archive matches what you discover in person.

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In Genealogy news, just a quick reminder that we are in the final week to register for the APG Professional Management Conference at the Early Bird rate. This episode is releasing on July 10th and you only have until July 15th 2016 to save money.

I did a quick survey on my personal Facebook Wall about who has already registered and I was pleasantly surprised by how many people have signed up. You will be able to register after July 15th but you’ll pay full conference price. You can find more information out at

If you’d like to become a supporter of the Genealogy Professional podcast head over to the website at and click on the supporter button. And of course, ratings and reviews in both iTunes and Stitcher are always welcome.












TGP 22 The ProGen Study Group with Angela McGhie

Featured Guest

Angela Packer McGhie – A Discussion of the ProGen Study Group

The ProGen Study Group with Angela Packer McGhie on the Genealogy Professional podcastThis week instead of speaking with an individual genealogy professional we are focusing on the ProGen Study Group in order to provide our listeners with more information about the program.

Here is a brief description of the program taken from the ProGen website. For further information have a listen to the interview and then visit the ProGen website.

“The ProGen Study Groups are organized to encourage professional and aspiring genealogists to put into practice the principles found in Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills. This program employs an innovative method of collaborative learning focused on developing genealogical research skills and business practices.

Each month group members study one or two chapters of Professional Genealogy and complete a practical assignment relating to the material. They meet online to discuss the ProGen Book by Elizabeth Shown Millstopic in small group discussions. Members review each other’s assignments and offer constructive feedback. The study program covers all of the chapters in the book, including research procedures and business practices. This program requires a huge time commitment, but provides a unique opportunity for constructive feedback from colleagues.

Each ProGen study group has a BCG Certified Genealogist mentoring the group. These volunteer mentors participate in the monthly discussions to answer questions and offer guidance.”

Contact Links

The ProGen Study Group website

The Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIPitt)

The Boston University Genealogy Certificate program

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) Home Study Course in American Genealogy


This week we focus on education and follow the ProgGen theme we’ve already started. In this exercise we will visit the readiness questionnaire on the Waiting List page of the ProGen website.

Fill out the questionnaire to get a sense of where you are in your educational journey.

**** IMPORTANT – DO NOT press the Submit Application button unless you truly want to be added to the ProGen wait list.

Are you ready for ProGen? Do you need to participate in some other educational opportunities first? This questionnaire will give you a sense of where you are now on your journey. If you’re not quite ready for ProGen then consider the NGS Home Study Course or the BU Certificate program (links above). Angela also suggested reading Val Greenwood’s The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy.

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