Category Archives: Institutes

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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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.