Lectures

Elissa Scalise Powell is available to speak at your next seminar or society meeting. The topics below have been well received by national, regional, and local audiences. Please E-mail me to discuss your date, program and budget.

You may download LectureBrochure2019 or view the current schedule here.

METHODOLOGY

Beating the Bushes: Using the GPS to Find Jacob Bush’s Father

Creating Your Personal Genealogy Continuing Education Plan

Eating an Elephant: Managing Large Projects

Patriot or Not: Using the GPS on a Closed DAR Line

Rubik’s Cube Genealogy: A New Twist on Your Old Data

Thinking Outside the Index: Advanced Search Techniques

Twenty Years of “Stuff” – Now What Do I Do?

Windows to the Past: Newspaper Research

Write As You Go!

DESCRIPTIONS:

Evaluating Sources on the Internet
Level: Beginner and Intermediate
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

This lecture will discuss the differences and reliability factors between scanned images and transcribed data and how each should be approached when choosing to incorporate the data into our own research . Learning the source of your source is important. A discussion of original and derivative sources, primary and secondary information, and direct and indirect evidence is presented in order to understand which elements lend to the believability of a document or piece of data. A case study using an EllisIsland.org index entry which points to a mis-linked manifest is analyzed and solved. The attendee will gain insight into records that seem so easily available on the Internet and how to feel confidant in their reliability.

SUMMARY: All kinds of data is available on the Internet, but how can one evaluate what is true? Learn what kinds of data are more reliable than others and why, and how to weigh conflicting pieces of information.

The Dreaded Research Report

Level: Intermediate / Advanced
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Computer projector

Many people enjoy collecting data on their family and even putting it into lineage-linked software programs, but few relish writing their findings in a collated narrative or report in order to share them. This lecture will try to take the pain out of that process by demonstrating that writing is actually part of the research process and drives future research questions. Appropriate compilation standards and report types as mentioned in The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual will be illustrated. Included are Research Reports, Proof Summary and Proof Argument, Narrative Lineages, Pedigrees and Genealogies.

Beating the Bushes: Using the GPS to Find Jacob Bush’s Father
Level: Intermediate/Advanced
Length (optional): 1 hour lecture or 2 hour workshop
Equipment needed: Screen and computer projector

This case study illustrates how following the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) to collect all records and correlate the evidence helps to determine kinship. The Bush family of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania is traced through land, probate, census, tax lists, and church records to find that there are three Bush families who happened to interact sometimes but did not appear to be related. Sifting out the “red herring” family records from the family being sought was a process that will be shown in this lecture. The answer comes in widening the scope of the search to include all spelling variants of the surname and creating a timeline of events.

SUMMARY: Eli Bush’s grandfather was reported to be Daniel Bush, but was his father Jacob? Come see the research process unfold as land, probate, census, tax lists and church records are correlated. Watch out for pitfalls such as different men with the same name and other red herrings.

Creating Your Personal Genealogy Education Plan

Level: All
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen; possibly a computer projector

Eating an Elephant: Managing Large Projects
Level: Intermediate / Advanced
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen; possibly a computer projector
The seven steps to managing a large project are:
Visualize the end result. (What is the goal and what does it look like?)
Parameters (what to include, how much latitude, resource limitations, deadlines and milestone dates)
Break the project into smaller bites.
Prioritize bites.
Use the right tools. Are they on hand? If not, acquire them and learn to use them. Tools illustrated include software, computer hardware and the Internet.
Reevaluate often and adjust schedule.
Finish a bite to feel accomplishment.
Large project examples include a family history booklet for a special occasion, a printed family history, and the certification application process.

SUMMARY: Facing a large project is not so intimidating with good planning, the right tools, and thoughtful analysis. Organizational tips for paper and computer will also be discussed.

Patriot or Not?:Using the GPS on a Closed DAR Line

Level: Intermediate
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector
This case study illustrates how following the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) to collect records and correlate evidence helps trace a Pennsylvania family’s possible movement to Ohio and Indiana. The Colglazier family, said to be of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, is traced through land, probate, census, tax lists, and military records to find if they are indeed the same family who moved west. Four research questions are posed with proposed solutions demonstrating various analysis techniques. The audience is then asked if each solution meets the GPS.

SUMMARY:

Is David of Pennsylvania the same one who settled in Indiana? Did he serve in the Revolutionary War? Come see the research process unfold and if you agree the case is “proven.”

Rubik’s Cube Genealogy: A New Twist on Your Old Data
Level: Intermediate
Length: 1 hour
Equipment Needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

We all accumulate family data and perhaps organize it into pedigree charts and family group sheets. By looking at the data differently and giving it a new “twist,” we can see patterns and holes emerge. Lineage applications may point out weaknesses in our proof of descent from a certain ancestor. By writing the family narrative, whether for a book or a short article for a newsletter, new questions requiring further research are made evident. Even formulating a query for an Internet list will cause us to take a new look at our data. By sifting through old data collected years ago with our more mature genealogical eyes we can see things and relationships we would not have recognized earlier. Placing our ancestors in history through timelines can point out reasons why the records are in the jurisdictions they are found and give suggestions on where to look further. Using land platting techniques will point out relationships previously hidden from the casual observer. Many ideas are presented to help the attendee think about how the data they have already accumulated may give the next clue to continued successful results.

SUMMARY: By twisting your data by sources, geography and chronology, holes and discrepancies will become more apparent, and may suggest further clues. Discussion includes: timelines, genograms, lineage society applications, land platting, and writing the family narrative.

Thinking Outside the Index: Advanced Search Techniques
Level: Intermediate / Advanced
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector

This lecture examines why some records cannot be found using present indexes and gives alternative methods for searches and alternative search engines. Finding these hidden treasures usually helps to burn brick walls.

Why information can’t be found (Few records, variant spellings, records lie, historical context ignored, difficult records not consulted, records not analyzed together)
Looking at things a different way (Use extant records, be open to spelling variants, reexamine what you know, collect all documents, read contemporary historic accounts, access obscure records, look at records in context of the whole person)
Common Problems (Handwriting/transcriptions, name format, common surname, jurisdictional boundary changes)
Search techniques (Index tool limitations, Ancestry.com search tips, Soundex and how it applies to searches in Ancestry.com)
Internet tips (Wildcards, Boolean operators, choosing the right search engine for the job)
SUMMARY: Failure to locate information is attributed to many reasons. Searching databases with advanced techniques such as truncation, wild card, Boolean, and using non-standard fields, all help massage the data in ways that can help identify people otherwise overlooked. Tips for choosing the right search engine will also be discussed.

Twenty Years of Stuff – Now What Do I Do?
Level: Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen; possibly a computer projector
Whether a researcher has been collecting information for a long time or has suddenly inherited someone else’s research, they will need to:
1.) Organize it,
2.) Decide what is valuable and what isn’t,
3.) Make it available to others through some type of publication, and
4.) Provide for the collection’s survival.
This lecture will encourage organization (both paper and computer) and preservation of the materials; analysis and writing the family history using standard numbering systems including NGSQ and the Register systems. Evidence analysis and source citations will be discussed as will the use of computer programs as tools for organization and writing. Discussion also includes the use of artifacts and photographs in the family history and a genealogical will or codicil for the disposal of both the material and paper collections.

SUMMARY: Have piles of documents and loads of information, photographs, and artifacts? Organization, preservation of what is essential, and publication of the family history will be discussed as well as consideration of the collection’s final disposal.

Windows to the Past: Newspaper Research
Level: Intermediate
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen and possibly a computer projector
Newspaper research is more than just obituaries. Many lifetime events are recorded in newspapers which can be invaluable especially when vital records did not exist. Once the attendee understands what types of info they may find, they will learn how to access the newspapers in various research locales and incorporate the data into their research. Online sources, transcription projects, archives on microfilm and by subscription, detriments to believability and how newspapers can enhance a family history will all be discussed.

SUMMARY: Newspapers contain more than obituaries — they record many important events in our ancestor’s lives and can be a substitute for missing vital records. Learn how to access them online and off in order to reap the huge rewards that are hidden in their pages.

Write As You Go!

Level: Intermediate / Advanced
Length: 1 hour
Equipment needed: Screen; possibly a computer projector

This lecture encourages the attendees to begin the writing process before they ever look at a research record as a tool for organization and analysis. It starts out using the same general principles as “The Dreaded Research Report” but goes through how to practically apply them to build a report, along with advice and time-saving tips. Choosing the appropriate report style for the project data and goals and building the report segment by segment is demonstrated.

SUMMARY:

Learn how to be an efficient researcher by using the writing process as a vehicle to drive research and not as a separate activity.

COURSES

Genealogy: A to Z
taught by Elissa Scalise Powell, Certified Genealogist

An 18-hour course in beginning genealogy. No text is necessary as handouts are given each week. Please call to schedule your group’s personalized course of instruction.

PURPOSE: To learn about various tools and techniques that will enable you to discover more about your family history through the diverse records and information that are available to you.

Week 1 – Introduction; Record Keeping; Home Sources; Vital Records

Week 2 – Organizational Software; Soundex and Census; Ancestry.com

Week 3 – Courthouse Records; Migration Trails; Maps

Week 4 – Church and Cemetery Records; Military Records; Libraries and Archives

Week 5 – Field Trip to local research facility for hands-on work with instructor

Week 6 – Passenger Lists; Computer Usage; Email lists and Subscription services