Friday, August 29, 2014


When did you first start researching your family history? Was there a moment when you knew you were “hooked?”

​I began in earnest in 1982. I had been taking history courses all along while my children were young. One sparked an interest in a St. Paul business of my grandaunts and that led me to learning more about them. Then I learned my family wasn't always from St. Paul. I was off and running! I delved into records in courthouses and archives, read old newspapers, and gathered the stories of my ancestors who came to the U.S. from eight other countries.

​What record set to you believe is the most under-utilized? What advice would you give students in using this record set?

​Original manuscripts are vastly under-utilized. These hold gems that tell of births, deaths, marriages, migrations, family issues, economics of the family, photos and much more. The finding aids that exist today are extensive and I talk about them in many of my sessions at SLIG. I often hear of past students' success in finding needed details after searching out such records in historical societies, archives, and special collections libraries.

​What books and periodicals would you recommend for ​intermediate to advanced researchers? Are there any lesser-known texts you advise?

​I suggest these researchers look for older publications from repositories that include descriptions of holdings and often these descriptions are not online today or aren't as comprehensive. If someone has reached this level of research, they should have a wide variety of books in their home library. Histories, guides, record abstracts, and others.

​What is the most rewarding thing about being a genealogical educator? What advice would you give for those who would follow in your footsteps?
​I love seeing that proverbial light bulb go off in a student's head. You can tell by the eyes that brighten and the notes that are quickly scribbled. Seeing a student immediately go online to consult a library catalog, finding aid, or database tells me that what I just explained was important to them.

I turned down the first opportunity that I was offered to make presentations at a large genealogy conference. I wasn't ready and knew I needed more experience and knowledge to share competently with my audiences. I also knew that I needed to keep-up-to date but that each person brings something wonderful to the sessions. ​

​Will you share something with us that students may not know about you? Perhaps a non-genealogical hobby?

​I used to have several hobbies before family history took over my life! I was an excellent seamstress, dabbled in calligraphy, and my flower and vegetable gardens were lovingly tended. Nowadays, my passion beyond genealogy is my grandchildren. Seeing them grow and become interested in knowledge is fascinating. My youngest grandson has asked to drive by all the places where his ancestors lived. We have started that journey.

Any parting thoughts or advice?

​Keep learning. Family history resources, techniques, and methodology are constantly evolving. Don't be an island. Interact with others such as at SLIG. Once you have attended you will be saying the same things as the returning students. It's a good habit. ​

Join Paula in January 2015 by registering for her course entitled "Resources and Strategies for US Research." For more information go to The registration page can be found at

Monday, August 25, 2014

Words of Wisdom from Paula Stuart-Warren

1. ​Why would you recommend a student attend SLIG in general?

​Being in a class with others who have the same interests can't be beat. The comraderie that develops is special. The instructors get to know you and you them. The sharing of knowledge and experience that happens is unique to the institute setting.

2. ​Will you tell us a little bit about what makes your SLIG course unique among genealogical education offerings?

​This course is an intermediate level of instruction and offered in two parts. You don't need to take them in any order. My fellow instructors and I don't just lecture, we teach and interact with the students. A class project lets each person shine in their own way. The one-on-one consultations at the FHL provide an opportunity to go directly to the finding aids and records to solve a research issue.

Paula will share more of her insight in the next blog later this week. Stay tuned!

Check out Paula's course at You can register at:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

John Philip Colletta on SLIG!

John Philip Colletta, a renowned genealogist, gives us insight on sources and the benefits of attending SLIG!

What record set to you believe is the most under-utilized? What advice would you give students in using this record set? 

Court records in general are under-utilized because accessing and searching them takes time and effort. But they contain a wealth of information about our ancestors. I encourage family historians to explore the records created by our federal courts, 1789-1911, which are in the 13 regional archives of our National Archives and Records Administration (RG21). The court’s docket book may serve as an index. Newspapers, too, report the docket when the court is in session. Federal Cases, a thirty-volume set in any law library also helps to identify federal court suits involving specific ancestors.

What books and periodicals would you recommend for intermediate to advanced researchers? Are there any lesser-known texts you advise? 

I subscribe to the major scholarly genealogical periodicals, such as the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, The American Genealogist, and so forth. Their articles are the best in the field and offer a tremendous variety of lessons—and enjoyable reading—for all family historians.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a genealogical educator? What advice would you give for those who would follow in your footsteps? 

Helping people learn more about their own heritage, ancestor by ancestor, is very gratifying, because I know how much it means to them personally. More than that, though, meeting people, one on one, across the country, who are engaged in family research is great fun. It broadens in a most delightful way the horizons of my own experience and knowledge. Genealogists are the best!

Why would you recommend a student attend SLIG? 

SLIG provides a tremendous amount of practical instruction in an ideal setting a few blocks from the LDS Family History Library… and at a very reasonable cost, too! The physical environment is comfortable and the faculty, staff and attendees all share their knowledge, experience and personalities in a genial atmosphere. A week at SLIG adds up to a lot more than a week at SLIG. It is more than an educational institute. It is a coming together of fellow ancestor hunters from across the country, a festival of sharing and camaraderie.

Take advantage of the early-bird registration pricing available until October 31, 2014! Don't miss this opportunity to benefit from John's expertise. For more on John's course, see To register, go to

Monday, August 18, 2014

Getting to know...John Philip Colletta, Ph.D.

SLIG is happy to have John Philip Colletta coordinate his course, "Research in Original Source Repositories" in January 2015. In this course, he explores repositories of original historical sources: archives, courthouses and manuscript collections. We caught up with John to ask him some questions, so that you could get to know him better.
When did you first start researching your family history? Was there a moment when you knew you were “hooked?”
One summer when I was 13 or 14 and whining about having nothing to do, my mother suggested I create a family tree. She had just read an article about it in Family Circle magazine. I began interviewing my two grandmothers and took to genealogy in a big way immediately.

Do you have a pet ancestor? Can you tell us a little bit about what makes this person so special to you as a researcher? 

No, I have no “pet ancestor.” I feel particularly close to my mother’s mother’s parents, though, Andrew and Frances Noeth. They were born in Bavaria and came to Buffalo, New York, in 1886. Since my mother was very close to her grandparents (their back yards adjoined and the fence had a gate in it), I have heard more stories about Andrew and Frances Noeth than any other ancestors. It’s almost as though I knew them. Temperamentally, however, I feel a closer kinship to my father’s Sicilian ancestors.

You can read more about John's class at

Friday, August 8, 2014

Seats Remaining in the Following SLIG 2015 Tracks

There are still seats available in the following SLIG tracks for 2015. The foremost experts in the field for each subject provide students with at least twenty hours of in-depth instruction on their topic. The format allows coordinators and instructors to build on the understanding gained from each lecture, building a foundation rather than giving scattered information. Students leave with a much deeper understanding of the topic.

Beyond the Library: Research in Original Source Repositories (John Colletta, Ph.D., FUGA)
This course explores repositories of original historical sources: archives, courthouses and manuscript collections. The purpose of this course is to take the mystery and trepidation out of using original source repositories.

Finding Immigrant Origins (David Ouimette, CG)
This course covers the key historical sources and research methodologies for family historians tracing immigrant origins. We explore chain migration, ethnic migration paths, surname localization, DNA evidence, cluster genealogy, and other tools to help find your immigrant’s ancestral village.

Advanced Research Tools: Post-War Military Records (Craig R. Scott, CG, FUGA)
Wars by their nature create records; however records are created in the aftermath of war also. There is the pension application file(s) or a bounty land application file(s). But there is so much more in addition to these records. There is pension law, payment ledgers, payment vouchers, public and private claims, correspondence, state claims, soldiers homes, and burial records. This course will cover these topics in-depth.

Resources and Strategies for US Research, Part I (Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FUGA, FMGS)
This course provides in-depth study of 19th-21st century U.S. resources and methodologies for utilizing them. Analyze content, origin, location, and develop tools and strategies to interpret records.

Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum (Angela McGhie & Kimberly Powell)
This hands-on course is an opportunity for advanced genealogists to put their research skills into practice. Participants will work on five complex genealogical research problems—a new one each day. The objective is to give each student experience in conducting research on complex problems, analyzing and correlating evidence, and reaching conclusions.

The registrations page can be accessed at Don't miss this great educational opportunity!