Thursday, May 28, 2015

Class Highlight: Beginning Genetic Genealogy with Dr. Blaine Bettinger

DNA is the hot topic in genealogy right now. The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) understands the need for genealogists to obtain the knowledge needed to correctly incorporate DNA results into their family history. That is why SLIG is offering Beginning Genetic Genealogy in 2016 with coordinator Dr. Blaine Bettinger.

This course will provide beginners with the foundational knowledge in the basics needed to understand the application of genetics to genealogical research. Those with prior knowledge of DNA will be able to fill in holes in understanding and be introduced to tools and techniques with practical hands-on exercises and homework.

Throughout the course, real-life genetic results and family histories will be used to demonstrate DNA inheritance patterns, how to analyze DNA test results, and how to correlate that analysis with traditional documentary research to arrive at soundly reasoned genealogical conclusions. Students will be able to use the most current tools to analyze Y-DNA, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), autosomal DNA (atDNA), and X-DNA test results, and incorporate those results into their family narrative. 

Susan Bankhead attended in 2015 and said the class "filled our heads with thoughts of Y-DNA, X-DNA, mitochondrial DNA, autosomal DNA, haplogroups, and A’s, and T’s, and C’s, and G’s, and SNP’s, and STR’s, dancing in our heads. I learned that A’s go with T’s, and C’s go with G’s. It’s definitely a new way of spelling and a new language...I learned a lot!"

Dr. Bettinger has a Ph.D. (Biochemistry) and a J.D. and is an intellectual property attorney in Syracuse, New York. In 2007, he started The Genetic Genealogist blog, which is one of the longest-running and most respected blogs on this topic. He has been interviewed on genealogical and personal genomics topics and quoted in Newsweek, New Scientist, Wired magazine, and others. He authored I Have the Results of My Genetic Genealogy Test, Now What? in 2008. An updated version is distributed by Family Tree DNA to their customers. Blaine is the administrator of the Bettinger Surname Project and co-administrator for the R1b-L1/S26 Y-DNA Haplogroup Project. 

Blaine frequently authors articles and gives presentations to educate others about the use of DNA to explore their ancestry. He is an instructor for genetic genealogy courses at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR), Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research, and Family Tree University. Blaine was also recently elected to the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society’s Board of Trustees, and graduated from ProGen Study Group 21 in 2015.

You can access his blog at 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

An Unbeatable Combination - SLIG and the Family History Library

SLIG provides its students with the chance to enhance their education for a week on a wide variety of topics. There are thirteen courses offered in 2016. What further enhances the experience, is SLIG’s close proximity to the Family History Library. Founded in 1894, it is the largest library of its kind and is open to the public free of charge.

Whether you have varied research interests or just like to have access to the wealth of material available for a specific location, the FHL satisfies both. The FHL’s collection “includes over 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records, 727,000 microfiche; 356,000 books, serials and other formats; over 4,500 periodicals and 3,725 electronic resources.” These records cover the globe and include the “United States, Canada, the British Isles, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa.”[1] The library provides Research Consultants as well as volunteers to ensure that all patrons have readily available help, if needed.

Whether it is your first time or your hundredth time, you should do some preparation before you come to maximize your research time while you are onsite. For instance, you should:

  1. Organize your materials,
  2. See what has already been done,
  3. Decide what you want to learn, and
  4. Identify available records.[2]

Once you are at the library, you can always request help from a reference consultant. Besides being able to further your personal research, having the FHL so close allows you to practice what you learn during your week at SLIG.

With registration right around the corner on June 20th, now is the time to immerse yourself in an intensive week of learning at SLIG and researching at the FHL. It truly is an unbeatable combination!

[1] "Family History Library," FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 May 2015).
[2] “Library Tips,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 May 2015).

Monday, May 25, 2015

Class Highlight: Research in the South with J. Mark Lowe

Join in for a swing across the South! Take time to learn some specific research strategies, focus on finding useful records, and apply them toward answering questions.  This course will require developing a plan to answer questions and working together toward finding the answers. 

Southern research requires a careful understanding of how records were created, and how they have been maintained since their creation.  Consideration of lost or missing records will also be included.  The approach this year will be more active, with more time spent looking at records. The goal each day will start with a developed plan, leading to wise record choices, continuing with the analysis of information, followed with properly cited discoveries, ending with a review of evidence and a summary of what was learned, while leaving a next step for tomorrow.    

You will definitely have some "mull & ponder" time, while discovering answers online and through traditional sources.  There will be time to learn about basic records from AL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, SC, VA and even TN. 

Ancestry family historian and SLIG participant Lisa Elzey said, “My first class at SLIG was Mark Lowe's Research in the South. I never knew what I didn't know! I soaked in every minute of this class and learned so much, including that farmers are NOT boring! Who knew dirt could tell you so much about your family history story? Since then, I have often told myself many times when frustrated with a research problem, to "mull and ponder" my way through it. The class was profoundly educational and entertaining throughout. I highly recommend this class at SLIG!"

Have questions about Research in the South, and if it’s the right class for you? Email us at 

For more about Mark Lowe, visit his facebook page at

Friday, May 22, 2015

Less Than A Month Until 2016 SLIG Registration Opens!

The countdown to the opening of 2016 SLIG registration has begun! With less than one month to go, have you chosen your preferred course?

With thirteen tracks to chose from, there is a topic to suit everyone.

  • Methodology courses covering advanced topics, legal concepts, evidence analysis, problem-solving and writing a quality family narrative.
  • Records-based courses covering land and church records.
  • Technology courses covering beginning to advanced DNA analysis.
  • Location-based courses covering research in New York, the South, and the United States.

For more details, go to

Don't miss it on the best genealogical education opportunity for 2016!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Class Highlight: Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum with Angela Packer McGhie

If you learn by doing, this hands-on, case study based class is an opportunity to put your research skills to the test! Participants work on five complex genealogical research problems—a new one each day, then gather to discuss what was found.

The objective is to give students experience in conducting research on complex problems, analyzing and correlating evidence, and researching conclusions. Participants will work individually on each of the cases then gather to discuss their progress with fellow classmates and that day’s expert instructor.

The case studies are varied, offering students the opportunity to stretch their minds and skills in directions the research they are used to
may not normally take them. The ensuing discussion about sources used, strategies implemented, and difficulties encountered will challenge your thinking and broaden your perspective.

Mind Maps for Genealogy author and frequent SLIG participant Ron Arons said, “SLIG was fantastic! The Advanced Practicum challenged me beyond my expectations and introduced me to areas and record sets to which I had not previously been exposed. Probably the best aspect of the practicum was seeing how other participants used completely different approaches to solve the same problems. Enlightening, for sure.

Have questions about the Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum, and if it’s the right class for you? Email us at 

For more about Angela Packer McGhie, visit her site at

Monday, May 18, 2015

Class Highlight: Writing a Quality Family Narrative with John Philip Colletta

It’s inevitable: At some point in your family history research, it will hit you—this is an amazing story! If publishing your family’s story is something you’ve thought about, whether you’ve spent years researching generations of your family or are just getting started, this is the class for you. John Philip Colletta has been engaging SLIG participants for years with his vivid case studies and examples of transforming genealogy data into engaging, printed stories.

This course will help you learn how to compile your material, write your biography, choose an organizational numbering system, and document, edit, and proofread the saga of your family—on paper or electronically.

Classes explore how to enliven your prose with family lore, treasure heirlooms, local history, maps, and illustrations. One in-class writing exercise with follow-up critique will help you improve practical skills, share your talents, and exchange ideas with the instructors and fellow students.

2014 class participant Michelle Ercanbrack said, “As a fan of Dr. Colletta’s fascinating book Only a Few Bones, I was excited to take his class. His writing techniques and prompts are so clever! His thoughtful feedback of each student’s writing assignment, combined with hearing everyone’s stories and the ensuing discussion, was my favorite part of the class. I left motivated to keep writing because I had so many new ideas!”

Have questions about Writing a Quality Family Narrative, and if it’s the right class for you? Email us at 

For more about John Philip Colletta, visit his site at

Friday, May 15, 2015

Class Highlight: Advanced Legal Concepts for Genealogy with Judy Russell

If you are lucky enough to get into Judy Russell’s Advanced Legal Concepts class at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, then you are lucky indeed. Judy is a passionate blogger, lecturer, and a leading voice in the genealogical community. Her class uniquely blends her dual expertise of genealogy and the law.

A crucial and sometimes overlooked tenant of genealogy is to understand why and how a record was created, and the Advanced Legal Concepts class deeply explores that theme. In addition to legal history, the skills to apply the law to genealogical problems will be taught. Classes with focus on specific legal disciplines like criminal, civil, and naturalization, as well as the resources housed in court houses and major university law libraries.

Because the class covers the court and legal system so thoroughly, a familiarity with common court and probate records and basic legal terminology is recommended.

Juliana Szucs attended Judy’s class this year and remarked:
“There have been so many times while researching someone in my family when I’ve wondered, “Why did they do that?” Sometimes the answers to why our ancestors behaved, or why they appear in certain records, hinge on the state, local, and federal laws that governed them. The Genealogical Law Library has helped me build my skills in better understanding the types of laws that impacted my ancestors, and importantly, where to find out what those laws were. Taught masterfully by first-rate instructors (led by the venerable Judy Russell), this class presented a fascinating look at the law as it relates to genealogy with case studies and examples from the U.S. and abroad.”

Have questions about Advanced Legal Concepts for Genealogy, and if it’s the right class for you? Email us at 

See Judy Russell in action at her blog, The Legal Genealogist.

Friday, May 8, 2015

SLIG'S Coordinators on the Road Next Week

Some of SLIG's expert coordinators will be traveling to St. Charles, Missouri to attend the National Genealogical Society's conference, which begins May 13th. 

If you are attending, take a look at the topics below to see which ones might interest you. All of them promise to leave you wanting to hear more from them, which you can do by attending SLIG in 2016.

Angie Bush (coordinator for Intermediate to Advanced DNA Analysis Techniques for Genealogical Research):
  • W142 Which Test? Which Company? 
  • F352 Using DNA as a Genealogical Record 
John P. Colletta (coordinator for Writing a Quality Family Narrative)
  • W127 Principles of Good Writing and Good Storytelling 
  • T207 Seventeen Repositories, One Life: Uncommon Original Sources Portray a 19th Century Prussian Immigrant 
  • T225 Discovering the REAL Stories of Your Immigrant Ancestors 
Michael Hait (coordinator for Solving Problems Like a Professional):
  • F326 Researching Online at the Maryland State Archives 
  • S415 Records of the Slave Claims Commissions 
Karen Mauer Jones (coordinator for Research in New York):
  • T204 New York Land: Patroonships, Manors, Patents, Rent Wars, & Land 
  • T224 Records Created by New York's Towns and Cities: Uncommonly Rich Resources 
Thomas W. Jones (coordinator for Advanced Genealogical Methods):
  • W122 The Genealogical Proof Standard: What It Is and What It Is Not 
  • T222 Overcoming Surprising Research Barriers: A Case Study 
  • F321 When Does Newfound Evidence Overturn a Proved Conclusion? 
  • S452 Five Proven Techniques for Finding Your Ancestor's European Origin 
J. Mark Lowe (coordinator for Research in the South):
  • T252 Marriages Here, There & Nowhere: Finding Gretna Greens & Borders 
  • S402 Who Owned the Cow? And Other Common Conundrums: A Reasoning From Evidence Examples 
David McDonald (coordinator for Early U.S. Church Records):
  • W124 The Draper Manuscripts 
  • W154 Territorial Papers of the US Inward Ho! 
  • T201 Transcription, Abstraction & the Records 
Judy Russell (coordinator for Corpus Juris: Advanced Legal Concepts for Genealogy):
  • T211 Certification: Measuring Yourself Against Standards 
  • T251 Living with Legal Lingo Through the Records of Missouri's Boone Family 
  • S403 The Law in Yankee Blue: Federal Military Pensions after the Civil War 
  • S413 The Law in Confederate Grey: State Military Pensions after the War of Northern Aggression 
Pamela Boyer Sayre (co-coordinator for Advanced Research Tools: Land Records):
  • W149 Maps! Wonderful Maps! 
  • F355 Where Would You Go If You Had Five Days in Washington, D.C.? 
  • S411 Sharing Your Family History 
Rick Sayre (co-coordinator for Advanced Research Tools: Land Records):
  •  S428 Military Bounty Land-As Good As a Pension 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Class Highlight: Advanced Genealogical Methods with Tom Jones

Today's 2016 Class Highlight is Advanced Genealogical Methods with Tom Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, a SLIG favorite!

Crista Cowan took this class in 2014 and said:

"I took Advanced Genealogical Methods with Dr. Thomas Jones. He used examples to show us how people don’t appear in records together at random. We need to determine how everyone named in that marriage record, deed, will or land transaction are related, because they usually are. I also learned to track every piece of land my ancestors ever owned. Who did it come from and where did it go? 'Blood often follows land.' I was reminded that I need to use spreadsheets more often to compare and correlate the information I find BEFORE I put it into my family tree."

This is an excellent class for the researcher looking to take their skills and knowledge to the next level.

Students in “Advanced Genealogical Methods” will learn how to use and assemble evidence to rediscover ancestral origins, identities, and relationships that have been forgotten in the passage of time. The course will address advanced use of evidence from a variety of genealogical records and research in populations for which the usual records are in short supply (including female, enslaved, and impoverished ancestors). Students also will learn how to develop written proof summaries to show their conclusions’ accuracy and create a credible record of their findings for present and future generations of family historians.

This intense course is targeted to “high intermediate” genealogists who have completed an intermediate-level methodology course or who have equivalent experiences, and whose research includes original land and probate records or digital or microfilmed images of land and probate records.

Below is a list of the topics that will be covered:

* Introductions; Developing an Evidence Orientation (Tom Jones)
* Developing Research Questions and Hypotheses; Planning an Exhaustive Search (Tom Jones)
* Archival Research (Pam Sayre)
* Federal Research: Government Documents (Rick Sayre)
* Homework 1 (Gov Docs) (Rick Sayre)
* Military and Pension Records Strategies: Analysis, Interpretation, and Correlation (Rick Sayre)
* Transcribing, Abstracting, Extracting, Quoting, and Documenting Sources (Tom Jones)
* Census, Census-Substitute, and Name-List Strategies: Analysis, Interpretation, and Correlation (Tom Jones)
* Probate Strategies: Analysis, Interpretation, and Correlation (Tom Jones)
* Homework 2 (transcribing) (Tom Jones)
* Local Land Records: Analysis, Interpretation, and Correlation (Tom Jones)
* Tax Roll Strategies: Analysis, Interpretation, and Correlation (Tom Jones)
* Bringing Law to Bear on Complex Genealogical Problems (Judy Russell)
* Special Problems I: Identifying Landless, Enslaved, Peasant, and Other Impoverished Ancestors (Tom Jones)
* Homework 3 Assignment (Cammack case) (Tom Jones)
* Special Problems II: Finding Immigrant and Migrant Origins (Tom Jones)
* Special Problems III: Identifying Female Ancestors (Tom Jones)
* Federal Land Records: Analysis, Interpretation, and Correlation (Rick Sayre)
* Resolving Conflicting Evidence (Tom Jones)
* Homework 4 (Buss case) (Tom Jones)
* Rural and Urban Map Strategies: Analysis, Interpretation, and Correlation (Rick Sayre)
* Correlating Sources, Information, and Evidence to Solve Genealogical Problems (Tom Jones)
* Writing Genealogy (Tom Jones)
* Continued Advancement (Tom Jones)