Category Archives: Genealogy Education

Legacy Family Tree Webinar 2023 Schedule Announced!

An inexpensive way to further your genealogy education is by attending the quality webinar presentations by Legacy Family Tree Webinars and the 2023 schedule has just been announced.

Registration is now open and there are 177 (yes, 177) classes on the 2023 calendar covering a huge variety of topics.

If you haven’t ever attended one of their webinars, FYI – you can register for most classes (some are membership-only access) and attend the live webinar.

However, if you aren’t a member, you can’t access the handouts or return after more than a few days to again view the class.

A one-year membership costs only $49.95, which gives immediate access to the entire webinar library (thousands of recorded classes)  plus access to all the handouts, too.

If you are a fan of Elizabeth Shown Mills, she is presenting a special series “Best of Elizabeth Shown Mills,” which is ONLY offered to  members. Her series alone is worth the $49.95 subscription!

There is a 12-page brochure that can be downloaded that describes all the classes.

Check out the new schedule – there is something for everybody!



It’s Not Online? Maybe It is! Accessing Unindexed Records

“I can’t find it!” is a sentence I hear from readers who contact me, hoping to find records that link his/her ancestor firmly to the family tree.

Many, but not all, of these potential distant cousins are relatively inexperienced researchers.

Most of them do realize that not everything is online, but they also don’t understand that THE RECORD THEY ARE SEEKING MIGHT WELL BE DIGITALLY AVAILABLE.

I am always willing to make a quick search to help out a fellow genealogist and there have been many times where it has taken me less than ten minutes to find exactly the record that “couldn’t” be found.

There is a reason for that and it’s not that I’m a magician.

It’s because the person asking for assistance doesn’t have much research experience and doesn’t realize that MANY records have been digitized BUT HAVE NOT BEEN INDEXED or HAVE INCOMPLETE INDEXES.

FamilySearch is the first website that comes to mind and is usually where I find someone’s “impossible to find” record.

Once a person logs in to FamilySearch and chooses the SEARCH tab, a drop down menu opens:

It’s natural to choose RECORDS at the top of the menu and, if the record you want is available and has been indexed on FamilySearch, you will find it in your list of hits.

However, if you are fishing, hoping to find any and all records about an ancestor, or even looking for that one specific record, if it hasn’t been indexed, a RECORDS search with the person’s name will not be successful.

For example, let’s say I was looking for a death or burial record for John Scerbak, my 2X great grandfather who died in Udol, Slovakia in 1916.

John Scerbak was baptized in November 1836 in Udol, Slovakia, married Maria Patorai there in 1861 and lived in Udol until he died and was buried in the Udol village cemetery.

First, I entered his details in the FamilySearch records search box – name, year of birth, wife’s name and year of death.

I got three matches, although #3 is clearly a different person. Two matches are for my John Scerbak, but both matches are for baptismal records of two of their children, sons Michael and Stephen.

No death or burial record is in the match list, nor are matches for his baptism OR marriage to Maria Patorai.

Here is the baptismal record for Stephen Scserbak/Scerbak:

It is evident from both the title of this record collection and the image of the page containing Stephen’s baptism that these are original records.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think that maybe my Nana was wrong – that John Scerbak wasn’t born in Udol and maybe he didn’t marry there either. Maybe he married in the next village over.

However, Nana was correct. The answer is that ONLY SOME of the baptisms in this record set have been indexed.

If I didn’t know what year John Scerbak was born, I’d have to estimate and begin reading page by page through this church book.

Also, unless some deaths/burials have been recently indexed, to my knowledge, those records haven’t been indexed AT ALL.

Again, I’d have to be reading burial records page by page, beginning with the date of the last record in which John appeared. In this case, it was in the 1884 baptismal record of son Stephen, whose baptismal record I’ve shared in the above image.

That means I’d be paging through 32 YEARS of burial records. That’s exactly what I did:

John was buried on 22 February 1916 and probably died one or two days before.

One more tip – I “cheated” and used the baptismal record image of Stephen Scerbak to “enter” the Udol church book collection and knew from past experience that I could navigate through baptisms, marriages and burials using that method.

If I was unfamiliar with the record set OR if I got no matches to my search at all, I would instead have gone to the CATALOG selection in the drop down menu box (See purple arrow in the first image, above.)

My search terms would have been SLOVAKIA, UDOL, which FamilySearch expanded to SLOVAKIA, STARA LUBOVNA, UDOL, which brought up one match – the Udol church registers.

I clicked and the link to the Udol church registers opened:

I could then open the church book and begin my page-by-page search.

Before I end, I’d like to share one other quick tip. I’ve read hundreds of pages of court records from many different counties.

Court minutes and court orders often have an index at the front or the back of the book.

HOWEVER, I’ve found MANY MANY times that those indexes can be VERY VERY incomplete.

To summarize – If a record search by person’s name doesn’t yield the result you hoped for, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the record isn’t available online.

It may well mean that the record has been digitized, but NOT indexed.

Although reading a record set page by page is time consuming, that might be the only way you will access a record you really want! It’s well worth the time.





More Free Quality Genealogy Education Opportunities: American Ancestors

October is Family History month and as a follow-up to my Genealogy Blog Party post a week or so ago, I realized that I needed to share another, lesser known, resource for some free genealogy education.

I am a long time member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, which, yes, is a fee membership. The society’s online website is the well-known AmericanAncestors.

What I think many don’t realize is that American Ancestors offers monthly online lectures that are free and open to the public.

There is an Events tab on the website’s home page. Click on that and scroll way WAY down to:

Now, click on the Go to Events Calendar and upcoming lectures which are open for registration will appear. Don’t be put off by the ones that have required fees.

Generally speaking (not an absolute!), if the event is described as a SEMINAR, there is a fee. However, When described as a LECTURE, attendance is mostly free, but there are some exceptions.

The latest issue of my American Ancestors Magazine recently arrived with a full calendar of upcoming events, all the way through August of 2023!

Here are the free lectures on the schedule:

November 2022
Nov. 10; Migrations from New England To and Thru New York
Nov. 17: GEDmatch Basics

December 2022
Dec. 1: What’s New at American Ancestors
Dec. 8- Stories from the Archives: Family Recipes

January 2023
Jan. 19: Basics of Jewish Genealogy
Jan. 26: Deciphering Old Handwriting

February 2023
Feb. 2: Getting started in Scottish Reseach
Feb. 9: DNA Consultations at American Ancestors
Feb. 10: Weston Park: The House, the Families, and the Influence
Feb. 16: Using the Great Migration Databases on
Feb. 17: The Houses of Parliament, 1086-2086

March 2023
Mar. 23: What’s new at American Ancestors

April 2023
Apr. 6: Pennsylvania Genealogy: Go-To Published Resources
Apr. 7: Murray Pittock with Scotland the Global History, 1603 to the Present
Apr. 14: Neoclassical Berlin
Apr. 20: Searching Journals on

May 2023
May 11: Huguenot Family History Resources
May 25: Getting Started in Lithuanian Family History Research

June 2023
June 8: What’s New at American Ancestors
June 15: Understanding Calendar Systems in Family History  Research

July 2023
July 6: Researching Black Patriots and Loyalists During the American Revolution
July7: Stories from English Country Houses
July 20: Getting Started in Ohio Research

August 2023
Aug. 10: Stories from the Archives: Scrapbooks
Aug. 24: Applying to Revolutionary War Lineage Societies

You might notice that there is quite a mix of topics in this FREE list! In addition to traditional genealogical topics, American Ancestors has a few self-promotional lectures, e.g. What’s New at American Ancestors, but they often have frequent talks on historical homes and places, particularly in the U.K. However, I see one coming up in April on Neoclassical Berlin, which I am guessing will be on German architecture in the city of Berlin.

I often attend these free lectures, even when I think I already know a lot about a specific technique or location. However,  I have to admit I ALWAYS come away with at least one new idea or resource to check out.

One important fact to remember, though, is that American Ancestors event registration generally opens just one month before the scheduled lecture. So, right now, November events can be booked, but nothing further in advance of that.