The Genealogy Professional podcast with Host Marian Pierre-Louis – Interviews with Experienced Genealogists


Client Researcher
Educational Opportunities
New York







June 2018
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Featured Guest

Michael Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc, CG is an internationally renowned genealogist. He has authored numerous articles for genealogy magazines and scholarly journals. He is a popular presenter at conferences and seminars around the world.

Michael worked in a variety of capacities at the New England Historic Genealogical Society for 17 years prior to joining Mocavo as Chief Genealogist in 2012. He left there in 2015 to start Genealogy Professor (, where he helps to provide genealogy education opportunities to family historians.

He has edited several books, including Genealogical Writing in the 21st Century: A Guide to Register Style and More, Second Edition, with Henry Hoff, and the fifth edition of the seminal guidebook Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research. He was a contributing editor for American Ancestors magazine, and a consulting editor for the New England Historical and Genealogical Register.

Michael served on the boards of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the Federation of Genealogical Societies. You can reach him at and

Contact Links

Website – The Genealogy Professor

Facebook – Michael J. Leclerc, CG

Twitter - @GenProf

Other Links   

New England Historic Genealogical Society

Mocavo on Findmypast

Boston University Online Genealogical Research Program

Boston Gay Men's Chorus

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

"Sit down and really make a list of what do you want to do as a professional genealogist, what areas are you most interested in, so then you can start to make that happen.

Recommended Book

"Back Bay" by William Martin

Productivity Tool

Paper and pen


"When you have that conversation in your head about 'should I be doing this, is this the right thing, oh my God, I'm going to make a fool of myself,'  tell that little voice in your head, 'thank you very much for sharing, now I'm going to do what I want anyways."


This episode is dedicated to the memory of Pam Wolosz, production assistant for the Genealogy Professional podcast. Pam, I will always greatly appreciate your help and encouragement and regret that our time working together

Direct download: michaelleclerc.mp3
Category:genealogy -- posted at: 1:45pm EDT

Featured Guest

Audrey Collins

Audrey Collins is a Records Specialist in Family History at The National Archives (TNA) at Kew in England. Audrey Collins worked as a freelance researcher for 15 years before joining the staff of The National Archives. In 2001 she was engaged by the Office for National Statistics as their official Census historian for the bicentenary

Photo Courtesy of Jill Ball
Photo Courtesy of Jill Ball

census in that year, and also served on the advisory panel for the 1901 census digitisation project.

Audrey is the author of three titles in the ‘Basic Facts’ series of family history guides, co-wrote The Complete Guide to Tracing Your Family History and has also contributed sections in the Family History Companion, and Census: the expert guide. She regularly gives talks at external events and conferences in the UK, Ireland and the USA. Her research interests include: the history and operation of the General Register Office, Civil Registration and the UK census; Scottish and Irish records in The National Archives; newspapers and periodicals and retail history.

Contact Links

Facebook – Audrey Collins

Twitter - @AudreyCollins23

Other Links   

The National Archives

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

"Find out what other genealogists do. Work out what the opportunities are . . . Look for something that not that many people are doing that you know you can do well.”

Recommended Book

The Family Tree Detective: A Manual for Tracing Your Ancestors in England and Wales by Colin D. Rogers

Productivity Tool



"Always go back and look at what you did before."

Action Item

I loved what Audrey had to say about networking. She said she was able to learn how Americans do research and the assumptions they have because of networking with them. And that helps her better serve them when they come to the archives.

Networking is important and it can change how you perceive other genealogists, your clients, and the people who serve you such as librarians and archivists.


I want you to get and do some networking! I'm going to give you two options for this action item.

Your first option is to find a local genealogy society, club or group near you. Find out where and when their next event is and attend, in person.

The second option is to choose someone you know already know (but not too well) and invite them for coffee (or tea as the case may be). This can be done either in person or virtually using a tool like Skype.

Connecting with other genealogists will help you see a different side of the community and it will be fun! So get out there.

Direct link to this post:


In News items, I am just back from the APG Professional Management Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It was one of the best conferences I've ever attended. And I so appreciated that it was focused on the professional and business aspects of genealogy.

I'd like to do a followup podcast episode dedicated to the PMC 2016 and I'd like your help! I'd like to hear from attendees, speakers, committee members and board members so that they can share the positive benefits that the conference had on them. This involves recording a short audio clip that can be used in the podcast. I'd like to do the recordings on Tuesday September 27th or Friday, September 30th 2016. If you'd like to participate, send me an email at contact@thegenealogy Everyone is welcome so don't be shy!

During the Month of October I will be offering two  webinars.

The first on Thursday October 20th is called "Boosting Facebook Posts and Creating Saved Audiences." I know what you're thinking - "I'm never going to need to Boost a post." Learning to Boost a post on Facebook is actually an important skill that you should have before you need to use it. You might not need to use it for your own business but it would be a great skill that would benefit a society or organization that you volunteer for. And what about those Saved Searches? That's the most important and critical part. Saved searches allow you to target exactly who you want to reach. Setting them up is easy once you learn how.

The second webinar follows this same theme. Once you've create a boosted post you'll want to track how well it does - and not just with Facebook Insights. The 2nd webinar is called "Tracking Success - Who Really Visits my Blog and Website." In this webinar we will take a close look at a free tool called utm tracking and how it is used in conjunction with Google Analytics to give you precise details about who is visiting your website, blog or YouTube channel and from where. This is better information than you can get from the insights or analytics built into your website or blog platform. You may be surprised to discover how your audience or followers are really finding you.

The webinars cost $19.99 each. For more details or to sign up, go to

New **SLIG Scholarship for First-Time Institute Attendees*

The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy is pleased to announce that applications for a new SLIG  Scholarship are being accepted.

*Who can apply:  The winning candidate is probably not yet employed in the industry, or working in a related non-research position; are most likely not advanced in their research skills; and might even be self-taught.  Regardless of level of experience, they have a few things in common:  1) they have not yet attended any of the national genealogical institutes; 2) they are ready for a more in-depth learning experience at an intermediate (or above) level; and 3) they would like to attend SLIG. If you fit this description, you are eligible to apply. Successful applicants will receive full tuition toward the course of their choice for SLIG 2017. Visit for more information.


The Board for Certification of Genealogists will be offering a Free Day of Quality Education on October 7th in Salt Lake City. Top genealogists Pamela Boyer Sayre, Elizabeth Shown Mills, Ann Staley, Jeanne Bloom, David McDonald, and Judy Russell will present six one-hour lectures held at the Family History Library between 9 AM and 5 PM. The lectures are free and open to the public. Most will also be broadcast online. You can register for the online webinars by visiting

Lastly, a shout out to LittleDochy and Love to Research for leaving reviews for the show in iTunes. I really appreciate the time you took to leave the review and let me know you like the show. Thank you!

Direct download: AudreyCollins.mp3
Category:genealogy -- posted at: 12:47pm EDT

Featured Guest

Megan Smolenyak

Megan Smolenyak2 is a real life history detective who loves to solve mysteries.

Megan Smolenyak

You might have spotted Megan or her handiwork on Top Chef, Who Do You Think You Are?, Finding Your Roots, Faces of America, Good Morning America, the Today Show, The Early Show, CNN, PBS and NPR.

Her news-making discoveries include uncovering Michelle Obama’s family tree, revealing the true story of Annie Moore, the first immigrant through Ellis Island, and tracing Barack Obama’s roots to Moneygall, Ireland. Formerly Chief Family Historian for, she also founded Unclaimed Persons.

Megan is the author of 6 books, including Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing and Who Do You Think You Are? (companion to the TV series), and conducts forensic research for the Army, BIA, coroners, NCIS and the FBI.

Contact Links

Websites – Megan Smolenyak and Honoring Our Ancestors

Facebook – Megan Smolenyak

Twitter - @megansmolenyak

Pinterest - Megan Smolenyak

Other Links   

Unclaimed Persons

Seton Shields Genealogy Grant

Megan Smolenyak at The Huffington Post

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

"I got myself a virtual assistant right out of the gate . . . Even if you don't think you're ready for one yet, explore the possibility.

Recommended Book

Take Time for Your Life by Cheryl Richardson

Productivity Tool



"In terms of genealogical careers, do what excites you."

Action Item

For your action item today I want you to think about where your career is going to be in 5 or 10 years. What will the world of genealogy look like then? How would your services change if all records were online? Or if all genealogy clients asked for DNA interpretation along with their researched family tree? What if the main demand was for heir research or perhaps mineral rights?  What other directions might genealogy go in that might not be obvious now? Also, think about your interests and your passions. If you research, for example, colonial Pennsylvania, what can you do to ensure that your business will continue to grow and make use of new technology? Can you harness photos or videos to find a new way to share the results of the research you've done? Or perhaps can you find new ways to work with professionals from other disciplines such as archeologists, biographers, or k-12 text book writers.

So what I'm suggesting is that you take a morning or evening walk and allow your mind to consider the future, your future. Think about it now so you can be ready to create it for yourself or to grab opportunity when it comes.


Direct link to this post:

Direct download: MeganSmolenyak.mp3
Category:genealogy -- posted at: 8:55pm EDT

Featured Guest

Melinde Lutz Byrne, CG, FASG

Melinde Lutz Byrne, CG, FASG, is immediate past president of the American Society of Genealogists (elected 1993), and has been credentialed by the Board for Certification of Genealogists since 2010 (no. 1001). Trained as a cultural anthropologist (China, pre-Mao), invertebrate paleontologist, and archivist, she has written over fifty books and numerous

Melinde Lutz Byrne

articles. Her specialties have been identifying women’s maiden names and naming the 200 Africans in Massachusetts Bay Colony before 1680. This year is her fortieth as a practicing genealogist.

In 1976 she began research on a Midwestern family with a pattern of twins and triplets. In 1985, after a year as a stringer for Blake and Blake, Genealogists, she coined the term “forensic genealogy” research services. She became interested in forensic cold cases in 1990, took on apprentices, and continued historical work with, among other things, Robert Charles Anderson’s Great Migration Study Project. In 1992 she submitted research to Mary Claire King and Tom Roderick in early mtDNA lineage studies and through 2015 served on the now quiescent genetic genealogy standards committee.

Melinde has been editor of three state journals and president of four societies. She has served as co-chair of NERGC, Genealogy Symposium day for ALA, and a program chair for the Northwest Chapter of American Archivists. She is a graduate of the 2007 NIGR (now Gen-Fed). She teaches forensic genealogy for Boston University and a graduate genealogy practicum for Excelsior College. In 2011 she trained with Betty Pat Gatliff to do forensic facial reconstruction and learn why two artists had created such different images of her 1971 NH Jane Doe. She continues to work with cold case law enforcement on naming the unknown dead.

Currently, Melinde is Program Director for Boston University’s genealogy offerings in their Center for Professional Education; Program Director for Excelsior College’s genealogy offerings in their Center for Professional Development; and co-editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

Contact Links

Website – Center for Professional Development at Excelsior College

Website - Boston University Online Genealogical Research Program

Other Links   

New England Historic Genealogical Society

The American Genealogist (TAG)

National Genealogical Society Quarterly

The Great Migration Study Project

"Lost Babes: Fornication Abstracts from Court Records, Essex County, Massachusetts, 1692-1745by Melinde Lutz Byrne

American Society of Genealogists

The Donald Lines Jacobus Award

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

"If [you] haven't already taken a class, I would say take a class. If you have taken a class and you're not a member of a society, join the society.

Recommended Book

Hannah's Heirs: The Quest for the Genetic Origins of Alzheimer's Disease by Daniel A. Pollen


"Take a class."

Action Item

For our action item today, it's an easy one. I want you to take a class or a whole course. Don't just research the possibilities, actually take a class. Before you start protesting, for this reason or that, there are lots of free online classes. If you can listen to this podcast then you have the ability to take a class. At the very least watch a free webinar.  There are lots of free webinars and you can watch them right from your smart phone. Go to the website and you'll see the full listing of them there.

Direct link to this post:


The call for presentations for the 2017 Southern California Genealogy Jamboree has been extended to September 2, 2016. This Call for Presentations pertains to the Jamboree conference, the SCGS Genetic Genealogy conference and the workshops, as well as, the 2017 Jamboree Extension Series webinar program. Speakers must submit proposals through the online portal which can be found at That link will be in the show notes.

Many people might not know that there is always an open submission for Legacy Family Tree Webinars on their website. The live presentations are scheduled annually at this time of year but proposals are also welcome and considered for recorded member-only presentations. Go to and scroll to the bottom of the front page to find the speaker webinar submission link.

Another Legacy news item - the Board for Certification of Genealogists has formed a partnership with Legacy Family Tree Webinars to host and produce future BCG webinars. Members of Legacy Family Tree Webinars will have access to the BCG recordings. The BCG webinars are held on the third Tuesday of the month when scheduled. The next webinar will be on September 20th and Rick Sayre will present Finding Evidence of Kinship in Military Records.

The APG Professional Management Conference is coming up at the end of September. It will be held at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It's going to be a terrific professional learning and networking experience. There's still time sign up. Just head over to for more information.

During the interview we discussed the genealogy program at Excelsior College. There are new classes both in Genetic Genealogy and the Practicum in Genealogical Research starting on September 6, 2016. The deadline for enrollment is coming up on August 31st of this month.

Direct download: MelindeLutzByrne.mp3
Category:genealogy -- posted at: 8:52pm EDT

Featured Guest

Lynn Palermo

Lynn Palermo is a genealogy professional with a passion for the written word. As the owner and author of a family history blog, you’ll find her most days blogging from her website The Armchair Genealogist. It’s here she offers readers practical advice on researching and writing their family history.  The Armchair Genealogist was named one of the Top 40 Blogs by Family Tree Magazine.

As a freelance writer, Lynn has published articles for Internet Genealogy, Discovering Family History, and Family Chronicle (now Your Genealogy Today). Her articles have been featured across the internet including The National Genealogical Society website, newsletter and online magazines such as The In-Depth Genealogist.

Lynn is also the proud author of her family history book, The Waters of My Ancestors. Lynn has published three how-to-books designed to help the family historian write their own family history book, including Getting Ready to Write, Authentic Ancestors and Finding the Story.  Her books can be found at The Family History Writing Studio where she coaches students through online courses, critiques, ebooks and webinars in their journey to use write creative nonfiction to write entertaining, engaging and inspiring stories. Every February, Lynn leads hundreds of family historians in The Family History Writing Challenge. For the past 5 years, she’s guided writers through 28 days of focused writing of their family history stories.

Lynn has been researching and writing genealogy for 15 years and loves to help others find their journey. Her perfect day is inspiring and motivating others to research and write their family history.

Contact Links

Website – The Armchair Genealogist

Website - The Family History Writing Studio

Facebook – @ArmchairGenealogist

Facebook - @fhwstudio

Other Links   



Writing the Family History Scene course

Plotting a Family History Story course

Creating a Legacy Family History Book course


Adobe Premier Pro CC


Norfolk Historical Society (Ontario)/Eva Brook Donly Museum and Archives

The Family History Writing Challenge

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

"Listen to your audience.

Recommended Book

"On Writingby Stephen King

Productivity Tool



"Start writing now. You do not have to wait until your research is done."

Action Item

For your action item this week I'd like you to do a brainstorming exercise. Think about your specific niche within genealogy. If you were to write a short eBook that you could publish as a pdf what topic would you choose?


Try to think of as many possibilities as you can.  Allow yourself to go in a direction that you normally wouldn't consider. Think about your niche in very broad terms and then narrow down and think about it with very specific topics. And then of course write down your ideas!

I hope this exercise really gets you thinking about what you do and the various ways you can share your knowledge on the subject. I really strongly believe in brainstorming. I think it can open you up to possibilities and ideas you hadn't considered before.

Direct link to this post:


Here on the genealogy professional podcast we have been releasing episodes weekly for the last 5 or 6 weeks.  I just want you to know that we are not going to continue at that pace. While we don't have a set schedule yet what you are more likely to find is that we'll 6 episodes in a row and then we'll take a few weeks off. Then we'll do another 6 and take a few weeks off.  That will be a bit easier on us than trying to crank them out every week. We've reached that point now. So our next episode will be in a few weeks on August 21st. On that day we'll hear an amazing interview with NGSQ co-editor Melinde Lutz Byrne.

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.

Direct download: LynnPalermo.mp3
Category:genealogy -- posted at: 7:14pm EDT

Featured Guest

Craig R. Scott

Craig Roberts Scott, MA, CG, FUGA is the author of The "Lost" Pensions: Settled Accounts of the Act of 6 April 1838 (Revised) and Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury, Inventory 14 (Revised). His most recent work is Understanding Revolutionary War and Invalid Pension Ledgers, 1818 – 1872, and the Payment Vouchers They Represent. He has authored seventeen books and several articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Family Chronicle (now Your Genealogy Today) and other genealogical publications.

He is the President and CEO of Heritage Books, Inc., a genealogical publishing firm with over 5,300 titles in print. A professional genealogical and historical researcher for more than thirty years, he specializes in the records of the National Archives. He is a member of the Company of Military Historians on the editorial board of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, and is a Director of the Association of Professional Genealogists.

Craig has been a faculty member for several years of the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, and recently the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh. He is the coordinator for the 3rd Annual Heritage Books Genealogical Conference and Cruise. He was awarded the Grahame T. Smallwood, Jr. Award in 2008 and UGA Silver Tray Award in 2009. He became a Fellow, Utah Genealogical Association in 2014.

Contact Links

Business Website – Heritage Books, Inc.

Personal Website – Genealogy Brick Wall

Facebook – Heritage Books

Pinterest – Heritage Books, Inc.

Other Links

Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills

Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians by Elizabeth Shown Mills

ProGen Study Groups

Art of War by Sun Tsu

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

"Go to the ProGen website and read it. Take the quiz.  Determine whether you are in a place in your life that you should take that 18 or 19 month course known as ProGen.”

Recommended Book

Understanding Revolutionary War and Invalid Pension Ledgers 1818-1872, and Pension Payment Vouchers They Represent by Craig R. Scott

Productivity Tool

FileMaker Pro for database management

Citrix Sharefile for secure file sharing and storage


"Take a vacation. Take a genealogy cruise with Heritage Books."

Action Item

For your action item this week, I would like to tap into what Craig said about short term revenue vs. long term revenue. I would re-phrase long term revenue as either passive income or residual income. This is a topic we have been discussing in-depth in some of my Mastermind groups this month.


For your action I want you to think about the types of residual income that Craig mentioned such as royalties from books and commissions from webinars.  Try to brainstorm some more types of residual income. Here's one to get you started - affiliate income which is the linking to sites like If people purchase through your link then you get a small commission.

Try to make as big a list as you possibly can. If you're stumped, go online and Google passive or residual income.  Then take a look at your list and see which streams of income might be best for your situation and your business.

When you're all done leave a comment in the show's secret Facebook group. You can get to that by signing up for the Genealogy Professional podcast newsletter on the website at

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In Genealogy news, we are in the midst of institute season. GenFed just wrapped up and next week genealogists will gather for the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, otherwise known as Grip. On August 17th the Northwest Genealogy Conference starts and then at the end of summer, starting August 31st, the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2016 conference starts in Springfield, Illinois.

One gathering you may not be familiar with is GenStock. This is a very small gathering compared to the national conferences and it is intended for professionals. GenStock is put on by Billie Fogarty and Matt McCormack. The goal is to provide an interactive opportunity to exchange ideas about  the field of genealogy. The objective is to bring together skilled genealogists  to explore new ideas and to dream, to Encourage friendships and expand networks, to Advance the field of genealogy, to Examine questions relating to genealogy as a profession, to Share knowledge about the field and its best practices and to Experience the sense of joy in genealogy and have fun. It takes place in Alpena, Michigan starting the weekend of August 25th before the FGS Conference. To find out more contact either Billie or Matt through the APG online Directory which you can find 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. If you enjoy this free show and would like it to continue please think about taking a minute out of your day to leave a review.

Direct download: CraigScott.mp3
Category:genealogy -- posted at: 1:42pm EDT

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.

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.

Direct download: GenFed.mp3
Category:genealogy -- posted at: 9:53pm EDT

In this episode, we highlight another genealogy author.  I talk with Lisa Alzo about her latest book, The Family Tree Polish, Czech and Slovak Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Family Tree in Eastern Europe.

Bio – Lisa Alzo

Lisa A. Alzo, MFA, is a freelance writer, instructor, and internationally recognized lecturer specializing in Slovak/Eastern European genealogical research, writing family history, and using the Internet to trace female and immigrant ancestors.

She has written hundreds of magazine articles and ten books, including the award-winning "Three Slovak Women." She is a contributing editor for Family Tree Magazine and teaches online courses for Family Tree University and the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.

As a lecturer, she's been a frequently invited speaker for all of the largest US genealogical conferences, as well as genealogical and historical societies across the nation and in Canada.

An avid genealogist for over twenty-five years, Lisa also chronicles her family history adventures on her blog, The Accidental Genealogist.

Book Summary

Trace your Eastern European ancestors from American shores back to the old country. This in-depth guide will walk you step-by-step through the exciting--and challenging--journey of finding your Polish, Czech, or Slovak roots. You'll learn how to identify immigrant ancestors, find your family's town of origin, locate key genealogical resources, decipher foreign-language records, and untangle the region's complicated history. The book also includes timelines, sample records, resource lists, and sample record request letters to aid your research.

In this book, you'll find

  • The best online resources for Polish, Czech, and Slovak genealogy, plus a clear research path you can follow to find success
  • Tips and resources for retracing your ancestors’ journey to America
  • Detailed guidance for finding and using records in the old country
  • Helpful background on Polish, Czech, and Slovak history, geography, administrative divisions, and naming patterns
  • How the Three Partitions of Poland and the Austro-Hungarian Empire affect genealogical research and records
  • Information on administrative divisions to help you identify where your ancestors' records are kept
  • Sample letters for requesting records from overseas archives
  • Case studies that apply concepts and strategies to real-life research problems

Whether your ancestors hail from Warsaw or a tiny village in the Carpathians, The Family Tree Polish, Czech and Slovak Genealogy Guide will give you the tools you need to track down your ancestors in Eastern Europe.

Publication Info

Title: The Family Tree Polish, Czech and Slovak Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Family Tree in Eastern Europe

Publisher: Family Tree Books (February 12, 2016)

Paperback; 240 pages.

The Family Tree Polish, Czech and Slovak Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Family Tree in Eastern Europe is available for purchase from and


The Interview

Researching Polish, Czech, or Slovak ancestry is complex. Lisa and I discuss how to overcome the challenges of this research area.  Knowledge of the history of an Eastern European ancestor’s country is essential as boundaries changed but ethnic identity remained intact. Locating and getting access to record repositories can be difficult. Hiring an on-site guide/researcher can make a research trip to the old country more efficient and successful. Proper planning increases the satisfaction of heritage traveling to ancestral villages.

Links mentioned during the interview:

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Action Item

Lisa Alzo wrote a book that filled a gap. There is no other book available covering Czech, Slovak and Polish research. Her book fills a real need.

What I want you to do is to  is to think about your niche.  Where are the gaps in the area where you provide services? You might need to do some research to see what has already been written. Before you think that your niche is already done, think of your topic in a different way. For example, if you do Colonial New England research maybe  you could focus in on Catholics who came to Colonial New England. Or perhaps write a book about how cemetery research can help with colonial research.  You get the idea.

Try to find a way for you to fill a gap in your niche. There could be a book waiting inside of you!


In Genealogy Business news, I mentioned it last week but I'll mention it again - the Association of Professional Genealogists is looking for a managing editor for the APG Quarterly magazine. Check out the publications page on for more information about the publication.  Interested parties can send cover letters and resumes to The deadline for that is coming up quickly on July 10th 2016.

In other APG news the annual Professional Management Conference Early Bird deadline is coming up on July 15th. That's just 12 days away from the release of this episode. Be sure to register by then so that you can save money off the registration price. In addition to regular presentations there will be a number of workshops. These allow you to go in-depth on a particular topic.  William Beigel will be presenting a workshop called Researching and Interpreting WWII American Military Casualty Files. Karen Gridley will present the workshop Shift Procrastination to Get More Done in Less Time and with Less Stress. Bethany Waterbury will present a workshop on DNAGedcom. Michael Lacopo will present Finding Dead Ancestors is easy: Finding the Living Can be a Challenge! And lastly Melanie Holtz offers a workshop called Virtual Coordinator: Managing a Genealogical Business in the Internet Age. You can learn more about the conference at

As a reminder, I have started a newsletter for The Genealogy Professional podcast. You can sign up for that on the front page of the website . That is also your ticket for getting into the free but top secret Facebook Group.

I want to give you a little peek behind the scenes here at the Genealogy Professional podcast. This show which we offer you for free is the work of four people. In addition to myself, Pam Wolosz is doing the show notes and learning audio editing. George Edwards, the creative producer,  critiques each episode and makes creative content suggestions in order to improve the overall quality of the program and finally Jean-Luc Pierre-Louis Jr. provides tech support and keeps the equipment and machines running. All told each episode takes 8-15 hours to produce.

In the past I have had some people offer donations. I've always hesitated to accept those.  But no more. In recognition of all the efforts the team is putting in to make this show for you I will now have a PayPal donation button on the website if you feel so moved to donate. I want you to feel like a supporter or contributor to the show - part of the backbone that keeps us going. So head over to the Supporter tab on the website if you'd like to become a supporter of the show. The donations will be divided amongst the whole team.

Also, a personal appeal from me. We are getting back on track with episodes and working hard to bring you the interviews that help you understand the genealogy profession better. At this point I really need to hear from you. I need to know that what we are doing is helpful to you. So if you could, please find the show in iTunes and leave a rating and review.  Signal to iTunes that the show is alive and let us know that you're happy to be listening. Without that, sometimes I just wonder if I'm talking to myself.

Direct download: LisaAlzo-EE.mp3
Category:genealogy -- posted at: 11:17pm EDT

Featured Guest

Judy Webster

Judy Webster has been researching her family history since the 1970s. In 1986, at which time she was working as a medical scientist, she began her own part-time business as a professional genealogist.

After being accredited by the Australasian Association of Genealogists and Record Agents, Judy did four years of study to obtain a Graduate Diploma in Local and Applied History (University of New England, Armidale NSW). In 2001 she received the Queensland Family History Society's Award for Services to Family History. Judy's speciality is research in original records at Queensland State Archives, with emphasis on unusual sources that are superb for overcoming 'brick walls'. Her clients include family historians, academic historians, and law firms trying to trace beneficiaries of deceased estates.

Judy's large Web site has advice on sources and strategies for family history research, and more than 53,000 names of local, interstate and overseas folk mentioned in Archives records. She has published various genealogy guides and indexes, and has given more than one hundred presentations at family history events in Australia and New Zealand, including the Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry.

Judy is also the founder and coordinator of the 'Genealogists for Families' project, which encourages family historians worldwide to help less fortunate families by making micro-loans through Kiva (a non-profit organisation).

Contact Links

Website –

Blog – Queensland Genealogy

Facebook – Judy Webster – Queensland Genealogy

Twitter - @JudyQld

Other Links   

Queensland State Archives

Tips for Queensland Research by Judy Webster

Specialist Indexes in Australia: A Genealogist’s Guide by Judy Webster


Kiva Lending Team: Genealogists for Families

"Genealogists for Families Project" blog

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

"Find out more about the archives where you plan to do a lot of research. Really, really get to know it well.

Recommended Book

Weevils in the Flour by Wendy Lowenstein


"Always research the relatives."

Action Item

Judy mentioned she was concerned that people don't realize how much information is available in archives that isn't online. She is absolutely right.  If we all do this action we can start to make a dent in the misperception that all research can be done online.


1) Aanalyze your local archive and discover which materials they have that are not online.

2) Make a list on a page of your website or blog listing all the resources from that archive that are not available online so that the public can have access to it.

Of course, you don't have to list everything in your local archive that isn't online! You might just provide broad categories. If you're at a loss as to where to start, have a chat with the folks at your local archive and ask them! Tell them that you want to write about what they have that is not online. I'm sure they would be happy to point you to those collections. Not only will you be helping the general public learn more about the resources of the archive but even better, you'll be on your way to developing a working relationship with the staff.

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In Genealogy Business news, the Association of Professional Genealogists is looking for a managing editor for the APG Quarterly magazine. Check out the publications page on for more information about the publication.  Interested parties can send cover letters and resumes to by July 10th 2016.

In other APG news the annual Professional Management Conference Early Bird deadline is coming up on July 15th. Be sure to register by then so that you can save money off the registration price. Here are just a few of the excellent speakers that will be presenting: Dr. Thomas W. Jones, Mary Penner, Bethany Waterbury, Dr. Michael Lacopo, Melanie Holtz, Michael Hait, Catherine Desmarais, Billie Fogarty and many others. Of course, I'll be there too.

Aha Seminars has announced a new podcast called "Genealogy Connection" hosted by Drew Smith. Genealogy Connection will present interviews with genealogical speakers, authors, librarians and archivists, database service providers, software and technology developers, and other leaders in the community. The first episode debuts on June 27, 2016. Genealogy Connection will use the same feed as The Genealogy Guys Podcast so if you are already subscribed to that you will automatically get the episodes which will run in alternating weeks from the Genealogy Guys. Congratulations to Drew on that new project.

Lastly I want to mention a new Facebook group of genealogy business people called the Genealogy Business Alliance. This group is primarily for businesses that exhibit in the vendor halls at genealogy conferences. They are working on developing best practices that will meet the needs of both exhibitors and conference organizers. If that is of interest to you, search for Genealogy Business Alliance on Facebook.

Direct download: JudyWebster.mp3
Category:genealogy -- posted at: 8:15pm EDT

Mary Tedesco

Mary Tedesco is a professional genealogist, speaker, and author. She is a Host / Genealogist on the PBS TV series “Genealogy Roadshow” (season 2 & season 3) as well as the Founder of ORIGINS ITALY.

Mary speaks fluent Italian and travels often to Italy to conduct client genealogical research and visit family. Mary is the co-author of “Tracing Your Italian Ancestors” an 84-page Italian research guide published by Moorshead Magazines.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Boston University and a Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University’s Center for Professional Education.

In addition to her Italian ancestry (Calabria, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Tuscany) on her father’s side, she also has deep American roots (German, Irish, Danish & English) on her mother’s side and is a proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Mary is a member of a number of local and national genealogical societies.

Contact Links


Facebook – Mary Tedesco

Twitter –  @originsitaly

Instagram – @originsitaly

LinkedIn – Mary Tedesco

Other Links

Genealogy Roadshow

Boston University Center for Professional Education Online Certificate in Genealogical Research

National Genealogy Society Family History Conference

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

“Education, education, education. Sign up for a seminar or a conference tonight.”

Recommended Book

Genealogy as Pastime and Profession by Donald L. Jacobus

Productivity Tool

Excel to sort client and personal data


“Never give up. Your dreams are achievable. Make big dreams, big goals, and go for it.”

Action Item

One of the most important things that Mary said was to figure out what is unique about you. That is a critical part of owning a business. What separates you from everyone else that provides the same service. If you’re a Massachusetts researcher, what separates you from the next Massachusetts researcher? Is it that you focus on Colonial research? Or perhaps you focus on people with Irish heritage in Massachusetts. Or maybe your specialty is Massachusetts military records. Figure out the thing that makes you unique.


Your action item this week is to figure out what is unique about you. How are you different from everyone else in your broad niche? And then take it a step further by determining how you can communicate that uniqueness either on your website or your professional profile or your social media profiles. Because it won’t do you any good to keep your uniqueness to yourself!

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The APG Professional Management Conference
September 22-24, 2016 in Fort Wayne, Indiana at the Allen County Public Library

New TGP Class:
“Who Really Visits My Blog and Website: A close look at web analytics and tracking”
Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at 12pm noon New York time

Most of you have heard of Google Analytics. Did you know that you can use Google Analytics to track your Blogger blog and even your YouTube channel? In addition to all the great information that Google Analytics provides you can take it one step further using a tool called utm tracking. It’s free just like Google Analytics and I’m going to show you how to get started and why it’s so powerful to use. And it’s not just for professionals. Anyone with a blog, website or YouTube channel that wants more information about who is visiting their site will be able to make use of this.  This is not a free webinar, the cost is $24.99 but it will take you to the next level. And if you can’t watch it live you can still sign up to get the replay and handout.

Direct download: MaryTedesco.mp3
Category:genealogy -- posted at: 5:40pm EDT