Programs and Group Classes: Sample Topics

Are you looking for a genealogy lecture to fit an existing series? Are you hoping to start a new genealogy program? A sample of our programs are listed below, organized by topic. We can also develop classes and lectures specifically designed to meet the needs of your organization or can refer you to a speaker who specializes in a specific topic we may not cover. Please contact us.

Introduction to Genealogy:

  • Genealogy Basics: FamilySearch: Designed to introduce an audience to a valuable – and free! – resource, this program introduces attendees to the workings of the website.
  • Genealogy Basics: The Research Process: Designed for beginning to intermediate genealogists, this program introduces attendees to the formal genealogy research process. It will cover identifying a research question; formulating a research plan; and evaluating what’s discovered. Perfect for genealogists starting to feel a little overwhelmed by their initial search.
  • Genealogy Basics: The US Census: Perfect for an audience just getting started in family history research, this program covers one of the foundational sources for researching U.S. ancestors.
  • Genealogy Basics: Land Records: Land records can help us document the history of property, determine ancestral relationships and more. This program introduces the process of working with land records, from land grants to sales.
  • Genealogy Basics: Probate: Widow’s Third? Intestate estate? Division? While they are incredibly valuable to genealogy research, the records of probate cases can seem challenging to interpret. This program focuses on explaining the terms most commonly used.
  • Cross the Pond: Records and family history tell you an ancestor was born in Europe. But you need more than a country to “cross the pond.” This program will introduce the sources most likely to provide a specific town or county of birth for an ancestor who arrived in the US in the late 19th and early 20th century.
  • Documenting birth, marriage, and death: Designed for an introductory audience, this program will guide attendees through the next steps of documenting a family after searching the census. It will begin by covering vital records (civil registration) . It will then move to sources that can document birth, death, and marriage when vital records don’t exist. While this program will focus on US records, the same principals can be used throughout the world.
  • Discovering the Digital Collections of the Library of Congress and National Archives: Both have some amazing free collections. Introduce your attendees to a new way to find records of their ancestors.
  • Maiden Names and Dower Right: Documenting your Female Ancestors In countries with English influence, marriage historically resulted in women giving up their maiden names and losing many of their legal rights. This program will introduce the concepts of couverture, dower right, and other legal principles that may influence records of your ancestors. It will also guide you through navigating those records to learn more about your female ancestors’ lives.

Connecticut Research:

  • An introduction to the CT State Library website: Perfect for a CT organization, this program familiarizes Connecticut residents with the resources of the Connecticut State Library.
  • Accessing Connecticut Land Records: Designed for an intermediate audience, this program helps explain Connecticut’s complex system of record keeping.
  • Beyond the Gravestone: Researching Death Records in Connecticut: Your ancestor’s death is part of their story.  This program will introduce attendees to resources that can document a Connecticut ancestor’s death, including death records, gravestone transcriptions, church records, burial transit permits, and more.
  • Connecticut Research: The Basics: Designed for an audience with Connecticut roots, this program walks an audience through the basic sources they’ll need to learn more about their family.
  • Connecticut “History Mystery”: Designed as a flipped classroom program, this program will use a sample item from the local area to teach research techniques. Participants will be prompted to identify a question they want to answer; to suggest resources that might answer their question; and to work together to solve a “history mystery.” The presenter will support with details on how the sources work and how to access, suggest potential solutions, or highlight issues where needed. An ideal way to teach genealogy research while highlighting local history, this program can be offered as a one or multiple session virtual program or a prerecord or social media hybrid.
  • Cradle to Grave: Documenting Birth, Death, and Marriage in Your Family Search: Learn how to access and use Connecticut vital records, church records, gravestones, and more to learn more about someone in your family.
  • Getting Started with Connecticut Genealogy: This program is an expanded version of the “Connecticut Research: the Basics” program. Using a Connecticut ancestor as a sample case study, this program introduces the most commonly used sources for Connecticut research: vital records, church records, gravestones, land records, and probate files. It will delve deeply into the process of locating and using these sources, including the best ways to access them online, what sources may or may not be digitized, and why they may or may not work for the ancestor in question. Attendees will leave with a strong understanding of the foundations of Connecticut research.
  • Discover Connecticut Newspapers: From the social pages to obituaries, Connecticut newspapers can provide valuable details on our ancestors’ lives. This program will introduce attendees to the ways they can locate and access newspaper records.
  • I know there was a will. But where is it?: While most states have county level probate courts, Connecticut uses districts. District boundaries have changed over time, making finding your ancestor’s records a challenge. This introductory level program will walk participants through the basics of testate and intestate estates, identifying the appropriate probate district, locating digitized records, and what to do if the records have yet to be digitized.
  • In the Vault: Connecticut’s town clerks hold more than just vital records and deeds. This program discusses some of the more unusual sources found “in the vault” – and how they can help build your family tree.
  • New England’s Many Colonies: Ten European colonies once held territory in the six states now called New England. This presentation will provide a short history of each colony, explaining how its existence can impact migration patterns, records storage, and more.
  • Trace an African American Patriot from Connecticut: The stories of many of Connecticut’s African American Revolutionary War veterans still wait to be told. This program will introduce the resources needed to piece together their history. We will begin with an overview of sources that can used to identify the family’s structure and major life events, such as births, deaths, and marriages. While so doing, we will identify and learn to work around some of the challenges the clerk’s racial attitudes can create in this research. Second, we will tackle manumission records as a way to learn more about the soldier’s legal status. Finally and most importantly, we will delve into service records and piece together the soldier’s contribution to the Revolutionary cause.
  • Trace Your Connecticut Revolutionary Roots: Did your Connecticut ancestor support the American cause during the Revolution? This introductory to intermediate program will introduce you to the major sources that trace their “service” during the War, from pension files to town meeting records. Whether you want to join DAR or SAR or simply learn more about your ancestors’ activities, this program will give you the resources needed to tell their stories.
  • Who’s Lived in Your House? (Includes Accessing Connecticut Land Records): This two part series helps attendees trace the history of a historic home. The first session will guide participants through building a timeline of the home’s ownership. The second will help them discover the home’s story through maps, photos, local histories, and more. Ideal for a community with a number of historic homes.
View a sample class.

Revolutionary War:

  • An introduction to French-Canadian patriots: Perfect for a lineage society audience, this program describes the sources for documenting Revolutionary War service for lines through Quebec.
  • From CMSR to Bounty Land: This program introduces attendees to the records of the Revolutionary War stored on the federal level. Designed to profile sources, it will introduce the source, provide its historical context, and explain how it can be used to trace a veteran’s life or service.
  • Trace an African American Patriot from Connecticut: The stories of many of Connecticut’s African American Revolutionary War veterans still wait to be told. This program will introduce the resources needed to piece together their history. We will begin with an overview of sources that can used to identify the family’s structure and major life events, such as births, deaths, and marriages. While so doing, we will identify and learn to work around some of the challenges the clerk’s racial attitudes can create in this research. Second, we will tackle manumission records as a way to learn more about the soldier’s legal status. Finally and most importantly, we will delve into service records and piece together the soldier’s contribution to the Revolutionary cause.
  • Trace Your Connecticut Revolutionary Roots: Did your Connecticut ancestor support the American cause during the Revolution? This introductory to intermediate program will introduce you to the major sources that trace their “service” during the War, from pension files to town meeting records. Whether you want to join DAR or SAR or simply learn more about your ancestors’ activities, this program will give you the resources needed to tell their stories.
  • Two if By Sea: The Sea and The American Revolution: Whether you’re interested in knowing more about your ancestor’s past or in joining the Daughters of the American Revolution, the first stop for many is the records of the Army – yet the sea played an active role in the American Revolution. This program will discuss how to identify and access the records of the Continental and state navies as well as the commissions of privateers.

Luxembourg Research:

  • Luxembourger – Not German: Luxembourger families are often mistaken for German. Yet the two groups have different cultures, different history, and different record keeping practice. This presentation will introduce attendees to Luxembourger research. It will begin with techniques for identifying families as Luxembourger and locating their place of origin, before moving to an overview of major sources in Luxembourg, including the census, church records, and civil registration.
  • DNA for More than Ethnicity: The Paternity of John Hingtgen: Who was the biological father of John Hingtgen? At his 1817 birth, Hingtgen was registered as Johan Simong, the illegitimate son of Susanna Simong. Many Hingtgen genealogists have described his paternity as impossible to verify, but that is far from the truth. Hingtgen’s later documents reveal two good candidates for his father: Pierre “Peter” Hingtgen and Jean Hansen. This program will introduce sources beyond birth records that may identify parents and explain how DNA can be used to resolve genealogical research problems.

Lineage Societies:

  • An introduction to French-Canadian patriots: Perfect for a lineage society audience, this program describes the sources for documenting Revolutionary War service for lines through Quebec.
  • Researching Your Mayflower Ancestor: Designed to introduce a general audience to Mayflower research, this program covers both the process of documenting a Mayflower line and the resources that can provide more details about that ancestor’s life.
  • The Revolutionary War lineage societies: Perfect for an intermediate to advanced group, the program covers the basic of a lineage society application to one of the major societies.

French Records:

  • Tips and Tricks for Working with French Language Records: Don’t read French? It’s still possible to decode what you’re reading. This program will help you work with the most common types of records.
  • To DIY translation or not to DIY translation? : Genealogists love to do their own translation. With the advent of internet translation tools, Facebook groups, and more, it’s become an easy (and cheap) way to read your ancestor’s records. But is it always a good idea? This program will walk attendees through the pros and cons of the techniques most often used by genealogists for getting their non-English records translated; explain when it is and is not safe to “DIY”; and finally, introduce the basic process of hiring assistance from a professional translator. Examples will be in French, but the principles can be applied to other languages.

Multi-Session Classes:

  • Introduction to genealogy: This four session class introduces the major sources used in American research, including the U.S. census, vital records, newspapers, and more.
  • Introduction to Quebec Research: This two session class introduces the major sources used in Quebec research, including the Canadian census, church records, notarial records, and more.
  • Introduction to Irish research: This two session class introduces students to the sources that can be used to identify their ancestor’s origin in Ireland and the sources that can be used to document their lives there.
  • Introduction to the Civil War: This two session program introduces students to the resources that can be used to document their ancestor’s participation in the Civil War Army and Navy. Both Union and Confederate sources will be reviewed.
  • Genealogy Basics: Land Records: This three session program grounds students in land records and how they can be used to build out their family tree.

Looking for something new and unique?

We also offer customized local history related “scavenger hunts” (designed to be used on social media), local history “old photo” coloring page activities, and other take home activities. These programs teach genealogy related topics in a fun, hands on way. They can be combined with a contest to encourage participation. We can also develop classes and lectures specifically designed to meet the needs of your organization. Please contact us.