List of Lectures

by Barbara Renick

last updated
 16 September 2011

Home Up Links OFHC Notes My Surnames

These lectures are usually one hour in length unless otherwise stated.


Advanced Research Techniques for the Southern States

Once you have searched for vital records and gone through every census, what do you do? This lecture covers other less commonly used resources and the techniques used to search them.

[advanced]    [also available in an expanded two-hour version]


Advanced Tools and Techniques for Census Searching

While not the most accurate source, census records are typically the first and most frequently searched. Too often we find either nothing or too much to identify the ancestor sought. Anyone who frequently searches census records knows they need advanced tools and techniques for success. This lecture not only takes a look at the three big commercial providers of online census images (and some of the quirks and limitations of using their sites), but also census search tools and finding aids at other sites online. Examples of searches that produced no results are followed by the sites and techniques used to find that elusive ancestor.

[advanced]    [also available in an expanded two-hour version]


Almost Found Online

This lecture covers some of the most frequently used Web sites and searches made by genealogists going online at a regional family history center, and what I have observed them missing and getting stuck on during those searches.

[intermediate]    [also available in an expanded two-hour version]


Ask & Ye Shall Receive: Help Online

This lecture covers the evolution of how genealogists get help online from the early days of the Internet, to the advent of the World Wide Web, to Web 2.0. Places to find three types of wikis, free online training videos, podcasts, webinars, ask a librarian, and old favorites like RAOGK are reviewed.

[beginner to intermediate]


Beyond Creative Census Searching

This is an advanced research practicum covering both sources and methodology. The goal is to determine the parents of a female ancestor with a common surname in a county where the courthouse burned down multiple times.



Citing Sources for Beginners

The only way to avoid “Unidentified Family Origins” in your work is to cite your sources. Genealogy computer software goes beyond the capabilities of the typewriter era and actually encourages the genealogist to record and organize their research notes and source citations. This lecture covers the who, what, when, where, and why of citing your sources.

[beginner to intermediate] [This lecture can be given as a three-part series including what to do before you cite your source, what is involved in citing your source, and a practicum using different types of sources and citing them.]


Cloning Your Family Tree on the Internet

One of the best ways to add to your knowledge of your family tree is to publish your research. This is a laborious and expensive process when done in the form of a book. Placing your information on the Internet can be done rapidly, inexpensively, and greatly expands your exposure. There are, however some drawbacks. This lecture compares the advantages and disadvantages of various methods and sites for placing your research online.



Collaboration: Past, Present, and Future

Genealogists have always struggled to find others researching their family trees to share and collaborate. This lecture covers resources used in the era before computers (many of which are still available), the present (cloud computer and the paradigm shift to online trees), and possibilities for future collaboration.

[beginner to intermediate]


Cornucopia of Resources on the Internet, A 

A cornucopia, or horn-of-plenty, is full of delicious fruits and vegetables. The World Wide Web is just as full of items which genealogists find good for their research. This lecture discusses the different types of online genealogical databases and how best to access them, plus some of the advantages and drawbacks to accessing this information online.

[intermediate]    [2 hour lecture]


Creative Census Searching

Census records are the most frequently searched genealogical records online. Too often you find either nothing or too much to identify the ancestor sought. Examples are presented of online census searches that initially produced no results which are creatively solved by using other sites and alternative search techniques (such as no name searches) to find that elusive ancestor.



Cyberschool: Free and Nearly Free Educational Opportunities Online

Genealogists continue learning about history, migrations, economics, languages, religions, and more for as long as they continue to do research. They know that knowledge is power in genealogy and family history. The Internet provides more essays, tutorials, articles, and learning opportunities right in our homes than previous generations could have ever imaged. This lecture takes a look at the different types of education resources online.



Disaster Avoidance for Genealogists with Computers

Computers are a wonderful tool for genealogists. Unfortunately, they also make it possible to lose years and decades worth of work faster than ever before. There are some very simple and easy safeguards genealogists need to know. This lecture covers ways to protect your computer, your genealogy, and your health.



Discovering Cultural Diversity on the Internet

The Internet is a world-wide resource. Genealogists benefit greatly when they extend their horizons and utilize online resources for their foreign research projects. The variety of tools is awesome, but finding them may be a challenge. This lecture leads genealogists on the trail of online cultural diversity and covers how to seek out these tools in cyberspace.



Early Migrations (1775-1830) into East Tennessee & Kentucky    [ NEW ]

This lecture covers a variety of resources to aid in tracing your ancestors into (and out of) early Tennessee and Kentucky.



East European Genealogy on the Internet

This lecture covers a collection of Web sites for researchers of East European ancestry.

[beginner to intermediate]


Electronic Library Resources

This lecture covers finding tools for locating on-line library catalogs, addresses, plus what is on-line and what is not. Variations in the search features found in on-line and off-line electronic catalogs are discussed, as well as finding aids for digital and classic manuscript collections.

[beginner to intermediate]


Eleven Layers of On-line Searches    [ MY  MOST  POPULAR  LECTURE ]

No one search method works all the time. Both online and classic search methods have their advantages and limitations. Knowing when to switch from one type of online search to another and from detailed online searches to more classic media (such as books and microfilms) brings greater success. Often overlooked ways to search online (from No Name searches to refined Alphabetical Browsing techniques) are combined here with examples of the success achieved by adding these layered Internet search results to classic searches.

[intermediate to advanced]     [also available in an expanded two-hour version]



Genealogists typically have three motivations and two approaches to publishing their research. Genealogists are motivated to preserve and share what they have found. By publishing they also open their work to peer review (critique) which often brings to light possible errors and additional resources. Today there are two approaches to publishing: low or no cost electronic publishing (for part or all of research summaries and family history books) and the use of the Internet to find and manage the best paper publishing options. Electronic publishing media are covered extensively including online library catalogs with Web 2.0 user added content, different types of Wikis and Web sites, blogs, digitized books online, plus publishing to CDs and DVDs.

[intermediate to advanced]


Evaluating Compiled Genealogies

This lecture covers the differences between compiled and original sources, and how to analyze compiled sources based upon quantitative rules.



Evaluating Original Records

This lecture covers the basics of what to copy, primary vs. secondary vs. tertiary sources, and rules for evaluating the probable accuracy of each.



Evaluating What You Have Found: The Third Stage of Research

Just because it is in print (in a courthouse record, a county history, a family history book, or published online) doesn't make it so. All too often we find tantalizing bits and pieces of our family trees in various sources. It takes knowledge and experience to carefully evaluate what you have found and to determine when further research and documentation is necessary. This lecture covers the evaluation of both compiled and original sources.

[beginner to intermediate]    [also available in an expanded two-hour version]


Five C's to Success in Genealogy Today

Today's genealogists can often solve problems that stumped them just a decade ago by combining computer and classic resources. This lecture focuses on advanced search techniques and new ways to use them in combination with reachable resources in the modern era of genealogy.

[intermediate to advanced]


Five T's of Tennessee Research

It takes a sense of Timing, an ability to Target your location, a variety of specialized research Techniques, and a great deal of Thoroughness and Tenacity to achieve success when researching your family tree in Tennessee. While these five T's apply especially to Tennessee research, they also have application to research in other geographic areas.



Genealogy: More Real Than Reality TV

A humorous look at how to get started tracing your family tree based on my book Genealogy 101: How to Trace Your Family's History and Heritage published in 2003 for the National Genealogical Society's 100th Anniversary.

[beginner to intermediate] [can be given as a luncheon presentation]


Genealogy Data & Storage: Downloading, Filing, and Preserving

This lecture covers the options available today for the moving and storage of genealogical data and images on personal computers and the Internet.

[intermediate to advanced]


Genealogy Road Warriors: Have Computer (SmartPhone, Tablet, etc.)... Will Travel

This lecture helps genealogists to better prepare and survive taking a computer and/or other electronic devices along on a research trip. It covers important considerations when choosing a portable computer and/or PDA, what to pack and take, getting connected to the Internet on the road, and safety precautions.

[intermediate to advanced]


GenWeb Projects and WebRings

This lecture explores the differences between the U.S. and World GenWeb Projects and the more loosely associated WebRings which are springing up throughout the Internet to help genealogists.

[beginner to intermediate]


Hidden Treasures at FamilySearch Internet

The FamilySearch Internet site is more than just a database and a library catalog. It includes an Internet genealogy directory, a multi-language genealogy dictionary, and many tutorials on using tools such as the infamous German gazetteer “Meyers.” [Needs updating--waiting for new site face lift to be completed.]

[beginner to intermediate]


How Computers & Gadgets Are Changing Genealogical Research

Computers (and the gadgets that evolved from them) are changing the way we, as genealogists, do research. While some traditional techniques are still fundamental to genealogical research, other techniques have been augmented or supplanted. This lecture covers the four phases of genealogical research (survey, research, evaluation, and publication phases) from the era BC (Before Computers) to the era AD (After Disks).

[beginner to intermediate]


How Not to Get Lost at the FamilySearch Internet Site

The FamilySearch Internet site ( provides the ability to search through multiple record collections in a multitude of ways. It contains some of the best advice online for where to search next and two ways to find resources in the Family History Library Catalog. You can also access 198,800 e-mail discussion groups, upload your own information (data, notes, and sources) to CD with a master index online, and search a directory of links to more than 71,000 other Internet sites of genealogical interest (searchable by keyword or subject). Whew. There are seven different types of navigational devices provided at the FamilySearch Internet site. Finding them and using multiple windows to keep track of where you have been are covered in this lecture. [Needs updating--waiting for new site face lift to be completed.]



How to Search the Family History Library Catalog

There are multiple versions of the Family History Library Catalog available in various media and in various locations. They differ in how current they are and in the advanced search features they offer. This lecture details these versions and how to search the home CD and online catalogs in particular. [Needs updating--waiting for new FHLC 2.0 face lift to be completed.]

[beginner to intermediate]


How to Successfully Search for Names, Dates, and Places Online

When searching on the Internet, it is all too easy to fail to find a name, date, or place from your family tree when you know there must be something out there. This lecture covers different types of sites to search, as well as ways to phrase your searches for success. Specific techniques for searching for names, dates, and places are covered.

[beginner to intermediate]    [90 minute lecture]


Internet for Beginners, The

The Internet is a vast resource for genealogists and has often been called the world’s largest library. Unfortunately, the Internet lacks a comprehensive catalog or index to its treasures. This lecture explains how to navigate the Internet, find useful Web sites, then bookmark those sites so you can find them again.



Internet for the Ancestrally Challenged, The

Each time we come up with a new surname on our family tree, we start the research process all over again. This is particularly challenging when researching common surnames, but rare surnames can be a challenge, too. The Internet gives us access to more resources than ever before as we research the names on our family trees and the lives of the people who bore those names.



Jump Start Your Family Tree Online

The first phase of research is to see what has already been done on that surname in that locality to avoid a duplication of efforts. There are many online resources to help you search father and faster than ever before.

[beginner to intermediate]


Let Your Fingers Do the Walking

The goal of every genealogist is to access resources closer to home or in your own home (via the Internet). This lecture covers a variety of tools for finding resources closer to home, accessing online copies of original records from home, and ordering copies of original and compiled source material from home.



Library Resources Online

Genealogists love libraries and archives. They love even more the ability to search library catalogs online. This lecture covers where to find library resources online, some of the advanced search features you will encounter in online catalogs, and some of the things that are not included in them.



Library Web Sites: More than Just a Catalog

Most genealogists go to library Web sites, find the online catalog, make a search using that catalog's basic search features, and assume they have found everything they can of interest at that site. Not only are there many ways to use online library catalogs for genealogical research, but such sites often provide access to a wide variety of additional resources and databases. This lecture covers examples of such databases and resources, where to find them online, and some of their limitations. It also gives examples of different types of catalog searches available at different library sites online. You may even be able to browse a library's book shelves from home in your pajamas and bunny slippers.



Lost Your Census?

Census records are one of the first types of records genealogists turn to when tracing an ancestor. Census indices and images are readily available online, but all to often a search in these resources turns up too many matches or none at all when you know that ancestor is out there somewhere. This lecture compares the three big commercial sites online for U.S. Census research, briefly covers resources for Canadian and U.K. census searches, and then takes a more in-depth look at alternate census search techniques and online versus offline resources.



Locating Living People Via the Internet

Genealogists seek out living relatives, as well as the dead. Today, the Internet gives us better tools than ever before to aid in this search.

[beginner to intermediate]


Magic of Family History, The

A comparison of the different types of magic illusions and their parallels in Family History.

[beginner to intermediate]


Making a List and Checking It Twice

There are many different types of lists, forms, and reports you can create to greatly facilitate searching and sharing your genealogy. These lists, forms, and reports can be made with a variety of programs ranging from word processors to spreadsheet programs to free genealogy database programs. This lecture covers making and customizing research summaries, alphabetical name lists, geographic research interest lists, surname spelling variations lists, and research calendars/logs.



Mistakes I've Made (and you can avoid) as a Computerized Genealogist

A humorous look at what to do and what not to do as a genealogist using a personal computer.

[beginner to intermediate] [can be given as a short luncheon presentation]


Moving and Storage of Genealogy Data, The    [ NEW ]

One of the great advantages to storing your research in a genealogy database or online tree is the ability to easily share that information with other researchers. This process is easy (once you know how), but not always safe. New means are evolving for sharing and collaborating on your family tree.



Navigating the Internet with Ease and Accuracy

It seems simple to point and click and find your way around the Internet. At least it seems so until you get a list of links from a search engine and want to explore several of those Web sites, as well as the additional links found at those Web sites. Then the Internet becomes a tangled Web indeed. This lecture covers the browser techniques and keyboard shortcuts that help genealogists navigate the Internet with greater ease and accuracy.

[beginner to intermediate]


New Technologies for Genealogy Lectures

The days of lecturing with transparencies are gone. Today's computer equipment and software have revolutionized presentations and we're moving into an era of online presentations. (Includes a demonstration of how easy it is to create a multimedia PowerPoint presentation for publishing on the Web.)



New Tools at FamilySearch: The FamilySearch Catalog    [ NEW ]

FamilySearch has not only designed a new search system for its updated catalog, but the Family History Library Catalog is being renamed the FamilySearch Catalog to reflect its expansion to include links to digital records online (from both books and microfilms) and materials available for searching in its 4500+ Family History Libraries/Centers around the world (slowly being added). According to usage statistics, few researchers plumbed the depths of the old catalog. With its new use of wildcards and filters, the new FamilySearch catalog (still under construction with many features yet to be added) provides even more of a challenge to search effectively.

[beginner to intermediate]


New Tools at FamilySearch: Record Search    [ NEW ]

The updated Web site has the largest collection of genealogy records for free searching anywhere on the Internet. It remains a work in progress with new features being added and displays of results being redesigned regularly. This lecture discusses effective ways to search this massive free resource (over two billion names with hundreds of millions more being added each year).



Newspapers: Tools for Finding Historical Newspapers

Old newspapers, when they still exist, are typically found preserved in boxes, photocopied and bound in book form, photographed and placed on microfilms, and most recently digitized and made searchable online. Finding and searching historic newspapers, therefore, involves both classic and computer methods.



Newspapers: Techniques for Searching Newspapers Online

This lecture focuses on searching online sources of historic newspapers. Most newspapers today have Web sites that contain archives of back issues. These electronic newspaper morgues are often (for a fee) searchable, but few have the entire run (pre-electronic publishing) of their particular newspaper. Increasingly large numbers of indexes and images of newspapers (both current and historical) are coming online each year. Online newspaper indexes (many at commercial sites requiring payment) allow you to do every-word searches. These searches are often free, but to see more than a snippet of the results you may have to pay. Because of misspellings, the lack of quality in the original print, different scanning processes, and the inaccuracies inherent in the software that reads and indexes these scans--online search tools for newspaper indexes often return fuzzy results with too many mismatches. Too many matches and fuzzy results make it necessary for you to work harder to fine tune your search (to better focus and limit the results). This methodology, of course, has the advantage of covering literally millions of articles from thousands of newspapers often with surprising results.



Online Tools for Genealogists

This lecture covers either seven or ten types of online tools genealogists find helpful [depending on the time allotted for this lecture]. Examples of Web sites for each type of tool are explored along with some of their hidden features and limitations. Note: Google is not necessarily the best way to find such tools online.

[beginner to intermediate]


Online: How You Get There Does Make a Difference

This lecture provides examples from a variety of different types of Web sites where initial searches failed, but accessing the site in a different way or making the search in a different way brings positive results.



Overcoming Idiosyncrasies of Genealogy Database Sites   [ NEW ]

There are vast differences in the ways popular genealogy database sites allow searches to be made, edited/filtered, and results viewed. Recognizing those differences (and knowing how to alter your search techniques) brings greater success.



Pedigree Resource File: Online and on CD    [needs to be updated]

The Pedigree Resource File is growing by 1.1 million names per month and includes notes and/or sources--if the submitted GEDCOM file contained such information. This lecture covers research methods for using the PRF and advanced research options not found online at the FamilySearch Internet site.

[beginner to intermediate]


Perils of Pursuing Pedigrees, The

A humorous look at the addictive pastime called genealogy.

[beginner to intermediate] [can be given as a short luncheon presentation]


Perks and Pitfalls of Computer Projectors, The

More and more professional genealogists and genealogical societies are facing the need to bite the bullet and purchase a projector for their presentations. This is a major investment. You want to be aware of the features to look for and the drawbacks to avoid.



Queries: The Forgotten Genealogy Tool

Queries once were a staple of genealogical research. There are more places online than ever before to place free queries, but fewer and fewer genealogists are bothering to use them. The challenge is to place your queries where they will get the best responses. This lecture covers the how and where of placing (and searching) effective queries online.

[beginner to intermediate]


Reference Tools for Genealogists Online

This can be done as a one-hour version covering just the types of tools to be found online or as a two-hour lecture with commentary about their uses and limitations for genealogists.

[beginner to intermediate]


Research Phase of Genealogy on the Internet, The

The Internet helps genealogists locate original records in various types of institutions, finding aids created by those institutions, and even occasionally images of original records online. Mention is also made of online tools that help us interpret original records.

[beginner to intermediate]


Search Engines for Genealogists

Not all search engines are created equal. Neither are all search engines alike. This lecture reviews the different types of Internet search engines and their uses for genealogy.

[beginner to intermediate]


Search Techniques in the Electronic Age

Electronic catalogs and search engines found at libraries and on the Internet are a vast resource for genealogists; however, this can be an overabundance of riches. Genealogists often find electronic searches an intimidating and frustrating experience. A typical search can turn up literally thousands of possible matches or no matches at all, when some do exist. This lecture presents a variety of search techniques, including their advantages and limitations in this electronic age.

[beginner to intermediate]


Seven Reasons Genealogists Love the Internet

The Internet has been called the world’s largest library because it opens a world of resources for genealogists twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. This lecture explores seven reasons why genealogists love to use the Internet to aid them in tracing their family trees. This is an overview for those new to the Internet.

[beginner to intermediate]


Seven Rules for a Successful Start in Family History

You wouldn't think of driving in a foreign country without studying their rules of the road. Don't start your family history journey without knowing a few of the basic rules for safely and accurately gathering and evaluating information about your family tree.

[beginner to intermediate]


Seven Rules for Successful Online Searching

This lecture takes a light-hearted look at seven principles for successful online searching. It starts with the premise that a ROSE by any other spelling is likely to be missed by your average search engine and ends with how the three blind men described an elephant (showing how each of us can personalize our Internet experience to meet our needs and limitations).

[beginner to intermediate]


Spotting Weaknesses in a Family Tree

Examples of family trees (pedigree charts and family group sheets) are used to provide examples of research weaknesses and possible errors made by genealogists (from amateur to professional). The types of records consulted for a resolution of each weakness, the interpretations made from what is found, and the writing of a research report (for your own use, for the benefit of future generations, and to share with other researchers) are also covered.

[intermediate to advanced]


Success with Manuscript Sources

Genealogists love manuscript sources because they are often primary sources. And because of this interest, genealogical, historical, patriotic, and lineage societies seek out and publish manuscript sources. Typically, these sources are also found in archives, libraries, and private collections. Today's Internet often makes important finding aids for manuscript collections available online.



Survey Phase of Research, The

The goal of the survey phase of genealogical research is to find what has been already researched (and/or published in the past about your ancestor) to avoid a duplication of effort. The Internet gives us many more resources than ever before to help with this phase of research.

[beginner to intermediate]


Techniques for Searching Books Online

Genealogists love genealogy books (local histories, family histories, military histories, city directories, etc.) and the libraries that contain them. They love even more the ability to search digitized books online. This lecture covers the five major sites for books online and a variety of techniques needed to effectively search them.



Techniques for Searching Library Catalogs Online

It seems as if every online library catalog is different. Sometimes there are even multiple catalogs for the same library. This lecture includes techniques for finding and searching both meta catalogs and individual online catalogs for a selection of libraries of particular interest to genealogists.

[beginner to intermediate to advanced]


Tips, Tricks, and Tools to Improve Internet Usage

It seems so easy to browse the Internet. Point, click, and go. Nevertheless, genealogists often find themselves bogged down in the mechanics of searching and navigating the Internet. This lecture discusses ways to improve Internet usage in two dimensions: getting the most from the browser software on your own computer and getting the most from the tools to be found out on the Internet.

[beginner to intermediate]


Tracing Your Family Tree in the 21st Century

The Internet provides many different resources to help genealogists trace their family trees. Different tools and types of sites are needed in the different phases of research. The Internet has augmented some classic resources and supplanted others. This lecture compares classic research methodology vs. modern.

[beginner to intermediate]    [90 minute lecture]


Types of Databases on the Internet

This lecture presents a sampling of the types of databases online for genealogists.  

[beginner to intermediate]    [This lecture is a shorter version of "A Cornucopia of Resources on the Internet."]


Types of Internet Search Tools

This lecture presents a sampling of the types of Internet search tools genealogists use most often. These include different types of search engines, meta search engines, Internet directories (like Cyndi’s List), and tools for finding reference tools online. This lecture also includes tips and tricks for searching these types of tools more effectively.

[beginner to intermediate]


U.S. Census on the Internet

The Internet gives access to U.S. census records in many ways and at many levels. This lecture covers different types of Web sites and different types of information from census records including actual images of census pages, extracts, indices, and surname distribution for various census years. [see "Advanced Tools and Techniques for Census Searching" for a more advanced version of this lecture]



Using Your Computer as a Research Tool

There are many different types of genealogical databases you can create (with your personal genealogy software) with different purposes in mind. There are also a plethora of types of lists, reports, and forms you can create on your computer (again using your personal genealogy software, word processor, or spreadsheet program). The principles taught in this lecture apply equally to most of the genealogy database programs and word processors in use today.

[beginner to intermediate]


Web Suring Made Easier [ LAB ]

Genealogists need to know how to use their Windows operating system fully and effectively to get the most from the other programs they use and their Internet Web explorations. This class [usually given as a hands-on lab] covers the computer terminology you need to know to understand user manuals and help files, to easily move information from one type of program into another (for example: from your word processor into the notes in your genealogy database), and to navigate and capture the information you find on the Internet.

[beginner to intermediate] [usually given as a hands-on lab]


What's Free and What's Not on the Internet

This lecture covers both some commercial Web sites that are very helpful to genealogists, and some common tools (like dictionaries, word lists, charts, and forms) that you can find and use for free on the Internet.



Yankee Ingenuity: Getting More from Your Computer

When the Pilgrims arrived on this continent, they encountered new experiences, which included many difficulties and trials. Those who learned new skills survived better than those who did not. Genealogists new to computers have to learn the same sorts of lessons to survive well. This lecture covers computer terminology, finding files you have lost on your computer, backup rules and techniques, etc.



You Have to Find the Records Before You Can Search 'Em    [ NEW ]

In the past, genealogists went out blindly hoping to find records to meet their research needs when they arrived at a research location. Today, researchers try to determine a likely source exists, find the nearest copy, and then work out a way to access the source in the most economical fashion possible.

[beginner to intermediate]


Home Up Links OFHC Notes My Surnames


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