Listening to Genealogy experts in my Sauna

A few of them made long car rides to Ontario flow by quickly. Others made visits to the doctor seem shorter. I’ve even heard a couple while sitting in the sauna.

So far, twenty experts have taught me how to improve my genealogy research while sitting around. All thanks to CDs I ordered of sessions from the Federation of Genealogy Societies ( 2013 Conference in Fort Wayne Texas.

The Helen F.M. Leary Distinguished lecture by Elizabeth Shown Mills, from is my favourite so far. Her story about figuring out that a marriage lasted three years by examining a housekeeping bill compels me forward when going through multiple series of papers for some clue to reality. (Also, I found a series of online interviews with Leary herself for free at

Tips are good too. Peter Drinkwater, the product manager from convinced me that printing pdf’s is the best way to keep copies of things I find online, because the source information is automatically printed as part of the image.

Eric C.M. Basir convinced me to save photos as tifs.

I never knew that orphans used to be indentured as a way of earning their keep until Angela Walton Raji spoke about the Freedman’s Bureau during the James Dent Walker memorial lecture. Never even heard of James Dent Walker (, despite him being the 14th person nominated to the U.S. National Genealogy Hall of Fame.

Lots of different people have spoken about the importance of keeping detailed research logs.

Iowa, Scotland, the Midwest, Iowa, Desmoines—I don’t even know whether I have ancestors in any of those places or not, but listening to research experts describe all the different details about everyday people that were revealed through documents, photos and official records has been so inspiring.

There’s still another 63 conferences to go too, just from the one conference. And next year, the Federation of Genealogical Societies will be combining their conference with RootsTech in Salt Lake City. The dates are set: February 12 to 14.

You can order your own copy at

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