Friday, August 29, 2014


When did you first start researching your family history? Was there a moment when you knew you were “hooked?”

​I began in earnest in 1982. I had been taking history courses all along while my children were young. One sparked an interest in a St. Paul business of my grandaunts and that led me to learning more about them. Then I learned my family wasn't always from St. Paul. I was off and running! I delved into records in courthouses and archives, read old newspapers, and gathered the stories of my ancestors who came to the U.S. from eight other countries.

​What record set to you believe is the most under-utilized? What advice would you give students in using this record set?

​Original manuscripts are vastly under-utilized. These hold gems that tell of births, deaths, marriages, migrations, family issues, economics of the family, photos and much more. The finding aids that exist today are extensive and I talk about them in many of my sessions at SLIG. I often hear of past students' success in finding needed details after searching out such records in historical societies, archives, and special collections libraries.

​What books and periodicals would you recommend for ​intermediate to advanced researchers? Are there any lesser-known texts you advise?

​I suggest these researchers look for older publications from repositories that include descriptions of holdings and often these descriptions are not online today or aren't as comprehensive. If someone has reached this level of research, they should have a wide variety of books in their home library. Histories, guides, record abstracts, and others.

​What is the most rewarding thing about being a genealogical educator? What advice would you give for those who would follow in your footsteps?
​I love seeing that proverbial light bulb go off in a student's head. You can tell by the eyes that brighten and the notes that are quickly scribbled. Seeing a student immediately go online to consult a library catalog, finding aid, or database tells me that what I just explained was important to them.

I turned down the first opportunity that I was offered to make presentations at a large genealogy conference. I wasn't ready and knew I needed more experience and knowledge to share competently with my audiences. I also knew that I needed to keep-up-to date but that each person brings something wonderful to the sessions. ​

​Will you share something with us that students may not know about you? Perhaps a non-genealogical hobby?

​I used to have several hobbies before family history took over my life! I was an excellent seamstress, dabbled in calligraphy, and my flower and vegetable gardens were lovingly tended. Nowadays, my passion beyond genealogy is my grandchildren. Seeing them grow and become interested in knowledge is fascinating. My youngest grandson has asked to drive by all the places where his ancestors lived. We have started that journey.

Any parting thoughts or advice?

​Keep learning. Family history resources, techniques, and methodology are constantly evolving. Don't be an island. Interact with others such as at SLIG. Once you have attended you will be saying the same things as the returning students. It's a good habit. ​

Join Paula in January 2015 by registering for her course entitled "Resources and Strategies for US Research." For more information go to The registration page can be found at

Monday, August 25, 2014

Words of Wisdom from Paula Stuart-Warren

1. ​Why would you recommend a student attend SLIG in general?

​Being in a class with others who have the same interests can't be beat. The comraderie that develops is special. The instructors get to know you and you them. The sharing of knowledge and experience that happens is unique to the institute setting.

2. ​Will you tell us a little bit about what makes your SLIG course unique among genealogical education offerings?

​This course is an intermediate level of instruction and offered in two parts. You don't need to take them in any order. My fellow instructors and I don't just lecture, we teach and interact with the students. A class project lets each person shine in their own way. The one-on-one consultations at the FHL provide an opportunity to go directly to the finding aids and records to solve a research issue.

Paula will share more of her insight in the next blog later this week. Stay tuned!

Check out Paula's course at You can register at:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

John Philip Colletta on SLIG!

John Philip Colletta, a renowned genealogist, gives us insight on sources and the benefits of attending SLIG!

What record set to you believe is the most under-utilized? What advice would you give students in using this record set? 

Court records in general are under-utilized because accessing and searching them takes time and effort. But they contain a wealth of information about our ancestors. I encourage family historians to explore the records created by our federal courts, 1789-1911, which are in the 13 regional archives of our National Archives and Records Administration (RG21). The court’s docket book may serve as an index. Newspapers, too, report the docket when the court is in session. Federal Cases, a thirty-volume set in any law library also helps to identify federal court suits involving specific ancestors.

What books and periodicals would you recommend for intermediate to advanced researchers? Are there any lesser-known texts you advise? 

I subscribe to the major scholarly genealogical periodicals, such as the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, The American Genealogist, and so forth. Their articles are the best in the field and offer a tremendous variety of lessons—and enjoyable reading—for all family historians.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a genealogical educator? What advice would you give for those who would follow in your footsteps? 

Helping people learn more about their own heritage, ancestor by ancestor, is very gratifying, because I know how much it means to them personally. More than that, though, meeting people, one on one, across the country, who are engaged in family research is great fun. It broadens in a most delightful way the horizons of my own experience and knowledge. Genealogists are the best!

Why would you recommend a student attend SLIG? 

SLIG provides a tremendous amount of practical instruction in an ideal setting a few blocks from the LDS Family History Library… and at a very reasonable cost, too! The physical environment is comfortable and the faculty, staff and attendees all share their knowledge, experience and personalities in a genial atmosphere. A week at SLIG adds up to a lot more than a week at SLIG. It is more than an educational institute. It is a coming together of fellow ancestor hunters from across the country, a festival of sharing and camaraderie.

Take advantage of the early-bird registration pricing available until October 31, 2014! Don't miss this opportunity to benefit from John's expertise. For more on John's course, see To register, go to
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