Monday, June 30, 2014

My new adventure

National Institute for Genealogical Studies

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies (NIGS) and I have entered into a partnership and I am now an official blogger for them.  I will be taking some of their courses and as I go through them I will be blogging about the experience.  I will be talking about how the program works overall as well as describing and critiquing the individual courses.  NIGS is very confident of their program and they have given me complete control over the content of the blog posts.  I tend to be brutally honest and NIGS is aware of this Open-mouthed smile

To start with I will be taking all of the German courses that they offer.  Since I was born in Germany and I speak German I am in a good position to give a competent evaluation.  I am looking forward to the courses because I am not as strong as I would like to be with knowing the different German record sets and laws that affects vital records.  I also have very limited experience with German immigration.  The only German immigrants in my family are my mother, one of her first cousins and I.  The rest of my family is still over there both past and present.  I have always done mostly American research (my father was born in the US) so my German roots have been neglected.  I am hoping these courses will get me on the right track.

The posts will be on the NIGS blog and not on this one but I will be linking to them when I post in case you are interested in learning more about the courses and programs the NIGS offers.  The first course starts on July 7th so stay tuned.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

A few pictures

Here are some pictures from IGHR 2014.  Over the next few days I will tell you about some of the things I learned.  The first thing I will tell you is that the entire experience was better than I even imagined and I will definitely be back next year.  You can see the schedule for the next three years HERE.  My biggest problem will be deciding what I want to take next.

Here is my class, Course 4: Writing and Publishing for Genealogists.  The instructor, Dr. Thomas W. Jones, is the man in the very front.  I am the second person to his right (your left). 

Course 4Copyright 2014 © Laurie Sleeper, used with permission


Here are two photos of the ProGen participants that attended IGHR 2014.  The first one is ProGen groups 1-17 (alumni).  There are a couple of famous genealogists in this group.  Can you find them?

Copyright © 2014 Judy G. Russell and Angela Packer McGhie, used with permission


Here is ProGen groups 18-23 (current participants).  Groups 18 and 19 will be finished the first week in July so the next time we get our pictures taken I will get to be in the first group!  I am in the front row, second from the left.

ProGen-18-23_thumb2Copyright © 2014 Judy G. Russell and Angela Packer McGhie, used with permission


There are a lot more ProGen participants than this.  These are just the ones that attended IGHR 2014.  If you want your research to catapult to the next level, you will definitely want join the ProGen Study Groups.  It is an 18 month program and you will be expected to complete all of the monthly readings and assignments, critique your classmates’ assignments and participate in the monthly chats.  This program isn’t for the faint of heart.  You will be spending 18 months with a small group of likeminded individuals so you will also be making good friends.  Your group’s coordinator and mentor are available to help you every step of the way.  I highly recommend the program.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The past two weeks

I was going to wait until tomorrow to post but I really miss the blog.  So what have I been doing genealogy-wise for the past two weeks?

  • I entered into a new partnership with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (NIGS).  I will tell you more about that in the next couple of days.
  • I turned in my last ProGen assignment.
  • I finished 3 1/2 out of 6 cases for the local version of the “Genealogy Roadshow.”
  • I worked on 3 different presentations that I have coming up.
  • I worked on a conflicting evidence case study.
  • I finished my last two client reports.  I only take on a very few private clients these days and now that these two reports are done I am not going to take on any more until at least after the first of the year because I have a lot of other things going on and something had to give.
  • I watched three webinars on DNA from the Association of Professional Genealogists.
  • I sent in four more DNA tests.
  • I did a major cleanup of my office area.
  • I went through all of my internet bookmarks looking for dead links and reorganized them.
  • A German researcher sent me a gedcom of the research she has done on the Gläntzer/Glaentzer family and I have been working with it.  I will be uploading it to FamilySearch’s Family Tree this week (with the creator’s permission).  This is a very uncommon surname in Germany and I hoping getting the research out will bring in some new leads for both of us.

Tomorrow I will post a few pictures from IGHR 2014 and then over the next few days I will be highlighting some of the things I learned (many of which I am already putting into practice) and I will also tell you what is going on with the NIGS.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Sunday, June 15, 2014

IGHR certificate

I said I was off the blog but there is one thing I forgot to post Smile



Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday–The day after

Now that I am back from IGHR I need to play catch up.   My last ProGen assignment is due on the 25th and my draft needs some major revisions and cleanup.  I plan to use the things I learned in Dr. Jones’s class to get it into shape. I also have two client projects that need some attention so I am going to be off the blog for a bit.  I will be back on Monday, June 30, 2014.  That should give me enough time to get everything back under control.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday – final day and drive home

I have one more person to mention and that is Alvie Davidson.  I met him at the banquet last night and it was an honor for me.  Alvie has answered a lot of questions for me over the years.  What is really cool about Alvie is not only is he a genealogist (CG), he is a private detective!  I always imagine him wearing a deerstalker while sneaking around in courthouses.  You can read more about Alvie HERE.

We had a short schedule today:

8:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.: Aesthetics of Writing: Using Visual Impact to Deliver Your Message (Jones)
9:45 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.: Marketing Your Self-Published Materials (Scott)
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.: Review of Student Project 3; Closing Remarks and Distribution of Certificates (Jones)

After class we took a class picture and then I hopped in my car to head back home.  The weather was a bit uncooperative with scattered rain showers and the traffic coming through Atlantic was s l o w but I did make it.

As soon as I got the car unloaded I logged into work at Legacy because I have more than a few hours to make up so I will be working this weekend Smile

I am really looking forward to putting everything I learned into practice.  The course was excellent and I am looking forward to IGHR next year.  I can’t say enough good things about the entire experience.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thursday – 4th day of class

timI finally caught up with Tim Pinnick and he didn’t even run away.  Tim very graciously agreed to pose for a blog photo.  Tim is a gifted researcher, author, lecturer and IGHR instructor.  You can read more about him HERE.  This is Tim’s second appearance on the blog though the first time I didn’t have this cool photo. You can also take a look at African American Genealogy from 2013.

Here is what we did today:

  • 8:00 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.: Student Project 3 Due; Discussion of Project Results (Jones)
  • 8:30 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.: Writing Articles for Publication (Jones)
  • 9:45 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.: Morning Break
    10:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.: Commercial Publishing: From Proposal to Product (Colletta)
  • 1:15 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.: Lunch
  • 2:45 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.: Snares and Pitfalls of Writing a Narrative Family History (Colletta)
  • 2:00 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.: Afternoon Break
  • 2:45 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.: Using Microsoft Word as a Writing Tool (Powell)

Tonight was the IGHR banquet and the guest speaker was Michael Henderson, the author of Got Proof! My Genealogical Journey Through the Use of Documentation.  You can read about Michael HERE.  If you think your family is difficult to trace you will want to get Michael’s book.  He managed to trace (and document) multiple lines back to the pre-Revolutionary War period through Louisiana, Canada and France.  His lineage includes a Confederate soldier, War of 1812 veteran and several Revolutionary War veterans.  Considering that Michael is a retired naval officer, this rich military history is something for him to be very proud of.  He also found three French soldiers that were awarded a military honor from Louis XIV.  He has been accepted in many lineage societies and has his eye on more.  He has put a special emphasis on some of the females in his line that were even harder to trace.  His lecture was fascinating and inspiring.

Tomorrow we have a half day of class and then I will be on the road back home.  This week has just flown by.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wednesday – 3rd day of class

We had another downpour today but this time it was when we were trying to get from the dorms to the cafeteria.  By the time we finished eating it had stopped which was just in time for John Colletta’s lecture, more about that in a bit.  I just used the word “time” three times (now four) in the same paragraph.  I have a funny feeling Tom Jones would have something to say about that.  Speaking of Tom, I am still waiting to see how he edited my 500 word writing sample.  I am not too sure I want to see it.

Today’s victim was Linda Woodward Geiger. She has more accomplishments than I can list but you can read about her HERE.  My connection to her is that she is a Georgia girl doing Georgia research.  She is actually in my class and only sits a few desks away but today is the first day I have spoken with her (I was basically sitting behind her in awe.)

Tim Pinnick is still hiding somewhere.  I am pretty sure he is still here considering he is teaching a class.

Here is what we did today:

8:00 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.: Student Project 2 Due; Discussion of Project Results (Jones)
8:30 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.: Ethics for Genealogical Writers
9:45 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.: Morning Break
10:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.: Principles of Good Writing and Good Storytelling (Colletta)11:15 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.: Lunch
12:45 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.: Organizing Your Ancestors in Genealogical Format (Session 1)
2:00 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.: Afternoon Break
2:45 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.: Organizing Your Ancestors in Genealogical Format (Session 2)
4:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.: Assignment of Student Project 3 (Formatting Exercise) (Jones)

Special evening session 7:00 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.: Discovering the REAL stories of Your Immigrant Ancestors presented by John Colletta.   John is a great speaker.  He holds your interest and he is really funny.  I was right in the front row so I had it made.

After class we saw a gazillion lightning bugs on our way back to the dorms.  I guess the rain brought them out.  Everyone was having a good time watching them until we realized that we still had to finish up a homework assignment. This one is all about numbering your genealogy.  We are numbering a family ascending and descending using the Register system and the NGSQ system.  I pretty much have the Medart family memorized by now.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tuesday – 2nd day of class

First the general comments.  Last night Birmingham had one humdinger of a storm.  My roommate and I were unable to go to sleep until after midnight because of the non stop thunder and the rain pounding on our window.   I don’t drink coffee but I was pretty tempted this morning.  I opted for the sugar rush instead.

I am surprised to see how many people here at IGHR recognize my face or my name either because of Legacy or the blog.  I appreciate all of the nice comments and feedback I have been receiving.

I am still looking for Tim Pinnick.  I know he is hiding here somewhere and he is next on my list to find.  I think someone might have warned him.

We have a pretty heavy homework assignment tonight which I haven’t finished yet and it is already 10:30 p.m.  so I need to hurry up and get this blog post posted.  We have to self edit a 500 word excerpt from one of our reports.  Tom Jones is going to come behind us and reedit our pieces.  The editor of the NGSQ is going to rip my paper to sheds I just know it.  I can’t wait to see his comments!

Today’s class schedule:

8:00 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.: Student Project 1 Due; Discussion of Project Results (Jones)
8:30 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.: Analytical Writing: Client Reports, Proof Summaries, and Other 'Unpublished' Works
9:45 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.: Morning Break
10:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.: Editing Yourself (session 1)
11:15 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.: Lunch
12:45 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.: Editing Yourself (session 2)
2:00 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.: Afternoon Break
2:45 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.: Putting Your Ancestors in Historical Context
4:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.: Assignment of Student Project 2 (Editing Exercise) (Jones)

This was the first time I had heard John Colletta speak.  I enjoyed hearing about the way he goes about finding the information he needs to put his ancestor into context and make the story more interesting for the the reader.

The special evening session 7:00 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.: Measure Yourself Against Standards: Board for Certificate of Genealogists presented by Tom Jones and Elissa Powell was of special interest to me because I am planning to go “on the clock” around the first of October.  I have a lot of obligations though the summer and fall but after October first I won’t be accepting any clients or speaking engagements so that I can devote my time to the portfolio.  There were several CGs present in the audience who gave us encouragement and advice.  I am looking forward to the process but I am also pretty nervous about it.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday – 1st day of class

A few general comments first.  I will be here again next year.  That one statement should tell you just how much I am enjoying IGHR.  The campus is beautiful and the staff here is phenomenal.  Being able to stay in the dorms and eat in the campus cafeteria is more than just convenient.  I am enjoying the company of my roommates and I can’t even begin to tell you how great the food is.  

I met Michael Hait, CG today.  He was one of the people I had on my list to hunt down.  It was nice to finally meet him in person and I enjoyed our little talk.  There are still a couple more people on campus I want to introduce myself to sometime this week.  I even warned a couple of them via email so they might try to hide from me.  My four instructors are of course on my list and I have already met the first two (Tom and Elissa). 

Now a little about the class I am taking.

The instructors for the course are:
Thomas W. Jones
John Phillip Colletta
Elissa Scalise Powell
Craig R. Scott
[all of them have lots of letters behind there names]

Here is a brief overview of what we did today:

8:00 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.:  Class Orientation and Preliminary Remarks (Jones)
8:30 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.:  Introduction to the Dreaded Footnote
9:45 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.:  Morning Break
10:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.:  Essential Resources for Genealogical Writers
11:15 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.:  Lunch
12:45 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.:  Writing as You Go (Powell)
2:00 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.:  Afternoon Break
2:45 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.:  Creating Readable Prose
4:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.:  Assignment of Student Project 1 (Footnoting Exercise) (Jones)

I have actually heard both Tom and Elissa speak before via conference CDs but hearing them in person, having the handouts, seeing the PowerPoint slides and being able to ask questions makes all the difference in the world.  I got much more out of today’s session than all of the CDs put together and I still have four more days.

After dinner we were treated to a special evening session from 7:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.: Using Spreadsheets to Bring Evidence to Life presented by David Ouimette, CG.  David was so enthusiastic during his presentation it made all of us want to run back to our rooms and fire up Excel.  The only thing holding me back was my homework for Tom’s class.  David gave as many different scenarios where you can use spreadsheets to solve genealogical dilemmas.  It was an excellent lecture and I plan to incorporate what I learned into my research.

Today it was pretty much nonstop from 6:00 a.m. until now (It is 9:30 p.m.).  I am almost done with my homework assignment and then in the bed I go.  I am looking forward to tomorrow.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday – arrival and check-in

I made it.  I wanted to take a picture of the Welcome to Alabama sign but as I was screaming by it at 70 mph I decided that it wasn’t such a good idea.  A funny thing happened at the Georgia-Alabama line.  Right before I came in to Alabama all the cars with Alabama tags started slowing way down while the ones with Georgia tags hit the line at full throttle.  What the Alabama folks knew that we Georgia folks didn’t was that the speed limit drops from 70 to 55 and there were Alabama State Troopers waiting on the other side.  All you could see were brake lights from the Georgia cars and the drivers of the Alabama cars had big smiles on their faces.

I went through the check-in and registration process and I am settled into my dorm room.  My roommate is from Florida and the two girls next door are from Texas and Salt Lake City.  Three of us are newbies to IGHR so we have the deer-in-the-headlights look.  We are pretty happy that one us has been here before and can make sure the rest of us get to the right places at the right time.

Tonight we had a buffet of “heavy hors d'oeuvres” at a dinner reception and short orientation.  After the orientation there was a ProGen get together.  Angela Packer McGhie is here (the head of ProGen) and it was very nice meet her in person.  Representatives from ProGen 1 all the way through the newest class, ProGen 23 were there.  I am in ProGen 18 and we are finishing our program on July 1st.  There are a lot of genealogy heavy hitters here and there are a couple I plan to corner just so I can introduce myself.

One special person I got to meet today was Clarise Fleck Soper, CG.  I have “known” Clarise for about 15 years but this is the first time I had met her in person.  She is from Mississippi and we both do Mississippi research.  She used to be the editor of Southern Footprints and I wrote a couple of articles they published.  We were both members of the Southern Mississippi Genealogical Society though I was a long distance member.  We are in different classes this week but we will still have time to get together again and I am looking forward to it.

We were given our class notebooks and my roommate and I are sitting here reading through it.  Wow.  There is A LOT of material in here.  My brain is already starting to hurt.

Tomorrow starts early with breakfast at 7 and class starting at 8. 


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Saturday – the day before

This is my first blog post in over a week and I am happy to report that I got everything done that I needed to.  I am leaving for Birmingham in the morning to attend IGHR 2014.  I am all packed and ready to go.  Besides my clothes and bedding for the dorms, I have my laptop as well as the required books for Tom Jones’ Writing and Publishing for Genealogists course not to mention a few snacks for when I am staying up late working on the homework.

There were three writing assignments we had to do ahead of time.  One is a 500 word writing sample and the other two are articles we had to read and analyze to include drawing out the familial connections (I used Legacy to help me with that, big surprise).

I am hoping to get a blog post out every night with some pictures but I will probably not spend time on Facebook or answer any non urgent emails.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis