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Lectures and Programs

Webinars and Custom Lectures Available!

Mixers and Shakers - Tracing Your Bootlegging, Shimmy-Shaking, and Repeal-Seeking Ancestors During and After Prohibition


Temperance advocates celebrated victory when America  went dry in 1920.  For a short time, the great experiment appeared to curb the ills associated with imbibing alcohol.  However, American drinking culture moved to private clubs, home production, and overtly shady acquisition.   This program will lead you through an assortment of prohibition and post-repeal day resources which will help demystify your ancestor's relationship with alcohol from 1920-1933.  Second lecture in a two-part series.

Tracing Irish Immigrants in Illinois and Michigan Canal Records


During America's great canal building boom, it was said that all you needed to build a canal was a pick, a shovel, a wheelbarrow, and an Irishman. Far from being lazy, unwashed, and underskilled, these new immigrants labored long hours, built churches, and created communities in and around the growing city of Chicago.  Learn how to track down records on early Irish immigrant ancestors living and working in the Illinois & Michigan Canal zone located in Cook, DuPage, Will, and LaSalle counties from 1830-1850.

Just Passing Through - Adding First-Hand Travelogue Accounts to Your Research

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Before television and radio, travel writers connected readers to far away places around the world.  As the United States grew and expanded, a wide array of people began to keep personal or published accounts of their explorations and experiences.  Traveling writers also documented the lives and personalities of the local people they met along the way.  How much is fact, and how much is fiction?  And how reliable are the narrators?  This lecture will provide strategies and resources which may describe the daily lives of the people and places found in your family tree.

General Research

Internet Archive – The Amazing Genealogical Resource You’re Not Using!

Can’t find it on Ancestry?  Learn all about Internet Archive and its amazing collection of city directories, county histories, gazetteers, yearbooks, and family genealogies.  If you haven’t been on this site yet, you’re missing a lot of fantastic resources!

Beyond Ancestry

Not all your research online can be conducted with  There are many free and budget friendly resources which can assist you in conducting genealogy research on the web.  This program covers exciting and evolving websites from across the United States and parts of Europe.

Using Fold3 Library Edition

Love it or hate it, Fold3 is cornering the market on American military records online.  Learn how to navigate the site, browse resources effectively, and find the hidden gems on this fantastic database.

Try-It Illinois! (October & November)

The annual Try-It Illinois Database trial which runs from October 1-November 30, allows you to access a ton of free genealogy databases from home for free!  Learn how to navigate these resources successfully to fulfill your research goals!

In-Depth Research Topics

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Anna and Her Brothers - Finding Relations When No Family Stories Exist

Unmarried immigrant women living outside the family unit generate a different set of records, which makes piecing together their ancestry more of a challenge.  This presentation examines a combination of family stories, photographs and both direct and indirect evidence to rebuild the journey of an immigrant Czech family in Ohio and Nebraska.

Unusual Places to Find Births and Naturalizations

Widen your search for birth dates and locations as well as naturalizations from a variety of underutilized resources such as military rosters, consulate applications, voter registrations, cancelled passports, frakturs and much more.  This lecture focuses on both digital and physical resources, so bring your research checklist and see if these resources can help you fill in the gaps in your family tree.

Mining Genealogical Gems in I&M Canal Records

Learn about the new and exciting genealogical breakthroughs found in Will County Historical Society's collection of Illinois & Michigan Canal records, which include an amazing collection of newly discovered tickets and passenger lists for men hired to build this famous waterway.

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Sorting through Sordid Southern Divorce Records

The practice of divorce in the southern United States can vary by location and time period.  Get an overview of divorce laws and practices from 1780s-1860s.

Relatives in the Rejection Pile - Using Application Rolls and Claims for Genealogical Research

Using case studies and a tool kit of resources, this lecture will outline strategies for searching and documenting ancestors in the Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims, dating from 1906 to 1909.

That One Time Martha Washington's Will Was Stolen

Remember that one time Martha Washington's will got stolen?  Who knew Civil War looters, patriotic women braying for justice, and the death of a millionaire would set a precedent for protecting legal documents.

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Mixers and Shakers - Tracing Your Bartending, Saloonkeeping, and Tavernkeeping Ancestors before Prohibition

Taverns and saloons have been a crucial American institution, and the men behind the bar were the social rock stars of their era.  This program will lead you through the pre-prohibition records and resources which will help you add an extra shot of flavor into your research.  First lecture in a two-part series.

Wide World of Passports

Look beyond passports issued by the United States government!  In this lecture, we'll examine an array of passports from different countries and time periods, and how to incorporate this information into your genealogical research.  Be prepared to dig through online and traditional archives to break through your toughest brick walls!

Fabulous Frakturs - Documenting Early American Family Life through Folk Art

Pennsylvania Germans have long been renowned for their tremendously diverse, colorful, and often whimsical folk art Frakturs.  This program will examine the history of this unique artform, the vital records generated from these items, and how to use them in your genealogy research.


Adventures with Lost Postcards: Using eBay, Etsy, Craigslist, and CardCow to Break Down Genealogical Brick Walls

Online auction and resale sites don’t make finding genealogical treasures easy, but with a little persistence, you can discover lost family heirlooms for yourself or share item details with others online.  In this lecture, you will learn strategic search strategies and browsing methodologies to maximize your time online, as well as how to identify old postcard clues to further your genealogical research.

Pinning Together Your Genealogical Past on Pinterest

Are you on Pinterest?  It's more than just tasty recipes and weight loss tips.  This site can help you sort, share, and promote your genealogy projects.  Learn how to create pins from your own research, collaborate with others on your projects, make a visual "to-do" list, save your must-have reads, and share your successes with other genealogists.

No Photo?  No Problem! -  How Slides and Negatives Capture the Past

Those photo negatives and slides aren’t useless!  Learn how new types of scanners and software can bring these forgotten photo collections back to life!  Program resources include software suggestions, books, and online resources.


The Hunter of Tallulah - The Truth and Legend of an Indian War Ancestor

Adam P. Vandiver was small of stature but his exploits measured to giant proportions.  Vandiver was an extreme mountain man, veteran of the War of 1812 Indian Wars, and boasted to have over 30 children with three wives, though albeit, not at the same time.  In a story pieced together by historical and genealogical records, you can learn how to sort fact from fiction when researching a larger-than-life ancestor.

More than Money and Land - The Evolution of Bounty Land, Military Pensions

Bounty land applications and military pensions are useful resources for anyone with a male ancestor of military service age.  Learn how laws concerning compensation changed over time, how to request records to explore your family's connection to smaller military campaigns and conflicts dating from 1820 - 1916.

Civil War Genealogy: Tracing the service of Billy Yank and Johnny Reb

Did your ancestors take up sides during the Civil War?  Learn about the resources, research sites, and strategies for learning more about your veteran ancestors!

War of 1812 - Researching 'Second Revolution' Ancestors

Discover the stories and service of the military men of America's 'Second Revolution'.  Reaching beyond federal pension records, this lecture examines a range of resources spanning military registers, navy accounts, and prisoner of war records.

World War I

World War I Genealogy – Where Do I Start?

Start your journey towards learning more about your family’s connection to the war to end all wars. Using a fail-proof method of record gathering, you can begin to construct a large amount of information even if your ancestor’s official military records were destroyed in the NRPC fire. With thousands of resources available online, traditional archives, and in specialized museums, you'll be on your way to tracing your ancestor's Great War experience quickly and confidently.

Tracing Female Ancestors in World War I Military and Non-Combatant Records

Women were essential to the success of America’s troops in World War I. This lecture will outline a plan to locate and use a variety of local, state, and national records to discover the stories of female ancestors serving in military and volunteer roles.

The Diary of Wesley Peever – A World War I Genealogical Mystery

What happens when a dusty heirloom doesn't actually belong in the family?  Discover how a Great War diary was lost, found, and returned home.  This program will provide strategies, tips, and resources for Canadian & American peacetime and wartime records.

Spies Among Us: Tracing World War I Era Ancestors through FBI and American Protective League Records

Learn how a mass collective of middle class private citizens helped the FBI collect information on non-US citizens during the Great War, and how to track down the files these investigations left behind.

Aliens in the Army

Non-citizens residing in the USA during World War I were drafted in the military, and with their induction into service, and the government responded by streamlining the naturalization process for these 'alien' servicemen.  Find out how you can research your WWI ancestors in records at the National Archives and discover more about their military service and personal path to citizenship.

Allied with the Allies

Examine the abundant resources, service files, and information for service men and women who served in Canadian, UK, Australian, and French forces during World War I.  The lecture will also examine Red Cross records and resources in the US and abroad.

Every Girl Pulling for Victory - Suffrage and Service During the Great War

This lecture examines how the suffrage movement motivated women to perform military and volunteer service during the Great War and how to find local, state, and national suffrage records to tie these stories of service together.

World War I – Strange, Interesting, and Unusual Facts They Didn’t Teach You in History Class

From women snipers and doughnut lassies, to service dogs and high explosives, this program presents Great War topics in an approachable way.  This lecture is geared for general audiences, conference luncheons, society dinners, and high school groups.

England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales

Discovering your UK/Irish Roots Online: Websites and Resources for English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish Ancestry

There is no such thing as "one stop genealogy shopping"! This program will lead you through the resources and search techniques for the three big UK and Irish databases: FindMyPast, ScotlandsPeople and RootsIreland. Learn what's new on these databases, how you can apply them to your research and how privacy and information rights impact your quest for records.

Piecing Together your UK and Irish Ancestry: Discovering Records on

Learn the ins and outs of FindMyPast – one of the largest online website for UK and Irish records.  This introduction to search and strategy techniques will help you locate, evaluate, and make sense of what’s available for your research.

Crime, Prison, and Punishment: Researching UK Criminal  Records

Whether by choice or circumstance, some of your ancestors may have found themselves on the wrong side of the law.  The vast array of criminal and prison records available online and at the National Archives in Kew can offer researchers a great deal of information for their ancestors in a pre-census world.

Researching your Irish Ancestors Online - Searching and Browsing for Success

Learn online tools and resources to unpuzzle your Irish heritage.  This lecture will introduce you to a variety of online sites, new search strategies, and what steps to take to further your research objectives online and abroad.


Maleficarum and Misfortune- Records and Resources for Tracing Accused Witches

For over two centuries, individuals accused of witchcraft did not live by the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” – if you made it to trial, the law heavily presumed guilt. Legal documentation generated from these trials survive for modern-day genealogists. In this lecture, we'll review witch trial records and resources for ancestors from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland from 1500-1717.

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Discovering Witches: The Real Records and Manuscripts Seen in Movies, Books, and TV Shows

Witches are iconic figures in popular culture. They appear in some of your favorite silver screen and streaming media shows alongside archaic books and strange texts. In this program, we'll uncover the real records and printed resources seen in your favorite shows, what the writers used as inspiration, and how to access historical resources for free from home. Whether you're a hardcore fan or an armchair historian, bring your curiosity and your questions to this program!

Cemetery and Historical Burial

What’s the Buzz About BillionGraves?

BillionGraves is contending to be the top cemetery search site on the web.  Toting a hot new app and an easy interface, BillionGraves is making cemetery transcription projects and research information more accessible to tech-friendly users. Get a look at this site as a researcher, transcriber, and in-the-field data gatherer.

BillionGraves: Beyond the Basics

Move beyond the basic point and click concept of BillionGraves to a whole new level of usership.  Learn how to add cemeteries, contribute content, and what you can use with the BillionGraves Plus account.

Stories in Stone: Decoding the Sentiment Behind Cemetery Symbolism

Have you ever wandered through a cemetery and wondered about the meanings of the designs carved on old gravestones? The symbols found on headstones usually possess special meanings to those interred in their final resting place.  But what do they mean?  Take a virtual tour of several cemeteries and find out!

Victorian Mourning Customs - Lifting the Veil off Morbid Genealogical Treasures

Glimpse into the customs and rituals of death in Victorian Britain and North America.  Genealogists can thank the Victorians for the 'cult of mourning' which generated a fantastic assortment of keepsakes, mementos, and paperwork.  Discover how these materials and the cultural attitudes toward grief can be researched with the help of modern tools and new resources.

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Lockport, Illinois

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