I can give all-day seminars on a variety of topics. Most of these presentations can run from an hour to an our and fifteen minutes–depending upon your group’s event. Presentations are informational, laid-back, practical, and entertaining. The focus is on giving you ideas and suggestions to help your research, not seeing how many footnotes or citations can be crammed into one presentation. Contact me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com with questions or requests for additional information. Additional topics available upon request.

Is Your Process the Problem?

  • Is your research approach the problem? This lecture discusses research approaches that may be hindering your chances of success, how to get around those incorrect ways of thinking, and additional approaches that may improve your chance of success.

Before Your DNA Results Come Back

  • There is more to do while waiting for your DNA results to come back than repeatedly checking your email. This presentation discusses what to do while waiting, the importance of tracking as many relatives as you can, creating a “working” tree separate from your “good” tree, and more.

Making Your Case

  • Writing up your genealogical conclusions is good for your research–whether you want to share with others or just refine your own thought process and analysis.

Facebook Genealogy Techniques

  • Facebook is more that status updates and cat pictures. Learn ways to harness Facebook to expand your genealogical research, connect with fellow researchers and relatives, increase your genealogical research skills, and share with relatives. Pros and cons of using Facebook will be discussed.

What it Does Not Say

  • Many times a record only scratches the surface of what was going on when that record was created. This lecture looks at why a record was created and how state statute, common practice, economic situations, family issues, and other factors may be the “real story” behind any document. Also discusses how to determine (when possible) what those “unwritten” issues were.

Researching the Entire Family and Beyond

  • Focusing only on the direct line can cause significant information to be overlooked and larger patterns, records, and information to go unnoticed. This lecture discusses, via examples, the importance of researching the siblings, extended family, and associates of the ancestor of interest.

Research on a Tight Budget

  • This lecture discusses some no-cost and low-cost ways to expand your genealogical research. Mention is also made of those times when “free” or “low-cost” is not possible.

Organizing Online Research

  • When a five minute search does not locate an individual in a database, it is time to organize your online research process so that process can be evaluated and modified if information is not located. Through several examples we will see ways to structure effective searches, search processes, and search analysis.

Ostfriesian Research

  • This lecture focuses on unique research opportunities and challenges in this area of northern Germany near the Dutch border. Michael is one-half Ostfriesian by ancestry.

Newspaper Research

  • This lecture discusses how to access papers, effective search strategies for manual versus digital searching, what types of papers to search, and what to look for in newspapers besides obituaries.

Tried and Tested Tidbits

  • This lecture contains a wide variety of “quick tips” geared towards genealogists at all levels. A little bit of this and a little bit of that.

An Introduction to the Courthouse

  • This lecture provides an overview to the records typically found in a county courthouse: land, probate, court, and vital records.

Land Records (Public Land States)

  • This lecture discusses the basics of how land is described in public land states and effective search strategies for records in these localities, including a discussion of basic terminology. Intended for the researcher with little or no experience in land records.

Land Records (Public Land States): Intermediate

  • This lecture discusses search strategies via example for land records in public land states. Not geared towards beginning researchers and with the idea that attendees are already familiar with basic land terminology and deed terms.

Organization of Information: Seeing the Patterns

  • This lecture discusses various ways to organize information with the hope that previously unnoticed trends become apparent. Begins with a brief discussion of family group charts and pedigree charts and continues into chronologies and other less-often used charts and organizational methods.

Locating Emigrant Origins

  • This lecture discusses sources and methods for possibly locating from where an immigrant ancestor originated.

Naturalization: An Unnatural Process

  • This lecture discusses naturalization from the colonial era until World War II with an emphasis on how history has impacted the amount of records that were created.

Documentation Roadblocks on the Information Superhighway

  • The internet contains a great deal of information—some of it accurate and some of it not. This lecture discusses how to assess the validity of online information and concerns about citing online sources.

Court Records (beginning or intermediate)

  • This lecture discusses county court records, search procedures and analysis. It can be presented at a beginning or an intermediate level. The intermediate level lecture focuses on several case studies and assumes attendees are familiar with basic terminology and how court records are organized and accessed.

Probate Records (beginning or intermediate)

  • The same as Court Records (see above) only for probate records.

The Search for the Parents of Francis Trautvetter (using Illinois resources)

  • This lecture provides an good overview of Illinois records and sources all done within the context of a case study of an Illinois native born in 1851.

Why are There Errors in Records?

  • Errors create a variety of problems for the genealogist. This lecture looks at the causes of errors and discrepancies in records and includes commentary on handling these issues in a genealogical database.

Finding Barbara’s Beaus and Gesche’s Girls

  • Two case studies focusing on women in the mid-1880s through the early 1900s.

Notetaking, Abstracting, and Extracting

  • This lecture discusses procedures for notetaking, abstracting, and extracting along with a discussion of what type of source is being used.

Where Could It Be Written?

  • Finding that fact, date or name frequently boils down to asking “where could that fact be written?” In this lecture, we discuss an approach for determining where a record containing the information we need could be located.

Organizing Your Online Research

  • Researching online databases is more than type and click. This lecture discusses effective organization strategies for using online databases so that unnecessary searches are not conducted and that all reasonable name variants are included.

Problem Solving Applied to Genealogy

  • George Polya designed a 4-step process for solving problems, particularly mathematics “story problems.” This approach is applied to genealogy, both theoretically and through several examples.

I Found it: Now What?

  • Part of finding something is completely analyzing it. This lecture looks at a dozen or so documents found in actual research and sees what additional sources and methods are suggested by each individual document.

Land Platting in Metes and Bounds

  • This lecture discusses the basics of platting property in metes and bounds, software that is available for this specific purpose and why the average genealogist would even want to bother platting a piece of property.

Using the Bureau of Land Management Tract Books

  • This lecture discusses how the Bureau of Land Management tract books are organized, what information they contain, how to search them and accessing the actual records of federal land acquisition referenced in these books.

Federal Land Records

  • This lecture discusses the ways in which federal land was obtained, an overview of the federal land acquisition process, when the records are most likely to be informative, and how federal land records are accessed.

Where did the Farm Go?

  • Your ancestor owned a farm? How it was transferred from his ownership may provide more genealogical clues than you suspect.