Sunday, August 8, 2010

Midwest Family History Expo - Day 2

The Midwest Family History Expo in Kansas City is already a week behind me and I must make good on my promise to post the highlights of the sessions I attended on Saturday, July 31.

Establishing Your Own Migration Trail
Michael John Neill

You may know Michael John Neill from Casefile Clues. A very entertaining presenter, Michael John Neill provided great tips on how to create your own migration trail for your ancestor. No, this was not a session about maps, as he emphasized (several times!). He offered ideas about discovering why your ancestors moved - based on many factors such as economics, politics, family, friends and occupations. He encouraged his audience to read historical books to get an idea about what was going on at the time your ancestors changed locations. He used a term that was new to me: migration chains. This refers to the process and period of time that it may have taken a family to relocate. A few members of the family may have moved to a location and over a period of years or even decades, the remainder of the family, extended family and friends followed suit.

Finding Your Irish Ancestors
Marci Despain

Before jumping the ocean to Ireland to research your Irish ancestors, it's essential to know the county of origin. She discussed the jurisdiction hierarchy and some of the differences between civil parishes and religious parishes.

Web site recommendations included:
Library Ireland
Ireland Townland database
Roots Ireland

Finding Your Female Ancestors
Lisa Alzo

Lisa's presentation on finding your female ancestors was one of the highlights of the Expo for me. Her own inspiring search to find her roots is a remarkable tale.

Her five strategies are:

  1. Check all records for the husband
  2. Consider more than one marriage as well as multiple burial markers
  3. Naming practices and variations
  4. Spelling variations and transcription errors
  5. Create a timeline in historical context
County Histories and Your Families
Janice Schultz
Mid-Continent Public Library

The best piece of information from this session was learning that about 90 per cent of U.S. counties have published histories and most of these are available online. Google Books, here I come!

I again want to take this opportunity to thank Family History Expos for the privilege of being a Blogger of Honor for the Midwest Family History Expo. I'm hoping our paths will cross again soon.


  1. Thanks for the tip on the county histories, I didn't attend that session!

  2. Jenna - Between Google books and Heritage Quest, I'm having pretty good luck finding the county histories of the areas I'm looking for.

    I'm about ready to break down and buy Adobe Professional so I can do OCR on all of these pdf files once I download them to my computer. Need to see if I can get a discount on that through my workplace.

  3. Susan, Thanks for your piece regarding Est. your own Migration Trail by Michael John Neill. You threw in some good hints, and I appreciate that. I'm enjoying your posts.

  4. Thank you for this wonderful recap. We're so pleased you enjoyed the Midwest Family History Expo and are sharing your experience with others.