Class Descriptions

5 Ways To Do Family History in 5 Minutes or Less

– Jennifer Kerns Davis

Want to do family history, but don’t feel like you have enough time? As full-time career woman and a mother to three busy teenagers, Jennifer knows how hard it is to carve out time to do genealogy but has figured out how to successfully do family history in bite-size increments. In this class, you will learn 5 ways to do family history in 5 minutes or less! Receive easy, specific and doable, ideas for 5-minute sessions, and download the two FamilySearch mobile apps (Memories and Tree) before the class to follow along.

Adoption Records Search for Missouri Adoptees and Descendants

– Heather Dodd

This presentation is to educate those who are wanting to locate official adoption records for themselves or their direct ancestors. Adoption records laws have changed drastically and continually since 2011. Presentation will cover the following:

1 Who may or may not access vital records and adoption records?

2) Which records you have a right to and under what circumstances?

3) How to determine where the original records may be.

4) Working with a search angel or intermediary.

African-American Research: Separating Fact From Fiction

– Victoria J. Robinson

African American genealogical research is often characterized as fraught with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  Through case examples, the session will explore the most common myths surrounding African-American research and offer tips, techniques, and resources that debunk these myths.  Participants will gain an understanding of how to overcome some of the obstacles propping up their brick wall.

African American Research Strategies

– Sherri Camp

Participants will learn some of the unique ways to find discover African American ancestors.

Before Rosie: The Women of the Great War

– Dannell (Danni) Altman-Newell

When the men were called to war, what was a girl to do? Roll up her sleeves and show the world the power of women! The advent of war in Europe opened a doorway for women to step through and experience war as they had never experienced it before. They began entering into new areas of service on the home front, and overseas, because of the high demand for fighting forces in Europe. This presentation will explore areas of service women participated in during the war and the records that may provide information a genealogist might find helpful.

Brick Walls: A Course of Crashes

– Heidi Taylor

Have you hit a proverbial Brick Wall in your genealogy research? Join us on a course of discussion to crash through those walls and keep your family tree on its path. Please bring your specific Brick Wall and be prepared to discuss and fill out a questionnaire related to your own personal journeys. This class is for advanced genealogist that are ready to explore and inspire others with advanced searching techniques.  Please bring a writing utensil and your Brick Wall, questionnaire will be provided.

Building a Life Story Beyond the Census: Edmund Marquis Ford

– Patti Todd Gillespie

Starting with the census records of Edmund M. Ford, further documents demonstrate insight into his life.  By the end of the presentation a paragraph thumb nail life sketch is built using an historical outline. This hands-on class closes with a tearjerker resolution and lots of twists and turns for the interested researcher who likes a good story built on research with many documents.

Census Sense: Clues & Conundrums for Beginners

– Patti Todd Gillespie

Using the federal censuses in researching our ancestors is full of mysteries and puzzles, and there is often more to know about the census than we think. This presentation introduces the census as a source and demonstrates how to use them more effectively in our research. The presentation will also ask and answer beginning research questions using the census as a basis for further research.

Discovering Your Ancestors in African American Newspapers

– Sherri Camp

Participants will learn about African American newspapers, where they are available, what kinds of information can be found in them, and research strategies.

DNA - A New Tool for Genealogy

– Barbara Scanlon & Joyce Hodges

This presentation is an introduction to DNA. Exploring the three different DNA tests. Explaining autosomal, Y-DNA and mtDNA and what companies have which tests. Then we will explain how to use  A free site where you can compare your DNA to people from other sites (, FamilyTreeDNA, & 23&Me ) An example of how DNA helped Barbara find a 2nd Great-Uncle who ran away in 1877.  He had been missing for 140 years.

DNA for Adopted Adults and Others with No Starting Point

– Heather Dodd

This presentation is to help those who are wanting to trace their genetic roots, using DNA, but do not know the surnames of their most immediate ancestors. We will discuss:

1. Which DNA tests may benefit you and how they benefit people differently.

2. How to use the information from distant cousins to identify your roots.

3. How to determine the most likely relationship between you and a new-found DNA match.

4. Cross referencing between multiple DNA sites.

5. Etiquette for contacting new found relatives.

DNA for Genealogy - An Introduction

– Lauri Jean Swett

This beginning DNA presentation will address the following questions:  Why test DNA for genealogy?  What types of DNA tests are available and which should I take?  Which company should I test with and why?  What can and should I do with the results?  How is the sample collected?  Which family members should also test?  And, does DNA replace traditional genealogical research?

Extra! Extra! Read All About It! :Newspapers the Key to Solving Family Mysteries

– Mary Celeste

When the speaker turned to digitized historical newspapers to learn “the rest of the story” behind a family tragedy, she discovered that old newspapers can be fun and give us an opportunity to time-travel to an earlier age.  Mary Celeste will take you along as she explores various features in her hometown paper that brought leaves on her family tree to life and will show you how to take a similar journey.  A detailed handout accompanies this presentation.

FamilySearch - Find the Hidden Images and Information

– Char Mitts

FamilySearch is one of the best websites to research your family history. This free resource is a must if you are research your ancestors. Many people type in their ancestor’s name and hope the website will reveal all that the website has on them. FamilySearch has many different areas that one can find additional records, family histories, locations information, pictures, stories and other resources that may give insights on those in your family tree. They will see ways to reveal the unindexed records, digitalize books, using the wikis to name a few.

Footprints on the Plains: Researching Your Kansas Ancestor

– Dannell (Danni) Altman-Newell

Situated “smack dab” in the middle of the Midwest, Kansas has a rich history. The journey from lonesome prairie land to bustling metropolitan area has been filled with excitement, discord, and discovery. Its central location ensured that Kansas became a central transportation hub, both for those transporting items East and those who were heading West, some of whom became permanent residents instead of continuing to their intended destinations. A history full of heated politics, frontier living, war, and exploration provides a variety of records. In this session we’ll discuss some of these records, and the repositories where they’re located.

Genealogy with Aunt Jenni: Family History Connecting for the Whole Family

– Jennifer Kerns Davis

Children, youth and adults thrive when they have a sense of belonging and understand their place in this world. When people of all ages know their family narrative, they have a legacy to respect. Ancestors can teach their living descendants hard work, charity, perseverance, love, and other noble qualities. This class will provide ideas on how to involve multiple generations in family activities or one-on-one time; including ideas on field trips, family history games, food, and how to relate ancestors’ lives to those of your children and grandchildren. This class will also provide additional resources for to look for more ideas. Christian emphasis.

Gifts and Games with Genealogy

-Char Mitts

This class will give  ideas on how to share your family history with others in the traditional and non conventional ways. Everything from scrapbooks to cards game, t-shirt to treasure hunts. There is something for everyone from the genealogist and those you are encouraging to learn more about their ancestors.

How to Date Old Photos

– Midwest Genealogy Center (MGC)

Most genealogists have a box full of unidentified photographs, usually passed down from generation to generation. Dating your photographs can possibly help you identify who the people are and where they were. We will give you tips on using items in the photograph, as well as the photograph itself, to determine the time period in which it was taken. Bring in one or two photographs for our team to help you date.

How to Know What to Ask, When You Don't Know Enough to Ask

– Victoria J. Robinson

Genealogists are taught to put a person [name] in a place [location] and a time [date].  Simple on the surface but often difficult to accomplish if you don’t know how to proceed.  Asking the right questions can help you to know what to ask when you don’t even know enough to ask. Participants will gain an understanding of how to formulate an approach to breaking down a brick wall.

Introduction to Missouri County Records

– Daniel Reeder

From marriage and deed records to court records, naturalizations and coroners’ inquests, Missouri court records can provide genealogists with a wealth of information.  This session will explore the various county records that exist in Missouri, how to determine what records are available at the Missouri State Archives, and how to research them in person, online or through a research request.

Introduction to the Missouri State Archives

– Christina Miller

As the official repository for state government records, the Missouri State Archives holds an abundance of genealogical resources.  This session will provide you with an overview of the records available for research at the archives, as well as provide information on how to do distance research at the archives by using online databases or submitting research requests.

I’ve Got—Or I’m Getting—My DNA Report: Now What Do I Do?

– Patti Todd Gillespie

Presented from a non-geneticist point of view, this presentation explains in a fun and visual way how to choose a company and a test, what to do while waiting for the report, and how to maximize the report results. Whether deciding who to contact, how to use the research within the DNA report, or just how to link our trees to our DNA results, this session will be helpful. The potential use of raw data is introduced with visual step-by-step to uploading to other sites known as 3rd party tools.

Millionaire or Not: Developing a Proof Argument

– Lauri Jean Swett

Was John Rickard Clements a millionaire?  No one record proves whether he was or was not.  We will pull together the varying pieces of evidence including passenger lists, land records, and his will, to develop a defendable proof argument on either side of the question.  The 5 steps of the genealogical proof standard (GPS) will be introduced, discussed and applied to the amount of his wealth.

Military Pension Records: Vital Records in Disguise!

– Patti Todd Gillespie

Military pension records are an amazing source of information. This presentation puts “flesh on the bones” of several individuals whose military records are reviewed; it also goes through the steps of retrieving various records from various repositories and demonstrates how to link a family through these documents.

Multiple Ancestors with the Same Name - Which One is Mine?

– Char Mits and Pam Miller

Families often named their offspring after other family members, or another person in the town. Learn strategies to help you sort the names in records to find which one is your ancestor. The first part will be the discussion of records to search, basic strategies and tips as you sort through records with names that are similar to your ancestor’s. The second part will be a case study of a couple both with unique names. But there is another couple with the exact same names. The audience will see how the two families are sorted and the records are used to determine which children go with each couple.

No More Microfilm - No Problem

-Lauri Jean Swett

FamilySearch shocked the genealogical community with the announcement that it was discontinuing distribution of microfilm.  Why would they make this policy change?  How do I access the images that use to be on microfilm?  What do all of the new icons mean?  How can I use the catalog to locate digital images?  Find out the answers to these questions and how to locate your ancestor’s documents online.

Overcoming Obstacles in the Swedish Church Books

– Kathy Meade

The Swedish church books are a wonderful source for researching your Swedish ancestor. You can find your ancestor’s birth, marriage, death and household records. But sometimes, the minister used abbreviations in the records. Sometimes he wrote the vital information in a different book than the actual parish book. What do the abbreviations mean? Where is that birth record? In this presentation, we will highlight many of the stumbling blocks researchers have experienced over the years researching in the Swedish church books and present solutions. Some of the topics will include: abbreviations in the household books, church organization (mother parish versus annex parish), reviewing various church book formats and format of older church books.

Paying It Forward: Opportunities to Rescue, Transcribe, Abstract, Index, and Share Records

– Mary Celeste

Those  “of a certain age” remember the olden days of genealogical research with copious correspondence and arduous road trips.   Today’s researchers can easily surpass the success of their predecessors in a short time in front of a computer on their dining room table in their ‘jammies and fuzzy slippers’.  But not one of us could enjoy that success without the efforts of countless dedicated historians who recognized the value of saving, transcribing, abstracting, indexing, compiling, and posting these records upon which we are so dependent.  The personal challenge that faces us is, what have we done to contribute to this wealth of information for future researchers?  This program will be an overview of the process and an introduction to the many opportunities available to us to actively participate in this time-honored act of giving as well as receiving.

Rescuing Them From Obscurity

– Charlotte (Myers) Ker

The definition of obscurity is “the state of being unknown, inconspicuous, or unimportant.”  This class will explore several techniques & tools to keep our ancestors alive; rescuing them from that fate.  Some examples of the tools we’ll, Living Tags (, and tips for preserving and sharing the stories and heirlooms of our family history.

Tell Me A Story: Oral History Recordings

– Midwest Genealogy Center (MGC)

Oral history recordings are a fantastic resource for family historians, capturing stories from family members about living relatives as well as those departed.  This session will explain the “Tell Me A Story” program at the Midwest Genealogy Center which offers an in-house recording studio and pre-packaged recording kits which may be checked out to record family stories, veteran memories, or group histories.  The workshop will also highlight the how and why of recording oral histories.

Tracing Immigrant Origins

– Midwest Genealogy Center (MGC)

The hometowns your immigrant ancestors came from in the old country often appear in the records found in their new country. Learn the steps to tracing your immigrant’s origin through records.

The Art of the Tombstone: Cemetery Art and Symbols

– Dannell (Danni) Altman-Newell

Cemeteries are among the most popular field trips for genealogists. Tombstones may contain information that can add to or help corroborate names and dates on a family tree. But tombstones can yield more gold than simple facts; they can also contain symbols or other artwork. Known as Iconography, the symbols or artwork on a tombstone were typically carefully chosen by the family of the deceased as a representation of their dearly departed. Understanding the meaning of symbols found on a tombstone may provide clues about your ancestor’s life, beliefs, or activities and can help you add to their story.

The Family History Guide - The Essential Tool for your Research

– Karen A Rawlins

The Family History Guide is a tool to help family historians at any level get started – and get farther – with their family history.  This free resource masterfully integrates thousands of resources and lessons into a step-by-step learning plan for genealogists of all levels.  The Family History Guide encourages learning and research in an organized and knowledgeable way, giving family researchers an idea of what they don’t yet know and a practical course to follow to learn not only how to research family history, but where to find the information they need.

The Records Are Always Right, Right?

– Mary Celeste

One of the first lessons we are taught in a basic genealogy class is to use vital and original records to support the facts.  One of the first lessons we learn on our own is that records are often missing, inaccurate, or conflicting and it becomes difficult to determine what to trust.  Our speaker will share some of the bad record she has encountered in her own family research, will dissect them to see what truth can be learned, and will offer suggestions for additional sources, which, when compared, combined, and viewed with a little common sense and intuition, can be massaged to yield the real story behind the facts.

Using Fold 3

– Midwest Genealogy Center (MGC)

Learn how to use Fold3 to access U.S. military records, including the stories, photos, and personal documents of the men and women who have served. This class focuses on search tips as well as the types of records available.

Using Name Searchable Registers in ArkivDigital

-Kathy Meade

Learn about the name searchable registers in ArkivDigital. ArkivDigital provides online access to the Swedish historical records and is available at Family History Centers. Learn how to use the new name searchable registers for the household/congregation records between 1860-1930, population registers for 1950 and 1960 and the Swedes in the 1940 United States census, name searchable indexes for births, marriages, and death records, probate records and other record types. The presentation will focus primarily on showing how to search in these registers but will also highlight a few other name registers that are available in the service.

Using Heritage Quest

– Midwest Genealogy Center (MGC)

Learn how to search thousands of resources–from history books to Revolutionary War records–with HeritageQuest Online.

World War I Records at the Missouri State Archives

– Christina Miller

This session will explore the many type of World War I records available at the Missouri State Archives, going beyond the service cards available in the online Soldiers Database, 1812-WWI, to include bonus claims, enlistment contracts, Biography and Service records, and more.

When You Can’t Take It With You: Disaster Preparedness for Family Historians

– Mary Celeste

The speaker watched with empathy as the television news carried a report of people being evacuated from their flooded homes during last summer’s devastating hurricanes.  She noticed they weren’t carrying anything other than little children and small pets.  There were no briefcases, laptop totes, or plastic tubs of precious papers in the  small boat – not even a woman’s purse.  Her next thought was a selfish one – what if she had to leave her home in a circumstance that meant abandoning years of research and irreplaceable family heirlooms?  Join us as our speaker proposes a plan to preserve her work and challenges you to do the same.

Writing Your Family's Once Upon a Time Stories

– Elisa Ganz

Elisa Ganz shares why stories are incredibly important to the lives of our families and introduces creative and inspiring ideas to help turn the hearts of your children to their fathers. She teaches how to easily create your very own personal and family stories. She will introduce tools like Historylines (a Family Search partner) that assists individuals to easily compose and compile stories along with other available tools and resources to help you accomplish your goal of creating and publishing creative personal ancestral life sketches and stories. Elisa will also be introducing some easy, creative, and fun ideas to make the often  overwhelming task more exciting and fun; leaving you and your family feeling happy forever after.