Local History and Genealogy · Public Presentations · State Specific Research · Websites

Finding Free Genealogy Presentations Online – Motivation Monday

Attention snowbound genealogists!  If you’re wondering how you’re going to spend time trapped in your home by snow and icy weather, I recommend catching up on all those genealogy presentations you missed.  Maybe you were traveling, or under the weather.  Maybe you looked at the RootsTech announcement and said, “Naw, I’ll look at it later.”  When you look outside your window at a polar vortex, ‘Later’ can be interpreted as ‘Now’.  If you were hit by the big blizzard this weekend and have run out of household chores or snow to shovel, genealogy videos are a reward for all your hard work.

To keep this as fiscally conscious as possible, I’ve compiled a list of cool, interesting, and sometimes bizarre genealogy presentations you can watch for free online.  Keep this list of when you’re stuck at home in the clutches of a snowstorm and going outside is no longer an option.

The National Archives (US) Virtual Genealogy Fair

If you Missed this year’s Virtual Genealogy Fair hosted by the National Archives in 2014, you can find all three days available as well as a Schedule and Handouts.

Virtual Genealogy Fair 2014, Day 1
Introduction to Genealogy
Preserving Your Family Records
When Saying ‘I Do’ Meant Giving Up Your U.S. Citizenship
Overview of American Indian Records and Resources on Archives.gov

Virtual Genealogy Fair 2014, Day 2
Great Granny Eunice came from Ireland, Grandpa Fred was in the War, Can to Access Archival Databases (AAD) Help Me?
The Genealogical Significance of the World War I Draft Registration Cards
What’s New at Ancestry from the National Archives
Finding the Correct Ancestor: Civil War Soldiers and Homesteads, National Archives Records Online at FamilySearch
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Exclusion and Deportation files at the National Archives
Wagons West: Land Records at the National Archives

Virtual Genealogy Fair 2014, Day 3
FBI and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): 20th Century Family Research
Discovering Your Family’s Past in Military and Early Veterans Administration Personal Data Records and Selective Service Records
Individual Deceased Military Personnel Files (IDPFs)
Vets and Feds in the Family Tree, Military and Civilian Personnel Records
Friend or Foe? Documenting Alien Ancestors during Times of War
Patently Amazing: Finding Your Family in Patent Records

Meanwhile, RootsTech has several of their interviews and sessions available on YouTube.  Here are some interesting sessions which are well worth watching:

Ancestry.com LIVE @ RootsTech 2012: Effective Database Search Tactics with Kory Meyerink

Interview with Timo Kracke – German genealogist and Podcaster #RootsTech 2014

I enjoy the RootsTech seminars for several reasons – the first if which is feeling part of the conference, even if my only chance to watch the videos after work or at the gym.  Secondly, the speakers are very knowledgeable, and I enjoy listening to the search strategies and methods for getting the maximum result with every use.  If you don’t want to wait to watch RootsTech, you can register for their next conference, which will be held February 12-14, 2015 in Salt Lake City.

Internet Archive – Looking for Treasures in a Cluttered Attic

Internet Archive houses genealogy and history videos, but finding them can be a bit tricky. To help you find some of the gems on this site, you can conduct a general subject search in ‘Videos’.  You may want to keep your search very broad.  For example, if you are looking for genealogy subjects, I suggest inputting multiple searches using related terms such as ‘Irish’ or ‘Ireland’.
Here are a few videos to get you started on the site:
NCompass Live: Genealogy Resources For Librarians (September 25, 2013)
Rutland (Vermont) Historical Society Lecture Series
Masonic History in Massachusetts


There are a TON of genealogy webinars on YouTube.  Ancestry.com, Finding Your Roots, Who Do You Think You  Are, and several other genealogical heavy hitters have full episodes, lectures, and programs you can watch for free.  Sign up for a free YouTube account, and you can save your genealogy lectures onto a playlist.  The playlist allows you to save items you want to watch later, and to keep track of what you have watched and what’s left to review.
Here are a few videos to get you started on the site:
Genealogical Proof Standard: An Introduction
Henry Louis Gates: Genealogy and African American History
Genealogist Lloyd Bockstruck @ The Allen Public Library
Cherokee Days 2014: Cherokee Genealogy with Roy Hamilton
Searching Genealogical Records in Colonial America on the Internet, February 10, 2013
Building The Bridge Back To Ireland – LIVE Instructional Video for Irish Genealogy


DearMYRTLE, the popular genealogy blog has a growing collection of Google Hangout Chats available on YouTube.  Google Hangout is video conference system which can seem like you’re watching someone’s important meeting.  However, if you don’t mind being a bit of a voyer and enjoy a more informal discussion session of genealogical topics, the DearMYRTLE collection is a great resource for you.  The DearMYRTLE collection houses a very impressive series on Mastering Genealogical Proofs which I have found very helpful.

DearMyrtle also has a Wacky Wednesday series which features an array of topics from Ancestry Record Hints, Family Search Indexing, Feedly (Finding and Reading Genealogy Blogs), Microsoft Excel for Genealogists, and using a Foreign Langauge WikiPedia.

Honorable Mentions
Sometimes, you just need a break.  If you’re ever tired of watching genealogy-related videos, here are a few of my favorite historical and pop-culture documentaries which I would recommend to anyone with an interest in history.  I always advocate watching a fabulous British series called Turn Back Time: The Family, which I wrote about in an earlier blog.

Here are a few videos I hope you will love:
Supersizers Go – A comedic duo comprising of a food critic and broadcaster eat their way through thirteen periods of history.  If you want to know how people ate, drank, and generally passed their time in Restoration England or the French Revolution, you will love this show!

Medieval Lives Birth, Marriage, Death – a BBC series in which historian and author Helen Castor explores how the people of the Middle Ages handled the most fundamental moments of transition in life – birth, marriage and death.

In Search of Beowulf – Historian Michael Wood searches the Anglo-Saxon world to reveal the origins of our literary heritage. Focusing on Beowulf and drawing on other Anglo-Saxon classics, he traces the birth of English poetry back to the Dark Ages.

Roanoke: The Lost Colony – Josh Bernstein investigates America’s oldest missing person’s case– the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. In 1587, over 100 settlers landed in the New World to build England’s first permanent colony in North America. But, three years later, they had vanished. Josh explores the circumstances of the colony, and conducts a new DNA study that reveals groundbreaking evidence about the fate of the lost settlers.

Deaths Door The Truth Behind the Italian Hall Disaster – Author Steve Lehto discusses a Northern Michigan tragedy in which 73 men, women, and children, mostly striking mine workers and their families, were crushed to death in a stampede when someone falsely shouted “fire” at a crowded Christmas party on December 24, 1913.  Lehto was featured in the PBS documentary Red Metal, which debuted last year.  A great video for anyone interested in copper mining, Michigan history, and the evolution of the modern labor movement.

Want to get out and socialize with genealogists?  You will want to attend the DuPage County Genealogical Society Conference on Mary 14, 2015 and the McHenry County Genealogical Society 2015 Summer Conference on July 11, 2015.  Also, mark your calendar for the Fountaindale Public Library’s 2015 Genealogy Day on May 2.  Registration open on Friday, February 13, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

In Genealogy Club news, Tina Beaird from the Plainfield Public Library will present Newspaper Necessities on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 7 pm in Meeting Room A of the Fountaindale Public Library.  The program is free and open to the public.

Stay warm and I’ll see you at the Library!


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