Pre-Conference Workshops

Please read the detailed descriptions about the workshops here.  Thanks! *

Finding the Name of the Village of Origin:

Joanne Sher, Instructor                                 Monday – Tuesday, August 8-9, 9:00 am – 4:30 daily

Class instruction (am), assisted research at FHL (afternoons)
Various local consultants assisting

Cyrillic for Beginners:

Thom Edlund, Instructor                             Monday – Tuesday, August 8-9, 1:30 – 4:30 pm daily

Recommended pre-requisite for Russian research; usable in a variety of other country records.

*participants may only register for one workshop due to conflicts in scheduling


Opening Session

Research in Eastern Europe Today

Dave Obee                                                                                                  Wednesday 8:30 – 9:30

DNA testing and the rapidly increasing range of Internet databases are changing the way we research family history in Eastern Europe. We still have to deal with boundary changes and unfamiliar languages, but what we can find makes it all worthwhile. Eastern European research can be highly rewarding — and now, more effective than ever before.


Tracks listed alphabetically by topic or geographic area; classes organized chronologically within the track;
refer also to the schedule at a glance.

Austro-Hungarian Empire

Origins of the Austro-Hungarian Empire

Thom Edlund                                                                                              Wednesday 9:45 – 10:45

This class will cover the how and why the Hapsburg states and principalities and Holy Roman Empire came together to form a political union called the Austrian Empire, which later divided into a dual monarchy.  An understanding of these changes provides the background for future research in the related jurisdictions and records.

Austrian Records and Resources

Heidi  Sugden                                                                                              Wednesday 11:00 – 12:00

Research in Austria with an emphasis on searchable databases and directories.  Boundary changes, jurisdictions, religion, maps and gazetteers, historical information, online records, research strategies, vocabulary, and a quick focus on Vienna.

Hungarian Geography and Gazetteers

Kellie Hale                                                                                                    Wednesday 1:30 – 2:30

Learn the pertinent history of the Kingdom of Hungary, its boundary changes, and how to locate ancestral villages.

Hungarian Records

Kellie Hale                                                                                                    Wednesday 2:45 – 3:45

Learn what kinds of records are available for Hungarian research, where the originals are now, and the different ways you can access those records.

Military Records of the Austro-Hungarian Empire

Thom Edlund                                                                                               Wednesday 4:00 – 5:00

This class will review the organization of military records in the Kriegsarchiv, Vienna, covering content of the records of the central command and regimental records of the individual units.

Finding Online Czech Records and Using GenTeam Online Gazetteer

Heidi Sugden                                                                                               Thursday 8:30 – 9:30

Finding online Czech records, using GenTeam, a website designed as a collaborative tool by and for genealogists, and accessing Czech records on FamilySearch.

Researching in Slovakia – Online Sources

Lisa Alzo (delivered remotely)                                                                 Thursday 9:45 – 10:45

With more information coming online and greater access to records, there’s never been a better time to research your Slovak ancestors. This session will review some of the best online resources available for Slovak genealogists.

Researching Slovakia – Archives and Villages

Lisa Alzo (delivered remotely)                                                                  Thursday 11:00 – 12:00

This session will provide an overview of how to do research onsite in Slovakia. Tips will include how to track down information in your ancestral town or village, churches, cemeteries, and in the archives.

Researching Romania

Kahlile Mehr                                                                                                 Thursday 1:30 – 2:30

Understand the historical context, become acquainted with the best sources for genealogical research, identify and use archival collections.

Introduction to Slovenian Research (Beginner)

Milan Pohontsch                                                                                          Thursday 2:45 – 3:45

This presentation is an introduction into the genealogical research in Slovenia. First the history of this region is analyzed. Further are pointed out the various types of sources that exists and where these records can be found today. It also give hints how to access these depositories. Topics such as name changes, military, census records, online sources, as well as maps and gazetteers are discussed.

Genetic Genealogy (DNA)

Introduction to Genetic Genealogy

Paul Woodbury                                                                                            Friday 8:30 – 9:30

Why are genealogists interested in DNA? This class will cover the basics of DNA, common uses for genealogical research, testing companies and options.

Using DNA Test Results in Family History Research

Paul Woodbury                                                                                            Friday 9:45 – 10:45

This class will cover how to use the results of your DNA test to solve genealogical problems, which types of tests will help answer specific questions, and how to apply the genealogical proof standard to genetic genealogy.

East European Genetic Genealogy Case Studies

Paul Woodbury                                                                                            Friday 11:00 – 12:00

Although Eastern Europe has not typically been a hotbed of DNA testing for ancestry purposes, just as genetic genealogy can be used in brick-walled genealogies in the United States there are many examples of successful applications of DNA testing to Eastern European research questions. During this presentation we will review specific considerations for genetic genealogy research in Eastern Europe and explore several case studies where testing has helped to overcome brick walls.


German Research

Latin for Genealogists

Heidi Sugden                                                                                              Wednesday 9:45 – 10:45

Learn to read baptismal, marriage, and burial records in Latin.  Appropriate for researchers in all countries where Latin was used.

Strategies for Solving German Research Problems (beginner to intermediate)                              

Baerbel Johnson                                                                                        Wednesday 11:00 – 12:00

The lack of an exact birth place, naming practices, record limitations, and other problems often make it difficult to document a German ancestor. This class explains various research principles and strategies that can be used to locate elusive family members in German records.

Internet Sources for Locating Your 19th Century German Emigrant (Beginner-Intermediate)

Baerbel Johnson                                                                                           Wednesday 1:30 – 2:30

Finding your German ancestor’s birthplace may be just a mouse click away! New online resources for locating immigrant origins become available every day. Learn about U.S. and German websites containing lists of emigrants and emigration history from various parts of Germany, including search tips and hints for navigating foreign-language sites.

Digital Libraries: A goldmine for German genealogists (Intermediate to Advanced)

Baerbel Johnson                                                                                           Wednesday 2:45 – 3:45

An increasing number of archives and libraries are making out-of-copyright material available online. Learn how to access digitized resources such as gazetteers, maps, historical, genealogical, and biographical publications, address books, official newspapers, and descriptive works.

German Archives: Full of hidden treasures! (Intermediate)

Baerbel Johnson                                                                                           Wednesday 4:00 – 5:00

Archives hold many records important to the genealogist. This class discusses different types of German archives, how to find the archive that may hold the records you need, the use of archive inventories, and rules for using archives successfully.

German Names

Fritz Juengling                                                                                                Thursday 8:30 – 9:30

In this presentation we will learn about the background of naming practices, the origins of surnames, how to identify some geographic elements that localize surnames and foreign influence on German surnames. We will also look at a German names distribution website.

Practical and Social Decisions for Emigration to America:  Beyond the Obvious Reasons

Fritz Juengling                                                                                               Thursday 9:45 – 10:45

Millions of Germans emigrated to other lands and their reasons for doing so are varied.  Some reasons are obvious; others less so.  In this presentation we will use a case study to illustrate and learn about a less well known sociological reason for emigration.

German Research Strategies for Eastern Provinces

Careen Valentine                                                                                           Thursday 11:00 – 12:00

There are many areas in the eastern provinces of the German Empire where church records have not survived the area’s long history of political and social upheaval.  This class will teach you how to be certain all surviving church and civil records have been identified.  Participants will also learn how to find supplementary records that may contain genealogical information in the absence of church and civil registration records.

German Online Sources

Milan Pohontsch                                                                                            Thursday 1:30 – 2:30

The presentation focuses on a wide variety of German and English online sources available for German research. It provides sources for name search, place search, and subject search. This class provides only a big overview of sources available and does not focus on specific time frames or geographical areas of Germany.

Where are they really? Strategies and hints for finding your long-lost German Ancestors        

Baerbel Johnson    (Intermediate)                                                             Thursday 2:45 – 3:45 pm

German ancestors can get “lost” in a variety of ways. Perhaps the town of origin is still unknown, or it can’t be positively identified. This class discusses some general principles and the creative use of basic resources and tools that can be of great help in finding lost ancestors.

German Maps and Gazetteers (Beginner to intermediate)

Milan Pohontsch                                                                                             Thursday 4:00 – 5:00

The presentation focuses on the important German and Austrian gazetteers and how to use them. It also introduces other resources or finding tools to locality search, in print and online. Using maps for area searches, including the best sources for maps, concludes the presentation.

German Census Records, 1816-1916

Jilline Maynes                                                                                                  Friday 8:30 – 9:30

Ready for something new in German research? Then – German census records are exactly what you are looking for. Until recently, little has been known or reported about censuses taken in Germany. Come and discover this excellent, untapped genealogical source. This class will discuss why, when, and where censuses were conducted as well as the content and accessibility of this record set.

German Area-Specific Sources (Beginner to intermediate)

Milan Pohontsch                                                                                              Friday 9:45 – 10:45

The presentation points out which genealogical resources exist in the various depositories for the different parts of what became the German Empire. First a few general sources will be named that contain local records. Then each mayor state or province is analyzed, including also a little bit of history to territory.

German-Jewish Research

Joanne Sher                                                                                                      Friday 11:00 – 12:00

Jews have been living in Germany since medieval times. This session will discuss their history, family names, religious practices, language and professions. The availability of various types of Jewish records will also be presented as well as German-Jewish resources in the United States.

German History and Migration (Beginner)

Milan Pohontsch                                                                                                  Friday 1:30 – 2:30

This presentation outlines in a timeline the political and economic events in Germany and the United States that led to the move from Germany into the U.S. A lot of background information is presented that explains why someone left, which conditions had to be met, and which sacrifices had to be made. The topic is intended for general education rather than improving research skills.

The History of the 30-Years-War and its Influences on the Migration pattern (Beginner to intermediate)

Milan Pohontsch                                                                                                  Friday 2:45 – 3:45

The 30-Years-War that lasted from 1618 to 1648 and killed at least 1/3 of all the inhabitants in the various German territories. This presentation analyzes the reasons that led to the war, names the major events that stated it, shows the factors that pushed for a continuation of the war, analyzes the effects the peace treaty had on the German territories, and shows the challenges that the survivors faced. Lastly, the migration pattern of foreigners into the various German territories is analyzed.

The Napoleonic Wars and its Influences on the Maps in Central Europe (Beginner to intermediate)

Milan Pohontsch                                                                                                  Friday 4:00 – 5:00

When Napoleon invaded Europe, he not only introduced civil registration, but he changed the borders of many states, estates, and provinces in his occupied areas. This presentation analyzes first the history of these wars, shows how several borders changed over this short period of time, and what the effects were on the jurisdiction after the defeat of Napoleon.


Germans of Russia

Russo-German Research, 2 part course

Thom Edlund                                                                                                      Friday 8:30 – 10:45

Germans have had a long association with the Russian Empire, the earliest dating to the beginning of the 16th century. This two part workshop studies the records and resources documenting the Black Sea and Volga German populations which immigrated to Russia from 1764 to 1819, and whose descendants now live in North and South America.

Germans from Russia: A Case Study

Dave Obee                                                                                                        Friday 11:00 – 12:00

Tracing your German family back to Russia, and possibly through Russia to places of origin in Germany or Poland, can be rewarding. Research should also include a study of descendants in North America, Germany and elsewhere. More than anything, however, it is important to understand the lives they lives, and the conditions they faced — in other words, the context behind the family history.



Jewish Records of Poland

Joanne Sher                                                                                                 Thursday 11:00 – 12:00

Resources and information to assist in locating Jewish records for Poland, Russian Poland and Galicia will be presented.

German-Jewish Research

Joanne Sher                                                                                                      Friday 11:00 – 12:00

Jews have been living in Germany since medieval times. This session will discuss their history, family names, religious practices, language and professions. The availability of various types of Jewish records will also be presented as well as German-Jewish resources in the United States.


Polish Research

Introduction to Polish Research

Joe Everett                                                                                                  Wednesday 9:45 – 10:45

This class will provide an overview of Polish research methodology and a general survey of records available.

Polish Historical Geography

Daniel Jones                                                                                             Wednesday 11:00 – 12:00

Review of Polish history through maps, and a survey of geographic resources, including maps and gazetteers.

Languages in Polish Research

Joe Everett                                                                                                    Wednesday 1:30 – 2:30

An introduction to the languages common to researching Poland: Polish, German, and Russian, with an introduction to the alphabets, genealogical vocabulary, handwriting, and language resources for each, with emphasis on Polish.

Polish Parish Registers

David Ouimette                                                                                            Wednesday 2:45 – 3:45

This class demonstrates how to abstract, analyze, and correlate evidence from the registers of a Catholic parish in Galicia to reconstitute families and uncover additional details about the community and culture.

German Research in Poland

Sonja Nishimoto                                                                                           Wednesday 4:00 – 5:00

This class will give ideas on how to do research in the former Prussian territories of Poland.  You will discover the different sites that will help you in your research such as online records and how to locate them.   It will also include helps on how to find your locality and parish and civil jurisdictions.

Polish Civil Registration

Thom Edlund                                                                                                 Thursday 8:30 – 9:30

Using the short and long Polish civil registration forms as examples, this class will introduce the structure slots and keywords necessary to navigate the records without language fluency.

Searching the Polish State Archive Website

Kahlile Mehr                                                                                                  Thursday 9:45 – 10:45

How one can find resources online to discover information without going to Poland in person or to be prepared to do research if one choses to visit. It describes the databases of the Polish State Archives: ELA, SEZAM, PRADZIAD, IZA; ZoSIA and their different purposes, content, and efficient use.

Jewish Records of Poland

Joanne Sher                                                                                                 Thursday 11:00 – 12:00

Resources and information to assist in locating Jewish records for Poland, Russian Poland and Galicia will be presented.


Research Tips & Tricks

Using Social History to Put Your Ancestor in Context

Joanne Sher                                                                                                          Friday 1:30 – 2:30

Family history is more than names, dates, and places. Family historians need to put their ancestors in historical context to better understand their lives. The social history tips and resources presented in this session will help you do that.

Finding Female Ancestors

Joanne Sher                                                                                                          Friday 2:45 – 3:45

Female ancestors can be elusive. Resources to find out who they were will be presented.



Russian Research

Reading Russian Empire Genealogy Records

Thom Edlund                                                                                                   Thursday 1:30 – 2:30

In this course, the students will learn to recognize and identify Russian script letters. They will also learn key words and phrases typically found in the church books enabling them to find key genealogical information contained in the documents. To fully participate in this course, you should come knowing the present-day Russian alphabet in block form. Please note: This class is recommended for anyone who will likely work with Cyrillic script in their country’s records, not just those working with Russian

Locating Russian Empire Places of Origin

Kahlile Mehr                                                                                                    Thursday 2:45 – 3:45

How you identify localities by their various names and jurisdictions over time through the use of gazetteers and maps. This information will serve to solve locality name change problems, deal with jurisdiction changes, identify the most useful gazetteers and maps, and help others solve locality problems.

 Finding Russian Empire Genealogy Records

Kahlile Mehr                                                                                                    Thursday 4:00 – 5:00

Understand the historical context, become acquainted with the best sources for genealogical research, the arrangement of records in an archive, options to acquire information from the sources, identify and use archival collections, and use the Internet to help do research.

Russia (continued) with Ukraine and More

Survey of Archival Collections in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Zabuzhanski Collection

Kahlile Mehr                                                                                                        Friday 1:30 – 2:30

Identifies archives of genealogical import and major collections available for research in these countries.

The 1930s: Stalin’s Arrest Files

Dave Obee                                                                                                            Friday 2:45 – 3:45

Records held by the KGB in the former Soviet Union can provide a wealth of information on families of people who were arrested. The prisoners often gave information about neighbours as well. This session includes many examples taken from KGB files, as well as tips on how to gain access to the material.

The 1940s: Forced from Their Homes

Dave Obee                                                                                                            Friday 4:00 – 5:00

The Einwandererzentralstelle series of films, from the Captured German Documents collection at the U.S. national archives, has been a tremendous source for Germans from Russia. Dave has purchased 70 of the films, covering every family in his mother’s ancestral village in Volhynia. These films reveal rich detail about life in the German colonies.


Banquet Keynote

Genealogical Spring in East European Archives, 1990-2010

Kahlile Mehr                                                                                                       Friday 6:15 pm

The opening up of genealogical research possibilities in East European Archives.