google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Armchair Genealogist

Who Do You Think You Are? Sunday Night

On this Sunday’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? at 10/9c on TLC, actress Jennifer Grey uncovers the truth about the emigrant grandfather she thought she knew, learning how he survived adversity to become a beacon of his community. Jennifer also uncovers the devastating tragedy that stopped her great-grandmother from ever making it to America.

Catch a Sneak Peak

Irish Genealogy: A book, a webinar, blog posts and free records!

With today being St. Patrick’s Day, there is always a flurry of Irish research approaching the day. So, this year, I thought I would round up some of those articles so you can tap into to a little help for those difficult Irish ancestors. If you're quick, there's also some links to a few websites with free access to Irish records. 

Irish Genealogy Help: DIY and Pro on Genealogy Gems by Lisa Louise Cooke

Why are Irish Records so Weird? By John Grenham at John Grenham – Irish Roots. And here's a link to his webinar of the same name with  Legacy Family Tree Webinars
Don't forget John's book. It's on my bookshelf. 

(affiliate link)

IGRS 80th Anniversary Archives - Last year was the 80th anniversary of the Irish Genealogical Research Society, and they launched a story writing project. They collected stories of readers about their favourite Irish born ancestors.  This is a round-up of those stories, tales of Irish men and women across the last 300 years. Some great insight into the lives of the Irish. 

Terri O’Connell (a good Irish lass) has an 8 Day Irish Research Series she posted last year but still quite relevant.  8 Days of Irish Research – Start here.

FindmyPast is a great a terrific resource for Irish Records. Check out A Complete Beginner’s Guide to FindMyPast Records  and 10 Things You Need to Know When Starting Irish Genealogy Research

Don’t forget our own Irish Research Page for Beginners. 

Saving a Little Green 

And if you’re not sure if you’re Irish, or just how Irish you might be, Ancestry is also offering 20% their DNA kit.

In celebration of St. Patrick’s the following websites are offering free research. Watch the ending dates, they vary. Maybe honour the day by dedicating to a day of Irish Research. 
American Ancestors, the website of the New England Historic Genealogical Service (NEHGS), is celebrating offering free access to its Irish resources from March 15-22. Included are unique databases (notably Boston Catholic parish records) and a guide to Irish genealogy. is offering free access to its Irish collection, until 11:59 pm on Sunday, March 19. 

Findmypast is making their entire collection of Irish records free until Friday, March 17 (6:59 pm CDT).  

Do you have an Irish brick wall? My Irish brick walls are Phelan and Stapleton. What are yours? 

The One Missing Tool in Your Genealogy Toolbox

...can you guess? 

I'll give you a few clues.

  • It has the ability to connect relatives with their family history.
  • It can help families enjoy and engage with their family history.
  • It will aid genealogists in leave a lasting legacy. 
  • It has the ability to format a genealogy into a sustainable shareable format for generations to come. 

Have you figure it out?


Did you guess writing? 

Writing, learning the skill of writing, particularly the skill of crafting family history stories holds incredible power. And yet,  I can bet, it is not the most used tool in your genealogy toolbox. I'll bet, it's not even a tool in your genealogy toolbox. 

Regardless of whether you are a beginner researcher or a veteran, learning to write stories holds incredible power as we mentioned above. And yet, it remains an afterthought for so many. It continues to be one of those things we will get to someday. Despite its ability to change how we can share our family history, and how your family interacts with their family history.

Family historians keep writing at arm's length for many reasons. They don't have the skills, they fear writing or they find it overwhelming. They may not understand story structure and how to create entertaining family history stories. And then there is the excuse, "my research isn't done." 

Well, let's think back to when you started your genealogy journey. Did you know how to do competent research? Did you understand GPS, or citations, or how to apply a methodology to your research work? 

No of course not. You sought this knowledge out, you took classes, went to conferences, attended webinars, read books, and you learned. 

There is no magical talent.

Writing is no different. You can learn to write your family history stories. There is no magical talent. It takes three things, learning skills, adding time for it in your calendar and practice. 

Now, let's take on the last objection:  I'm not done my research. 

So I ask you, when will that be? 

That's what I thought.

Research and Write at the Same Time

It is perfectly acceptable to be researching one ancestor while writing about another. We don't have to wait until we have all the research done. It's acceptable to be writing about one event in an ancestor's life while researching the rest of their life. It's perfectly acceptable to be learning the craft of writing while we research. When the day comes that we are ready to create that legacy book, learning to write will have been checked off the list. The learning curve and time to complete your book will be substantially lessened. 

Also, writing while we research helps us to see what we need in our research, where the gaps lie, what social history we require to tell the story we want to tell. 

So, are you convinced yet that writing is a necessary tool in our genealogy toolbox? And that the time to add it is now, not later, but now.  

If writing is missing from your genealogy toolbox, then consider our upcoming course. 

Learn to turn facts into page-turning scenes.
Learn to add writing to your genealogy toolbox.

Begins Tuesday, March 21, 2017 

Celebrity Line-Up for Who Do You Think You Are?

New season premieres Sunday, March 5 at 10/9c

TLC’s Emmy Award-winning series, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? returns this spring with a new group of celebrities ready to delve into their lineage and get answers to the questions they’ve wondered about their entire lives. Eight new one-hour episodes bring more unexpected turns and surprising discoveries of great historical significance. Executive Produced by Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky, the new season premieres on Sunday, March 5th at 10/9c.

This season’s celebrity contributors include:

· Jessica Biel makes surprising discoveries that change what she thought knew about her heritage.

· Julie Bowen uncovers the story of two relatives whose moral codes are from opposite ends of the spectrum.

· Courteney Cox traces her maternal line back seven centuries to the Medieval times to discover royalty in her lineage and an unbelievable tale of family drama.

· Jennifer Grey uncovers new information about the grandfather she thought she knew, learning how he survived adversity to become a beacon of his community.

· Smokey Robinson searches for answers behind the mystery of why his grandfather disappeared from his children's lives and finds a man tangled in a swirl of controversy.

· John Stamos digs into the mystery of how his grandfather became an orphan, and learns of tensions between families that led to a horrible crime.

· Liv Tyler learns that her family is tied into the complicated racial narrative of America.

· Noah Wyle unravels the mystery of his maternal line, uncovering an ancestor who survived one of America’s bloodiest battles.

Free Genealogy Lessons from Rootstech

Mark your calendar, set your alarms, and grab a seat because for the next 4 days there is a wonderful opportunity to take in a genealogy conference from the comfort of your couch. While it won't give you the complete and thrilling experience of going to a Rootstech conference live it is a wonderful opportunity to take in some of the great speakers and expand your research and genealogy knowledge. 

Pour yourself a beverage, pull up a chair and enjoy 19 streaming sessions over the next 4 days courtesy of Rootstech. For those of you not familiar with Rootstech live streaming sessions, it's easy.  At the time of the session, head on over to and the streaming will begin a the given time for each upcoming session.

Note: The stream refreshes at the beginning of each session. If is does not, refresh the page manually by clicking the refresh button on your browser. streaming sessions are at Mountain Standard Time so set your own time clock so you don't miss a thing. Click the links below to see descriptions of each session.

Check out the calendar of live streaming sessions below. Enjoy!


9:00 a.m.10:00 a.m. | Innovator Summit General Session
Speakers: Steve Rockwood, Liz Wiseman
10:15 a.m.–11:15 a.m. | Industry Trends and Outlook
Speakers: Craig Bott and Guest Panel
11:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m. | Innovation—Best Practices and Applications
Speaker: Cydni Tetro


8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m. | RootsTech General Session
Speakers: Steve Rockwood, Jonathan and Drew Scott
11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. | Getting Started in Genealogy
Speaker: Kelli Bergheimer
12:15 p.m.1:15 p.m. | DNA: The Glue That Holds Families Together
Speaker: Diahan Southard
1:30 p.m.–2:30 p.m. | DNA Matching on MyHeritage
Speaker: Dana Drutman
3:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. | Jewish Genealogy: Where to Look and What’s Available
Speaker: Lara Diamond
4:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m. | Family History Is Anything but Boring
Speakers: Crystal Farish and Rhonna Farrer


8:30 a.m.–10:00 a.m. | RootsTech General Session
Speakers: Levar Burton, Special Guest Panel
10:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m. | RootsTech Innovator Showdown Finals
12:15 p.m.1:15 p.m. | Mothers, Daughters, Wives: tracing Female Lines
Speaker: Judy Russell
1:30 p.m.–2:30 p.m. | Censational Census Strategies
Speaker: Mary Kircher Roddy
3:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. | Big 4: Comparing Ancestry, findmypast, FamilySearch, and MyHeritage
Speaker: Sunny Morton
4:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m. | Cross the Atlantic with Religious Records
Speaker: Jen Baldwin


8:30 a.m.–10:00 a.m. | RootsTech General Session
Speakers: Cece Moore, Buddy Valastro
11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. | Journaling Principles That Work
Speaker: Steve Reed
1:30 p.m.–2:30 p.m. | Don’t Just Be a Searcher, Be a Researcher
Speaker: Crista Cowan
3:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. | Creating Google Alerts for Your Genealogy
Speaker: Katherine R. Wilson