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

JK Rowling featured on Who Do You Think You Are?

JK Rowling goes on a journey in France to trace her mother’s roots. She discovers that a family war story might not be what she thought when military records reveal a surprising truth. Tracing the trail even further back, Jo learns of her 2x great-grandmother, who had plenty of struggles both as a poor, single mother and a witness to German invasion during wartime, which forced her family to choose sides in a time of turmoil.
Who Do You Think You Are? airs this Sunday, August 2 at 9/8c on TLC.

A Reason to Stay Inside this Summer

Summer is here and that means warm weather, flowers, swimming, picnics all great reasons to get outdoors and enjoy. But come Sunday nights, consider coming back inside for another season of Who Do You Think You Are?

Just when you think there is nothing on television worth watching, leave it to TLC to swoop in and bring us a summer season of Who Do You Think You Are? to make our summer complete. 

This season celebrities include Tom Bergeron, Bryan Cranston, Ginnifer Goodwin, Alfre Woodard and the icing on the cake, the U.S Premiere of J.K. Rowling’s episode of the popular series.

First up this Sunday is actress Ginnifer Goodwin. Ginnifer acts in the ABC drama, Once Upon a Time and her family history is full of secrets and mystery.  Ginnifer knows nothing about her paternal grandfather’s family because he refused to talk about his parents. She goes on a journey to uncover the truth behind her great-grandparents’ story, and is shocked to discover turbulent lives filled with court cases, drugs and incarcerations.

Executive Produced by Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky, the new season of Who Do You Think You Are? premieres Sunday, July 26 at 9/8c.

So get out there and enjoy the nice weather, but I'll see you back inside on Sunday nights for the summer season of Who Do You Think You Are? 

Irish Catholic Church Records - NOW ONLINE AND FREE!!!!

I'm as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. Today is the day the National Library of Ireland opens its doors to over 390,000 digital images of microfilm reels of Catholic parish registers. The parish register records date from the 1740s to the 1880s and they cover 1,090 parishes throughout Ireland and consist primarily of baptismal and marriage records.

These parish records are considered the single most important source of information on Irish family history prior to the 1901 Census. If you have an Irish ancestor, like mine, who left Ireland early, and was born in this time frame than this day just might change everything for you. 

The National Library of Ireland has worked with the Catholic Church to maintain these records since the 1950s, when they initially made microfilm copies. However, they have only been available in Dublin. Today the world gets access to these records. 

NLI’s Ciara Kerrigan, who is managing the digitisation of the parish registers, said:

“We announced initial details of this project last December, and received a hugely enthusiastic response from people worldwide with an interest in Irish family history.  We are delighted to announce that the project has been progressing well, and we will be able to publish all the digitised records online from 8th July onwards.   

Parish records will hold information such as dates of baptisms and marriage, and the names of the key people involved, including godparents or witnesses. Keep in mind these images will be searchable by parish location only, not surname so it's important you know the parish your ancestors cames from. If you don't know consider my article Determing Where Your Irish Ancestors Lived on my Irish Genealogy for Beginners Page

Also keep in mind, these images will not be transcribed or indexed so again be prepared to do some searching.  While the timeframe is 1740s to 1880s, very few of the registers pre-date 1800 and be prepared for gaps and missing pages. Also expect to find faded and poor handwriting but that's nothing new for a seasoned family historian.

“The images will be in black and white, and will be of the microfilms of the original registers,” explained Ms. Kerrigan.  “There will not be transcripts or indexes for the images.  However, the nationwide network of local family history centres holds indexes and transcripts of parish registers for their local areas.  So those who access our new online resource will be able to cross-reference the information they uncover, and identify wider links and connections to their ancestral community by also liaising with the relevant local family history centre.”

This digitization program has been three years in the making and is likely to break down many a brick wall for genealogists seeking their Irish ancestors.

To start looking for your Irish ancestors visit, I’ll see you over there.

The Family History Blog Writing Workshop

Back in 2012, I wrote a series of blog posts to help family historians use the platform of blogging to manage and write their family history book, The Blog to Book Project, you can catch up on all family history blogging posts here.

Three years later, blogging still remains a very powerful tool for family historians in the endeavour to write and print family history stories. Blogging not only provides a vehicle to share stories for today’s generation, but also curate them into a family history book that you can leave in a printed format as a legacy for your descendants.

In the Family History Writing Studio and through our newsletter Storylines, I shared a post this week, 20 Reasons You Should BlogYour Family History Book. Yes, there are many great reasons blogging can be your secret weapon in achieving your goals of writing your family history book.

Now, I’ve created an online course so that you can have an intimate, hands-on workshop with me to get your blog started and use it to write your family history.

This course is perfect for someone new to blogging, for anyone struggling to write their family history book, and those who are overwhelmed with the concept of blogging or writing their family history stories.

What you’ll learn

 In this 5 week course,  we help you:

  • Identify the focus of your blog and book, understand the various pages you should have on your blog and identify your target audience. 
  • Outline the content for your blog so that we can create an editorial calendar to keep you on track with your project. 
  • Learn the various elements of a great blog post and write your first post. 
  • Learn the value of promoting your blog on social media, developing an email list and using your blog to grow a community of supporters. 
  •  Learn the variety of options available to curate your blog posts into a book.

Each week you’ll receive a small assignment to help you practice what you’ve learned. There will be a private forum where we will share our assignments and give feedback and each student will also receive personal feedback from me, Lynn, your coach.

You do not need to be present at a specific time for the classes. Instructions, reading material, worksheets and assignments  are dripped to your inbox each week. You can check into the forum at your leisure.  Assignments however, will have a deadline.

There are limited number of spots, we want to keep the classes small so you can get personalized feedback and walk away with content that you can begin posting on your blog.

Family History Blog Writing begins September 8th,  at The Family History Writing Studio.

Spaces are limited, don’t delay, register today! 

Choosing A Genealogy Travel Guide

We’ve come full circle. Once upon a time we had no choice but to hit the roads to uncover our family history. Then the Internet came along and we seemed content to search for our ancestors from behind our laptops.

Now, we have been re-inspired with shows like Who Do You Think You Are? to move away from our desks and once again look to travel to walk in our ancestor’s footsteps. It’s become very apparent you just can’t replace that experience with viewing a document online.

Because of our interest in combining genealogy with travel, there are a growing number of agencies who are now willing to help travellers plan that perfect heritage or genealogical vacation.

A genealogy adventure can be expensive. For many it might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. All the more reason to do it right and invest a little time in deciding how you plan to tour your ancestral homeland.

First, let’s understand the difference between genealogical vacations and  heritage vacations. Many people who seek a heritage vacation want to visit the country or hometown of their ancestors,  get a sense of the history, enjoy the culture and food. However, a genealogical trip goes a little deeper.
While all the fair and flavour are still important, this traveller also wants to include visits to archives, churches, and cemeteries, maybe locating a house and property and perhaps even finding distant relatives. They are looking for the full Who Do You Think You Are? experience. Travel companies and guides can help you achieve this experience. Identify which type family history vacation you are looking for and seek out the travel agency that can help you plan your trip.

Genealogical or heritage vacations are not cheap, that’s why we did an entire post on money-saving tips and creating a vacation budget. While you are perfectly entitled to plan your own trip and be your own tour guide, it can be difficult if you've never visited the area before and it may not be the best use of your time. Enlisting the help of a travel or tour agency is a crucial investment in your genealogy dream vacation.  

There are essentially three options available to you when it comes to choosing a travel agency or guide.
  •       Hire a travel company that offers heritage or genealogical vacations.
  •     Hire a genealogy travel company, they specialize only in genealogy tours.
  •     Hire a genealogist very familar with your destination, or local to the area, one who offers      travel and tour services and who can plan a very specific experience for you.

With the first two options, you may wish to be part of a larger group reducing your costs, however, your trip will be more general in nature. A larger group doesn't want to visit your families homestead. If you book a private tour geared specifically to your needs, you'll get more flexibility but keep in mind the smaller the group, the more precise the tour, the higher the price tag.

The third option is to hire a local genealogist or a genealogist familar with your ancestral homeland. You can create a very unique and personal trip by taking this route. Consider hiring a driver, along with a genealogist, together you get the all conveniences and stress-free travelling of a larger tour but a more personal and customized vacation.  

How do you find a genealogist tour guide?

The Association of Professional Genealogists lists a number of genealogists who offer travel and tour services. For instance, Christine Woodcock offers genealogy tours of Scotland, Mary Tedesco offers tours of Italy, and Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak  author of Hey, America, Your Roots are Showing and Who Do You Think You Are? fame offers travel and tour services as well.

If you prefer to go with a travel agency, then there are a number companies who can help you plan your genealogy or heritage vacation.  We've listed a few below to help you get your genealogy travel plans underway.

Roots to Routes - is an internationally-known firm with offices in Ukraine and Poland. They specialize in Jewish research in the archives of Eastern Europe. They will visit ancestral towns on your behalf or can arrange a customized visit for you and your family. At present, they specialize in trips to the UK, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Other countries are available on request.

Rootsbound Travel - helps make that dream come true by providing ancestral travel services that are personal, unique and focused. Using the information that you provide about your ancestor they will create a personalized unique trip of 7 to 10 days with an emphasis on the cultural and historical points of interest to be visited. They will also book your travel and lodging and provide maps and historical background for the area being visited. 

Family Tree Tours  -provides group heritage tours, private genealogy tours, or independent heritage trips. They specialize in German tours but can provide trips to European destinations.

Ancestral Attic – offers escorted custom private Poland genealogy tours along with private escorted Eastern European holiday and heritage tours.

Clans and Castles – is a specialist tour operator, arranging self-drive tours for clients. Specialties are Scottish castles holidays, vacations focusing on clan lands.  They will arrange a tour guide for your trip if you prefer not to drive yourself.

Norwegian Adventures - offers a very special service of genealogy research and heritage travel in Norway. For those who are not only interested in exploring the beauty of Norway, but also are of Scandinavian ancestry, they offer to find your roots and take you there.

Time Travel Tours – leads in-depth, focused tours of Ireland for the purpose of research, family history and genealogy.  

My Irish Connections- can arrange to transport and accompany an individual, a family or a small group on a genealogical tour.  They can prepare an individual itinerary which can be specially tailored to allow visits to appropriate record offices to undertake research and visit places of family interest, such as homes, churches, schools, and graveyards.

Ancestors in Europe- will help you get up-close and personal with your European heritage by visiting the towns and villages of your family's ancestry. Using your genealogy research, they will create and organize an unforgettable privately guided itinerary for you and your loved ones. In addition to visiting places particular to your family tree, they will consult with you to incorporate a variety of other destinations, activities and points of interest. 

Take some time up front to identify just what you are looking for in a genealogy dream vacation and then find a travel agency or genealogist that will best match your needs and budget. 

Have you taken a genealogy dream vacation? What advice do you have for our readers?