Recent Blog Posts

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The Value of Open Public Records
Records and Repositories
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MGC's NERGC Panel on Open Records: Citizens Can Make a Difference
General Legislation
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How many deaths before the SSDI gets updated again?
Legislation Federal
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8:45 - 9:15


The Brick Walls in Our Minds - Dr. Rebecca Hanson-Richardson, EdM, MA, PhD

Genealogists use traditional methods of research to uncover complicated truths from many sources. Often, they face vexing barriers in these searches: missing or erroneous information, destroyed records, fading memories, secretive descendants, even legislated prohibitions. But what of the "brick walls" in our own ways of thinking, as we try to solve such complex problems? This presentation will bring to light common cognitive errors that can hinder successful genealogical research. We will examine three typical thought patterns that block progress, using examples from actual cases. Awareness of these cognitive "bricks" lays a foundation for rebuilding research practices: corrective actions that genealogists can take to open up new patterns of thinking in their work.

9:30 - 10:20


MGC Panel Discussion on Legislative Issues - Mary Ellen Grogan, Barbara Mathews, CG, Melinde Lutz Byrne, CG, FASG, Sharon SergeantPolly FitzGerald Kimmitt, CG

An in-depth examination at how SSDI legislation at the federal level and bills presently in front of the MA Legislature restrict access to public records and directly impacts YOU. MGC worked on your behalf in 2011 to thwart restrictions. That work continues this year as U.S. House Bill 3475 seeks to close all genealogical access to the SSDI. On Beacon Hill, we represented you in testifying about House bills H603 and H609. Come hear about the legislative process and how you can make your point of view heard.


Preserving Your Ethnic Records Before It's Too Late - Phil Hermann

The technology that our parents and grandparents used to record their family history has been replaced by computer technology. The equipment they used to record sound, film and photographs can mostly be found in museums. Before these vital family records greatly deteriorate we have to reproduce and store them on equipment using 21st century technology.


1st Generation Irish - Margaret Sullivan

The American children of Irish immigrants were more literate and longer lived than their parents, thus creating more records. Explore the wide variety of documents – whether in your attic or on the internet - that can shed light on the immigrant generation. Methods can apply to any ethnic group. 


Scottish Research Strategies - Claire V. Brisson-Banks, MLIS, AG

Working through family legends and researching Scottish ancestry can be difficult as often ancestors aren't located in the records where they should be. Marriages take place in the open and are not recorded in any one place, children may not be baptized, and often seems impossible. Strategy is the answer.


Finding African-Americans in Land and Probate Records - Marian Pierre-Louis

African Americans are challenging to research yet if you look deep enough you can often find a paper trail. The Registry of Deeds and Probate Court hold a wealth of information on African Americans for both those that owned property and those that didn't. This talk will surprise you by demonstrating what you can find. This talks will cover deeds, depositions, probate, manumissions and other unusual documents that will help researchers locate information on their African American ancestors. The focus is on African Americans in New England.



They Became Americans: Finding Ethnic Origins - Loretto Dennis ("Lou") Szucs, FUGA

Critical clues may be found in a naturalization record, a photograph, in an archive or even in someone's attic. This presentation focuses on some fascinating sources for finding more precise information on your ancestors' origins.


Diseases, Disasters & Distress: Bad for Your Ancestors, Good for your Genealogical Research - Lisa Alzo

This session will discuss five ways to learn how diseases, disasters, and distress may have impacted your family's history. Wouldn't it be nice if all the branches on our family trees were filled with bright shiny leaves that reflected only good kin and happy times? The truth is, most of our pasts are dotted with blemishes, and bad things did happen, often to good people. History is blanketed with disheartening tales of devastation and loss. Certainly, it may be difficult for us today to comprehend the everyday adversity that befell our ancestors, or the lasting hardships they endured as a result. This session will discuss how diseases, disasters, and distress may have impacted your family's history.


A Virtual Way to Tipperary: Irish Online Resources - Marie Daly

Once the pursuit of only the most determined researchers, the field of Irish genealogy has recently become much easier and rewarding, thanks to the availability of many Irish online resources. Marie Daly will review and demonstrate the most useful of these Irish websites.


Quest for Your English Ancestors - Claire V. Brisson-Banks, B.S. AG

Researching and locating ancestors from England can be both challenging and rewarding at the same time. Learning which records are available to conduct research is the key to success combined with knowing which time periods those records are available along with lesser used records. This class will review census returns, civil registration, parish registers for the Church of England and non-conformist churches, marriage indexes, licenses, bonds & allegations, military records, probate records, poor law records, emigration records and the large array of internet resources now available online at both paid subscription and free websites.


Native American Research in Massachusetts
Case Study: Massachuset Punkapoag Indians - David Allen Lambert



Mysteries, Myths and Miracles - Loretto Dennis ("Lou") Szucs, FUGA

Lou recalls some special moments while performing genealogical research.



Demystifying Eastern European Research - Lisa Alzo

Anyone who has attempted to trace their ancestors back to Eastern Europe understands the special challenges and frustrations involved. Border changes, language differences, political considerations, and exotic-sounding surnames often complicate the research process. This session covers the most common myths/misconceptions and how to work around them.


Locate the Origins of Your Immigrant Ancestors on Fold3 - Laura Prescott

In its partnership with the National Archives, digitizes and places online millions of images relating to people who participated in our nation's military history. Naturalization records, Holocaust archives, and homestead records are also available. Locating your ancestors, or their friends and neighbors, may give you insights into their immigrant origins. Every document tells a story. Join us as we locate the stories and see where they take us when determining the ethnicity and perhaps the birthplace of immigrants to the United States.


How to Find Your Jewish Great-Grandparents… even though you know it's impossible - Meredith Hoffman

Genealogical research for beginners and those who want to go further. Learn basic strategies and hints for researching your Jewish and eastern European ancestors. A look at both online and local resources to help you in your search. A survey with many examples of the US records you need to find your 19th/early 20th century immigrant ancestors, the repositories and web sites where you can access them, some specialized Jewish sources, and the basics of how to use that information to begin to get back to the "old country."


Clusters and Chains for Italian Genealogical Success - Shellee Morehead, PhD

This lecture describes Italian immigration patterns, the "paths" immigrants took, and how cluster genealogy and chain migration studies can help family historians find hometowns in Italy and enhance family history research. I discuss the history of Italy and the patterns of Italian immigration, as well as immigrant experiences using a case study of two "villages", one in Italy, and one in Rhode Island. The use of cluster genealogy distinguished between two men of the same name and illuminated the extended family and neighbors that followed a pattern of chain migration from the old country to "La Merica."


They Came for Gold and Stayed: Intro to Chinese-American Genealogy - Alice Kane

An historical overview, Ms. Kane's presentation follows Chinese immigration from southeastern China to the United States during the 19th and early 20th centuries, highlighting the immigrant experience, immigration laws, and resources specific to researching Chinese-American ancestors.



Hidden Treasures at - Loretto Dennis ("Lou") Szucs, FUGA

An informative look at one of the most popular online collections of genealogical-related data in the world. Lou will illustrate how to use to dig up those hidden treasures that make us say "Wow!"


Researching Your Immigrant Ancestors in Academic Archives - Laura Prescott

College and university libraries are repositories for the communities in which they are located. Their archives and special collections offer historical resources that provide a deeper appreciation of remote cultures. They offer resources and reflections of ethnic communities, in documents, manuscripts, photos, diaries, and letters.


Tracing My Swiss-German Ancestor Anna Ziersch Through NY, Boston & Dedham - Lilly Cleveland

Lilly Cleveland - I am the keeper of a solitary picture - a seated lady in a long dress. Who was she? These and other questions haunt me as I look at the little black and white photo. A long, very unusual name is etched on the back of the frame in faint pencil. A second note written in pen and taped to the back of the photo says "Grandmother of Elizabeth Ewer". Luckily, I have a name and a few dates. This is a picture of my great, great, grandmother, sitting in her chair on a lawn - somewhere. Preliminary research reveals that she was born in Switzerland, arrived in New York with her parents and then married and ran a boarding house in Dedham with the help of her teenage children.


Andiamo in Italia! - Mary Tedesco

You've studied the records your ancestors left on this side of the pond, but how do you research in Italy? Newly returned from a month in Italy, Mary will share her strategies on how to request records from Italy from home, and she will provide tips and techniques on how to make the most of a genealogical adventure in Italy.


Armenian-American Diaspora, Migration & Genealogy - Michael Maglio

This presentation will discuss the migration and genealogical history of the Armenian people in the US. We are celebrating "The Year of the Immigrant" and the United States is the home of the second largest population of Armenians outside of current day Armenia. These resilient people have built strong communities in the US and in turn have helped build a better America. Topics include: genocide and diaspora, building new communities, assimilation and cultural identity, genealogical resources.



Advanced Genealogical Methods Workshop - Karen Mauer Green, CG

Using documents relevant to an actual (solvable) case study, attendees will work through the problem in groups, punctuated by class discussions. Discussions will examine research methods and strategies, evidence analysis, recognition of dead-end tangents, and construction of a solid and convincing argument presenting the solution. This workshop is aimed at advanced-level researchers and anyone preparing a portfolio for certification, although some at the high-intermediate level would also benefit.


Griffiths Valuation Workshop: Gateway to Irish Research - Mary Ellen Grogan

Irish genealogy is difficult due to the loss of many records, commonly used by genealogists, in the 1922 destruction of the Public Record Office in Dublin. Therefore, researchers must use alternate sources like tax records to provide information on people, times and locations. This data can then be used to provide essential contacts to vital records, deeds, and census records which are more familiar to genealogists. This workshop will teach researchers what information can be found in these tax listings, where the records and indexes are found, and how to use them most effectively.