Showing posts with label NERGC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NERGC. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Meet NERGC Speaker Jennifer Zinck, Expert on DNA Results



Jennifer Zinck
DNA is one of the most talked-about topics in genealogy these days—and expert Jennifer Zinck is diving into the details of DNA results during two NERGC workshops. As a researcher, writer, and speaker who specializes in the intersection of traditional and genetic genealogy, Jennifer frequently makes presentations on topics including beginner and intermediate genealogy, genetic genealogy, using DNA for unknown parentage, and technology for genealogy. She serves as the President of the Connecticut Professional Genealogists Council, is a member of the Genetic Genealogy Standards Committee, and participates in professional organizations including ISOGG and the Association of Professional Genealogists.

At NERGC, Jennifer will be conducting two hands-on workshops about DNA results and a presentation about online research. The first DNA workshop is on Wednesday, April 26, from 6 - 8 pm, and the second (already sold out) takes place on Thursday, April 27, from 9 – 11 am. Titled “After the Test: Exploring AncestryDNA Results,” the workshop is designed to help participants make sense of their results, use third-party tools to turn DNA into a powerful tool for genealogy, and plan to contact DNA matches. 

Jennifer is also presenting “Tools and Techniques for Finding Family Online” on Saturday, April 29, from 3:15 – 4:15 pm. This will be a hands-on program in the technology classroom, guiding participants through people-finder websites, databases, searches, and social media for locating individuals. Jennifer will be at the DNA Special Interest Group meeting on Thursday evening, starting at 7:15 pm, if you want to chat further!And don't forget--the deadline for early-bird registration savings is February 28th.

1. What tools and discoveries keep your genealogical journey exciting, day after day?

I am always excited to meet new cousins. There is something about connecting with others who share some of the same roots that fascinates me. I think the most exciting documents are typically found hiding in manuscript collections. These records add interest and excitement to the stories of our ancestors and can often break down brick walls.  

2. What have you learned about researching family history that you wish you had known when you first began doing genealogy?

Cite your sources and write as you go! I have learned these two lessons the hard way, with many thanks to Elissa Powell and Barbara Mathews. By writing as I go along, I often surprise myself about the details I have been able to glean from a particular document. Take the time to really evaluate each piece of information included in each source and you will be amazed at the problems you can solve.

3. If you had an hour of time travel to visit with anyone on your family tree (past, present, or even future), who would you pick, and why?

I think about this difficult question often. Most of the time I would visit with my maternal grandmother but sometimes I choose her mother's mother's mother, Lois Chalker Walston. Lois was probably born in 1804 in Guilford, Connecticut and I don't know much about her life before she married her husband in 1831. After 15 years of searching, last year I was finally able to identify her mother thanks to a manuscript in Dr. Alvan Talcott's collection of papers at the New Haven Museum. I would like to know more about her life as a child and if she had any relationships with her Chalker or Benton grandparents.

4. Who is your most surprising, inspiring, pitiable, or endearing ancestor?

Each and every ancestor is equally inspiring to me. Without any one of them, I would not be here.

5. What are the top things you want attendees to remember from your NERGC workshop about DNA results?

Have patience and be open-minded and flexible. Genetic genealogy is a new and rapidly-evolving field. What you think you know today may not be the case tomorrow! DNA results are not the easiest to learn to work with but keep at it and the pieces will all eventually fall into place.

6. What is your game plan for getting the most out of the NERGC conference?

I have looked through the lectures in the schedule and there is an amazing line-up. I prioritized the sessions that I would like to attend and planned my volunteer time accordingly. I am the chairperson of the Ancestor Roadshow in addition to presenting a lecture and two workshop sessions so I will have plenty to keep me occupied throughout the conference. Thursday night, I have invited Blaine Bettinger and Diahan Southard to co-host the DNA Special Interest Group with me, so that is sure to be a blast. I will be hosting a DNA table topic at the NEAPG Luncheon on Friday. I always make sure that I allocate mealtimes and some evenings to visit with friends, both old and new. That's one of the best parts of NERGC!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Meet NERGC Speaker Janeen Bjork, Expert on Newspaper Research


Extra! Extra! Janeen Bjork has combined her 30 years of experience as a television researcher and presenter with her love of family history. Her methodology for locating hard-to-find newspaper items was developed as she uncovered 130 widely-varying accounts of the 1894 murder-suicide that left one of her great-great-grandfathers dead in Syracuse, New York. Her popular "Newspapers for Genealogy" classes, workshops, and presentations in CT, NY and MA, have helped many others research their families over the years.

Janeen will share her tips and tricks at NERGC on Saturday, April 29th, from 3:15 – 4:15 pm, during her presentation “Using Newspapers to Track Your Family, Character by Character.” She’ll discuss the technology that allows newspapers to be scanned and indexed, offer her Top 10 Tips for searching digitized newspapers, and share her favorite online newspaper resources. Look for her upcoming classes and presentations at JaneensList.com/Events, https://twitter.com/JaneensList, and
https://www.facebook.com/janeen.bjork.3. You can get to know her notorious great-great-grandfather on the social media accounts she manages in his name (https://twitter.com/WilliamStrutz and https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009395213740).

1.      What first attracted you to genealogy, and what keeps it fresh and fascinating every day?

My sister-in-law sat me down in front of her computer on Thanksgiving Day, 2011 and said, “This is Ancestry.com. You’re doing this for your niece and nephew.” She added that she had been working on her family tree for over four years, and her two children, who share my surname, wanted to know where the Bjorks were. I had a professional background in research (you could say research is in my DNA) and in a matter of days, I found second cousins who had been doing genealogy for two or three decades, and who were looking for me. I’d like to say we’ve been doing “Genealogy on steroids” ever since. And there were many octogenarians and nonagenarians in both my ancestral lines who were happy to let me pick their brains, scan their photos and documents, and swab their cheeks for DNA.

As for fresh and fascinating every day, I am energized by opportunities to pass on what I have learned. It’s gratifying to be told that someone who heard me speak about my online newspaper methodology broke through a brick wall. And it’s a kick when new family items come my way. In late 2016 my sister and my father were both cleaning out old boxes and came up with photos of my maternal grandmother’s parents, WWII ration books and a postcard written during the war. Taking my own advice during the holidays, I looked for family members in newspapers beyond the areas where they lived and  found a photo of my mother's brother Al Quadrini and two other Navy SeaBees on the front page (above the fold!) of the Oxnard Press Courier in 1954 when they dug ditches for a California Boys Club. Stories about my brother Bob Bjork appeared in several distant New York newspapers when his 1978 high school basketball team went to the state championship finals.

2.      Who is your most exotic, challenging, exciting, admirable, despicable, or enigmatic ancestor?
 

That’s easy: My great-great-grandfather William Strutz. He was arrested in June 1893 on a charge of assault in the third degree on his wife. He was the first murder victim in Syracuse in almost a year when his former best friend, Henry Vogler, who believed William had been seeing Henry’s wife, shot William and then killed himself in July 1894. Both the Associated Press and United Press picked up the story, and to date I’ve found 130 accounts of the tragedy. Two German language papers had the story as well, one in Syracuse, where a major German celebration was happening and where there was time for local gossip to embellish the story before the weekly published, and one in Baltimore where an editor changed their names to Wilhelm and Heinrich.

There is a relative who is a close second to William that I could call exciting. It was my father’s Aunt Dorothea, a thrice-married flapper. Her picture appeared in the paper multiple times, for her achievements as a captain and pitcher for a "Girls" softball team sponsored by the Syracuse Journal in the 1930s, as well as for a suicide attempt at 17 and a near drowning in a swim meet at 18. She died at age 86 in San Diego, California.

3.      What are your favorite tools for researching family history?


I am a big booster of newspapers for genealogy. My first eight-week Intermediate Genealogy class spent six weeks looking at online newspaper sites. Obituaries are the most obvious places to start when researching ancestors. But there are often stories leading up to or following the death that are full of details. Obituaries and death certificates will tell you that someone died in a vehicular accident, but a newspaper story may tell you who they were with, where they were going, and what they were doing at the time.

My second favorite tool is DNA testing. I’ve gotten 10 family members to agree to test (only one is a generation behind me, most are my parents’ generation) and to appear in various databases. While we have yet to break through a brick wall, we have found some distant cousins we wouldn’t have met any other way.

4.      What’s the number one thing you want attendees to remember from your NERGC presentation about using newspapers to research family history?


The importance of keyword searches. Names can be misspelled, or altered by a hyphen or by optical character recognition. Fuzzy search and Boolean queries have helped me unearth many hidden items. So go ahead and try different spellings and strategies.

5.      What is your game plan for getting the most out of NERGC?
 

While I always create a game plan for Genealogy conferences, and intend to take advantage of the many sessions and workshops, I also like to improvise. Conferences are fabulous networking opportunities. I made a connection with James M. Beidler at the 2016 New York State Family History Conference. Jim specializes in newspaper research (as well as German and Pennsylvania research) and he has asked me to contribute the William Strutz story to his upcoming book, The Family Tree Historical Newspapers Guide.

6.      What is your greatest genealogical regret?


My maternal grandmother and I spent three weeks in the ancestral hometown in 1983 and I was introduced to about 55 close Italian relatives. Since then I have been the family ambassador, accompanying other American family members and writing the letters and emails to my many Italian cousins.

In 2014, in preparation for a family reunion, I decided it was time to visit the records office in Arpino, Italy. It was my personal "Under The Tuscan Sun," as I heard "no" (it's the same word in Italian) more times that morning than I had in any morning in my life. With the help of a cousin and someone from My Italian Family (run by Bianca Ottone from New Hope, PA), I spent the afternoon in the two churches of the town and found my family first appeared in the records in the 1500s, with a slightly different name. A church custodian told me there was a man in town who had researched my family and other Arpino families. I left without asking for that man's contact information. Big mistake. I learned last year that he had died and his nephews hadn't valued the work. He had used the church records to track all the early families, recording his trees on the backs of calendar pages. Another genealogy lesson learned the hard way.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Save the Dates for NERGC, April 26-29

Save the dates for the New England Regional Genealogical Conference, April 26-29, in Springfield, Massachusetts. 

The theme is "Using the Tools of Today & Tomorrow to Understand the Past." As always, the program is packed with informative sessions and workshops.

I can't wait to see the featured speakers in person, especially Thomas MacEntee, Kenyatta Berry, and Warren Bittner.

My session, "Planning a Future for Your Family's Past," is part of the new "Genealogy Heirlooms in the Attic" track on the afternoon of Thursday, April 27th.

I'm delighted to have been chosen as an official blogger, which means I'll be posting about the conference before, during, and after. 

Early-bird pricing for registration is available now. Just click here to sign up! See you in April.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Speaking at the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium - April 2017

The program for the next NERGC conference has just been released...and I'm excited to be speaking on Thursday, April 27th, from 3-4 pm.

My presentation, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, is part of the "Genealogy Heirlooms in the Attic" track.

Featured speakers at the conference include Thomas MacEntee, Warren Bittner, and Kenyatta Berry.

Click here to see the conference program in .pdf format. And I'm looking forward to seeing you in April!