Skip to main content

Conference registration is open! Register Now.

Class Summaries by Track

Opening Plenary Session: 

Power Search with Google: How do you get the best search results with Google?  

What are the tricks to find exactly what you are looking for? The class will introduce some of the tools that will enable you to construct search queries best suited for the task. 

(Presenter: Sharolyn Swenson)

Plenary Presentation and Closing Night Banquet: 

AI-Assisted Genealogy: The Family History of the Future 

You may have heard everything about Artificial Intelligence, but Daniel Horowitz will give you a glimpse of what is coming and how it will benefit your research. 

(Presenter: Daniel Horowitz)


Polish track classes: 

Poland Birth, Marriage, and Death Records   (Instructor: Joe Everett)

Learn about religious and civil records of birth, marriage, and death in Poland; in Polish, Latin, and Russian. Discover tips for finding these records online and analyzing them.

The FamilySearch Research Wiki as a Guide for Polish Genealogy   (Instructor: Joe Everett)

A detailed walk through the various tools on the FamilySearch Research Wiki that can help you with Polish genealogy.

How Historic Polish Boundary Changes Affect Genealogical Records   (Instructor: James Tanner)

Poland’s borders have changed many times due to wars, partitions, and political shifts. These changes have affected the availability, location, and type of genealogical records for Polish ancestors. Depending on the time period and the region, records may have been kept by Prussia, Austria, or Russia, or by Poland itself. This presentation will help you to be aware of the historical geography of Poland and the jurisdictions that controlled the area where your ancestors lived. Also learn about maps, gazetteers, and histories to find the current and former names of places and the records that may exist. 

Polish Diaspora Throughout Central Europe   (Instructor: Tadeus Piłat)

The lecture presents major facts about the Poles who settled in Europe. The Polish diaspora refers to Poles who live outside Poland. It is also known as Polonia, which is the name for Poland in the Latin language. 

Databases of the Polish Genealogical Association    (Instructor: Michał Zieliński)

This class, taught by the administrator of the Geneteka databases, will show you what databases you can use to search for information about your ancestors from Poland and how to use these databases.

Greek Catholics in Poland and Family Research   (Instructor: Tadeusz Piłat)

Poland was and still is predominantly Roman Catholic. Most of the Greek Catholics lived in South-Eastern part of Poland. This lecture presents some history of Greek Catholics in Poland and also talks about the uniqueness of this group with an emphasis on genealogical research. 

Minor Nobility & Aristocrats   (Instructor: Tadeusz Piłat)

Ten percent of the population in pre-partitioned Poland belonged to the noble class. History of Szlachta and records produced for them are important genealogical sources for other social classes in Poland. Locating the records for nobility or Szlachta in Galicia and learn how to use manorial records of the local nobility to add context to your family’s history. 

Polish Military in the Liberation of Italy from the Nazis   (Instructor: Kathy Kirkpatrick)

After the Nazi and Soviet Invasions of Poland in 1939, soldiers in the Polish Army and Polish civilians were sent to camps across the USSR. Other Poles were conscripted into the German Army. Polish soldiers served in the armies of Germany, the US, and Britain. After the Nazi invasion, those freed in the USSR formed Polish units who fought alongside the Allies in the Mediterranean and to Liberate Italy. Their birth places listed at the Polish Military Cemeteries in Italy show not only births in Poland, but also those born in the US and other countries. 

The Polish Moses, General Wladyslaw Anders   (Instructor: Kathy Kirkpatrick)

Initially, transporting the new Polish units from Siberia to Persia to Palestine, he led 70,000 people. Along the way, Anders gathered Polish orphans and civilians scattered across the USSR to join the journey from USSR, totaling 120,000 leaving USSR, including 5000 Jews (a mix of civilian and military). 3000 Zionist soldiers left the Polish units to stay in Palestine, while others joined the Polish 2nd Corps to fight in the Mediterranean and Italy alongside the Allies. After the war, Polish communities formed by these refugees found homes world-wide. 


Russian Empire / USSR / Baltics track classes: 

How to Begin Your Research in Countries of the Former USSR/Russian Empire   (Instructor: Lina Kuzminskaite)

Research in the countries of the former USSR/Russian Empire can be intimidating for many beginners. This class will share tips and tricks on setting yourself up for success and will provide a list of things to consider before beginning your research in the records of this area. We will discuss the importance of initial U.S. research, determining the original names and places, record availability, overcoming language barrier, and preparing yourself for unexpected challenges along the way. 

Russian-Language Research in the Former Russian Empire/USSR   (Instructor: Patrick Monson)

With over 150 ethnic groups, every major world religion, the Russian Empire and Soviet Union was the third largest empire in world history. This presentation will cover basic history and geography, including the use of gazetteers and maps. The presentation will introduce predominant repositories and catalogs, such as FamilySearch, Yandex, state archives (including some with their own searchable databases), and other databases. The presentation will primarily focus on record types principally used for genealogical research, such as metrical books, confessant lists, revision lists, censuses, family lists, civil registration, books of remembrance, and less common record types. 

Update on FamilySearch’s Digitization Efforts in Countries of the Former Russian Empire/USSR  (Instructor: Patrick Monson) 

Just prior to and following the outbreak of war in Ukraine, FamilySearch partnered with Ukrainian archives in a desperate attempt to save their genealogical and historical records from destruction. Since then, FamilySearch has captured over 25 million images. This presentation will discuss the coverage and value of recently digitized metrical books, confessant lists, census records, filtration records, and others. The presentation will also discuss the many other types of records being digitized, such as court, military, nobility, passport, and voting records. The indexing of Russian metrical books and digitization in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Belarus will also be discussed. 

Baltic Research   (Instructor: Patrick Monson)

Teutonic Knights, imperial powers, and pagan peasants all converge in this small but geopolitically sensitive region. This presentation will introduce basic Baltic history and geography, followed by an overview of major repositories and catalogs. These include state archives, FamilySearch, and other online databases such as Saaga, Raduraksti, Ciltskoki, ePaveldas, etc. A majority of the presentation will discuss primary record types: metrical books, confessant lists, censuses, revision lists, family lists, civil registration, and less common (but no less interesting) record types. 

History of Lithuanian Border Changes and Its Impact on Research   (Instructor: Lina Kuzminskaite)

Lithuanian genealogical research can be surprisingly different and present a different set of challenges depending on the location of your family’s ancestral town. This presentation will discuss the major events of Lithuanian history that affected how the territory of present-day Lithuania changed over time. The audience will learn which parts of the country various countries and political entities ruled over the years, and how and when those regions were divided. The class will also explain the differences in research specifics for each historical region, such as available record types, their languages, repositories, and other. 

Displaced Persons from Ukraine and the former USSR/Russian Empire in the 1940s: History and Resources   (Instructor: Michael Andrec)

On VE Day in 1945, tens of millions of people were living as displaced persons. While the vast majority were able to go back home, about 1 million individuals, mainly from Eastern Europe, could not or would not return. This presentation will give an overview of the history of this period, primarily from a Ukrainian perspective. It will tell the stories of a tiny few of those “last million” and how they resettled around the world. It will also provide some pointers to related archival resources in Ukraine and in North America.

Working with Archives and Registry Offices in Ukraine and former Russian Empire: Differences and Limitations   (Instructor: Alina Khuda)

This presentation covers research in former USSR countries through Archives and Registry Offices. We will discuss different types of sources that could be found in the Archives (online and onsite) and how to obtain data that is under the data protection laws. Is it always possible to receive vital records pre and post WWII period? Reasons why the registry office can decline access to the vital records and if there are alternative jurisdictions where you can seek help. How do we work with Archives? How do we work with Registry Offices?

10 Types of Resources 1800-1945 in Ukrainian, Russian, Belorussian Repositories that Could be Found Online   (Instructor: Alina Khuda)

This presentation covers different types of resources: metric church books for baptisms, marriages and deaths, Census, revision lists, land and property ownership, lists of voters, army draft registrations, resettlement records, address-calendars, newspapers and repositories that digitized them. We will discuss documents available for the public in the archives, libraries and village councils. We concentrate on databases and archives that are accessible from overseas to research for the time period of 1800 to 1945.

Repositories to Kickstart Your Research in Bessarabia and Podol’skaya Gubernia   (Instructor: Alina Khuda)

This presentation covers repositories for Bessarabia: State Archives of Odessa Oblast, State Archives of Chernivtsi Oblast in Ukraine and National Archives of Republic Moldova and State Archives of Vinnytsia Oblast, State Archives of Khmelnytsky Oblast. We will discuss different types of sources based on religion and access: online or onsite. What can we do if the metric church books for your specific location were not saved? Moreover, we will include the numbers of fonds that preserve documents that can be useful for genealogical purposes in case church books are not preserved.

Records of Soviet Repression   (Instructor: Dave Obee)

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 neighbors as well. This session includes many examples taken from KGB files, as well as tips on how to gain access to the material.

Metrical Books and Civil Registration   (Instructor: Thom Edlund)

This class will review helpful elements of metrical books and civil registration.

Revisions Lists & 1897 Census   (Instructor: Hailey Thompson)

Researchers will understand the history behind the creation of revision lists and the 1897 census, learn what information is found...and each type of document, and identify various online resources for finding and accessing the records.

Russian Empire / USSR Military Records   (Instructor: Thom Edlund)

This class will orient researchers to the whys and wherefores of various types of military records and how to use them.


Germans from Russia track classes: 

Researching German Colonies in Ukraine: Tips and Tricks   (Instructor: Alina Khuda)

This presentation covers the research of German colonists in the Russian Empire and an overview of German colonies that currently are located on the territory of Ukraine. We aim to discuss main repositories for Galician colonies, Volhynian colonies, Bessarabian colonies and what type resources can be found in Ukrainian archives. Moreover, several case-studies will be included so we can navigate a complex research plan of researching German colonies that includes online/onsite research in archives, work with village council, interviewing priests or elderly. We will cover online sources that help locate victims of Soviet oppression.

Coming Full Circle: To Poland, the Black Sea, and Back   (Instructor: Carolyn Schott)

This presentation talks about the migrations of Germans first to Prussia aka Poland, then to the Black Sea, and then back to Poland during WWII. I have several examples where families ended up living very close to where their ancestors had left in the early 1800s.

Places of Memory: Mapping Your Family History with Google MyMaps   (Instructor: Sandy Schilling Payne)

This presentation demonstrates how to use Google’s MyMaps to map your family’s places of memory — those physical places where important events happened, where the place acts as a container for the past to be remembered. You’ll see examples of how to use your research to build data files to import into MyMaps and format the information in various ways to tell stories. It will be geared toward research involving the Germans from Russia.

Leaving Volhynia   (Instructor: Dave Obee)

The Volhynia region of Ukraine is not the same as other Russian territories settled by Germans. Immigration to Volhynia came later than immigration to other areas of the Russian Empire, and some Germans who arrived there found that other Germans were on their way out. Emigration from Volhynia came in many ways -- to Germany, to other areas in Russia, to North America, to Australia, to South America. Some people went through China to try to escape from the Soviet Union. This presentation will cover a variety of emigration routes.


German track classes: 

Confirmation Records and Micro-Migration: Why your Ancestor Moved Around and How to Track Him   (Instructor: Marissa Garner)

This lecture will focus on parts of Germany where families never stayed in one village for more than a few years and the reasons for this small-scale migration pattern. It will include a discussion of how to track families across multiple parishes in the same region and how to prove it’s the same family group. 

Tips and Tricks for Effective Research in Germany   (Instructor: Marissa Gardner)

This lecture will go over all the little things that genealogists need to know to conduct thorough and irrefutable research. It will also highlight methods to get past your brick walls by broadening your understanding of social history and more! 

Finding your Ancestral Hometown on a Map    (Instructor: Marissa Gardner)

This lecture will focus on the use of maps and gazetteers for German research, including where to find them and how to use them. It will highlight the reasons these sources are essential for methodical research. It will highlight real-life examples where research might have been completely derailed without these tools. 

Case study: Tracing your Immigrant from the U.S. to Germany and Beyond   (Instructor: Marissa Gardner)

Focusing on using the tools and resources discussed throughout the week, we will walk through some real-life examples of how to find your immigrant hometown, identify your ancestor there, and trace his family beyond that point. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to review everything you learned this week and create a plan for your own research! 

Finding Living Relatives of your Emigrant Ancestors from Germany Today   (Instructor: Andrea Bentschneider)

Immerse yourself in the fascinating world of tracing your living German relatives through the maze of strict privacy laws and elusive records. This presentation will reveal the secrets to navigating Germany's privacy and registry barriers, as well as alternative avenues that may lead to uncovering your family's current relatives. In this genealogical adventure, you will discover how historical records, resident registries, and even neighborhood inquiries can become your treasure map. Whether you're a seasoned genealogist or a curious beginner, this presentation promises to give you the tools and strategies to explore your roots in ways you never thought possible. Join us for a journey into the past that could reconnect you with your family's future. 

Your Second Wave Immigrants’ Germany: Microstates and Microbreweries   (Instructor: James M. Beidler)

Starting with a concise history of Germany, the geography and records landscape of some Second Wave immigration hotspots is examined along with case studies of various microstates applicable to 19th century. 

Research in Pomerania   (Instructor: Fritz Juengling)

In this presentation, we look at the history, jurisdictions, and resources for research in Pomerania.

German Geography and Jurisdictions   (Instructor: Fritz Juengling)

This presentation will focus on the many jurisdictional levels and changes that affect German genealogical research.

Searching for Your Elusive Prussian Ancestors   (Instructor: Stephen Wendt)

Prussia once controlled parts of what are now modern Germany and Poland. Gain a better understanding of historical Prussia in the pursuit of records with numerous examples and resources. 

Good Old-fashioned Research in the Internet Age   (Instructor: Baerbel Johnson)

A lot of records available online, even indexed, make finding ancestors easier than ever before. Yet some very useful sources still hide out in local archives in their original paper form. Used wisely, the Internet helps us search digital collections efficiently AND locate those hard-to-find paper resources. We can now learn more about our ancestors using all kinds of records. And here is how it can be done… 

Using Historical Newspapers to Learn More About your German Ancestor   (Instructor: Baerbel Johnson)

Historical newspapers are a wonderful new resource for the family historian! They may include notices of births, marriages, or deaths, but also property sales, patents given for new inventions, business licenses requested, intentions to emigrate, and much more. Your ancestor may even be mentioned in a news article. Historical information adds color to your family history. This presentation will discuss how to find local and regional newspapers and gives lots of examples of how they can be useful in family history research. 

Registers, Inventories, Abstracts: Using All Iterations of German Church Records  (Instructor: James M. Beidler)

Original German church records for vital events is a goal. But how do you know what you've found is an "original?" Here’s how to differentiate between “original originals” and “recopied originals,” and make an attempt to unearth the former! 

Tear Down This (German Genealogy) Brick Wall!   (Instructor: Andrea Bentschneider)

In this class research suggestions will be provided to three general questions: (1) You have date and place information about your ancestor, but cannot find him/her in the parish records. (2) There are twenty places with the same name in Prussia, which one is the right one? (3) I don't know where the family comes from!

Navigating Shifting German Surnames  (Instructor: Stephen Wendt)

Learn how to better navigate the historical phenomenon of the current and shifting progression of German surnames on both sides of the pond. Presented overall with a broad stroke, specific tips, techniques and some examples may help you to make actionable decisions for your own research.


Austro-Hungarian track classes: 

Banat Research Resources & Options   (Instructor: Eileen Lund-Johnson)

Over the last 20 years more records for the Banat region, which today is in Romania and Serbia have become available. These resources are available in a variety of formats; microfilms, digitized images, databases, books, and online communities where users share information and assist other researchers. Learn what is available and how to use the information. 

Donauschwaben or Danube Swabian Online Presence   (Instructor: Eileen Lund-Johnson)

After the fall of communism people wanted to reconnect and document their personal history. For many of us this was a daunting task. Yet, there are others with vision and know-how that were able to see a future and develop ways for us to share and learn from one another. This discussion is about the history of these mailing lists and will demonstrate the spectacular website, Donauschwaben Village Helping Hands. 

Beginning Banat Research   (Instructor: Eileen Lund-Johnson)

There are many complexities when regions meld into other countries. Just language differences can be very complicated. Differing languages, as well as geographic and cultural changes, affect researchers in a variety of ways. This lecture reviews the village naming, introduces the standardized village plots, and will show different record types. 

Eastern European Ancestry in Galicia & Bukovina   (Instructor: Michelle Tucker Chubenko)

Discover resources for research the Austro-Hungarian Empire Provinces of Bukowina and Galicia. Learn what records are available to assist you in determining your immigrant ancestor's home village and their emigration to the United States. Mid-19th century through 20th century immigration from Austro-Hungarian Empire which includes today’s Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine. 

Researching Germans in the Czech Republic   (Instructor: Baerbel Johnson)

Germans have lived in the Czech Republic for centuries! Now many resources are available online, including gazetteers, parish registers, and land records. Learn how to identify your ancestor’s home town, find and search available records – all on the Internet! 

German Migration into Southeast Europe in the 18th Century   (Instructor: Baerbel Johnson)

During the 18th Century, Southeastern Europe was a popular destination for Germans who felt the need to seek a better life elsewhere. This overview discusses the historical background as well as settlement patterns and regions. Migration patterns can sometimes be associated with certain groups, making it easier to determine German places of origin. 

Discovering the Records of Eastern European Minority Populations   (Instructor: James L. Tanner)

Finding genealogical records of for the members of a minority population can be challenging, as some of them may have a long and complex history of migration, persecution, and discrimination. However, there are some possible sources and strategies that you can use to trace your minority ethnic ancestry beginning with DNA tests. It is possible to use standard genealogical records sets for research once the identity of your ancestral origin is identified such as civil registration and church records, but bearing in mind that records may be missing or difficult to find. 

Historical Events: How they Affect your German and Austrian Genealogy Research   (Instructor: Fritz Juengling)

How they Affect your German and Austrian Genealogy Research.  Participants will learn about historical events, such as wars and foreign occupation, and their impact on German and Austrian research, especially records and jurisdictions. 


Germans from Eastern Europe track classes: 

Researching German Colonies in Ukraine: Tips and Tricks    (Instructor: Alina Khuda)

This presentation covers the research of German colonists in the Russian Empire and an overview of German colonies that currently are located on the territory of Ukraine. We aim to discuss main repositories for Galician colonies, Volhynian colonies, Bessarabian colonies and what type resources can be found in Ukrainian archives. Moreover, several case-studies will be included so we can navigate a complex research plan of researching German colonies that includes online/onsite research in archives, work with village council, interviewing priests or elderly. We will cover online sources that help locate victims of Soviet oppression.


Jewish track classes: 

Jewish Given Names - A Deep Dive   (Instructor: Janette Silverman)

It’s difficult to understand or recognize the names by which Jews were known in Eastern Europe and after immigration. This class will look at the meanings of names and the traditions behind them. 

Research in Ukraine: Records and Challenges   (Instructor: Janette Silverman)

We look at a map today and see Ukraine. We know that borders changed over time, and over the last decade have seen that firsthand. What did the area now called Ukraine look like in the century before World War I and how does that affect our research today? We’ll take a look at different types of records and discuss briefly the laws behind them.

David Rosenthal Was An Only Child... Or Was He?: (Dis)Proving Family Stories   (Instructor: Banai Lynn Feldstein)

David Alter Rosenthal was Banai's great-grandfather. He was clearly loved and missed as he had several grandsons named David. Family members told of his two children who died as infants and how Herman's birth date was wrong on every record, and why it was wrong. With details like that, you might think that other similar stories they shared would be accurate. They also said David was an only child. But was he? It turns out, he was not. Find out more about Banai's quest to learn more about this family, what she found when she finally gained access to the records for his city, and learn how many siblings David actually had, along with other family stories that have been researched over time. 

Understanding Jewish Gravestones   (Instructor: Banai Lynn Feldstein)

From deciphering some of the Hebrew to understanding the symbols, there can be more to learn than just the name and death date written in English from a Jewish gravestone. 

Researching a Shtetl   (Instructor: Joanne Sher)

Resources for understanding what life was like in a shtetl and how to find information about specific villages will be presented.


General track classes: 

Leveraging Social Media for Genealogical Research   (Instructor: Daniel Horowitz)

Social media is a powerful tool for connecting with people — and one of the most underrated resources for genealogical research. In this session, Daniel will show you how to leverage Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Threads, and other social media platforms to connect with cousins, discover their descendants, learn about your ancestors, obtain photos and details you haven’t found anywhere else, and much more, all with some simple searches and a bit of detective work. Learn how you can crowdsource the answers to questions you’ve been struggling with for ages and get help with translations, transcriptions, and more. 

What is AI and Why do I Care   (Instructor: Daniel Horowitz)

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is all anyone can talk about in the tech world these days, but does it have practical applications for genealogy? YES! There are multiple fun and useful tools available that can enhance and assist with your genealogy research: from MyHeritage’s automatic photo colorization, enhancement, and repair to photo animation, transliteration, and automatic detection of facts and repositories. In this session, Daniel will showcase some of the tools available and demonstrate how to utilize AI technology to enhance your family history research. 

Genealogy in the Digital Era: Strategies for Organizing and Sharing Your Research   (Instructor: Emma Ruddy)

The field of genealogy is constantly evolving. New websites and technological advances seem to crop up every year and knowing how to use them can be a challenge. As many genealogists will attest, technology can enhance your research and help you become more productive and confident in your process. This course will expose you to technological tools that can help you organize and share your family history research. It will include information about a variety of helpful online databases, genealogical software, and ideas for organizing, recording, and sharing your findings.

Eastern European Resources in U.S. Archives and Libraries   (Instructor: Joanne Sher)

Many libraries and archives in the United States hold records, manuscripts, oral histories, photographs, and family papers from East European organizations and individuals that will assist individuals in their family history research. 

Using AI to Translate 133 Languages   (Instructor: James L. Tanner)

Genealogical research in languages unknown to the researcher are always an obstacle. The tools now available online from Google Translate using advanced AI Neural Language Identification has allowed Google to train a semi-supervised neural model to identify over 1000 languages from text and collect monolingual data for under-resourced languages. This has allowed translation of low-resource languages with limited data available. These advances are particularly useful in Eastern Europe where it is estimated that there are over 300 spoken languages. This presentation will give an overview of using Google Translate and Google Gemini in a variety of translation situations. 

Werner Hacker’s Welt: Studying the Thousands of Emigration Documents He Uncovered   (Instructor: James M. Beidler)

The late Werner Hacker built the railway system in what was then West Germany before a long retirement in which he prowled through nearly all the archives of southwestern Germany in search of evidence of out-migration from the states of the Holy Roman Empire to either North America or the eastern European areas being colonized by the Austrian and Russian Empires. The exit taxes, petitions for manumission, and other documents he found give concrete evidence and pinpoint origins of the people who then show up across the globe. Learn about how to use Hacker’s books in conjunction with many other sources. 


DNA track classes: 

Four Tools and Some Colors to Crack Your DNA Matches on MyHeritage   (Instructor: Daniel Horowitz)

MyHeritage offers numerous advanced features to help you make the most of your DNA results and integrate them into your family tree. In this session, Daniel will provide an overview of these features and show you how they can help you break through brick walls in your research. Learn how cM Explainer™, Theory of Family Relativity™, AutoClusters, and the One-to-many Chromosome Browser can help you gather useful clues — such as suggested relationship paths, groups of matches likely descended from the same ancestor, and triangulated DNA segments — to help you understand how you and your DNA Matches may be related. 

How to group your DNA matches for effective genetic genealogy    (Instructor: Heather Evans)

Organizing your DNA matches effectively is the first step to utilizing DNA in genealogical research. During this class, we'll learn to group your DNA matches on Ancestry for maximum results. These methods can be applied to other DNA companies and will assist in your genealogy research.

Breaking Down your Brick Walls with DNA   (Instructor: Aimee Haynes)

Are you facing challenges such as NPE (non-parental events) or brick walls in your family tree? Discover how your Ancestry DNA results can be a powerful tool in identifying unknown family lines. In this lecture, we will explore techniques to sort your Ancestry matches, locate common ancestors, establish floating lines, and connect the pieces to unveil your biological mystery line. Additionally, we will explore external resources beyond Ancestry that can assist in breaking down these genealogical barriers. Through the analysis of a real brick wall case, we will discuss the evolution of solving such mysteries and share key tips for success. Furthermore, we will explore the differences between various DNA tests and how they can aid you in your quest.