Announcing GenDoc Study Group Panelists


The following brave souls have volunteered to be panel participants for the upcoming GenDoc Study Group. Each will take Dr. Thomas W. Jones’ newest book, Mastering Genealogical Documentation, chapter by chapter and post examples from their own research to illustrate points that speak to them. Sessions will begin 13 Sept 2017 at Noon Eastern. Registration will be available shortly before at

Marceline Beem “I have been researching my own family for 20 years, and have researched pro bono for several friends in the last 5 years. Most of my family is in the southeastern U.S., but I do have one line that goes to the Midwest and New England.”

Blaine Bettinger “I need to work on documentation! – I have been a genealogist for 25+ years, and a genealogical professional for 8+ years.”

Claudia Breland “… To get more out of the book, and practice with specific examples. I have the book and have been reading and studying – it’s enormously helpful in my work as a professional genealogist. – I first became interested in family history in 1974, when I was 20. I became a professional genealogist 8 years ago, and have been constantly learning and growing since then. I work with clients, I do genealogy presentations in Western Washington, and I have written books.”

Cary Bright “Started in 1997, as keeper of the last of the family ephemera for my father. Married into a Norman family and I am the only family historian. Love the research and learning to be a much better record keeper. GPS panel member 2015.”

Melinda Culpon “Continue learning. – Have been researching and trying to find more and correctly document information.”

Sheri Fenley “I am almost ready to go “on the clock” again with BCG and feel this will help me quite a bit. I consider myself a professional genealogist but want to become certified and then go for accreditation with ICAPGEN. Need just a bit more education mostly for self-confidence.”

Hilary Gadsby “Want to reflect the subject from the point of view of someone who is using largely sources in the UK. To illustrate that this book is relevant wherever you are carrying out your research. – I have been researching for about 17 years. When I started very little was on the internet. Research consisted of speaking to relatives and following up leads with ordering documents and visiting archives and libraries. I am an amateur who has learnt from others by reading and sharing research strategies. I also recently started a one name study.”

Lisa Gorrell “Creating citations is fun! Being on the panel is rewarding and an honor. Been researching own family over 20 years. Taking clients the past two years. Working towards certification.”

Valerie Eichler Lair “I need to read and study the book. There’s no better way than to “finally” be on a panel. Plus, DearMYRTLE twisted both my arms behind my back! – I am a professional genealogist and have conducted research since 1989.”

Dave Robison “It’s a matter of continuous improvement and self-education. This interactive format is productive and one that I enjoy being a part of. – Beginning in the late 90s, I searched for answers to my family background never offered to me growing up. After making a surprising number of discoveries on my own, I began to assist a few friends and other family members in their own research.”

Mary Jane Saylor “Board member of the Utah Genealogical Association. Served on the SLIG committee as assistant registrar and marketing coordinator. Attend most institutes and conferences, been researching for 30+ years.”

DearMYRTLE's Profile PicMyrt’s Musings

We have more than 10 panelists to allow for absences. Viewers may complete homework assignments, though priority will be given to discussion of panel participant’s submissions.

Please reference the syllabus and include your name at the top of each homework assignment. Post homework in a blog or public Google Doc and post the link in the hangout for the appropriate chapter’s study group session. Also take care to observe the book’s copyright restrictions.

Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Documentation, (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2017.) Softbound available from the publisher’s website Kindle format at Amazon here:

Happy family tree climbing!
Your friend in genealogy.

For Further Reading

TT: Swedish Lutheran Household Examination Books demo

Throwback Thursday features the rebroadcast of Jason Oler’s demonstration of digitzed Sweden Household Examination Books, 1880 – 1920 including 46,583,546 records. MyHeritage has produced an every-name index to the more than 5 million images provided by our Swedish partner ArkivDigital.

“Each book or series of books represents a 3-10 year period of time within a parish. Every year until 1894 the Parish Priest would visit each home and test each individual’s knowledge of the catechism. They would also collect information about birth dates, marriages, deaths, where people had moved to or from, etc. Each year the priest would come back and update the information of the previous year, noting changes within the population of the home. After 1894 the examinations were less focused on doctrinal knowledge and more focused on enumerating the Swedish population.”



Genealogical Flat-Lining

Flat line graphic
Looking to produce a high quality, well documented family history? After a while, its more about the place than a name. Online quick click genealogists look for a possible name match without studying the culture and history of an ancestral locality.

This causes genealogical flat-lining where it's just names and dates with no contextual understanding. They completely bypass unusual extant record sets that add dimension to an ancestral family's profile.

Elizabeth Shown Mills of responded to my Facebook comment with "And, Pat Richley-Erickson, worse than flat-lining, it causes genealogical misidentifications because they don't have enough context about the place and time to properly identify the person.(1)

In my early days as a fledgling genealogist, Ol' Myrt innocently committed genealogical flat-lining. Enthralled by others who put flesh on the bones using record sets I'd never considered, it slowly dawned on me that

genealogy is more than names and dates.

Studying history and the law, I began to see why my early Palatines left their beloved homeland in the small village of Affstätt in Herrenberg, in the Duchy of Württemberg in 1709 after decades of wars, crop failures and a winter so cold "birds froze on the wing."(2)

Expanding research beyond birth, marriage and death records, Ol' Myrt here learned about variations in William Henry A. Phillips name from his wife's affidavit in their US Civil War Pension file. Thank the Lord for this tidbit of information: "In regard to the correct name of my husband William Phillips, deceased, I have to say that his full name was William Henry Phillips, but he only used William Phillips when he enlisted so by mistake just W. H. has been used. After the war, he used for business purposes just his initials W. H. Phillips." (3)

Sadly, I had to chop off a limb of my initial family tree because my genealogical flat-lining led to a false assumption of a lineage match. It was a matter of guessing an older man in the vicinity with the same given and surnames had to be my 2nd great-grandfather.

Thorough research, covering 93 years of everyone by the surname in the vicinity, turned up surprising results. Using wills, probate packets and land records proved the man I misidentified as the father was in fact an uncle. Apparently, both had been named for my 3rd great-grandfather.

DearMYRTLE's Profile PicMyrt's Musings

Why not breathe new life into your family history? Review previous conclusions to see if you've committed genealogical flat-lining. The best remedy is throrough research. See: The Genealogical Proof Standard briefly defined at the Board for Certification of Genealogists website here

Happy family tree climbing!
Your friend in genealogy.

(1) From an 8 Aug 2017 Facebook posting by Blaine T. Bettinger to friends only located here: Mills quote used with permission.

(2) Capt. H. M. M. Richards, Litt.D. writes " [the] Thirty Years' War making of Germany almost a wilderness; when, following upon its heels, came the cruel French Invasion of 1693, with its utter devastation of the Palatinate, bringing pestilence and famine; when, as if that were not sufficient, occurred the terrible winter of 1709 when birds perished on the wing, beasts in their lairs, and mortals fell dead in the way…" p9, The Weiser Family by Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg Richards, Litt. D. (Lancaster: The Pennsylvania-German Society, 1924.) Digitally imaged at the Internet Archive, ( : viewed 8 Aug 2017.)

(3) 2 Sept 1921 Louisa Phillips affidavit, United States, Civil War Widows Pension Files, filed with Louisa Phillips' pension application no. 907389 co-filed with husband William Henry A. Phillips pension no. 243,464 (Private, Co K 19th Indiana Volunteer Infantry); Record Group 15, National Archives, Washington, D.C., photocopy in possession of the author.


Are you ready for some GENEALOGY?

Gosh, July has just flown by! Now it’s time to recoup, regroup, redirect and rejoin our Mondays with Myrt genealogy hangouts. Cousin Russ is on hand to bring in your comments and questions. Register using your favorite social media account. Then check your confirmation and reminder emails for your personal link to not only VIEW but COMMENT during the live hangout. The archived version shows up within the hour at the same location. For first time users: FAQ System requirements for: ComputersAndroid devicesiPhone / iPad . 

Want to be a filmstrip panel participant? Wired internet works for best quality sound and video. You’ll need a USB headset mic and ear phones (or earbuds with an inline mic), and of course, a webcam. Register with your Google account and arrive at least 15 minutes early. Cousin Russ will send out the invitation in the “unified chat” and bring you “up” on the panel. Be prepared to make a few adjustments the first time you try this out. Mondays with Myrt is an easy, fun way to share what we’re learning about how best to find those elusive ancestors.

MONDAYS WITH MYRT (90 minutes)

  • Registeration: Monday, 7 Aug 2017
  • The live broadcast starts at Noon Eastern US (New York), 11am Central US (Chicago), 10am Mountain US (Denver, Salt Lake City), 9am Pacific US (Los Angeles) Practical, down-to-earth advice for family historians. We talk about everything that’s come across our genea-desks in the past week – make that month. Powerful breakthroughs happen during our live hangouts. Catch the rebroadcast here, along with all the links we mention.


DearMYRTLE and Cousin Russ recognize the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024. We reach out to _all_ regardless of race, color, creed or national origin with support for researching family and documenting cultural inheritance.

Let’s explore genealogy websites, figure out how DNA test results may or may not match our paper-trail research, explore new family history software and apps, hash out our commitment to the Genealogical Proof Standard, and maybe get organized. Then there’s the MyHeritage-Legacy Family Tree scenario to discuss. Ol’ Myrt here will demo something about a RootsMagic Tree Share and a Family Tree Maker sync to It has to do with shared Ancestry Member Trees.

DearMYRTLE's Profile Pic

Myrt’s Musings

Yes, I’ve had a marvelous month-long vacation with the Orcas Island family reunion and other travel. At the International Germanic Genealogy Conference, Dirk Weissleder coined the phrase Think GeneaGlobally. I cannot wait to hear what’s happened to you this past month. If there’s time I’ll add my report about personal research breakthroughs. Yes, I actually did some onsite research. I can tell this week’s Mondays with Myrt is going to be action packed!

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     🙂
Your friend in genealogy.