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Genealogy can be a lot of fun, but it isn’t easy

“Genealogy is so simple and easy to do that it can be done in five minutes.” That’s the very misleading introductory remark on a video on the popular Mormon Church website, FamilySearch.org.

We family historians must thank the church for all the wonderful records they’ve microfilmed and made available to us in Salt Lake City and through their worldwide Family History Centers. But my immediate response to this first video was one of horror.

This “catchy,” attention-getting approach to education is irresponsible. Genealogy is not simple and it definitely isn’t easy. It’s a complicated process of study to understand laws and customs and to put each ancestor in historical context in order to understand behavior and activity.

If you watch the video, narrator Jessie Davis clarifies her remarks a bit by demonstrating that through the online FamilySearch digitized records, a researcher in five minutes can find “a document” relating to an ancestor.

If you take away the hype associated with this 12-part series on how to get started, Davis offers some standard tips that will help the beginner get off on the right foot. You can access these videos at www.familysearch.org/learningcenter/home.html. .

This link also connects viewers to lectures aimed at intermediate and advanced researchers. The lectures are on a variety of topics, ranging from planning a research trip to researching in foreign records. Most of them were recorded at various conferences around the country. Most of the episodes also offer a link to a handout. It is possible to look at the handout and listen to the video simultaneously.

Spending time on this site, watching these free lectures, is a great alternative for those who can’t afford to travel to regional or national conferences where these big-name professionals lecture.

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Speaking of big-name professionals, noted genealogical educator Lloyd Dewitt Bockstruct will headline the 2011 program of the Florida State Genealogical Society’s 35th Annual Conference in Maitland.

The conference will be held Nov. 11 and 12 at the Sheraton Orlando North, 600 N. Lake Destiny Drive.

Bockstruct will present four lectures: “Finding the Maiden Names of Your Female Ancestors,” “American Migrations 1607- 1850,” “The War of 1812 and its Genealogical Consequences” and “Newspaper Genealogy.” A number of local and state genealogists also will present lectures on a variety of topics

A full schedule and links for registration and hotel arrangements are available at http://tinyurl.com/4xlbpnn.

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The Pinellas Genealogical Society has an impressive list of fall classes. Check it out at http://www.flpgs.org/classes.aspx.

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Those with possible Native American heritage or those interested in this element of American history will be excited to learn that noted Cherokee historian and author Don L. Shadburn is about to publish another significant work.

“Upon Our Ruins, A Study in Cherokee History and Genealogy” will be going to print within weeks and is now available at the pre-publication price of $55 ($45 for two or more copies). After publication, the price will be $75. Both prices include shipping.

Shadburn co-wrote this book — 785 pages organized into 27 chapters — with John D. Strange III. It focuses on mixed-blood Cherokee families primarily in the Carolinas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee and Texas.

The appendices includes Wills and Estate Records (1760-1889), Cherokee Reservation and Spoliation Claims (1837-1845), Georgia Citizenship Acts (1838-1845), Cherokee Georgia Census Schedules (183), letters by Major Ridge’s granddaughter Emily McNeir (1906) and a roster of 134 intermarried white men and women with Indian spouses.

Books can be ordered by sending a check or money order payable to Shadburn at The Cottonpatch Press, P.O. Box 762, Cumming, GA 30028.

Readers can visit Shadburn’s website at donshadburn.com to see other historical books from his press. He will respond to questions at (770)-887-1626 or donshadburn@webtv.net.

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