Lecture Topics

Melissa is available to lecture both in person or virtually for genealogical societies, historical societies, professional associations and special interest groups. She is now booking individual lectures and full day seminars for 2022 and 2023. If your group or society is interested in scheduling an event, please contact us for information on fees and availability.

Several full day programs are suggested below; however, we can tailor a program for your organization with any of Melissa’s lectures (listed at the bottom of the page).

Beginner/Intermediate Genealogy Program
Genealogy for Beginners
Sources and Strategies for Discovering Immigrant Origins
Using Newspapers for Genealogical Research
Genealogy + DNA: A Beginner’s Guide

Intermediate/Advanced Genealogy Program
Effective Use of Internet Resources for Genealogists
Go Paperless: Digitizing Your Planning and Research
Writing and Publishing Your Family History
Indirect Evidence to Establish Genealogical Proof

Beginner/Intermediate DNA Program
Genetic Genealogy: A Beginner’s Guide
Using Features from Key DNA Testing Companies
Using Autosomal DNA for Genealogy
Organizing DNA Test Results

Intermediate/Advanced DNA Program
Using Autosomal DNA for Genealogy
No Response? No Problem? Learning More About Your DNA Matches
Organizing DNA Test Results
Meeting the Genealogical Proof Standard Using DNA Test Results

New Jersey Program
Proprietary and Colonial New Jersey Research
Land, Tax & Estate Records in the Garden State
New Jersey Vital Records, Adoption & Divorce
Case Studies in New Jersey Genealogy

British Genealogy Program
Intro to British Genealogy Research
Beyond the Basics of British Genealogy
Case Studies in British Genealogy
Using DNA to Solve Research Problems

Intro to English Genealogy Research
Learn how to research your English ancestors using the variety of information available on the Internet, including vital records, immigration and emigration, military records, wills, criminal records and federal government records, as well as on-site resources in the United Kingdom.

Discovering Immigrant Origins
Learn about various records and strategies to help discover the origins of immigrants who came to the United States during various time periods. This lecture will cover immigration, naturalization, and alien records, as well as other record sets and strategies for studying groups to identify immigrant origins.

Descendant Tracing
Take a break from researching backward in your family tree and begin “descendant tracing.” Learn how to trace all of the descendants of an ancestor (not just those in your direct line) to locate living cousins. This lecture focuses on the value of researching forward in your family tree and introduces the resources and types of records useful for this increasingly popular type of research.

Internet Resources for Genealogists
Learn how to effectively use top genealogical websites, including Ancestry, Fold3, GenealogyBank, FamilySearch and Google; websites of federal, state and local archives and libraries; and other important sites.

Researching at the Family History Library
Is your group planning a trip to the Family History Library? Learn how to prepare for your trip, how to use the catalog, efficient and effective ways to research onsite, digital tools to aid your research and other useful information about planning your trip to Salt Lake City.

Researching Beyond the Death Certificate
The death of an ancestor can trigger the creation of many different records, all of which can provide valuable genealogical information on the deceased, as well as their ancestors and descendants. Learn about how to use funeral home, cemetery, family, probate, bible, church, social security, court and land records, as well as mortality schedules, coroners inquests, headstones, newspapers and pensions, to uncover additional clues about your family.

Genealogy for Beginners
Getting started in genealogy research means learning about research strategies, what resources are available, and where and how to access them. Learn how to jump start your genealogical research using key online free and subscription websites, library and archive catalogs and genealogy software.

Using Vital Records
Learn how to use birth, marriage, death and divorce records to begin building your family tree. This lecture also focuses on records that can be used in place of vital records when they aren’t available, as well as other records that can be located from information on vital records.

Newspapers for Genealogical Research
Discover the wide array of information about your ancestors that can be found in newspapers, learn the best search strategies for finding and searching historic newspapers at various repositories and through a number of free and subscription-based websites.

Indirect Evidence to Establish Genealogical Proof
Indirect evidence points to an answer to a question, but doesn’t directly state the answer. This lecture teaches attendees how to properly use indirect evidence to answer tough genealogical research questions. Using several case studies, attendees will learn how to identify indirect evidence and use it to construct a strong argument.

Researching Your New Jersey Ancestors
New Jersey has played an important role in American history and genealogy. Early immigration brought English colonists to New England and years later, a wave of European immigration hit New York City. Many of these immigrants eventually settled in New Jersey, and some remained there for generations. Learn how to effectively research New Jersey ancestors using various repositories as well as online resources and less frequently used record sets.

Genealogical Resources for Newark Families: 1666-Present
Newark, located in Essex County, New Jersey, was founded in 1666 by a group of Puritan settlers from the New Haven (Connecticut) colony. Many of Newark’s first families remained in the area for years and saw the city’s rapid industrial growth during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The area later became a large city and experienced rapid population growth during the twentieth century and has become one of the northeast’s largest urban areas today. Learn about the city’s nearly 350-year history and the many rich genealogical resources left behind by Newark’s residents.

New Jersey Vital Records, Adoption, and Divorce
This lecture covers the various types of New Jersey vital records and the information they provide during different time periods; vital record additions and corrections; delayed vital registration; New Jersey adoption records and recent adoption legislation; and New Jersey divorce records. In addition to the types of records that exist, the discussion will focus on availability and restrictions, present day organization of the records, online and on-site indexes and records, alternatives for restricted or non-existent records, out-of-state resources, and methods for using vital records, adoption records, and divorce records to solve problems.

Proprietary and Colonial New Jersey Research
Researching families who lived in New Jersey during the Proprietary period (1664-1703) and the Colonial period presents unique challenges. Beginning in 1664, the East and West Jersey proprietors governed New Jersey’s inhabitants. Their records, deposited at the New Jersey State Archives, are complex and require an understanding of the time period and its practices. The Colonial period offers additional record groups to consider, such as church records, land records, court records, probate records, and local records. Attendees will learn strategies useful for specific areas of New Jersey, and discover record groups specific to these time periods. This lecture uses several case studies to illustrate how these records work together to make connections between generations.

Land Records in the Garden State
This lecture is an overview of land ownership and its associated records in New Jersey from the Proprietary period to the present. Various types of land records will be introduced and explained in detail. Research strategies for both urban and rural areas of New Jersey will be covered.

New Jersey Probate Records
In this lecture, attendees will learn about the probate and administration processes in New Jersey and the abundance of records they can create. The lecture will cover estate records from the proprietary period to the present, uses for establishing kinship, research strategies, key locations of records, and more.

Researching Twentieth-Century New Jersey Families
This lecture will explore resources used for finding families who lived in New Jersey during the twentieth century. City directories, newspapers, maps, state census records, and numerous other sources will be covered, with a focus on researching both rural and urban, and landless and landowner ancestors.

Case Studies in New Jersey Genealogy
Several case studies covering different time periods and various types of problems will be presented. Each problem will be resolved using different approaches and a variety of sources. Case studies will demonstrate how land records connect five generations of a family; how cemetery and probate records for collateral relatives connect an eighteenth-century NJ man to his family when published sources identify his contemporary as their son; how state census records connect a nineteenth-century NJ man to his parents when no other record names them; and how a twentieth-century widow can be connected to her three husbands through land records.

Crossing State Lines: Out of State Resources for New Jersey Ancestors
The majority of individuals who research in New Jersey will have ancestors who crossed state lines and came to New Jersey from another state or left to migrate elsewhere. This lecture covers migrations during various periods in history, and focuses on out of state records and research strategies specific to New Jersey ancestors.

Genetic Genealogy: A Beginner’s Guide
This lecture covers the basics of genetic genealogy and how it can be used to supplement traditional documentation for genealogical research. Learn about the three basic types of DNA testing that are useful for genetic genealogy: Y-chromosome, autosomal, and mitochondrial DNA tests, the key testing companies, how to understand the test results, and resources for learning more about genetic genealogy.

Diving Deeper into Genetic Genealogy
Learn more than the basics about DNA testing and how it can be useful to supplement the traditional paper trail for genealogical research. Discover more about using the testing companies’ websites to analyze and compare test results, how to use third party tools for analysis, and how to develop targeted testing plans to solve genealogical problems and brick walls.

Using Autosomal DNA in Genealogy
Discover more about using autosomal DNA to solve problems and break through genealogical brick walls. This lecture covers the basics of autosomal DNA, including X-DNA analysis and inheritance patterns, chromosome browsing, and testing plans, as well as several case studies.

Mobile Apps for Genealogists
Learn how to use mobile apps for your tablet or mobile device to develop research plans, connect with other researchers, and organize, store and share your genealogical documentation.

Mobile Apps for Professional Genealogists
Professional genealogists can use a variety of mobile apps to help manage their genealogy businesses. This lecture introduces professionals to mobile apps for time tracking, project management, accounting, social media management, organization, research, writing, reporting and more.

Digital Tools for Research Planning
Learn how to use technology to plan and execute focused research plans in a variety of formats that help genealogists save time and become more effective researchers.

Going Paperless: Digitizing Your Genealogical Research
Digitizing years of genealogical research documents, notes and research logs may seem like a daunting task, but advances in technology make going digital easier than ever. Learn how using various electronic devices, as well as mobile apps, metadata and tagging, to digitize your existing files and work paperless in the future can help you become a more effective, efficient and organized genealogist.

Scrivener for Genealogists
Scrivener software for Mac and PC is useful for any genealogical writer. Whether you’re writing your family history for relatives, creating research reports, compiling a research guide and creating a society newsletter, Scrivener has tools that can help anyone become a better and more efficient writer.

Writing and Publishing Your Family History
You’ve spent years researching – now what? Learn how to preserve your hard work for future generations by writing and publishing an interesting, compelling and well documented compiled genealogy, family narrative, biography, memoir or case study.

Bringing Historical Context Into Your Genealogical Writing
Writing about your family in the context of the time and place in which they lived, using social history and major historical events that impacted your ancestors, helps develop a meaningful and more accurate family history. Learn how to find and evaluate resources that will help provide historical context, and how to weave historical context into your genealogical writing.

Self-Publishing for Genealogists
Learn about the numerous options genealogists have for self-publishing their many years of research in print or via digital means. The discussion will include pros and cons of digital vs. print publishing, the features offered by several self-publishing companies, alternative options, web publishing, and more.

Writing Lineages, Genealogies, and Pedigrees
This lecture covers the differences between lineages, genealogies, and pedigrees, and various ways of presenting and formatting these written works. Also covered are several numbering systems, venues for publication, writing about complex families, and suggestions for getting started.