Occasional Webinar Series Recordings

The following recordings of the Virtual Institute’s webinars, presented as part of our Occasional Webinar Series, are available for purchase at the cost of $19.99. This includes the video recording of the webinar and all supplementary syllabus material.


“Finding and Using Online Legal Resources” with Michael Hait, CG, CGL

Presented live from the 2016 Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP)

Every aspect of our ancestors’ lives—and most of the records we use to discover their lives—were either directly affected or indirectly influenced by the laws in effect at the time. This presentation will show how to locate historical laws online to learn more about the world in which our ancestors lived and better understand the records we use.

Michael Hait, CG, CGL, is a full-time professional genealogical researcher, writer, and lecturer. He has written case studies for several genealogical journals including the Maryland Genealogical Society Journal, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. In 2012 Michael won 1st prize in the National Genealogical Society Family History Writing Competition for his article “In the Shadow of Rebellions,” exploring descendants of an enslaved woman living in 19th-century Maryland. He also authored the National Genealogical Society course “American Genealogical Studies: Guide to Documentation and Source Citation.” Michael currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (2016–19), and formerly served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists (2012–13).

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“The Proietti: Researching an Abandoned Child in Italy” with Melanie D. Holtz, CG

This lecture focuses on a common problem within Italian genealogical research, when your research encounters an ancestor who was abandoned by their natural parents. Does this mean an end to the family line? What records might reveal the situation around the abandonment? Have you exhausted all resources that might provide information on this ancestor, directly or indirectly? Information on abandoned ancestors can be found in several different types of records, including civil, parish, and notarial records. We’ll learn about the social and political policies surrounding these ancestors, adoptions, the foster care system, and recognitions.

Melanie D. Holtz, CG, is a Board-certified genealogist, writer, and lecturer, She operates an international research firm that specializes in Italian genealogical research and dual citizenship. Melanie is the author of multiple articles, lectures, and courses on Italian genealogy available through the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research, National Institute for Genealogical Studies, and FamilyTree University. In October, her latest book The Family Tree Italian Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Family Tree in Italy will be published by FamilyTree Books. The book is available for preorder at: <bit.ly/FT-italian-genealogy-guide>.

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“Luxembourg Genealogy: The Basics” with Bryna O’Sullivan

Not quite French, not quite German, Luxembourgers have their own unique history and records. Learn the major sources used to trace your Luxembourger ancestor’s past from civil registrations to the census.

Bryna O’Sullivan is a Connecticut-based genealogist and French to English genealogical translator specializing in Luxembourg-American, Connecticut, and cross-border genealogy. Her love of Luxembourger research comes from a family that traveled from Luxembourg to Iowa in the middle of the American Civil War.

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“How Are We Related? Using the Shared cM Project to Explore Your DNA Matches” with Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D.

The Shared cM Project is a collaborative citizen science project that contains total shared DNA data from more than 25,000 relationships. This data helps test-takers determine what relationships might be responsible for the DNA they share with a genetic match.

Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D., is an intellectual property attorney by day and a DNA specialist by night. He is the author of the long-running blog The Genetic Genealogist, and frequently gives presentations and webinars to educate others about the use of DNA to explore their ancestry.

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“Researching Enslaved Ancestors in South Carolina” with LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG
Wednesday, 14 March 2018, 8:00pm (EDT)

In addition to information about available record collections, this webinar will provide an overview of the historical and legal backdrops that inform genealogical research of enslaved ancestors in South Carolina. The presenter will also share research strategies and “best practices” for conducting genealogical research to produce the most accurate results possible.

Board-certified genealogist, LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG(SM) focuses on African American families with roots in the South, primarily the Carolinas. She is a trustee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, an award-winning writer, and a lecturer. In 2016 she published A Guide to Researching African American Ancestors in Laurens County, South Carolina, and Selected Finding Aids, a book that was hailed in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution as a model for researching in other SC counties and other states.

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“The California Historic Missions and Their Records: Their Importance to Genealogists” with Sheila Benedict
Wednesday, 11 July 2018, 8:00pm (EDT)

The twenty-one California Historic Missions, built from 1769 to 1823, were a major effort by the King of Spain to colonize Alta California and are an important part of the state’s history. Yet few people are aware of the extensive record-keeping being done then and now. The registers that contain baptisms, marriages, and burials, as well as many other documents, hold valuable genealogical information that benefit Catholic and non-Catholic researchers, in this country and elsewhere. In many cases, these cannot be found anywhere else but at the missions or a central archive. Within this history also lies the Spanish (1769–1821) and Mexican (1821–46) land grant system. This presentation will focus on the records, examine the information so important to genealogists and other historians, and suggest how to access them.

Sheila Benedict was the archivist and administrator for 17 years at Old Mission Santa Inés, one of the 21 California historic missions. In addition, she has been a parish minister, handled all the tribunal cases, studied Canon Law, oversaw the museum and church art and artifacts collections, and served as the conservation/preservation grant writer. She has extensive knowledge of the California Mission System and the records. As a professional genealogist since the early 1990s, she has lectured at national and local genealogy conferences, is a member of the National Genealogical Society, Association of Professional Genealogists, many California county genealogical societies, the Society of California Archivists, Central California Paralegal Association, The American Irish Historical Society-Santa Barbara branch, and the American Association for State and Local History. In 2015, she wrote Research in the States – California for the NGS Research in the States series.

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Coming soon!