Saturday, June 28, 2014

Eight Great Years of Blogging for “The Accidental Genealogist”

Where does the time go? I can't believe it has been eight years since I started this blog! In some ways I find it hard to believe it was so long ago, but in other ways I still feel that the experience is brand new because I am always learning more about the process. Blogging and this blog have come a long way since 2006. I started out not knowing anything about blogging, what exactly I would blog about, or if anyone would be interested in reading what I wrote. Over time (some 796 posts to be exact), I found my voice, my audience, and I made some changes including a move from being hosted just on “Blogger” to acquiring the "Accidental Genealogist" domain name (you can read why I chose to do so here). 

During my eight years as a blogger, I haven't always posted as much as I would have liked, but I I have enjoyed the blogging experience. That said, I would like to take the opportunity today (on my Blogiversary) to share some of my personal highlights from the past eight years.

1. Blogging about what I know.  My blog provides a forum where I can write about my two favorite subjects:  Genealogy and Writing (see “The Accidental Genealogist,” posted on July 2, 2006.). I have been extremely fortunate to have combined my two “passion” into a career as a writer, lecturer and instructor.

2. Sharing stories about my favorite ancestors. Over the years I have been able to write about my Slovak and Rusyn ancestors, and my research successes and obstacles in the quest to learn more about them.

Family photo collage created by Lisa A. Alzo

3. Meeting fellow bloggers. Through online interaction and meet-ups at genealogy conferences, I have had the pleasure of meeting other bloggers, many of whom have become some of my closest friends. The Genealogy Blogging Community is a close knit group (really, a family). [Time for a shout out to Thomas MacEntee, whose GeneaBloggers site has been instrumental in connecting and inspiring us.] 

4. Cousin connections. One of the biggest benefits to having a blog is that it greatly increases your chances of connecting with cousins and long-lost relatives, and I have done both many times over the years since I started my blog.

5. Support and encouragement. When I first started to write my blog I had absolutely no idea if I was on the right track or if I was floating alone out in cyberspace. Very soon after my first post, I received welcome messages from blogging pioneers such as DearMyrtle and Randy Seaver of Genea-musings.

6. Sojourn in Slovakia. One of the highlights of my time as a genealogist was being able to visit my ancestral homeland of Slovakia (twice)! Having the blog provided a way to share my experiences.  (See "Sojourn in Slovakia" and "Sojourn in Slovakia: The Sequel").

7. Fearless Females. I especially enjoy researching and writing about the women in my family tree, and I give presentations and teach courses to help and inspire to do the same. As an extension of this instruction, I run the Fearless Females Blogging Prompt Series on my blog every March in celebration of National Women’s History Month. (The series started in March 2010).

8. Loyal readers. Most people write a blog in hopes of informing, inspiring or interacting with others. Building a blog is something I don’t actively focus on.  Nevertheless, I am grateful to have readers! I don’t post every day, and sometimes I go for long periods of time without writing anything at all, but I appreciate every single person who follows my blog, and in particular, those who have written to me or have told me when we meet in person how much they have enjoyed it whether it was because of a story or tip I have shared, or to thank me for running the Fearless Females series.

So…What’s Next?

I don’t really know. I’m hoping to share additional research finds and write more about how my ancestors influence and inspire me every single day. I also plan on announcing some exciting new concepts and projects I have in the works.  So stay tuned.

Thanks for sticking with me. I look forward to many more years of blogging bliss!

~ Lisa 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Announcing FamilyTreeDNA Special Webinar on Researching Your Female Lines 15 May 2014

I am pleased to announce that I will be presenting a webinar on Researching Your Female Lines for FamilyTreeDNA Webinars on Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time. This is a special webinar to help continue to the celebration of Mother's Day.

Photo by Lisa Alzo, held for private use. All Rights Reserved

Webinar Description:

Most historical records have been created for and are about men, making it more challenging to research the women in your family tree. This webinar will discuss the importance of documenting your female ancestors' lives, provide tips for tracking down those elusive maiden names, and offer a list of key resources you'll need to get started. 

Click here to register and reserve your spot for this webinar.

Can't attend live? 

An archived recording of this webinar will be available on the Webinars page of the Family Tree DNA Learning Center through June 15, 2014. 

Copyright 2014, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

[Disclaimer: I am working as a freelance presenter for FamilyTreeDNA Webinars and will be paid a speaker's fee for delivering this webinar].

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fearless Females: Educational Resource: Special Women's History Month Offer from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies

To help celebrate Women's History Month, the National Institute for Genealogical Studies is offering a special 25% off discount, good for one of the following three courses:

1) Research: Grandmothers, Mothers & Daughters-Tracing Women - Our female ancestors played significant roles in history. Yet, researching and writing about the women in our families can be a daunting task. If you have hit a brick wall in the quest to find information about your female ancestors, this course covers strategies and key sources to assist you with your research and show you how to document “her” story.  Click here to view the course outline. 

2) Writing Your Family History Book - Recording interesting family stories is essential if you want future generations to read your family history book. This course will help you write the story of your life or your ancestors'' lives. Techniques for researching the facts, remembering the events, writing the text, adding visuals with graphics or pictures and finally reproducing your book will all be discussed. Click here to view the course outline.

3) Connecting Family: Online and Virtually - Computers and the Internet have revolutionized the way families communicate. This course will highlight a few specific ways to use your computer and the Internet to build and strengthen family ties. Click here to view the course outline. 

The promotion coupon code is: grand2014pe and is good until the end of this month.

Visit the National Institute for Genealogical Studies to register online or by telephone, or to learn more about the offer and the courses. 

A special thanks to Director, Louise St. Denis for this special offer, and to Gena Philibert-Ortega for assisting in arranging it.

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies was established to assist all genealogists---from family historians to practising professionals---by providing studies in a variety of genealogical topics. Education provides an important role in raising levels of personal and visible growth and in the certification or accreditation of genealogists.  Click here to learn more about the Institute's mission.

[Disclaimer:  I work as an instructor for the NIGS and have received compensation for course development].

Copyright 2014, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Fearless Females: Pinterest Boards about Women's History

Looking for even more resources for Women's History Month?  Have you checked out Pinterest?  You can search on "Women's History".

Here are some boards worth a look.

Gena Philibert-Ortega has several Pinterest boards on women's topic including:
Other boards:

National Women's History Month (Levo League)
Women's History (History Press)
Women's History Month (US National Archives)

See other boards for Women's History by clicking here.

Copyright 2014, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Fearless Females: Research Tip: Five Ways to Honor Your Female Ancestors

Sharing a this blog post I wrote last year for the Legacy Family Tree Blog. Hope you will enjoy these tips for finding your female ancestors.


Legacy Family Tree Blog:  March 07, 2013 - Guest Blog Post by Lisa A. Alzo
Five Ways to Honor Your Female Ancestors
[This post has been edited slightly to reflect updated content]
A special thanks to Geoff Rasmussen and Legacy Family Tree (Millennia).

Copyright 2013-14, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Fearless Females: Free Research Resources

Tracing the females in your family tree can be a daunting task.  But there are plenty of online resources to help you track them down.

Verona Straka and Mary Straka Yuhasz.  Photo courtesy of Lisa A. Alzo (personal collection).

During this month, I will be sharing a few of my favorite free websites and sources for finding female ancestors (click on the links to go to the sites). Here are the first three:

1. American Women’s History: A Research Guide.  This database provides access to digital collections of primary sources (photos, letters, diaries, artifacts, etc.) that document the history of women in the United States. Offers detailed descriptions and links to more than 600 digital collections.

2. Cyndi’s List: Female Ancestors. Cyndi’s List (run by Cyndi Ingle) has been around since 1996, and currently contains more than 320,000 links for family history, with more than 200 links for female ancestors.

3. National Women’s History Museum. The official website of the National Women’s History Museum located in Alexandria, Virginia. Watch a video clip of actress Meryl Streep introducing the museum, or take a virtual tour via the museum’s CyberExhibits covering a wide range of topics from Women in Industry to Rights for Women to Women of Jamestown.  You’ll also find educational resources such as self-guided tours, biographies, and lesson plans and quizzes (for teachers).

Happy Searching!

Copyright 2014, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Fearless Females: Educational Resource: Register Now for Discount on Family Tree University's Finding Female Ancestors Course Starting 24 March 2014

In celebration of Women's History Month, Family Tree University is offering a 20% discount on the online Finding Female Ancestors course that begins 03/24/14.  But you must act fast and register before the course begins to receive the discount.  

Go to to register now!  

Enter Coupon Code ALZOFEMALES

Course Description

Let's be frank: Most historical records were created for men. Most are all about men.  Men controlled the government and ran most businesses. Property was listed under a man’s name, and it was the male’s surname that carried to the next generation. It’s a fact—following women in your family tree can be a pain. But while tracing the ladies in your family line can be challenging, it’s not impossible. There are oodles of available resources to help trace your maternal ancestry—you just need to know where to look!


  • You want solid strategies for finding females in your family tree
  • You don't know where to start when tracing maiden names
  • You need a specific solution to your special research problem
  • You want to understand more about the day-to-day life of your female ancestors


  • Developing a successful research strategy for rooting out women in your family tree
  • Tips for teasing out maiden names in a vast variety of record groups
  • Rooting out female ancestors in sources such as oral histories, family traditions, diaries, letters and more
  • Brick wall strategies for solving special research problems

View the complete course outline here.  Learn the in-depth techniques to find the females in your family tree.

[Disclaimer:  I work as an instructor for Family Tree University and am paid an instructor's fee to teach this course].

Copyright 2014,  Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Genealogy Boot Camp is Back! Learn How to Survive Self-Publishing - 22 March 2014

Once again I am pleased to team up with my colleague and friend, Thomas MacEntee to offer another Genealogy Boot Camp experience - Self-Publishing Survival Guide - on Saturday, March 22, 2014.  

Here's the announcement from Hack Genealogy.  Hope you can join us!


Come join well-known genealogy educators Lisa Alzo and Thomas MacEntee as they team up to offer a unique education event: Self-Publishing Survival Guide! On Saturday, 22 March 2014, you’ll be able to learn from two experts on how to take your written genealogical research and publish it in both print and e-book format.
Are you all ready to publish on your own, but you don’t know where to start and have these questions?
  • What is the best self-publishing platform for me and my book?
  • Should I use a service that handles book cover design, marketing and more . . . or can I really do this all on my own?
  • Should I have a print version and an e-book version?
  • What are the formatting and document preparation requirements for both print and e-book self-publishing?

  • 11:00 am EDT /10:00 am CDT
  • Welcome / Meet & Greet
  • 11:15 am EDT / 10:15 am CDT
  • DIY Publishing for the Family Historian: Tips, Tricks and Tools
  • Lisa A. Alzo, M.F.A.
  • 12:30 pm EDT/11:30 am CDT
  • Break
  • 1:00 pm EDT /12:00 pm CDT
  • Microsoft Word Secrets for Self-Publishing
  • Thomas MacEntee
  • 2:30 pm EDT / 1:30 pm CDT
  • Closing and Thank You


DIY Publishing for the Family Historian: Tips, Tricks and Tools
Presented by:  Lisa A. Alzo, M.F.A.
Whether you’re a family historian looking to share information with your family, an aspiring author, or a society looking for cost-effective way to produce materials, this session is just what you need to get started with self-publishing. Learn tips and tricks for preparing your book from idea to print, and the basics about which software and online writing tools can help with the process. Various self-publishing/print-on-demand platforms including: CreateSpace, Lulu, Smashwords, Kindle, and more, will also be briefly discussed.*
*    Attendees will also receive a free Self-Publishing Checklist.
Microsoft Word Secrets for Self-Publishing
Presented by:  Thomas MacEntee
Preparing a written narrative extracted from your genealogy research may seem straightforward, even using a generally accepted document software like Microsoft Word*. But there are special considerations when it comes to self-publishing that narrative, in both print and e-book format. Learn the secrets to producing a formatted narrative that can easily be published on a variety of self-publishing platforms.**
*    Microsoft Word 2010 will be the version used during the webinar. Many, if not all, of the features are the same or similar on other versions of Word including 2007 and 2013.
**   Attendees will also receive access to a special Self-Publishing for Genealogists Toolbox – tons of links covering platforms, methods and tips!
Lisa Alzo
Lisa A. Alzo
Lisa A. Alzo is a freelance writer, instructor, and lecturer with over 20 years’ experience in the field of genealogy. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Pittsburgh, and is the author of nine books, including: Finding Your Slovak AncestorsWriting Your Family History Book, and the award-winning Three Slovak Women. Lisa has written hundreds of articles and her work has appeared in Family Tree MagazineFamily Chronicle,Internet GenealogyAPG Quarterly, among others. An internationally recognized speaker, Lisa blogs as “The Accidental Genealogist” blog For more information see
Thomas Mac Entee
Thomas Macentee
When he’s not busy writing blog posts, organizing the 3,000+ members of, teaching online genealogy webinars and more, Thomas MacEntee is busy in his role as “genealogy ninja.” Stealth is not easy, but he manages to get the inside track on emerging technologies and vendors as they relate to the genealogy industry. After being laid off from a 25-year career in the tech industry in 2008, Thomas has been able to “repurpose” his skill set for the genealogy community and loves to see other genealogists succeed, whether it is with their own research or building their own careers in the field.
Ready to join in this great educational event? Please click here to  visit the Hack Genealogy website to register or learn more.  Space is limited so reserve your spot today! Please read the Terms and Conditions for all Hack Genealogy Boot Camp events before you pay and register! 
Questions? Email:
©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee

The Accidental Genealogist, Copyright 2014, Lisa A. Alzo, All Rights Reserved