Sunday, May 20, 2018

Save Now, Start Later! Summer Writing School is in Session

Are you still struggling to write your family history?  Need some guidance on how to get started or how to pick up on that family narrative you worked on previously but never finished? Our popular Write Stuff Genealogy Intensive Writing courses can help get you back into the writing groove!

Think of it as "summer school" for the family history writer!  Too busy to work on your project now? Enroll this week and save 30% on The Write Stuff I and the Write Stuff II, so you can save now, and start later!  The offer is good until Thursday 24 May 2018 (11:59 p.m. Eastern time).

The Write Stuff I: Build Your Family History Writing Skills - click here to register - save 30% with coupon code:  write

The Write Stuff II: Expand Your Family History Writing Skills - click here to register - save 30% with coupon code:  continue

What is the Write Stuff Genealogy Intensive?
The Write Stuff experience consists of an online self-paced instruction. You can start and complete whenever it is most convenient for your schedule. You will be guided through practical assignments with videos and resources for each topic and have access to a private Facebook group where you can interact with your writing coach and fellow family history writers and receive feedback.  

The Write Stuff I:  Build Your Family History Writing Skills will take you through the basics of jumpstarting your writing project through goal-setting, finding your focus, creating a storyboard and working on writing profiles and longer narratives.

Write Stuff II:  Expand Your Family History Writing Skills follows on from Write Stuff I, so you can pick up from where you left off, or even start a new project if you prefer. It’s time to get your writing groove back! You will learn about how to create a story structure that works, how to write fabulous history scenes, how to use creative nonfiction writing techniques to write a better family history, the best ways to handle footnotes/endnotes and citations, how to revise your prose, and much more!

Note: It is highly recommended that you take the Write Stuff I course prior to taking Write Stuff II.

Since 2014, The Write Stuff intensives have helped and inspired family historians to write, publish, and share their stories. Several participants have even seen success with self-publishing or with having their works featured in society newsletters and family history displays. Click here to read what some of our students are saying about The Write Stuff Intensives. 

You can take the Write Stuff courses whether you are at home or on the road, sitting on your deck or by the pool.  So, take advantage of the long summer days and dedicate some time to finishing that family history! 

[Disclosure: Thank you for supporting The Accidental Genealogist purchasing our products or by using the affiliate links on this website. While I receive a small commission if you click on a vendor link and make a purchase, this does not increase the cost to you in any way. See my full disclosure page for more information.]

Copyright, 2018, Lisa A. Alzo, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Upcoming Appearance: Finding Your Female Ancestors Genealogy Lecture at Pratt Library

Since March is Women's History Month, the Accidental Genealogist is pleased to be giving a talk on "Silent Voices: Telling the Stories of Your Female Immigrant Ancestors" for the 2018 Maryland State Library Resource Center's Annual Genealogy Lecture on Saturday, 10 March, sponsored by the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. 
I am honored to be in the company of two other excellent lecturers, Elissa Scalise Powell, who will present "Hiding Behind Their Skirts: Finding Women in Records”
 and Barbara Vines Little, who will present "Femme Covert or Femme Sole: Women and the Law" and the three of us will participate in an afternoon panel discussion/Q&A session: "Daughters, Mothers and Wives:  Researching the Women in Your Family Tree."

2018 SLRC Annual Genealogy Lecture 
Finding Your Female Ancestors
 will be held on Saturday, March 10th, 2018
 at the Maryland Historical Society, France Hall 201 W. Monument St., Baltimore, MD 21201 from 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.  Click here for registration information.

The full agenda and program description is listed below.


10:00-10:30 Refreshments, Announcements

10:30-1:15 Lectures:

1 - Elissa Scalise Powell:  “Hiding Behind Their Skirts: Finding Women in Records”

2 - Lisa Alzo:  "Silent Voices: Telling the Stories of Your Female Immigrant Ancestors"

1:15-2:00 Lunch

2:00-3:20    Lecture:  
Barbara Vines Little:  "Femme Covert or Femme Sole: Women and the Law"

3:20-4:30 Q&A Session:  
"Daughters, Mothers and Wives:  Researching the Women in Your Family Tree"

Program Descriptions

"Hiding Behind Their Skirts: Finding Women in Records"
 - Women traditionally and historically have not participated as fully as men in creating records and therefore are not as accessible to researchers. Research for our women ancestors must be done by connecting them to others in their family, social, economic and church circles. Maiden names may be discovered on the records of the women's children, church records, and courthouse records. The trick is to ever-widen the sphere of influence and discover all possible records referring to the subject and her family. This lecture gives concrete examples of how to search for the lost women on our pedigree.

"Silent Voices: Telling the Stories of Your Female Immigrant Ancestors"While most historical records have been created for and/or about men, making it more challenging to research and write about female ancestors, this session will demonstrate effective ways to discover your female ancestors and how to document the important roles their lives played in culture and society. Ms. Alzo will also discuss various methods for writing about your female ancestors (from short, informative biosketches or profiles to writing a complete book), along with options for publishing your family history.

"Femme Covert or Femme Sole: Women and the Law"This lecture covers English common law and its effect on women from the colonial period through the Civil War. A woman, whether servant, slave or free, frequently lost and gained property and other rights based upon her age and marital status. In order to successfully research women, it is necessary to understand these rights and how and under what conditions they changed.

"Daughters, Mothers and Wives:  Researching the Women in Your Family Tree"
 - Bring your questions and brick walls related to researching female ancestors to this moderated question and answer session with our guest speakers. Don't miss this opportunity to pick the brains of three distinguished professional genealogists with almost 85 years of combined experience.

Copyright, 2018, Lisa A. Alzo, All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Fearless Females Blogging Prompts Series Returns for 2018!

It's just a few days away...that special month for you to honor your female ancestors with the Fearless Females blogging prompts series!

Fearless Females Badge courtesy of Denise Levenick

In March 2010, I launched a series of 31 blogging prompts for celebrating and honoring the "fearless females" in our family trees. Many bloggers participated and I was asked if I planned on running them again. I'm happy to say that this series is still going strong and is back for another year.

So, to mark National Women's History Month (beginning Thursday, March 1), I'm listing the 31 prompts below. 

Also, you can download the free badge above to use on your blog to indicate your participation. [A special thanks to my friend and colleague, Denise Levenick, The Family Curator, who created the original version of this badge especially for me for the 2016 edition of Fearless Females].

The theme for National Women's History Month 2018 is “NEVERTHELESS SHE PERSISTED: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination Against Women” so it is a perfect time to start writing about those female ancestors who have informed, influenced, or inspired you!  Tell us about your female ancestor(s)  What struggles or discrimination did SHE (they) overcome? 

While I won't be doing posts for individual prompts each day, I will do a post each week sharing the stories of how some of my favorite female ancestors persisted and remained strong through difficult experiences and situations. 

Also, watch this blog for other ideas, prompts, and tips to learn about your female ancestors, as well as special coupons for discounts on books, courses, or other products related to researching your female lines.


Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month

 You can choose to do some of the prompts, or all of them--there's no pressure--it's meant to be a fun exercise to focus on the women and make sure their stories are told!
[Group of young women reading in library of normal school, Washington, D.C.]Library of Congress, (Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer.); REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USZ62-100288 (b&w film copy neg.) DIGITAL ID: (b&w film copy neg.) cph 3c00288]

Blogging Prompts

March 1 — Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

March 2 — Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

March 3 — Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.

March 4 — Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.

March 5 — How did they meet? You’ve documented marriages, now, go back a bit. Do you know the story of how your parents met? Your grandparents?

March 6 — Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.) If you don’t have any, then write about a specific object you remember from your mother or grandmother, or aunt (a scarf, a hat, cooking utensil, furniture, etc.)

March 7 — Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother’s kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? If you don’t have one that’s been passed down, describe a favorite holiday or other meal you shared with your family.

March 8 — Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters? Share an entry or excerpt.

March 9 — Take a family document (baptismal certificate, passenger list, naturalization petition, etc.) and write a brief narrative using the information.

March 10 — What role did religion play in your family? How did your female ancestors practice their faith? If they did not, why didn’t they? Did you have any female ancestors who served their churches in some capacity?

March 11 — Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family?

March 12 — Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

March 13 — Moment of Strength: share a story where a female ancestor showed courage or strength in a difficult situation.

March 14 — Newsmakers? Did you have a female ancestor who made the news? Why? Was she famous or notorious? Did she appear in the social column?

March 15 — Write a six-word memoir tribute to one of your female ancestors.

March 16 — If you could have lunch with any female family member (living or dead) or any famous female who would it be and why? Where would you go? What would you eat?

March 17 — Social Butterfly? What social organizations or groups did your mother or grandmother belong to? Sewing circle, church group, fraternal benefit society or lodge? Describe her role in the group.

March 18 — Shining star: Did you have a female ancestor who had a special talent? Artist, singer, actress, athlete, seamstress, or other? Describe.

March 19 — Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out?

March 20 — Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.

March 21 — Describe a tender moment one of your female ancestors shared with you or another family member.

March 22 — If a famous director wanted to make a movie about one of your female ancestors who would it be? What actress would you cast in the role and why?

March 23 — Create a timeline for a female ancestor using your favorite software program or an online timeline generator such as OurTimelines. Post an image of it or link to it.

March 24 — Do you share any physical resemblance or personality trait with one of your female ancestors? Who? What is it?

March 25 — Tell how a female ancestor interacted with her children. Was she loving or supportive? A disciplinarian? A bit of both?

March 26 — What education did your mother receive? Your grandmothers? Great-grandmothers? Note any advanced degrees or special achievements.

March 27 — Do you know the immigration story of one or more female ancestors? Do you have any passenger lists, passports, or other documentation? Interesting family stories?

March 28 — Do you remember your mother’s best friend? Your grandmother’s? How and where did they meet? How long were they friends? What activities did they share?

March 29 — Create a free Fold3 Memorial Page or a Genealogy Trading Card at Big Huge Labs for a female ancestor. Some of you may have created your own card back in September 2009 following Sheri Fenley’s post over at The Educated Genealogist. This time, the card is for your female ancestor. Tell us about who you've selected and why and then post a link to what you've created.

March 30 — Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?

March 31 — Pick one female ancestor and write a mini-profile (500 words or less).

BONUS: Take all of your postings and turn them into a memory or tribute booklet for future generations.

Post an entry on your Blog when you have created your tribute. Tell us how you did it (what format, how you printed it or digitized it, etc.).

Want Even More Prompts and Tips?

If you would like additional writing prompts and tips for researching and writing about your female ancestors, pick up a copy of my eBook Fearless Females: 31 Writing Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History. Click here to order a copy and get $2.00 off the purchase price with coupon code fearless18 (coupon good through 31 March 2018, 11:59 p.m. Eastern time).  

Copyright, 2018, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Five Free Scrivener Resources to Help You Share Your Stories

Are you struggling with writing your family history? Looking for a tool that can streamline the process? 

If you haven't yet tried Scrivener--a multifaceted writing and project management tool that you can use to plan, organize, and write your family history--then perhaps 2018 is the year you will want to take it for a test drive. 

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of Scrivener, developed by the company Literature and Latte.  I started using Scrivener back in 2011 and first mentioned its usefulness as a writing tool for genealogists in a webinar for Legacy Family Tree Webinars in 2011. I frequently present on how to use Scrivener at genealogy conferences and for webinars.

I have rounded up a list of five FREE Scrivener resources to help you get started so you can share your stories. Three of the resources are products I have created and the remaining two are general resources.

1. Scrivener Software Free Trial.  You can try Scrivener for free for 30 days (and that is 30 days of actual use, not calendar days)And if you decide you like it, and wish to buy the full version, I have a special discount code for you.

Use LisaAlzo at checkout to save 20% off of your purchase of a regular license using the links below:

Scrivener for Mac

Scrivener for Windows

The coupon is NOT valid for Scrivener for iOS (iPhone/iPad). Learn more here.

2. Storyboard Your Family History with Scrivener. Get a basic overview of how to use Scrivener to create a visual outline (storyboard) for all of your writing projects. Click here to access the free presentation and accompanying handout.

3. Scrivener for Genealogists Facebook Group. Interact with fellow genealogists who use Scrivener in a closed Facebook group. In Facebook, search for Scrivener for Genealogists and send a request to join.

4. Scrivener Handouts and Templates. Visit the Free Scrivener Resources page on my website to download the free handout “25 Scrivener Hacks Every Genealogist Should Know“ and the free Ancestor Profile Scrivener template.

5. Free Previews: Scrivener for Genealogists Webinar Series Legacy Family Tree Webinars. If you are a bonus member of Family Tree Webinars ($49.95 per year), you can watch the five full-length webinars I presented on Scrivener.  You can preview a snippet of each one on Legacy, but must be a bonus subscriber to watch the recordings in their entirety.

Other Resources

Scrivener QuickSheets (PDF) - Because I want you to love using Scrivener as much as I do, I am discounting my popular Scrivener for Genealogists QuickSheet (you can choose Mac or Windows) - Save 50% through 24 January 2018.

Click here to purchase the Mac version PDF - use coupon code: scrivmac50

Click here to purchase the Windows version PDF - use coupon code: scrivwin50

The Write Stuff Genealogy Intensive. Put your writing plan into action through my six-week course that you can start and complete whenever it is most convenient for your schedule. In Week 2, participants are encouraged to use Scrivener to create a storyboard for their writing project. For the month of January, I am offering a $40.00 discount off the regular price. Learn more here.  Use coupon code: writenow to get your discount.

With so many free resources available, there are plenty of ways to learn more about Scrivener. I know once I started using it my writing productivity soared!  Now I can't imagine starting any writing project without it!

[Disclosure: Thank you for supporting The Accidental Genealogist by using the affiliate links on this website. While I receive a small commission if you click on a link and make a purchase, this does not increase the cost to you in any way. See my full disclosure page for more information.]

Copyright, 2018, Lisa A. Alzo, All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Farewell, 2017: My Year in Review

It's time once again to say farewell to another year. I don't know about you, but I am counting down the hours minutes until it is time to put 2017 in the history books and move on to 2018!  Here is my year in review.


Besides my gigs as a regular contributor to Internet Genealogy, Your Genealogy Today, and Family Tree Magazine, I wrote blog posts for Legacy Family Tree.  In addition, I spent much of 2017 writing a series of courses on Eastern European Genealogy Research for The National Institute for Genealogical Studies (more on this in the coming months). I also worked on a "to be announced" book project for Family Roots Publishing. 


In 2017, I presented more webinars than in previous years to groups in the states (Florida, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and others), Alberta, Canada, and to worldwide audiences via Legacy Family Tree Webinars. My good friend and colleague, Denise Levenick (The Family Curator)  and I also partnered together for a special Fall into Family History Webinar on organizing a writing project and selecting and preparing images for a photo project. (You can purchase the recording of this webinar here).

Online Teaching and Coaching

In addition to the National Institute courses, I continued as an online course moderator for Family Tree University. I also had the opportunity to coach many aspiring family history writers in my own online courses The Write Stuff Genealogy Intensive and The Write Stuff II Genealogy Intensive. These courses are ongoing through the year so you can sign up at any time. 


In 2017, I traveled to present sessions at genealogy conferences in Burbank, Columbus, Toledo, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Springfield (MA), Salt Lake City, and Seattle. The highlight of my year was presenting the keynote address at The Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International Conference in Pittsburgh. At this same conference, CGSI presented me with a Distinguished Achievement Award. The engraved plaque reads: "In recognition of her many outstanding years of teaching, coaching, writing, and researching on Slovak, Rusyn, and Czech genealogy." I was completely surprised and so honored to receive this award from my long-time colleagues and friends at CGSI. 

Ready for 2018
On my desk, I have a stone with the word "Create" imprinted on it. 

I look at this stone every day and it helps me to think of new ideas for writing and other projects I want to work on. So, I have chosen the word "CREATE" as my word for 2018.  I hope to reawaken my muse to write more books and design more products to teach others about genealogy and family history writing.

I will be hitting the road again in 2018 to present at many genealogy events. Watch this blog for more information!  

A special thank you to my readers for your continued support in 2017. All the best for 2018!

Copyright 2017, Lisa A. Alzo, All Rights Reserved

[Disclosure: The above post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission].

2018 Legacy Family Tree Webinars Schedule Announced

Good news on the genealogy education front for 2018!

MyHeritage and recently announced that registration is now open for its 2018 Legacy Family Tree Webinar Series. Choose from 106 classes from genealogy's leading educators on a variety of topics. (Click here to read the full announcement).

I am pleased to also announce that I will once again be a presenter for two live Legacy Family Tree Webinars in 2018:

  • 25 Simple Research Hacks Every Genealogist Should Know
  • 10 Eastern European Genealogy Resources You Might be Missing

I will also be pre-recording more bonus subscriber-only webinars too. My recent recordings include such topics as Creating Family History eBooks, Using Coroner's Records, for Genealogy, Researching Eastern European Archives, Using Immersion Genealogy to Learn about Your Ancestors, and many more!

Click here to learn more.

Sign up (it's FREE!) for one or for all of them today and you will receive a reminder email both one day and two hours prior to the live event.
Webinar Brochure
Print the webinar brochure to share with your friends, genealogy society, or Family History Center. memberships
All live webinars are free and their recordings are free to watch for the first 7 days. With a webinar subscription (click here to sign up) you get these additional benefits:
  • Access to 1) all the existing 637 classes in the library (856 hours of quality genealogy education), 2) plus the 106 webinars that will be added during the 2018 season, 3) plus any additional bonus subscribers-only webinars (171 of these so far) - all available for the duration of your membership
  • Access to all 2,910 pages of instructors' handouts plus the new handouts of the 2018 season
  • Chat logs from the live webinars
  • Additional 5% off anything at
  • Chance for a bonus subscribers-only door prize during each live webinar
  • Additional members-only BONUS webinars
  • Playlist, resume watching, and jump-to features
It's just $49.95/year.
[Disclosure: The above copy contains affiliate links. As a Legacy Family Tree affiliate, I will receive a small commission if you use these links to sign up for a subscription].
I hope you will join me and all of the presenters for a great year in genealogy education!

Copyright 2017, Lisa A. Alzo, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Are You Ready to Write Your Family History in 2018?

Is writing a family history one of your goals for 2018?  Are you ready to compile all those years of research into a compelling narrative? Need a project to complete while waiting for your DNA test results to arrive? The New Year is the perfect time to dive in and share those family stories!

My popular course, The Write Stuff Genealogy Intensive--a six-week writing workshop will show you how!  Click here to register before 31 December 2017 to save over 30% off the regular price: Normally $129.00, now just $89.99 - Use code NYEWRITE at checkout.

What is The Write Stuff Genealogy Intensive?

Are you excited about (or perhaps even a little obsessed with) the idea of getting your family history down in writing? Maybe you have self-doubts and fears about how to get started, what to write, and how to put it all together in a compelling way? If so, then this workshop is for you! During this six-week intensive, you will learn the key steps for producing a quality family history narrative from outline to finished product, ways to use “storyboarding” to plot your project, and how to build your writing skills, as well as your confidence as a writer. In addition, you will receive helpful tips, project management tools, and a productivity toolbox to help keep you on track.

Start Whenever You are Ready

There is no official start or end date for the Write Stuff workshop, so you can work at your own pace and still receive valuable feedback on your writing from your coach!

Through online instructional sessions, weekly assignments, and collaboration with other participants, you will have access to an instructor with more than 27 years’ experience, who will teach you about key nonfiction writing techniques you can use to produce a “can’t put down” family history that will keep the pages turning for generations.

NOTE: While Facebook is not required, participants will reap the most benefits from the collaborative environment by accessing the Facebook Group for The Write Stuff Genealogy Intensive. 

Key Goals of the Course

Learn writing skills and techniques to produce a quality family history; build on the skills each week.
  • Focus on getting a working draft.
  • Work at your own pace.
  • Receive constructive and helpful feedback.
  • Overcome fears and anxiety about writing.
  • Have fun!

For more information and to register, visit and remember to use promo code NYEWRITE at checkout to save 30%! Sale valid through Sunday, December 31st.

[Disclosure: The above is a paid course where I am the coach/instructor and receive an instructor's fee as compensation].

Copyright, 2017 Lisa A. Alzo, All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 09, 2017

It's Almost Time: CGSI Genealogical and Cultural Conference Pittsburgh, PA October 17-21

It's almost time for the 16th CGSI Genealogical and Cultural Conference October 17-21 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  

CGSI Registration booklet. Click here to learn more and register.

Will I See You in Pittsburgh Next Week? 

I have been waiting for this conference for over a year.  I have  the honor of presenting the keynote address on Friday, 20 October 2017 - "They Built This City: Celebrating Pittsburgh’s Industries and Immigrants."  The opening session starts at 8:00 a.m. with the singing of the Czech, Moravian, Slovak and Carpatho-Rusyn National Anthems, and the Star Spangled Banner, followed by the keynote talk.

I will also be presenting three other sessions during the conference:

  • Overcoming Brick Walls in Eastern Europe Research (Thursday, 10/19)
  • Beginning Slovak Genealogy (Friday 10/20)
  • Identifying Pittsburgh’s Slovak Cluster Communities and Their Role in Preserving Slovak Heritage (Saturday, 10/21)

About CGSI

The Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International Conference is the premier event to learn about techniques for genealogical research in the areas now known as the Czech and Slovak Republics.

Presentations throughout the conference will explore the history and culture of the people who lived in the present-day Czech and Slovak Republics.

Ethnic-focused bus tours of the Pittsburgh area, live performances of regional music, and special-interest movies are all a part of the CGSI Conference.

The Czechoslovak Genealogical Society was founded in 1988 in St. Paul, MN. It was incorporated as the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International in 1991. 

CGSI currently has about 2,400 members from across the US, Canada and the Czech and Slovak Republics.

More information including registration form can be found at

Copyright 2017, Lisa A. Alzo.  All Rights Reserved