Monday, December 29, 2008

New Format for GenClass!

GenClass will be experimenting with a new and improved format for its online Genealogy classes. Each class will be designed as an independent study where you work at your own pace on eight lessons (two lessons per week), and interact with your instructor via e-mail. Optional class chats may also be scheduled at the instructor's discretion.

All classes begin on the first of each month and end on the 28th of each month.

You'll still see different courses offered each month and upon registration/payment, you will receive an e-mail from GenClass confirming your registration. Lessons are sent via e-mail and the instructor will be available for the duration of the class to answer your questions also via e-mail.

Think of it as having your own personal genealogy tutor!

The GenClass instructors are excited about this new format.

If there's a course you've thinking about taking, now is the perfect time! Click here to see the classes offered in January and February.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Genealogy Gems Podcast: Family History Made Easy

Recently, I had the great pleasure of being interviewed by Lisa Louise Cooke, host of the GenealogyGems Podcast for her Family History Made Easy Podcast. I got a chance to talk about my reasons for researching my family history and what I've learned along the way.

Click here to listen to my segment. A big thanks to Lisa! It was fun!

Monday, November 24, 2008

NPR Joins StoryCorps in Celebrating the National Day of Listening - November 28

This announcement comes in from StoryCorps.

As part of an effort to celebrate StoryCorps' National Day of Listening, several NPRprograms will feature hosts and correspondents interviewing their own familymembers, friends, and familiar faces. Starting November 22 until Thanksgiving Day,tune into NPR and get inspired to record your own Do-It-Yourself interview thisThanksgiving!

Visit to learn how to participate.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I haven't posted anything on this blog for quite some time - just so very busy that I haven't had time.

Today's posting is a simple one: VOTE!

I cast my ballot this morning.

My grandfather, John Figlar, who was born in Austria-Hungary, became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1938. He took the privilege of being able to vote very seriously. He used to tell his children, "You fellas (regardless of whether they were male or female) need to vote."

So, today, I quote "pap-pap" - "You fellas, go vote!"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How the Rusyns Could Save Civilization
Pittsburgh City Paper Article

Glad to see the Rusyns getting some press time.

The September 25, 2008 issue of the Pittsburgh City Paper published the following article, "How the Rusyns Could Save Civilization," by Chris Potter.

"Of all of the ethnic groups that have settled in Pittsburgh, few are as mysterious as the Carpatho-Rusyns. So convoluted is their history, so mysterious their origins, that many Rusyns are mysteries even to themselves. No one even knows precisely how many Rusyns there are -- though some estimate their numbers at 2 million -- in part because Rusyn identity has been suppressed for centuries. It's not just possible to work alongside a Rusyn without knowing it; it's possible for the Rusyn not to know it, either..."Click here to continue reading this article.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Southern California Genealogy Society Changes 2009 Jamboree Dates

The 40th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree will now be held Friday through Sunday, June 26-28, 2009.

The Southern California Genealogy Jamboree is the largest genealogical event on the West Coast.

This year, the ethnic focus will be on the British Isles (English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh). For more information, click here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Family History-themed TV

I really don't watch much television these days due to work, writing, speaking engagements and teaching which keep me pretty busy (although I do admit to really liking Mad Men on AMC--up for several Emmy awards tomorrow night...), but, I happened to run across on MSN Entertainment a guide to new Fall shows.

I know many genealogists are anticipating the debut of the American version of the popular Who Do You Think You Are? series slated to run on NBC, but below are a couple of other shows that have a family or family-history theme that will roll out this Fall.

Fall Shows 2008: New Highlights

Sept. 6: "The Locator" (9 p.m., WE)

"In this feel-good unscripted series, Troy Dunn, who was inspired by his own search for his mother's birth parents, helps those in need track down people who have been previously deemed "unfindable." (WE)"

Sept. 30: "Opportunity Knocks" (8 p.m., ABC)

"Rather than building a set on a soundstage for this new game show, the set will come to contestants. Host J.D. Roth will knock on a family's door and invite them to play the game, of which the set will then be erected on their front lawn. Questions are based on how well the family members know each other, with correct answers yielding a new refrigerator rolled right into the kitchen or a new car driven into the garage. The show is executive produced by Ashton Kutcher. (ABC)"

I will be interested to check out both of these shows.

Back to Blogging

This Blog has been silent for a couple of weeks. Mostly because of work, and travel for talks, but also with family stuff such as attending the funeral of my uncle, Joe Figlar, last week.

I hope to start posting again on a more regular basis.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Library grant to preserve steel industry archives

Caught this on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette site today...Being a Pittsburgh girl, I am really happy to read about this effort.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, founded with money from the steel industry, yesterday announced an ambitious project to preserve its archive of Pittsburgh's iron and steel business.

The impetus for the project is a $600,000 grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. The money will fund a three-year program to digitalize the library's 400,000 pages documenting the area's historic role in the production of industrial metals.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Last Chance: September Courses on GenClass

There's still time to sign up for September classes at Each class lasts four weeks and costs $34.50. Choose from:

09-Jewish Genealogy: Internet (Part 2)
This class builds on the basics course, providing detailed information about search engines, general genealogy sites, Jewish genealogy sites.

Duration:4 Weeks from September 1, 2008

09-Adoption Investigative Class - September 1, 2008
Detailed search advice and assistance for successfully locating and reuniting adoptees and birth families.

Duration:4 Weeks from September 1, 2008

09-Brick Wall Research - September 1, 2008
Brick Walls are common in genealogy. Learn tips, tricks, solutions and strategies to bust through them.

Duration:4 Weeks from September 1, 2008

09-Lost Friends and Family Investigative Class - September 1, 2008
Detailed search advice and assistance on the methods to use for successfully tracing "lost" relatives and friends.

Duration:4 Weeks from September 1, 2008

09-Native American Genealogy - September 1, 2008
Learn how to start your research for your Native American Ancestors.

Duration:4 Weeks from September 1, 2008

09-Organizing Your Family History - September 1, 2008
Learn the techniques to ensure efficient organisation of your research.

Duration:4 Weeks from September 1, 2007

09-Scottish Genealogy - September 1, 2008
This extensive class will provide a detailed description of what you need to know to track your Scottish ancestry.

Duration:4 Weeks from September 1, 2008

09-Research in the Great Lakes States - September 1, 2008
This course will focus on generalized and locality specific resources of six area states -Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Click here to register!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Childhood Memories: The Sweetest Strawberry Pie

Perhaps at one time or another you think about a favorite food you enjoyed as a child, or you associate a particular meal or dessert with a special family event. As summer nears its end, I was thinking about how very soon fresh strawberries will be out of season where I live. When I think of strawberries, I think of my mother and the time she made the best Strawberry Chiffon pie I had ever tasted. It was the summer of 1977. My dad's sister, who was a nun in Texas, came home to for a party in her honor. Our cousins from Canada came down for the event and brought with them several large vats of strawberries grown on their friend's farm. They were the plumpest and juiciest strawberries you could imagine and my mom and Aunt Betty went to work cleaning, hulling, and slicing them for strawberry shortcake and pies. My mother made traditional strawberry pie and strawberry chiffon pie.

Today, I tried my hand at making a strawberry chiffon pie--in memory of my mother. I'll admit that it wasn't quite up to her standard, and I did cheat a little using a store-bought pie crust (to save time), but it was good enough to help celebrate this fond memory from my childhood.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Surrogate mom, 61, gives birth to own grandkid

From the Associated Press
updated 7:38 a.m. ET, Thurs., Aug. 21, 2008

TOKYO - A 61-year-old Japanese woman gave birth to her own grandchild, using an egg donated by her daughter, a clinic said Thursday.

I read this story online today; it's certainly one that would catch a genealogist's attention.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Writing Life: Surviving Criticism

"Ever been torn to shreds by someone you’ve never met? You must be a writer. Don’t take it personally."

Since this blog is about genealogy AND writing, I thought I would link to this excellent article in the current issue of Writer's Digest magazine, "Surviving the Spite" by Melissa Hart. I think anyone who writes professionally can relate to this excellent piece about handling public criticism.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back to School: Genealogy Style

As students of all levels prepare to begin a new school year, it's a good time to consider signing up for an online genealogy course. GenClass has a number of offerings coming up in September for the affordable price of $34.50 per course (8 lessons, plus instruction and chats from leading experts in genealogy).

09-Jewish Genealogy: Internet (Part 2)
This class builds on the basics course, providing detailed information about search engines, general genealogy sites, Jewish genealogy sites.

Duration:4 Weeks from September 1, 2008

09-Adoption Investigative Class - September 1, 2008
Detailed search advice and assistance for successfully locating and reuniting adoptees and birth families.

Duration:4 Weeks from September 1, 2008

09-Brick Wall Research - September 1, 2008
Brick Walls are common in genealogy. Learn tips, tricks, solutions and strategies to bust through them.

Duration:4 Weeks from September 1, 2008

09-Lost Friends and Family Investigative Class - September 1, 2008
Detailed search advice and assistance on the methods to use for successfully tracing "lost" relatives and friends.

Duration:4 Weeks from September 1, 2008

09-Native American Genealogy - September 1, 2008
Learn how to start your research for your Native American Ancestors.

Duration:4 Weeks from September 1, 2008

09-Organizing Your Family History - September 1, 2008
Learn the techniques to ensure efficient organisation of your research.

Duration:4 Weeks from September 1, 2007

09-Scottish Genealogy - September 1, 2008
This extensive class will provide a detailed description of what you need to know to track your Scottish ancestry.

Duration:4 Weeks from September 1, 2008

09-Research in the Great Lakes States - September 1, 2008
This course will focus on generalized and locality specific resources of six area states -Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Duration:4 Weeks from September 1, 2008

You can attend these classes from home. So, why not consider taking one or more to brush up on your research skills or learn about a new technique or facet of family history?

Click here to register for the course of your choice.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Invisibility Cloak on Horizon?

This really has nothing to do with genealogy but I caught this story on MSN today and thought it was interesting. Where do I sign up?

Invisibility Cloak on the Horizon, Scientists Say
By Steven Musil, CNET

Scientists say they are a step closer to developing materials that will render people and other objects invisible.

Researchers say they can redirect light around 3-D objects using metamaterials--artificially engineered structures created at a nano scale that contain optical properties not found in nature, according to an Associated Press report. Click here to read the rest of the article.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Big Thank You!

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my appreciation to everyone who participated in the 2008 Federation of East European Family History Societies Conference August 1-3 at the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott Hotel (I was the chairperson this year). Thanks to the attendees, the speakers, the FEEFHS council, the sponsors, vendors, and volunteers. It was a great conference with top notch presentations. The Sunday tour: Rivers of Steel "Babushkas and Hard Hats" was phenomenal. We had great weather, saw a number of places significant to Pittsburgh's history, had a delicious snack at the Carpatho-Rusyn Center in Munhall, PA and equally delicious lunch at the Bulgarian-Macedonian Center in West Homestead.

So many people worked tirelessly for nearly two years to put this event together. I enjoyed working with everyone, seeing old friends, and making new ones at this conference. Thanks again!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

2008 FEEFHS Conference: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Article

This article about the upcoming Federation of East European Family History Societies Conference August 1-3 in Pittsburgh, PA, appeared in the Wednesday, July 23rd edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

I am the chairperson for this conference. If you've got East European roots, I hope to see you there!

Conference aims to help genealogists uncover Eastern European branches of family trees
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sad News in from the AP

I've been following the story of computer science professor, Randy Pausch, and his battle with pancreatic cancer since I first saw the segment about his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon University on the news. Although I've never met him, I found myself wiping away tears today as I read the news of his passing. I read his book, and it really touched me--it's basic lessons serving as a reminder about what really matters in life.

Last lecture professor dies of cancer

Randy Pausch, famed for his life-affirming message, passes at 47

from the Associated Press
updated 11:13 a.m. ET, Fri., July. 25, 2008

PITTSBURGH - Randy Pausch, a computer science professor whose "last lecture" about facing terminal cancer became an Internet sensation and a best-selling book, has died. He was 47.

Pausch died early Friday at his home in Virginia, said Anne Watzman, a spokeswoman for Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh where he worked. Pausch and his family moved there last fall to be closer to his wife's relatives.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

May Randy rest in peace.

Monday, July 21, 2008

FamilySearch and Team to
Publish New Images and Enhanced Indexes to the U.S. Censuses

This announcement has already been posted on other genealogy blogs, but I thought it worth repeating here.

SALT LAKE CITY— and FamilySearch, the two largest online family history resources, announced today they will exchange records and resources to make more historical records available online. The first project is a joint initiative to significantly enhance the online U.S. Federal Census Collection (1790 to 1930). The original census records are among the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

FamilySearch is digitally converting master microfilm copies of the original U.S. Federal Censuses from 1790 through 1930 and, under this agreement, will give these improved images to All census images and indexes will be available on for subscribers. As projects are completed, images will be available for free in NARA reading rooms and FamilySearch’s 4,500 Family History Centers., which currently offers indexes and images to the entire publicly available U.S. Federal Census Collection, will give FamilySearch copies of its existing census indexes. Through its online indexing system and community of volunteer indexers, FamilySearch is already indexing select censuses. FamilySearch will merge the indexes with the new FamilySearch indexes to create enhanced census indexes, which will be added to both sites. Indexes to the enhanced censuses will be free on for a limited time as they are completed. Indexes will also be available for free on

Allen Weinstein, the Archivist of the United States, welcomed this agreement as a significant benefit for researchers. He remarked that, “Census records are among the most important documents the American people have to trace their genealogy and know their family history. Having two of our partners working together to enhance the indexes and images of these essential documents will enable an unprecedented level of access and understanding.”

The first census exchanged is the 1900 U.S. Census. FamilySearch completed a 1900 index in addition to’s original. In the new index, FamilySearch added several new fields of searchable data, such as birth month and birth year, so individuals can search for ancestors more easily. The two indexes will be merged into an enhanced index, available on both sites. The new 1900 census images are now available on The enhanced 1900 index will be available for free for a limited time at and ongoing at will also provide FamilySearch its original 1920 U.S. Census index. Using the index as a first transcription, FamilySearch will create a new second index with added fields and arbitrate any discrepancies between the two indexes. The 1920 project is currently in progress. Individuals interested in helping create the improved index can volunteer at Once completed, the enhanced 1920 index will be available on both sites and will link back to images on

The 1850 through 1870 (partial) and 1880 and 1900 U.S. Censuses can be searched currently at; all publicly available U.S. Censuses are already available on

Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of The Generations Network, Inc., parent company of, said, “This collaboration represents a significant step forward in making family history research more accessible. The enhanced U.S. Federal Census Collection that will become available through this agreement is a gold mine for family history researchers, and we look forward to collaborating with FamilySearch in identifying other opportunities to help people discover their roots.”

“The U.S. Censuses are arguably the most important collection of U.S. genealogical records. FamilySearch is excited to see the complete, improved indexes of these collections freely available online over the next two years. And we look forward to working with to enhance access to additional, significant collections in the future,” said Jay Verkler, Managing Director for FamilySearch.


Media Contacts:

Paul Nauta
FamilySearch Manager of Public Affairs

Suzanne Bonner
Sr. PR Manager,


With 26,000 searchable databases and titles and nearly 3 million active users, is the No. 1 online source for family history information. Since its launch in 1997, has been the premier resource for family history, simplifying genealogical research for millions of people by providing them with many easy-to-use tools and resources to build their own unique family trees. is part of The Generations Network, Inc., a leading network of family-focused interactive properties, including,, and Family Tree Maker. In total, The Generations Network properties receive nearly 8.5 million unique visitors worldwide. (© comScore Media Metrix, March 2008). To easily begin researching your family history, visit

About FamilySearch

FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization that maintains the world's largest repository of genealogical resources. Patrons may access resources online at or through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries. FamilySearch is a trademark of Intellectual Reserve, Inc. and is registered in the United States of America and other countries.

NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

August Classes on GenClass

Looking for a way to beat the summer heat and still make progress on your family history research? Consider signing up for a course with GenClass. The classes are great value for the price. Enjoy learning from home--save money on fuel by not having to travel anywhere.

Click on the class name for classes in the coming month:
08-Adoption Investigative Class - August 1, 2008 Detailed search advice and assistance for successfully locating and reuniting adoptees and birth families.Duration:4 Weeks from August 1, 2008

08-Australian and New Zealand Genealogy - August 1, 2008 Learn how to research your Australian and New Zealand family, even from a distanceDuration:4 Weeks from August 1, 2008

08-Basic English Research - August 1, 2008 Learn how to start researching your English ancestors - historical background, geography, finding the "bones" of your family.Duration:4 Weeks from August 1, 2008

08-Canadian Research - Part 2 - August 1, 2008 Part 2 builds on Part 1 and advances your research using the most helpful records – with lots of practical search tips, tricks, and advice.Duration:4 Weeks from August 1, 2008

08-Eastern European Research: Part 1 - August 1, 2008 This class will continue on from the basic Eastern European research class, focusing on how to expand your research beyond your own family into a more community-oriented protocol.Duration:4 Weeks from August 1, 2008

08-Family Tree Maker 2008 - The Basics - August 1, 2008 Help finding your way around this new Family Tree Maker program, as well as learning how to enter your information including names, dates, media and sources.Duration:4 Weeks from August 1, 2008

08-Jump Start your Genealogy! - August 1, 2008 Just where do you start if you are interested in your family tree? - detailed instructionsDuration:4 Weeks from August 1, 2008

08-Lost Friends and Family Investigative Class - August 1, 2008 Detailed search advice and assistance on the methods to use for successfully tracing "lost" relatives and friends.Duration:4 Weeks from August 1, 2008

08-Northeastern United States Genealogy - August 1, 2008 Research in the NE states is fundamental to the trees of many Americans.Duration:4 Weeks from August 1, 2008

08-Salt Lake City: Part 2 - August 1, 2008 Access the largest genealogical library in the world. Continuing on from Part 1, this course takes you into the sections that most people never use - and what a mistake that is!Duration:4 Weeks from August 1, 2008

Click here to register.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Back to this Blog

It's been awhile since I've posted to this blog. To say that I have been busy is an understatement! I just got back from attending a family reunion in Pittsburgh. I've been working on writing assignments, book projects, setting up for future speaking engagements, and last but not least, planning the upcoming 2008 FEEFHS Conference in Pittsburgh, PA August 1-3. So unfortunately, blogging has been put on the back burner. I anticipate this pace to continue for a couple more weeks (until after the conference).

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Last Day for 2008 FEEFHS Conference Early Bird Registration Discount

This is the last call for the early registration discount for the 2008 FEEFHS conference, August 1-3, Pittsburgh Airport Marriott Hotel, Pittsburgh, PA.

Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to learn from the top experts in the field of East and Central European genealogy, online databases, DNA testing and more, or to hear Steve Morse, creator of the “One-Step Genealogical Search Tools” who will be the plenary speaker on Friday, August 1st.

To register, go to:

Sunday, June 29, 2008

July Courses on GenClass

Don't miss out on the great opportunities for online learning available through GenClass.

Adoption Investigative Class
Canadian Research - Internet Resources - Part 1
Jump Start your Genealogy!
Lost Friends and Family Investigative Class
Native American Genealogy
Salt Lake City: Part 1 - the Largest Genealogical Library in the World!
Scottish Genealogy

Each class is $34.50 and features 8 lessons plus real-time interaction with an expert instructor.

Click here to register today!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Polish émigré gets into 7 Ivy Leagues

I'm always happy to see someone from Central or Eastern Europe earn some recognition!

I caught this story on MSNBC today.

5 years since entering U.S., he gets into 7 Ivy Leagues
Polish émigré couldn’t speak English; now he’s admitted to 17 top schools

By Bob Considine contributor
updated 9:05 a.m. ET, Wed., June. 18, 2008

Lukasz Zbylut has taken “the old college try” to a whole new level.
The New York teenager, who emigrated from Poland only five years ago, applied to seven Ivy League schools — and was accepted by every one of them.

Click here to continue reading this article.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fayette County Genealogical Society Seminar

I am pleased to be speaking, along with Elissa Powell, at the Fayette County Genealogical County Society seminar to be held at the Uniontown Library, Uniontown, PA this Saturday, June 21, 2008 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Click here for additional information about registration and lecture topics.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Out of This Furnace: The Play

I am really happy to announce this item.

The Unseam'd Shakespeare Company in Pittsburgh, PA is presenting "Out of This Furnace" a play by Andy Wolk and directed by Marci Woodruff, June 12-June 28, 2008 (Wed-Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 4 pm) Open Stage Theatre (2835 Smallman Street, in the Strip District)
Tickets:, 412.394.3353.

Across three generations, one family struggles to build a life in the shadow of Carnegie’s first mill. A dramatic adaptation of Thomas Bell’s intimate tale of immigrants, labor, and the rise of unions in Braddock, PA--a revival of the production created in the 1970’s by Pittsburgh’s theatre for working-class audiences—the Iron Clad Agreement.

I am honored to have been asked to talk about my book Three Slovak Women (which I was inspired to write after reading Bell's novel), before the 4 p.m. performance on Sunday, June 22nd.

This will be a great afternoon to celebrate Slovak heritage!

Click on this link to read the review of the play from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Web site.
Update on the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids

Here is an update about the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids.
Thankfully, the staff and their families are safe and they are now trying to deal with the flood crisis and disaster recovery.

I visited this wonderful museum and library when I was a speaker at a conference of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts & Sciences, which was held in Cedar Rapids in 2003, and have interacted with many of the staff there for a variety of projects. As Gail Naughton, President and CEO, so eloquently says in her message posted on the their web site (see below) along with a photograph: "Czechs and Slovaks have endured many devastating events in their history with an indomitable spirit." I have faith that our friends in Cedar Rapids will as well.

My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone.

June 14, 2008

National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

A statement from Gail Naughton, President/CEO

National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

To our Czech and Slovak friends around the world.

The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library has been dealt a devastating blow with the massive flooding in Cedar Rapids. The museum buildings are surrounded by more than 10 feet of water up to the roof, which is rushing with such great force boats cannot get near. It is a flood of historic proportions, beyond any imagining. I want to assure our members and friends that everyone at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library is safe. We were able to remove two semi truck loads of artifacts and books to safety, but we were unable to remove everything before we were told to leave. We will not know the full extent of the damage until we are able to get inside, which may be over a week. The museum staff and board of directors are already meeting to plan for disaster recovery and professional help is coming from across the country to advise and assist us.

I have received an outpouring of concern, support and love from across the United States and around the world. I want to thank everyone for these messages, which are so treasured by us as we go through these difficult days. Many have asked how they can help. At this point we don’t know. When we do, we will ask, because we will need the help of everyone in the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library family and Czechs and Slovaks worldwide to survive this.

Czechs and Slovaks have endured many devastating events in their history with an indomitable spirit. The United States is filled with the strength of those Czechs and Slovaks who settled here and built the nation.

A museum is more than a building, it exists in the hearts and souls of people. The treasured heritage of the Czechs and Slovaks will continue to be preserved as we triumph and rebuild the museum and library.

Callers will not be able to reach the Museum through our telephone number at this time. For the latest information go to the Museum’s website which will be periodically updated. As soon as phone service is restored, we will post it here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

"Shoot Your Best Shot..." Father's Day Reflections

It's hard to believe this is the third Father's Day without my dad. It's supposed to get easier, right? Well, I found myself missing Dad just as much today as I did the first year and the second. I missed giving him a hug and kiss, and some token present or card (my father never really bought into the "Hallmark Moment" thing) which Dad accepted graciously, but somehow I always knew that the gesture had more significance for me than for him.

I've written about my father in this Blog before, so I am going to keep this posting short. My father was a kind, generous, and hard working man. He gave without expecting anything in return and taught me not by his words, but by his actions. My father was also an outstanding basketball player in his youth and well into his late 30s. And in keeping with the basketball metaphor, one of his favorite sayings both on the court and off, was "Shoot Your Best Shot."

I am trying to follow that advice.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. You are dearly missed.

With love from Lisa

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flooding at NCSM&L in Cedar Rapids, Iowa‏

I received this notice today from the Slovak-American Society of Washington (SASW). The devastation in Iowa is being felt by so many individuals and also by those who work to preserve Czech and Slovak History. Thoughts and prayers are with everyone who have gone through this disaster.


The National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids has been caught in the flooding in that city. NCSM&L has water up to the ceiling on its first floor, and the water is still rising. Unfortunately, the flooding occurred so fast that staff were able to get only a few things out of the first floor. SASW will send out more information as it becomes available.

Friday, June 13, 2008

News from Everton's Genealogical Helper

This announcement has been posted on many of the other genealogy blogs out there (I am a bit "behind the eight ball" I guess)... Nevertheless, I wanted to pass along the news here in support of EGH and editor, Leland Meitzler). I'm looking forward to the new online edition!


Everton’s Genealogical Helper Adds New Online Edition!

New Online Edition of Everton’s Genealogical Helper will debut July 1! Subscribe today for only $10.00!

LOGAN, Utah, June 12, 2008. Genealogy Online, Inc., publisher of Everton’s Genealogical Helper, today, announced the publication of the Genealogical Helper in an Online Edition. The Online Edition is an identical copy of the 176-page paper edition – complete with hotlinks to the hundreds of website addresses found therein.

Launch Date – The new Online Edition will launch on July 1 – simultaneous with the home delivery and newsstand date of the paper edition of the July-August issue.

Free Access – Subscribers to the traditional Genealogical Helper will have 100% FREE online access to the magazine – with no extra fees whatsoever. See for sign-up information.

Online Edition subscriptionsEverton’s Genealogical Helper, Online Edition, will sell for just $12.00 per year! That is only $2 per issue! And it’s only $10.00 for subscriptions made before July 1 at or phone 1-800-443-6325.

Net Family History – An important feature of Everton’s Genealogical Helper is the magazine within a magazine entitled Net Family History. New information specific to using the Internet for genealogy is always found in this portion of the bimonthly publication. Extensive website reviews are always located here, as well as articles dealing with Internet-related activities.

Why an online edition? – Every issue of Everton’s Genealogical Helper now contains hundreds of website addresses. The Internet is where some of the most exciting genealogical resource advances are taking place, so it’s required that information about these resources be disseminated to the Helper’s thousands of readers in every issue. Everton’s Genealogical Helper, Online Edition, will allow readers to go from their paper edition to the hotlinked Online Edition and access any of the websites with just a keystroke or two – no more typing in those lengthy website addresses! The Online Edition offers more than just the links found in the magazine – it is the entire magazine itself!

Format & hostingEverton’s Genealogical Helper, Online Edition, will be in pdf format, readable by anyone, with any computer running an Adobe Acrobat Reader (Available at as a FREE download.) The Online Edition will be hosted by, Inc.

Why subscribe to the Genealogical Helper? – Subscribe to have access to the Helper’s how-to & historical articles, Net Family History (see above), genealogical sharing, extensive book and CD-ROM reviews & announcements, queries, the most complete event calendar available anywhere, and hundreds of ads detailing new products and services. In addition to these day-to-day features, you will also have access to the NEW updated, hotlinked Directory of Genealogical and Historical Societies – to be published in the Sept/Oct and Nov-Dec issues! Edited by Leland K. Meitzler, the Helper is guaranteed to help you extend your lines and fill in those blanks in your family tree.

WHAT A DEAL!Your cost for a full subscription (the paper magazine & online access both) is less than 3 cents per page – delivered to your home, and now accessible online. Subscribe to the Online Edition alone for just over a penny a page! Subscribe by July 1 and it’s less than a penny per page!

Subscribe NOW at: or phone 800-443-6325.


About Genealogy Online, Inc.

Genealogy Online, dba Everton Publishers, is the publisher of Everton’s Genealogical Helper, now in its 62nd year of helping genealogists find their ancestors. Genealogy Online, Inc. also publishes the Handybook for Genealogists, 11th edition, a top-selling guidebook for family historians. Their website is found at: Also see: http//

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Writing Your Family History Course

I will be teaching a course on Writing Your Family History at Broome Community College in Binghamton, NY this Saturday, June 14th from 9:00-1:00. This is my favorite class to teach. I enjoy interacting with others who have an interest in sharing their family stories.

Monday, June 09, 2008

2008 FEEFHS Conference Publicity Video

The 2008 Federation of East European Family History Societies Annual Conference is coming up soon--August 1-3 in Pittsburgh, PA. The event is being held at the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott Hotel. Check out the new video on YouTube to see what exciting things are being planned for this conference. Click here to view the video.

For more information, see the FEEFHS web site.

Friday, May 30, 2008

2008 FEEFHS Conference Early Bird Registration Discount Extended

The Early Bird Discount deadline for registration for the 2008 Federation of East European Family History Societies Conference August 1-3 at the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott Hotel, Pittsburgh, PA has now been extended to 1 July 2008.

Don't miss this jam packed two-day event which will feature presentations from leading experts in the area of Central/East European genealogy. The keynote speaker for the conference on Friday, August 1st will be Dr. Stephen P. Morse, creator of the "One-Step" genealogical search tools.

Details about this conference were discussed recently on DearMyrtle's Family History Hour podcast. Convenient registration is available using PayPal on the FEEFHS web site. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

June Classes on GenClass

There are a number of great offerings for June on GenClass.

Take advantage of the beginning of summer for some great learning opportunties. Courses offered include:

Adoption Investigative Class
Eastern European Genealogy Research: Part 2 (Intermediate)
Lost Friends and Family Investigative Class
Organizing Your Family History
Salt Lake City: Part 2 - the Largest Genealogical Library in the World!
Write Your Family History Step-by-Step

Each course costs just $34.50 for 8 lessons and class chats with expert instructors.

Click here to register now.

And be sure to listen to DearMyrtle's recent podcast to hear more about Genclass.

Friday, May 23, 2008

As Memorial Day Approaches

I caught this article about the importance gathering and preserving the memories of WWII vets on MSNBC today: "As WWII vets pass, memories preserved..."

To read the full article click here.

I am so glad I took the time to ask my father questions about his service in the U.S. Navy during WWII and have an audio recording of that interview. I've also preserved all of his documents, photographs, and even his Navy diary.

Friday, May 16, 2008

News from NGS

If, like me, you couldn't make it to the National Genealogical Society Conference currently taking place (May 14-17) in Kansas City, there are a number of bloggers reporting from the event: Dick Eastman, DearMyrtle, Genealogy Blog and the Genealogy Insider all have reports about the latest developments in the genealogy world.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

I saw this article, "Mother’s Day without mom? Words of advice," on MSN yesterday, and it eloquently sums up my feelings about today, Mother's Day. I lost my mother nearly 8 years ago so today is a bittersweet day - happy memories of a loving mother who was my best friend and biggest cheerleader, and sadness that she is not here for me to throw my arms around her to tell her how much I love her and appreciate how she raised me to be respectful of others and all of the sacrifices she made to ensure I received a good education and had opportunities she didn't.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Remembering Dad

Today would have been my father's 83rd birthday. I couldn't let this day pass without remembering him. Although my father was one of the most generous people I've ever known, he never really was big on presents or cards for himself; he always told me I was "just wasting my money." But, one of Dad's favorite foods was ice cream and so during the two years he spent living with us, we would always have an ice cream cake to celebrate his birthday. I can still see him sitting at the table, enjoying the ice cream cake and then he would ask for another piece. Here's a picture of Dad on his 80th birthday - the final one before he passed away.

I love and miss you Dad. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

May 4th Event at WPSCA

I am pleased to be the speaker for the May meeting of the Western Pennsylvania Slovak Cultural Association, Sunday, May 4th in Pittsburgh, PA. I give plenty of talks throughout the year, but this invitation is an honor as this meeting will be held at the National Slovak Society Museum and we will get to preview its opening. I wonder what my Slovak grandparents would think if they could be here? I plan to honor them during the talk and I hope they are looking down with pride. Click here for details.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lake Erie Carpatho-Rusyn Society Genealogy Workshop-Sat. May 3

I will be presenting a workshop at the Carpatho-Rusyn Society Lake Erie Chapter on Saturday, May 3rd at the Shrine Club, I-79, Exit 180 – 2525 W. 38th Street, Erie, PA. My topics will be: "Demystifying East European Research" and "Writing Your Family History." Also on hand: Jerry Jumba, Master of Rusyn folk music and Nancy Kelly, Creating a Rusin/Rusyn Dictionary.

10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Admission is $15 for members of the national Carpatho-Rusyn Society & $20 for non-members, including lunch.

TO REGISTER -- (814) 456-7217 OR

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Upcoming Letters Workshop in Alexandria, VA

I am very honored to be heading to Alexandria, VA this weekend to present the "Letters Workshop" at the Biennial Convention of the National League of American Pen Women on Saturday afternoon (4/26) at the Westin Alexandria. I am also looking forward to the Letters Banquet and hearing the speaker, Carol Buckland, who is Senior Executive Producer for CNN’s “Larry King Live”. The title of her talk is: Billions of Bytes but No Big Picture? The Impact of 24/7 Internet News.

Here is the official announcement of my selection by the committee. I am dedicating my presentation to my mother and my grandmothers. I will blog more about the experience when I return.

Here is the official announcement by Gail Ferguson, Letters Chair, NLAPW

"As the NLAPW National Chair of Letters, I am happy to announce the winner of our first-ever Workshop Contest.
Lisa Alzo will present her winning program, “Silent No More: Giving a Voice to ‘Her’ Story”, on Saturday afternoon of the 2008 Biennial. The theme focuses on women and writing."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

True Inspiration

I'm just about to head out to catch a plane, but felt compelled to complete this post. If you saw the last night's ABC Special: "The Last Lecture: A Love Story for Your Life," then you understand.
Diane Sawyer interviewed Carnegie-Mellon University Professor, Randy Pausch and his family. Pausch has pancreatic cancer and seven months ago, gave an inspiring lecture that has now been viewed around the world thanks to the Internet.

This man's story really hammers home the truth that it doesn't matter how much money, material goods, or fame you have, what really matters is how you live your life day by day and how you treat your family and friends. As genealogists we talk about leaving a legacy for future generations. What an incredible legacy this man will be leaving.

What will your's be?

Click here to read/view the story.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

CGSI Symposium in Seattle

I'll be heading off tomorrow to the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International Symposium in Seattle, WA April 11-13. It promises to be a great event!

For more information, click here.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Butler County Genealogy Expo

The Butler County Genealogical Society is holding their Genealogy Expo this Saturday, April 5, 2008. A great program is planned! Click here for more information.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I came across this article from the Associated Press today. Sleuthing as a calling? A very interesting twist on searching for the dead.

Amateurs solve mysteries of the unnamed dead
Volunteers use modern technology to put names to unidentified bodies
updated 1:03 p.m. ET, Sat., March. 29, 2008

LIVINGSTON, Tenn. - Four days a week, Todd Matthews earns $11.50 an hour working for an automotive parts supplier. After work he drives half a mile to his little beige house on a hill where he spends the next seven hours immersed in a very different world.

The faces seem to float from his computer — morgue photographs, artist sketches, forensic reconstructions — thousands of dead eyes staring from Web sites as though crying out for recognition. John and Jane and Baby "Does" whose bodies have never been identified.

His wife, Lori, complains that Matthews, 37, spends more time with the dead than he does with the living. You need a hobby, she says, or a goal.

Click here to continue reading the rest of the article.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Voice from the Past

I caught this article from Reuters. Quite interesting.

Experts find oldest voice recording, from 1860

Person singing French folk song is 'like a ghost singing to you'

updated 6:13 p.m. ET, Thurs., March. 27, 2008
By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON - U.S. audio historians have discovered and played back a French inventor's historic 1860 recording of a folk song — the oldest-known audio recording — made 17 years before Thomas Edison invented the phonograph.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Long-Standing Easter Tradition is Still Being Observed

I was interested to read the following article on today Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Web site. This is a tradition I fondly remember from my childhood.


Blessing of baskets an enduring rite
Sunday, March 23, 2008

In the waning hours of Lent, baskets of every type, shape, heft and color lined the base of the communion rail at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland.

Bishop David Zubik lifted his hand and 130 people rose from the pews for a Holy Saturday ritual in the Eastern European tradition -- the blessing of the Easter basket.

He spoke of "unleavened bread and bitter herbs," of the sacrificial lamb's relationship to Christ as the lamb of God, of eggs as symbols of the resurrection and admonished the congregation to "remember those who suffer hunger and want."

As he edged his way along the line of baskets, sprinkling them with water from a gold bowl, he blessed loaves of leavened bread and twisted rolls, lamb, ham, sausages, horseradish and pickled beets, cheese, butter and dyed eggs, all under scrunched cloth napkins, crocheted potholders and checkered hand towels.

He blessed several at a time, sturdy hemp and wicker baskets, some natural, some painted, tall rectangular baskets and shallow oval ones with big handles, children's pastel baskets stuffed with shredded cellophane Easter grass and wide baskets full of flowers.

Joe and Kay Littell, of Bloomfield, brought three baskets of food they said they would eat that evening, including egg cheese, kielbasa and nut rolls.

"It's just us," said Ms. Littell, who is Slovak-American. "In the past, everybody in the family came to Grandma's, but after she died, everybody did their own thing," including lots of nieces and nephews who live all over.

John and Nevenka DePasquale, of Glenshaw, brought their three young children for the blessing of their basket.

Ms. DePasquale said in her native Croatia, her family had their baskets blessed every Holy Saturday. Her husband said it is "our family tradition now" but the first at St. Paul.

After the service, Bishop Zubik said the particular foods sacrificed for Lent are ones with direct reference to Christ's life, death and resurrection.

"The lamb is the biggie," he said. "Christ is our lamb." Bread is significant in the Eucharist, the wine significant of the blood Christ shed, the yolk of the egg a sign of new life, he said.

"The season of Lent used to be a lot more strict," he said. People really did forego eating meat, eggs and dairy, and their sacrifice made their senses sharper when Easter came.

"They thanked God the fast was over, yes," he said, "but also for everything that they had."

Diana Nelson Jones can be reached at or 412-263-1626.
First published on March 23, 2008 at 12:00 am

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

I received this lovely Slovak Easter greeting from a colleague! Tomorrow, I will enjoy a traditional Slovak Easter breakfast (with a few modern variations): Ham, Klobassy, Hrutka, Beets and Horseradish, Hard-boiled eggs, and bread (I'll have raisin-walnut bread instead of traditional paska this year -- no time to bake it, unfortunately). Easter always brings back fond memories of my mother and grandmother and all of the wonderful times we shared as a family. I miss them and those times very much!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

RootsWeb to be "Transplanted" to

This announcement has been making its way to all the major Genealogy Blogs--so I thought I would post it here as well.

Please direct all inquiries to:

RootsWeb Announcement
March 13th, 2008 by Tim
As you know, The Generations Network has hosted and funded the RootsWeb online community since June 2000, thereby maintaining RootsWeb as the world’s oldest and largest free genealogy website. TGN remains committed to this mission and believes that RootsWeb is an absolutely invaluable and complementary resource to, our flagship commercial family history site. We believe in both services and want to see both communities prosper and grow.

As part of this goal, we have decided to “transplant” RootsWeb onto the domain beginning next week. This move will not change the RootsWeb experience or alter the ease of navigation to or within RootsWeb. RootsWeb will remain a free online experience. What will be different is that the Web address for all RootsWeb pages will change from to Again, the RootsWeb experience is not changing.

The decision to host RootsWeb on is being made for one primary reason: we believe that the users of each of our two main websites can be better served if they have access to the best services available on both. Simply stated, we want to introduce more users to RootsWeb and vice versa.

Today, despite the fact that and are the two most frequently visited family history sites on the Web, only 25 percent of visitors to visited RootsWeb in January 2008, while only 20 percent of visitors to RootsWeb visited (according to Comscore Media Metrix). We think we will serve our users best by doing a better job of letting them know what is available on both and RootsWeb. Hosting RootsWeb on is the first step towards making this happen, but we will absolutely look for more and better ways down the road to advance this goal.

Hosting RootsWeb on will also make it easier for us to make changes and improvements to the RootsWeb experience in the future.

All old RootsWeb URLs will continue to work, whether they are bookmarks or favorites, links to or from a hosted page or URLs manually typed in your Internet browser. We will have a redirect in place so that all old URLs will automatically end up on the appropriate new RootsWeb URL. You will never need to update your old favorites or links unless you want to. We have worked to make the transition as seamless as possible for our users, and this change should have a minimal impact on your experience with the site.

RootsWeb will remain a free online experience dedicated to providing you with a place where our community can find their roots together. If you have questions regarding this change please email them to

Tim Sullivan,
The Generations Network, Inc.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Five Strategies for Finding Female Ancestors

For the month of March (National Women's History Month) I have focused pretty exclusively on researching the females in my family tree. Here are some tips:

Having trouble locating your female ancestors? Women are often harder to find. Prior to the twentieth century, most historical records were created for and about men. Property was usually listed under the man’s name, and men ran the majority of the businesses and controlled the government. Few women left diaries or letters, especially immigrant women who spoke little or no English.

1.Check all records for her husband, especially tax, property, and naturalization records. Also check records for siblings. Look for clues in photographs, newspapers, yearbooks, bridal books, employment, convent, military, and other records.

2. Consider the possibility of more than one marriage and multiple burial markers.

3. Learn naming practices and patterns and note regional, cultural, and religious influences. For example, Elizabeth (English) vs. Alzebeta (Czech & Slovak) vs. Erzébet (Hungarian). Investigate different endings for female surnames (e.g. in for Slovaks, add an –ova, to a woman’s name when searching databases or European records).

4. Be aware of spelling variations, and handwriting/transcription errors when searching census, immigration or vital records.

5. Create a timeline to place the woman’s life in historical context. Specialty software programs such as Genelines can assist with this task: .

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Fearless Females in Your Family Tree?

Since it is National Women's History Month, I thought I would focus my research during March on my female ancestors. What strikes me most about the women in my own family tree is their strength in adversity, and their determination. My mother was the best role model a daughter could hope for, and the more I learn about what my grandmothers and great-grandmothers had to endure, the more grateful I am to have the opportunities I do. So, here's to Verona, Elizabeth, Maria, Anna, Ilona, and Barbara.

Who are the fearless females in your family tree?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I Dream of... Ancestors?

Do your ancestors ever appear to you in your dreams? I quite often have dreams about my parents--these don't surprise me because I think about them every day. However, recently I had a dream about my Uncle John. I can't remember the context of the dream, but I do remember two things: I could see his face clearly and he said to me "What can I do for you dear?" The strange thing is I haven't been actively been doing any research on him (he passed away in 1995). His birthday is this month, however, so maybe somwhere in my subconscious I was thinking of him.

I'd like to know if anyone else has had a dream about an ancestor that was interesting, surprising, puzzling, or that helped you with a research breakthrough. I try not to read too much into things--but every once in awhile I have an experience that makes me wonder.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Passing of a Legend

I was saddened to learn today of the passing of Pittsburgh's legendary broadcaster and reporter, Myron Cope. He was 79. Mr. Cope was the creator of the signature "Terrible Towel" waved at Pittsburgh Steelers' games. For native Pittsburghers, he was more than an announcer, he was an institution.

Mr. Cope's photograph appears in the book I co-wrote with another Pittsburgh sportscaster, Alby Oxenreiter, Sports Memories of Western Pennsylvania (Arcadia). I am certainly glad we were able to include it, since his signature broadcasting style is truly one of the great memories associated with sports in Pittsburgh.

Click here to read Mr. Cope's obituary.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Your Life Story--in Just Six Words?

As a writer, I am always looking for new and interesting ways to tell a story. That's why I was particularly drawn to this segment "Six-Word Memoirs Can Say It All" featured on the CBS Early Show today in which Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser talked about their new book: "Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure." The book resulted from submissions for a contest launched by Smith Magazine, in which people wrote six-word stories of their own, as memoirs. The idea grew out of the a literary legend that "that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged in a bar to write a story in only six words, a novel that would tell the whole story, and he wrote, 'For sale: baby shoes, never worn.' "

Even celebrities, such as Stephen Colbert and Joan Rivers submitted their respective six-word memoirs. After listening to those of the Early Show anchors, I was inspired to write one as well. The basic premise is that you don't have to be a professional writer to write your life story (a topic I frequently cover in my classes and genealogy lectures). "But, with six words, anyone can start,.." says Smith.

I've ordered a copy of the book and can't wait to read it. Taking this exercise a bit further, I then decided to write six-word summaries about a few of my ancestors (below).

Why not give it a try yourself?

My "Six-Word" Memoir:

Devoted daughter. Must write. Ever striving.

"Six-word" tributes to my ancestors:

Anna Figlar Alzo (my mother): Generous heart. Wonderful cook. Dearly missed.

John Alzo (my father): "Shoot Your Best Shot" Carpenter. Smiles.

John Figlar (maternal grandfather): Rugged Rusyn. Disciplinarian. "I'm the Boss!"

Verona Straka Figlar (maternal grandmother): Family devotion. Inner strength. My inspiration.

John Alzo, Sr. (paternal grandfather): Deep faith. Died too soon. Handyman.

Elizabeth Fenscak Alzo (paternal grandmother): Fine hair. Tough as nails. Enigma.

Friday, February 22, 2008

University of Pittsburgh Coroner Case File Project (and Wiki)

A good friend/colleague of mine shared the news with me about the The University of Pittsburgh Archive Services Center's Coroner Case File Project. Here's a brief summary as posted on their corresponding Wiki, which includes even more interesting details about the project.

Internship Project
Allegheny County Coroner Case File Records

In 1982 the Coroner’s Office of Allegheny County transferred inquest case records, 1887-1973, to the University of Pittsburgh. The inquest case records, referred to in this document as Coroner Case Files, are public records open to all, as affirmed by the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office. The records were created by the Coroner’s Office to satisfy public law. Beyond the final inquest report, materials in the files may include eye-witness testimony, grand jury reports, physician notes, affidavits, press clippings and other documentation. As a whole, the information is valuable to researchers studying a variety of topics pertaining to societal and legal issues. It is imperative that the Coroner Case Files be rehoused in order to ensure their long-term preservation.

Beyond documenting the medical and legal proceedings of questionable deaths in Allegheny County for over a century, the files provide unique perspectives of nineteenth- and twentieth-century industrial dangers, urban problems, social values, diseases, and dislocations, as well as the state of medical knowledge and practice at the time. Though the files certainly contain evidence of sensational murders, they also portray ordinary and accidental deaths, many of which were related to work....

Since most of my relatives settled in the Pittsburgh area, and I have a "suspicious death" lurking in my paternal family tree, I am very excited about this project. I decided to use their formal "search" mechanism which is conducted a few times a month, and submitted a request using a special form.

There's a $12.00 fee which covers copying and mailing of all relevant info. There are some exceptions to record availability: The records between 1933 and June 1938 are not in the Archives Service Center's possession and are presumed to have been destroyed in 1982 prior to the transfer of this collection.

But, since the "probable murder" I am looking for occurred in 1916, I am hoping that I'll have some luck. I am always intrigued when such great unusual resources turn up. It keeps genealogy interesting and proves that not all information is available online just yet. You always have to keep an eye out for those surprise sources!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

FEEFHS 2008 Conference

For Immediate Release

Salt Lake City, UT--The 2008 Federation of East European Family History Societies (FEEFHS) Conference will be held August 1-3, 2008 at the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott Hotel, 777 Aten Road, Coraopolis, PA.

The theme will be “Pittsburgh: The East European Magnet”—reflecting the vast number of immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe who came to the city and its neighboring towns during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The conference will feature presentations from leading experts in the fields of Central and East European Genealogy, DNA testing, and Online Databases, one-on-one research consultations & more! The keynote speaker on Friday morning will be Dr. Stephen P. Morse, Creator of the "One-Step Web Pages." The Saturday evening banquet will feature the talk, "Don't Stop for Red Lights: The Story of the Creation of the Nationality Rooms at the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning" by Joseph Bielecki. On Sunday August 3rd, an optional event, The Rivers of Steel "Babushkas and Hard Hats Tour" will take place from 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Vendors specializing in East European merchandise welcome!

The full 2-day FEEFHS member or non-member fee entitles registrants to attend any of the sessions on Friday and Saturday, both the Friday and Saturday lunches, the Friday evening reception and cultural event, and the opportunity to sign up for individual consultations with participating conference speakers. Registrants will also receive a copy of the Syllabus.

An “Early Bird” registration discount ($120 for FEEFHS members; $150 for non-members) is available until 1 June 2008. Early registration is highly recommended to

Click here for additional information. Also, check out the FEEFHS 2008 Conference Blog for updates!

Monday, February 18, 2008

New Video features Carpatho-Russian/Rusyn Historical Event‏

I received this notice from today. I've got Rusyn roots (my maternal grandfather was born in Osturna, and worked as a coal miner as a young man) so was very interested to watch this video.


The largest mine disaster in Pennsylvania history took place on December 19th 1907 at the Darr Mine, just across the Youghiogheny River from Jacobs Creek, PA – hometown of the Simkovich family. Because the local Carpatho-Russians (Carpatho-Rusyns) had taken off work on a Monday with no pay in order to attend church for the Feastday of St. Nicholas, their lives were spared.
Pittsburgh public television station WQED recently produced a 30 minute program to mark the 100 year anniversary of the mine disaster, and it’s now online. Watching the entire program will give one an appreciation for the hard life that East European immigrants led. Click here to start Part 2 of the program:

The segment on Jacobs Creek’s St. Nicholas Orthodox Church and the Rusyn people begins at the 3 minute 49 second point, ending at the 7 minute 12 second point. It opens with Charles Bobich (a Simkovich on his mother’s side) ringing the church bell.

Interviews are conducted inside the church and in the church hall in the basement. During the time of the mine disaster, this church was actually Greek Catholic.

This program was first aired on television in December, and will be re-broadcast in Pittsburgh on Tuesday February 26, 2008 at 7:30pm.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

New Beginner's Genealogy Magazine

Discovering Family History – a new beginner’s magazine from the publishers of Family Chronicle and Internet Genealogy Toronto – 15 February 2008

Discovering Family History, a new genealogy magazine targeted at beginners, will shortly start publishing. A 24-page preview is included in the March/April issue of Family Chronicle and the April/May issue of Internet Genealogy. A full 56-page preview issue can be downloaded at<>

Halvor Moorshead, the publisher andeditor of all three magazines, says that the seed of the idea for Discovering Family History was sown when Family Chronicle and Internet Genealogy magazines exhibited at an event in Toronto last September, called “The Word on the Street”. Some 200,000 people attended this event, put on forthose interested in books and literacy.

“We sold plenty of subscriptions to both magazines,” said Moorshead, “but I found that I was continually explaining to new subscribers some real genealogy basics ­ steering them to Cyndi’s List and other places that listed beginner’s courses. These people were smart enough; they just needed something more basic than what we were selling. It was sobering to realize that there might be a big market for a genealogy magazine that dealt with the basics.

“This triggered us to conduct marketresearch among Family Chronicle and Internet Genealogy readers. We sent out questionnaires, via the Internet, to 1,000 readers and were more
than pleasantly surprised by the response. A few people said they thought the idea for a beginner’s magazine was a bad one, but for each one of these, 12 people were excited by the idea.We had not expected to find that many people, whohad been researching their genealogy for many years, still considered themselves beginners. But then we realized that most of us are beginners when we tackle a new area for research. Most of us are beginners in some area or another.”

The free online preview issuecontains such articles as Free Family History Websites, Obituaries, the Ultimate Guide to Subscription Databases, Who Else is ResearchingYour Name?, What is a Vital Record?, Citing Sources, a genealogical Case Study, The 10 First Steps, Computer Basics, It’s All About Parents, Genealogical Societies, Web 2.0 and Making Sense of the US Census. The articles are targeted at beginners, but Moorshead says that great care has been taken not to talk down to the reader. “I consider myself a fairly experienced genealogist but I continue to come across aspects of research that bewilder me. For example, until recently I had never investigated land records –I would find a basic article on this subject very useful”, said Moorshead.

Discovering Family History will be published six times a year. There is an introductory subscription rate of $20 per year (same rate for the US and Canada). For more information visit the magazine’s website <>

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pittsburgh Valentines

I caught this item on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette site. Since it is my hometown, I can relate.


Their hearts are in Pittsburgh

Thursday, February 14, 2008
By Brian O'Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Robin Rombach/Post-Gazette

Cameron Greenaway, 7, of Baldwin shows his "Pittsburgh Valentine" to Toni Staab of McKees Rocks during a luncheon with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl at the City-County Building.
Choosing a valentine is tough when the spectrum runs from heavy schmaltz through slapstick humor to straight-ahead sincerity.

It gets even tougher when you try to find one that suits more than 300,000 people.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl asked for Pittsburgh Valentines, seeking "unique reasons to love'' the city, and he got 160 answers. Eleven were chosen for the city web site.

Click here to read the rest of the article.