Educational Programs People Want

Early Registration Ends Monday, September 5, 2016


Register Now   –   Mail in Registration

At the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Springfield, Illinois this week, Curt Witcher spoke about the large gap between the current number of active members in genealogical societies and the millions of people currently involved in online family history research.  Seeking to narrow this gap, the Dallas Genealogical Society strives to align our educational services and programs with the interests of our members and with the needs of others in the community who are interested in genealogy, yet are not involved in a local genealogical society.

To that end, the DGS offers: (a) three seminars each year –  one or two all-day events with nationally known genealogical speakers; (b) eight monthly programs – one-hour talks from regional and local experts; and (c) several special interest groups – topical discussion groups led by society members. (You can get more information about these on the DGS website.)

On Saturday, September 17, 2016, Curt Witcher, a prominent genealogist, will present four lectures at the DGS Fall Seminar:  Sources & Methods for Family History Research.


Session 1.            Historical Research Methodology:  Engaging the Process to Find all the Answers

Session 2.            German Migration into the Midwest

Session 3.            Fingerprinting Our Families: Using Ancestral Origins as a Genealogical Research Key

Session 4.            Native American/First Nations Research

Session Descriptions and Seminar Information

The lecture topics address the interests of our Society members as well as the interests of others engaged in family history research. A survey of our members indicated they would like to have research methods topics included in our seminars, as well as ethnic group research topics. The Fall Seminar includes two methodology lectures and a talk about German migration. The fourth topic is about Native American/First Nations research, an interest we heard from several persons who stopped by the DGS booth last March at the North Texas Irish Festival. Curt Witcher has the breadth and depth of expertise to address this range of research topics.

Not sure this seminar is for you?

Don’t be deterred if some topics aren’t a match for your interests! Be excited about:

  • Learning some unexpected knowledge nuggets;
  • Engaging in rewarding conversation with fellow researchers;
  • Supporting a genealogical society that strives to serve!

Please help us welcome Curt Witcher to Dallas for this special event!

Register Now   –   Mail in Registration

Early Registration Ends Monday, September 5, 2016

Fall Seminar with Curt Witcher


Register Now   –   Mail in Registration

Early Registration Ends Monday, September 5, 2016

The Dallas Genealogical Society has a wonderful Society Newsletter archive available on its website. I wondered how Curt Witcher’s last visit with the DGS had been reported. He was the featured lecturer in February 2002 in the Discovering Genealogical Sources lecture series. I found this article in the archive (Volume 25, Number 10, Issue 224, page 183):


Source: 2002-01 | Volume 25, Number 10, Issue 224 (January)

Curt Witcher is now the Senior Manager for Special Collections at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, IN where he manages The Genealogy Center, the institution’s Rare and Fine Book Collection, and the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection of Abraham Lincoln materials. Curt is the project lead on many of the library’s digitization initiatives–initiatives that include partnerships with the FamilySearch International, the Internet Archive, ProQuest, Ancestry, Fold3, and WeRelate–as well as growing a site of free, searchable data files at

In addition to the more than five hundred record and methodology articles he has penned for genealogical periodicals, Curt has participated in many family history conferences and seminars across the country, presenting ideas and strategies to help individuals find and tell their family stories. He was honored in May of 2007 with the National Genealogical Society’s P. William Filby award for outstanding, life-time contributions to genealogical librarianship. (I note that the first Filby award was presented in 1999 to Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck of the Dallas Public Library, Dallas, Texas.)

On Saturday, September 17, 2016, Curt is presenting four lectures at the DGS Fall Seminar,  Sources & Methods for Family History Research.


Session 1.            Historical Research Methodology:  Engaging the Process to Find all the Answers

Session 2.            German Migration into the Midwest

Session 3.            Fingerprinting Our Families: Using Ancestral Origins as a Genealogical Research Key

Session 4.            Native American/First Nations Research

Session Descriptions and Seminar Information

The seminar will be held in the first floor Auditorium of the Dallas Public Library, 1515 Young Street in Dallas. This beautiful facility seats 179 persons – not quite the 240 seats available to family history researchers in 2002, but still a good number!


Auditorium at the Dallas Public Library

In 2002, the DGS Newsletter reported that Curt’s lecture was a sell-out (Volume 26, Number 1, Issue 225, page 7)! The article notes Curt’s graciousness in answering all questions during breaks and lunch. It describes the lecture as both a “good time” and “information-packed”. I expect no less graciousness or expertise on Curt’s part when he joins us on September 17th.


Source: 2002-02 | Volume 26, Number 1, Issue 225 (February)

Please help us welcome Curt Witcher back to Dallas for this very special event!

Register Now   –   Mail in Registration

Early Registration Ends Monday, September 5, 2016

It’s a Privilege

For this Midwesterner it’s hard to imagine in our current 100-degree Dallas heat that Fall is actually coming. But one thing the approach of Fall means is that the Dallas Genealogical Society is once again offering a Fall educational seminar.

Curt Witcher, a nationally prominent genealogical speaker, is our featured speaker on Saturday, September 17, 2016. Registration is open and offered at a discounted rate to both members and non-members through midnight September 5, 2016.

Register Online      Register by Mail

CurtBWitcherYou may recognize Curt Witcher as the Senior Manager for Special Collections at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he manages the Genealogy Center. His is also a former president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society and the founding president of the Indiana Genealogical Society.

I first encountered Curt Witcher when he delivered a keynote speech in 2011 at the first RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City. He spoke about genealogical societies and said things right-out-loud that inspired many and risked derision from others. I was inspired.

This respected member of the national genealogical community simultaneously chastised and uplifted societies. I thought: Here is a leader with a message of hope and solid ideas for the genealogical societies of the future.

At RootsTech that year he shared the keynote stage with a truly distinguished group:

  • Shane Robison – Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy and Technology Officer, 
Hewlett–Packard Company;
  • Brewster Kahle – Founder of the Internet Archive; and
  • Jay Verkler – CEO, FamilySearch International.

The second time I heard Curt speak was at the annual awards banquet of the 2012 Texas State Genealogical Society Annual Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. He stepped in as the banquet keynote speaker for Lloyd Bockstruck, who was unable to attend at the last minute. Curt admirably retooled a talk about the outreach efforts of the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library, interleaving real life  stories of library patrons. It was a warm and touching speech that resonated with many hearts in that audience.

I most recently heard Curt speak in March of this year at the Williamson County Genealogical Society’s Annual Seminar in Round Rock, Texas. He did not disappoint.

His introductory remarks included: “I’ve always been a contrarian” and “I get snarkier with age”. Delightful: A man of immeasurable competence who makes no apologies for his intelligent analysis and critique, while delivering solid guidance to family history researchers.

When I found myself in a position to engage speakers for the Dallas Genealogical Society, Curt definitely made my short list. What a privilege to have him join us September 17, 2016, when he will deliver four lectures under the umbrella theme of Sources & Methods for Family History Research.

Session 1. Historical Research Methodology: Engaging the Process to Find all the Answers

Session 2. German Migration into the Midwest

Session 3. Fingerprinting Our Families: Using Ancestral Origins as a Genealogical Research Key

Session 4. Native American/First Nations Research

Please Join Us for this Wonderful Event!

Register Online      Register by Mail

Preview the Family Treasures

Copy of LevenickDenise-web-4

Preserving & Sharing Our Family Treasures

~ Denise May Levenick ~

July 29 & 30, 2016

before midnight, Wednesday, July 27
$160 (members) | $190 (non-members) | Lunches & Library Parking Included

Friday, July 29, 9:30 – 10:00
J. Erik Johsson Central Library | 1515 Young Street | Dallas, TX  75210

All day Friday and Saturday morning will feature six lectures offering tips, techniques, and best practices for preserving and sharing our family treasures. Learn about archiving, scanning, photo restoration, and estate planning – among other topics!

After lunch on Saturday, Denise will host the Heirloom Roadshow: Two sessions featuring keepsake submissions from members of the audience. We had to close the roadshow submissions to give Denise time to research each of them. She thinks we have an interesting mix of keepsakes to discuss. I think she’s right! See for yourself: Here’s a brief preview!


Barbara Ware submitted a gourd with what her family believes to be gunpowder inside. They think it is Civil War era as their great grandfather fought with the 16th Mississippi CSA.

Barbara is curious to know the best method to find out if it is gun powder – without it being confiscated by police? She asks how and where should they store it?


Bud Hopkins submitted this little booklet written and copyrighted by his maternal great grandmother, Ella Mary MATLOCK Van Osdel (1840-1925), and published by the Woman’s Temperance Publishing Association in Chicago in 1897. In addition to her writings, a photograph of a tintype of her mother Elizabeth B. JOHNSON Matlock (1818-1882) is included in the front, along with a sketch of her infant son “Willie” (about 1862-1862) probably drawn by her daughter Elizabeth VAN OSDEL Cowan (1863-1932), a portrait artist, and a poem entitled “Willie” written by her husband Charles Ruland Van Osdel (1840-1917).

Bud wants to know what he should  do to preserve this 119 year old keepsake for his children and grandchildren?


Ken Johnston submitted his Dad’s leather jacket, acquired in the mid-50s. His Mom leans toward it being a jacket that  belonged to his Dad’s paternal uncle. The tag for the brand looks as though it was removed or torn out. The jacket has not been worn for many years, and has been hanging in the closet covered with a black plastic trash bag. The leather has dried out and is stiff, and there are some spots of mold and wear on it.

Ken would like to restore the jacket and intends to pass it along to another family member in years ahead. He’d like advice on maintaining it in a restored condition so that it does not become dried out and/or moldy.

Please join us at our Summer Seminar!

before midnight, Wednesday, July 27
$160 (members) | $190 (non-members) | Lunches & Library Parking Included

Friday, July 29, 9:30 – 10:00
J. Erik Johsson Central Library | 1515 Young Street | Dallas, TX  75210

You Can’t Take It with You!

Preserving & Sharing Our Family Treasures

2016 DGS Summer Seminar – July 29 & 30, 2016

Register Now


Most of us have some family treasures we deem worthy of preservation. My mother saved many certificates and diplomas marking achievements and graduations in her life. Many of these documents were rolled and then bound by satin ribbons. Among the diplomas was her 1937 college diploma written in Latin on sheepskin and signed by her cousin, the college Dean. After Mom died Dad saved all of these documents, which I now have.

My father was an anti-hoarder, a possession minimalist. So, what he did keep might reflect what was most important to him: a hand-stitched, khaki green, cloth bag containing a crucifix and sown-on religious medals; a Teamster’s Union pin; a prayer folded to fit in the inside band of his cap. His personal treasures – left behind, never mentioned, now in my possession.

There was also a handful of objects in our home that came from my parents’ ancestors. Mom had her father’s wooden-handled hand drill and a doll someone brought home from a pre-WWII trip to Holland. Dad had a small variety of objects: his immigrant Irish grandfather’s shillelagh; a large framed studio photograph of his mother at age 13-16; a cup and saucer originating in some unclear fashion from his immigrant Scottish grandfather, who was a potter; and a pair of leather mittens lined with a soft fur that he brought home from his European tour in WWII.

I have my grandfather’s drill and one of my sisters has the Dutch doll. I know Dad gave his Mom’s photograph to his youngest sister and the cup and saucer to another of his daughters. I don’t know the whereabouts of the shillelagh or the mittens.

Lastly, one day in the 1970’s a trunk arrived from Dad’s recently deceased aunt, his mother’s sister. Among other objects, it contained a collection of costume jewelry and four matching bowls and plates. I have this pottery, which I discovered was made in the Mount Clemens pottery in Michigan where my Dad’s uncle worked. This uncle was also a potter and a brother of my Dad’s mother.

These few objects are the “stuff” of my parents that has remained, some of it with me and some not. I ask myself: What am I going to do with this stuff? Will any family members want it after I can no longer care for it?


I have also accumulated many pictures and records documenting my family’s history. How best should I preserve them? How can I assure that my keepsakes and records pass on to a loving steward?

I expect Denise Levenick will have some answers for me and many others asking similar questions. I am very happy that she is coming to speak at the Dallas Genealogical Society’s summer seminar, July 29th and 30th.

I heard Denise speak at Rootstech 2014 in Salt Lake City. I was impressed by the range and depth of her knowledge about preservation. She brings sound archival practice within the reach of many of us. She understands the challenges we face. Her tips and techniques are practical and affordable. I think of her as the original “DIY Family Curator”.

Among the topics she will address, we are fortunate that she will be presenting “Estate Planning for Genealogists”, a topic debuting this July in Denise’s course, Family Archiving: Heirlooms in the Digital Age, at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP). This timely presentation is just one reason to attend the Summer Seminar!

You Can’t Take it with You: Estate Planning for Genealogists” — Who will care for your family archive when you’re gone? This session will look at creative solutions for distributing family heirlooms when settling an estate, how to be an attractive donor to institutional archives, and how to prepare a simple genealogical codicil. We’ll also discuss options for preserving your family history stories and photos in legacy online digital archives.
– Denise May Levenick

I am also excited about the “Heirloom Roadshow” Denise will be hosting. People have already submitted interesting preservation challenges for the Roadshow. This interactive session should be a lot of fun! You can submit your heirloom to the Roadshow online.

If you have not already done so, I encourage you to register for Denise’s seminar!

Register Now

Early registration ends July 10th!

Preserving & Sharing Our Family Treasures

Friday – Saturday, July 29 – 30, 2016

10:00 AM – 4:30 PM

1st floor Auditorium | J. Erik Jonsson Central Library
1515 Young Street | Dallas Texas, 75201

Preserving Our “Stuff”

Join the Dallas Genealogy Society on July 29 & 30, 2016
Denise Levenick presents a 7-part program:
Preserving & Sharing Our Family History


News came to us yesterday of the death on May 2, 2016 of Margaret Ann (Schmidt) Hudson (1943-2016). Margaret Ann was an avid genealogist who served the DGS over many years in several capacities, including president in 1983-1984. Her obituary states that “in her pursuit of family history and stories, she amassed a substantial collection of materials and documents.”1 Her son, Matthew Hudson, fondly noted that Margaret Ann gave books of genealogical charts to each of her children.


Another son, James Hudson, reported in a Dallas Morning News blog that his grandfather and Margaret Ann’s father-in-law, Elmore Hudson, left a massive collection of photographs and negatives. Included in his collection were several 1936 photos capturing the construction and early days of Fair Park buildings in Dallas, Texas. Margaret Ann alerted James to the collection and the family subsequently preserved “each picture and negative in acid-free sleeves, numbered, [and] boxed.”2


Denise May Levenick

Denise May Levenick, our DGS Summer Seminar speaker, comments in her blog (The Family Curator) that “in every family, someone ends up with “the stuff”.”3 Margaret Ann Hudson organized and published her research findings and passed them on to her children in book form. Her children, in turn, preserved and shared their grandfather’s photography collection. These are two examples of  wonderful outcomes for any family historian!

All family history researchers have “stuff” –
usually, lots of stuff.

As in the case of Elmore Hudson’s photographic collection, some of our personal collections are well-organized and preserved using good archival practices. But the reality for many of us is that our stuff consists of a challenging array of physical and digital formats and is stored or stashed in every conceivable manner.


We know our research records and family treasures are valuable and vulnerable. We want practical approaches to organization, preservation, and sharing that do not require advanced technical degrees and small fortunes to implement.

When Denise Levenick inherited her grandmother’s trunk filled with photos, documents, and family keepsakes, she set about adapting archival practices for the organization and preservation of these family treasures. She understands the challenges we face in organizing, preserving, sharing, and passing on our family records, keepsakes, and miscellaneous “stuff”. She feels our pain.

Denise Levenick | July 29 & 30, 2016
Preserving & Sharing Our Family History


Denise’s 20 plus years of research and practice resulted in her blog, which contains practical tips, techniques, and DIY projects. She has also published two books: How to Archive Family Keepsakes and How to Archive Family Photos. 

Denise is a frequent contributor to family history magazines and online publications, and presenter for webinars and workshops. She is also a member of the 2016 faculty for the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh.

Register now for this Special Event!

1. “In memory of Margaret Ann Hudson,” Dignity Memorial, Memorial Funeral Chapel College Station, ( : accessed 5 June 2016).

2. Wilonsky, Robert. “The story behind a stack of rarely seen photos of Fair Park under construction in 1936,” The Dallas Morning News, City Hall Blog, 3 June 2016 ( : accessed 5 June 2016), paras. 8 & 11.

3. Levenick, Denise May. “About Denise Levenick, The Family Curator,” The Family Curator, 2016 ( : accessed 5 June 2016), para. 1.

DGS Monthly Meeting This Saturday-Our 60th Anniversary Celebration

The May General Meeting of the Dallas Genealogical Society is this Saturday, May 7th on the 1st floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young Street, Dallas, TX, 75201. Hospitality time begins at 10:30am followed by a short business meeting. Immediately after that, the Society will celebrate 60 years of service to our members and to the genealogical community.

Please join us for a program which highlights our activities, achievements, and awards over the decades as we accomplished our mission:

  • To educate by creating, fostering, and maintaining interest in genealogy;
  • To assist and support the genealogy section of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in Dallas, Texas or to its legal successor;
  • And to collect, preserve, copy, and index information relating to Dallas County and its early history.

…and then we’ll have cake!

See you there.

No Label


DGS@60 – Our Commitment to Genealogy Education

The Dallas Genealogical Society is throwing itself an anniversary party on Saturday, May 7!  At our May general meeting, we will celebrate 60 years of service to the genealogical community of Dallas and north Texas.


Our first “Clinic”, October 22, 29 and November 5, 12, 1955, was conducted by Mrs. Margaret Scruggs Caruth (founding member), John Plath Green (our first president), and Mrs Margaret Pratt (Head of the Local History and Genealogy Department of the Dallas Public Library). While we don’t have information about the topics presented, we can mark this date as the beginning of DGS’s long involvement through the decades in the education of genealogists and family historians through a variety of clinics, workshops, seminars, and institutes. At our third Clinic, held May 9-10, 1958, the featured guest speaker was Mrs. Virginia H. Taylor, Archivist of the State Library in Austin, Texas. Featured speakers over the years have included internationally known and respected genealogical researchers, family historians, speakers, and writers, including Carleton E. Fisher, John Philip Colletta, William Dollarhide, Patricia Law Hatcher, Paul Milner, Christine Rose, and Lloyd D. Bockstruck. At the 1991 Spring Seminar, speaker Elizabeth Shown Mills spoke to 700 participants.


Mark your calendars. Please join us for reminiscences, stories…and cake. The festivities will be Saturday, May 7 from 10:30am -1:00pm in the Auditorium of the J.Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young Street, Dallas TX, 75201.

What Constitutes the British Isles?

Milner_Paul_SquarePaul Milner, professional genealogist and international lecturer, will speak at our 2016 Spring Seminar, From Whence They Come. Two of his four lectures will provide opportunities to learn about Irish and Scottish emigration to the USA and Canada and the tools and records available to trace your ancestors.

He will also provide guidance regarding England’s National Archives website, specifically the research tools, indexes, and catalogs that can help you find your ancestors and put them into their correct historical context. His fourth lecture goes beyond the basics of 17th and 18th century English research to identify records that can help you jump the gap created by England’s Civil War and the problems of migration due to the Industrial Revolution.

Seminar Information and Registration

As you can see, Paul will be covering a lot of territory and initially it seemed that “British Isles Research” would be an apt title for the seminar. After all, Paul’s biographical information states that he “has specialized in British Isles genealogical research for over 30 years”. I soon discovered my understanding of the term “British Isles” was hazy and, further, that the term itself often fosters misleading or incorrect assumptions.

I therefore undertook to re-enlighten myself regarding the distinction between the “British Isles”, “Great Britain”, “The United Kingdom”, and “Ireland”. (Surely I must have known this at one time.) I reviewed descriptions on several websites, including the FamilySearch wiki. I offer you the descriptions below and I credit much of the text to Know Britain and wikipedia.

The British Isles

The expression “British Isles” is geographical and not political. They are a group of islands off the northwest coast of Europe consisting of Great Britain, the whole of Ireland, the Orkney and Shetland Islands, the Isle of Man, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Isle of Wight, the Scilly Islands, Lundy Island, the Channel Islands, and many other smaller islands.

Great Britain

Great Britain is the largest island in the British Isles and is the collective name for England, Scotland, and Wales. Great Britain includes the small adjacent islands but excludes the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. 

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is comprised of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The official name “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” came into use in 1922 after the creation of the Irish Free State (1922-1937).


Ireland is the second largest island, after Great Britain, in the British Isles. Geographically, it includes Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom. In 1937 the Irish Free State adopted a new constitution that claimed all of Ireland as its territory and officially became”Ireland” in English and “Éire” in Irish. In 1948 Ireland declared itself the Republic of Ireland but retains “Ireland” as its official name.

Perhaps Paul Milner will plan a pop quiz for the March 12th Seminar! Hope to see you there!

Want to attend Summer Seminar Free?

Bring a friend who ticket - byofis not a current member of the Dallas Genealogical Society to our monthly general meetings in February, March, April or May.  For each qualified friend* you bring, you will receive an entry for a drawing to be held at our special 60th Anniversary meeting in May. The winner of the drawing will receive one free admission (including lunch both days) to our July 29-30 Summer Seminar featuring Denise Levenick, the Family Curator!


*Entries will be restricted to DGS members who bring a guest who is not a current DGS member to a General Meeting in February, March, April or May 2016. You will receive one entry for each guest you bring and register.