Past Genealogical Events and Courses

On a regular basis, the Kentucky Genealogical Society provides educational opportunities to members and non-members. This page contains prior topics of the Kentucky Genealogical Society meetings.

As a service to our members, past educational recordings and handouts are available as on-demand learning in our Member Portal page.

December 2020: Funeral Home Collections

What useful information can you get from a funeral home for genealogical research? Funeral home records can contain so much more than a death certificate and obituary! Files can reveal the deceased and the family's extended genealogical information, church affiliations, financial status, and even how they planned for the future. This lecture also describes processing the large donated funeral home collection using a genealogical society.

Speaker: Ari Wilkins

Ari Wilkins, a graduate of Louisiana State University, has been actively researching family history since 1998. Ms. Wilkins has spoken nationally at the National Genealogical Society, Federation of Genealogical Societies, Texas State Genealogical Society, Ohio Genealogical Society, Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research, Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, American Library Association, RootsTech, and a multitude of local societies. Ari has been a Library Associate at Dallas Public Library since 2007. She teaches a series of basic research classes using popular genealogical websites. She specializes in African American research.

October 2020: How to Involve the Whole Family in Family History Fun 

Every family member connects with their family history in a different way. You may be the genealogist but perhaps your other family members are not. Your brother might be the storyteller who gathers his nieces and nephews to tell them funny stories from the past. Your sister may be the musician who sings the traditional Christmas song each year, then writes down the notes and words and shares it with everyone. Someone in your family might be great at analyzing shared DNA segments. Children enjoy participating in family stories in many ways. Everyone has a contribution to make to preserving and telling your family's story. Learn ideas for involving family of all ages in your family history efforts. Here are some family history activities that can include relatives of all ages!

Speaker: Nicole Dyer

Nicole Dyer is a professional genealogist, lecturer, and creator of and the Research Like a Pro Genealogy Podcast. She is the co-author of "Research Like a Pro: A Genealogist's Guide" and author of "Find Names for the Temple: A Step-by-Step Method for Success." Nicole is the publicity chair at the Pima County Genealogy Society. She specializes in Southern United States research, including Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. She holds a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University in History Teaching.

July 2020: Tracing a Kentucky Family From Freedom to Slavery

The most difficult part of genealogical research for African Americans is finding and identifying slave ancestors and their owners, but as difficult as this might seem, it is not impossible. For many people of African descent, the experience can become overwhelming. This lecture will focus on the clues and resources needed to recreate an African American ancestor’s journey from freedom to slavery, including the importance of using the US Federal Census records and the records of the potential slaveholder.

Speaker: Dr. Deborah A. Abbott

Dr. Deborah A. Abbott, PhD, is a professional genealogist, specializing in African American research, manuscript collections and genealogy methodology.

February 2020: Two Sessions from Denyce Porter Peyton

Session One: Finding the Correct Oliver Porter Using the Proof Standard Methods

How to establish the habit of following five elements of the Genealogical Proof Standard to every record search, analysis, and story documentation. A case study will involve the identities of two men with the same name who lived near each other in western Kentucky.

Session Two: Discovering a Probable Family Branch Through Cluster Research

An exploration about how researching friends, neighbors, and close associates living near our research subjects can open a path to additional family branches.

Speaker Denyce Porter Peyton

Denyce Porter Peyton has been an avid genealogist for more than 25 years, providing professional research services since 2004. Her specialties focus on 19th and 20th century Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, the Southeastern states, and African-Americans in antebellum and post-Emancipation eras. She has provided independent research for an episode of Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s "Finding Your Roots" on PBS. She lives in Cincinnati.

January 2020: Your Genealogy Legacy

Speaker: Nancy Simmons Roberson

You have spent years researching, or maybe you are just starting. Have you thought about what will happen to all the info and memorabilia you find during your hours of research? What if there is a natural disaster or your hard drive crashes. How about those old family photos and letters? Are you organizing them and finding a good method to store them? What about on-line trees and those annoying passwords? The biggest danger to your work is procrastination. As you continue to research, you can start to organize and preserve your work.



December 2019: Resources for Kentucky African American Genealogy


  • Cindy Peck, Central KY African-American Cemetery Association
  • Michael J Denis, Danville Boyle Co African-American Historical Society

Our speakers review the many resources their organizations offer to those seeking to learn their African American family history in Kentucky. 

November 2019: Beginning and Extending Your Research of German Ancestry

Speaker: Kent Robinson

Robinson is the past president of the Indiana Chapter and immediate past National president of Palatines to America – German Genealogy Society. He has focused his research during the past 15 years on his mother's paternal ancestry in Germany, tracing them back to 1593.

Presentation covers these resources and strategies:

  • Sources for discovering the name and location of the ancestral village
  • Introduction to the history and geography of Germany
  • A variety of items and terms that researchers will encounter
  • Record types, the info they include, and how to access them
  • Suggestions to make research of German records easier even if you do not know the German language

September 2019: Using DeedMapper and Land Surveys

Speaker: Betty Warren

Session One: Finding the Family Farm

The search for the 50-acre farm started with the will of George Admire, dated 1804, leaving the "land whereon I now live, I give and bequeath unto my daughter Sally Williams to her and her heirs forever" in Henry County, Ky. The estate settlement showed a cash settlement to Williams and wife Sally but no land transfer. Present-day family members wanted to know where the 50 acres was and what had happened to it. The 50 acres was "found" through an intensive search of tax lists, deeds, original surveys, land grants, maps, and atlases. Using the DeedMapper™ software program, I was able to assemble and plat the data, then determine the current property owner and place the 50 acres on a present-day map of Oldham County, Ky.

Session Two: Rectangular Land Survey

A detailed description of the section-township-range survey system with practical applications
Many descendants of early Kentucky pioneers moved on into the Northwest Territory and states further west. Most of those states used a survey method that uses principal meridians and base lines as the reference points involving the invisible latitude and longitude lines of a globe making a rectangular grid pattern. This rectangular survey system applies the basics of linear and angular measurement involving geometry and trigonometry in relationship to the compass points to determine the position of a tract of land. It sounds rather complicated, but it is really very simple!

June 2019: Advanced Genealogy Research Sources

Speaker: Joe Hardesty

Session One: The SAR Genealogical Research Library And Revolutionary War Ancestor Research

The Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) Library is more than a wealth of printed works of genealogical value. Participants learn in this lecture how to access much of this collection in your own home with a focus on researching Revolutionary War ancestors.

Session Two: Advanced Genealogy Research Online is not the only game in town! In this lecture, you will learn the powerful resources available that many experienced genealogist don’t know (or forgot to remember).


December 2018: Pre-1850 Census Records and Kentucky Tax List

Speaker: Linda Colston

Session 1: Working With Those Pesky Tally Marks in Pre-1850 Census Records

Although the early census records only provided names for the Head of Households, they still hold many clues in tracing our ancestors. In this program, we will discuss ways of gleaning the most information we can from those tally marks.

Session 2: Kentucky Tax Lists – A Gold Mine of Information!

Kentucky tax lists offer a variety of clues that can put pieces of the puzzle of our ancestors together to form a picture of their lives. As valuable as these records are, they continue to be underused. In this program, we will look at how the pre-1850 Census records and tax lists can work together in provide context to our research and address some of the difficulties of researching in the early 1800s.

Handouts of presentation available.

November 2018: Finding the War Veterans of Kentucky in Your Family Tree

Speaker: Don Rightmyer

Session 1: “North or South? Finding Your Kentucky Civil War Ancestor”

This session helps you find and learn about your Kentucky Civil War relative and whether he wore blue, gray, or butternut. Be prepared for possible surprises in your Civil War genealogy search.

Session 2: “Over There: Finding Your World War I Ancestor”

This session provides the research tools needed to discover your World War I ancestor and dig out as much information as possible about what their experience was like during the First World War.

Handouts from session available.

October 2018: House Histories, Census Records, and Cemeteries - Oh My!

Session One: House Histories

Speaker: Pamela Lyons Brinegar, CG ®

Whether old or new, houses have stories to tell. Untangling those mysteries requires a combined journalistic/genealogical research approach to draw answers from public records, archives, and many other resources. This session will cover the rapidly growing number of free online images of deeds, estate and tax records, court orders, newspapers, and monographs. Examples of 19th- and 20th-century house histories will illustrate methods for developing your own family stories.

Handout: House Histories Booklet

Session Two: How Can Census Records Help My Research?

Speaker: Linda Colston

Most of us use Census records in our research, but are we getting the most out of them? Learn what is available in those other columns and how that information can aid our research.

Handout: Using the Census Records in Your Research

Session Three: Cracking the Code: Cemetery Symbolism

Speaker: Johnna Waldon
Ever walked through a cemetery and wondered what that engraving on the headstone meant? Learn about the various types of headstones and their symbolism.

Handout: Learning the Cemetery Code Symbolism Booklet

July 2018: Using Sanborn Maps in Your Family Research

Speaker: Dave Schroeder

Maps can be valuable tools for genealogists and historians. They can provide exceptional detail about the neighborhoods, farms, and communities in which our ancestors worked and lived. Some of the most valuable maps for genealogists were produced in the 19th and 20th centuries by the Sanborn Fire Insurance Company. Many of these insurance maps are now available online through local public libraries and the Library of Congress.

June 2018

Quaker Migration and Researching our Foremothers

Speaker: Peggy Clemens Laurtizen

Session One: Quaker Migration into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Quaker groups were a vital element in the valley's growth and economy. In two sessions, Ms. Lauritzen will focus on Quaker culture and customs, where these immigrant groups came from, and what may have influenced them to stay in Virginia or move on to Kentucky and elsewhere.

Session Two: Homespun & Calico: Researching our Foremothers

In her most requested presentation, Ms. Lauritzen offers guidelines on where and how to research female ancestors in records created by the women themselves or records created about them.

Handouts from the talk available.

May 2018: Preserving Our Kentucky Cemeteries

Speaker: Ann Johnson

Session One: Frankfort Cemetery and Cemetery Preservation

This session covers the following topics:

  • History of the Frankfort Cemetery Chapel.
  • Short history of important people buried in the Frankfort Cemetery.
  • Kentucky Cemetery laws and how they pertain to descendants.
  • Access to family cemeteries.
  • Best documentation methods.
  • Best stone cleaning methods.
  • Advocacy work for all.

Handouts available

April 2018

Everything You Need to Know about Kentucky's Land Patents

Speaker: Kandie Atkinson

Session One: Introduction to Kentucky's Early Land Patent Series

Fundamentals of land patenting and the types of warrants that authorized the Virginia, Old Kentucky, and South of Green River patents series.

Session Two: Introduction to Kentucky Land Patents Issued After 1815

A discussion of the authorizing warrants for the Tellico, Kentucky Land Warrants, and County Court Order patents series and the process for patenting land in the Jackson Purchase.

Handout: Early Land Patents Series

February 2018: Titanic Passengers and Immigration Myths


  • Katherine Pennavaria
  • Rosemary Meszaros

Session One: "Who Was on the Titanic? The Role of Passenger Lists in Genealogy Research"

The US government has been overseeing travel from outside its borders since 1813 and over time has developed a changing protocol for what information needs to be recorded on ship passenger lists. The lists from the peak years of immigration are easily accessed but are not always easy to interpret. This session identifies the best ways to find these records and discusses the specific information they contain. The presenters make a strong case for why no one will ever know exactly who was on the Titanic.

Session Two: GovDocs to the Rescue! Debunking an Immigration Myth

Many Americans descended from 19th- and 20th-century European immigrants have surnames that are different from the original form: Rogarshevsky has become Rogers, Waldemar has become Walters, etc. Why? Many people have concluded that these names were “changed at Ellis Island” by careless, overworked immigration officials who “wrote them down wrong” or decided they were “too foreign.” The presenters use federal documents and contemporary records to reveal quite a different picture of those officials and what happened at Ellis Island.

Session handouts available

November 2017: Genealogy Software and Publishing Your Family Story

Speaker: Nancy Simmons Roberson

Session One: Researching Using HeritageQuest Online

HeritageQuest is a genealogical website available through many local libraries. Most of those libraries offer at-home access to patrons with library cards.

HeritageQuest Online is a bounty of American genealogical sources in five core data sets:

  • Entire US Federal Census 1790-1940
  • More than 40,000 genealogy and local history books
  • Revolutionary War records that contains pension and bounty land warrant application files
  • Freedman's Bank records with more than 480,000 names of bank applicants
  • US Congressional Serial Set records of the memorials, petitions, private relief actions and other matters that came before the US Congress as early as 1789.

Handout: Researching using HeritageQuest Online Handbook

Session Two: Tell Your Story - Online Publishing

Story is at the heart of all we do. Tell your family stories by using on-line publishing companies and those digital family pictures stored in your computer. Create amazing projects that your family will love and you will be proud to share. Publish a book in memory of an ancestor, or make a book to commemorate a special event such as a birthday or anniversary. Don’t leave your family the genealogy without the stories!

Handout: Telling Your Story booklet

July 2017: Myths, Media & Melungeons

Speaker: Wayne Winkler, Director WETS-FM at East Tennessee State University

Session 1: Sons and Daughters of the Legend

This introduction to the Melungeons covers who they are, how they are identified, theories of their origins, and the Melungeons’ relationship to other, similar mixed ethnic groups. Also covered: The history of Melungeons, going back to their first identification in the early 19th Century to recent DNA studies.

Session 2: Myths, Media & Melungeons 

In this presentation, Winkler discusses what has been written about the Melungeons and how various authors’ perceptions of the group were shaped by contemporary political and historical factors. He also talks about how mythology surrounding the Melungeons continues today and how much of that mythology has been created by Melungeons rather than outsiders.

June 2017: DNA for Family Historians and the Art of the Duel

Speaker: Kathy Reed

Session One: The Genealogical Ride of a Lifetime!

That's how Kathy Reed describes what happened when she used DNA and traditional research to help cousins find past and present family. Join her in this journey through using genealogy and DNA.

Session Two: What's Past is Prologue

Reed talks about the practice of dueling and about her great-great grandfather's killing of a prominent citizen of Bourbon County, Kentucky in the 1850s. Was Reed's ancestor guilty or not guilty? We, the jury, will decide.

Handout: DNA Detectives Chart

May 2017: Saving Pieces of History

Speaker: John Heider, RIP, LTD

In two one-hour sessions, John Heider covers these topics:


  • Where and How Local Cemeteries Started
  • Restoring a Cemetery's Physical History
  • Making Repairs
  • Enlisting a Work Force
  • Gathering Materials, Equipment, and Methods

Handout: Cemetery Preservation Training Manual