The Other Side of My Forensic Genealogy Work

A recent article in Popular Science shows the KIA/POW soldier remains repatriation efforts in which I am involved as a forensic genealogist for US Army Contractor SNA International.

Here is a link to the full article:

While these brave men are pulling downed planes form the ocean, I am on the other side of the story, researching the descendants of the soldiers aboard such planes, so that a living DNA donor can be found to help identify those remains:


My Work With the US Army’s JPAC

This article details the effort for which I work behind the scenes as a forensic genealogist:

While I am busy researching the family trees of fallen soldiers, in search of living DNA donors who can be matched to their fallen soldier-ancestor’s remains, these brave men and women are out exploring, excavating, and–as this powerful photo shows–honoring the brave soldiers who lost their lives in past wars:

Rescuers saluting the recovered remains of fallen soldiers; photo originated at this link.

Rescuers saluting the recovered remains of fallen soldiers; photo originated at this link.

My Article in BYU-Idaho’s Magazine

My faculty conference presentation was selected for publication in the Winter 2013 edition of BYU-Idaho’s magazine, Perspective. You can view my article at the “Pattern of the Prophets” link when you click on the image, below:


Also, because the magazine’s version left out all italics in the titles I cited and the emphases I added to certain quotes, I’ve posted an image copy of my original, italics-included draft in Word at

How to Prove Your Pedigree (infographic)

I’ve seen many researchers and students confuse historical records with evidence or proof. Historical records are sources of information. From these sources–and the information they contain–researchers must find evidence, then apply that information and evidence to the drafting of proof.

Because many of my students find this process confusing, I’ve designed an infographic  to help them:

Genealogy Document Analysis infographic

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My Speaking Engagement

I teach online genealogy courses for BYU-Idaho

I will be speaking tomorrow at the Brigham Young University-Idaho 2012 Faculty Conference tomorrow. I am in Idaho all week for this event, so if you are having a hard time reaching me, this blog post explains why. I will be in Salt Lake doing research for the remainder of the week, so you probably won’t hear from me until after I return to Virginia next week.


GHL Family History Fair

This weekend, the State Library of North Carolina will be hosting a Family History fair. I will be there, offering free genealogy consultations at the “Ask an Expert” table, so be sure to stop by and get all the help you can with your family trees; genealogists charge $50 to $100 per hour for consultations, so this fair will be a wonderful opportunity to get help with your family tree, free of charge.

Be sure to gather up your documents, prepare a list of questions, and get there early.

I’ll see you at the fair! 🙂

Helping Italy’s Endangered Archives

Today, The Guardian reports that Italy’s state archives–the institutions that preserve Italian American ancestors’ documents–are facing funding cuts that are putting the future of their records in jeopardy. Modena’s records office has closed its doors, and other offices are behind in their bills, the article says.

For Italian Americans who want to help preserve their ancestral records, there is something you can do!

As I mentioned in a previous post,, a church-run records preservation organization, has been microfilming Italian state archive records and making them accessible to researchers worldwide for several generations. They are now putting those records online, where Italian Americans can search them for free, at the site below:’s Italian Records. Click on image to visit.

If you are of Italian American descent and want to do something to help support the preservation of Italy’s precious historical records, I recommend joining FamilySearch’s volunteer Italian Records Indexing project, which you can learn about at the site below. Indexing is as simple as tagging someone in a Facebook photo, only you will be tagging ancestors in a digital image. You can help index records on your home computer, or even on your smartphone–with their iPhone and Android apps–whenever you’ve got a few minutes to spare:’s project for Italian records indexing volunteers. Click on image to visit site.

Thanks to FamilySearch, your Italian ancestors’ records will be safe, searchable, and available to future generations for free research as long as we continue to support FamilySearch in their Italian preservation endeavors.

Now, I’m off to go index another batch of Italian records! 🙂

Italian Americans of Boston

For Italian Americans with Boston roots, I’ve got great news from Boston’s North End Historical Society! Documentary filmmaker Maureen McNamara of Kendall Productions is looking for your old photos, home movies, or newspaper clips from the family scrapbooks. Check out what they’ve put together so far:

If you and your family would like to be a part of this historic undertaking, you can send your materials to the North End Historical Society at :

The North End Historical Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit, so they need your help raising the funds for this project, as well! Contributions are tax-deductible, so send them in to or send a check to:
North End Historical Society, Inc.
P.O. BOX 130152
Boston, MA 02113

An Ideal Ancestral Web Site

If you plan to publish your family history online (which isn’t a bad idea! It’s a great way to share information with distant relatives and current relatives who might not share your enthusiasm for research), I would like to share one of my favorite examples of an Italian American ancestral web page done right!

The Mangiaracina family web page is just brimming with all sorts of helpful and interesting resources for their particular family–maps, photographs, stories, recipes, a forum, and pedigrees–a perfect model for anyone who would build their own family site.

When sharing your family tree with your loved ones, web-based media is a good way to make history come alive in the hearts and minds of those who might not be the history buffs that we are.

So check out the Mangiaracina’s web site and build your own. Then send me a link, and I’ll be sure to tell others about your site, too. Who knows–maybe I’ll help connect you with another site, assembled by your long, lost Italian cousins! 🙂

FamilySearch Brokers Deal with Italian Archives for Online Records

This is great news for Italian Americans who want to learn more about their ancestors! Click on the image, below, for the full story: has been publishing their microfilm holdings to the Internet for the past couple of years (you can see a list of Italian records available online here) but the digitization project announced last week in the LDS newsroom means that we will be seeing more Italian genealogical records on the Internet, and at a greater rate!

Kudos to FamilySearch for making Italian research a priority, and to the Italian State Archives, for allowing FamilySearch to make these records accessible to Italian American researchers! 🙂