Managing Research Projects & Tracking Searches

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few months evaluating the options for tracking my work. In the fledgling years of my business, my client load was part-time and the work just sort of managed itself. But this past year, more months than not found me juggling three or four clients at a time, which, combined with my Editorship of the ESGR’s quarterly, added a rather unhealthy degree of anxiety to the work. (as a total aside, four clients this winter were researching Irish immigrants named James McSomething, and, just to make it more interesting, all either had wives, mothers, or sisters named Mary! Although keeping track of those projects was stressful, there was also a sense of the ridiculous, which kept the anxiety somewhat at bay :-)

In my survey of project management tools, I first considered an Excel spreadsheet, but, quickly realized I needed something more automated. Maybe automated isn’t the right word. I needed something always close at hand, so I’d remember to actually track my time, because what’s project management without the time component? Way back in another life, I was hired by a software company to create a cost accounting system, and what was immediately apparent, at least to me, was the rather large stumbling block of the lack of a corporate-wide time management system. That observation, not surprisingly, met with great resistance from the employees whose time tracking was the most critical in determining profitability: programmers and customer support staff. It had to be easy. Mindless. Effortless. The feedback on the program we took a year to design and write was that it was all those things, and, in the end, they got the cost accounting system they’d asked for in the first place.

My approach to choosing a project management for my genealogy research was the same: time based. I made a wish list:

  • Time based
  • Task driven
  • Ability to use sub-tasks
  • ALWAYS at hand
  • Simple to use
  • Minimal input

There are, it turns out, about a gazillion options (curious: gazillion is apparently a recognized word in WordPress Land!). It quickly became clear that in order for the system to work for me, I needed to be able to do it on my laptop or my phone. And, it had to be fun. Time management is drudgery. Drudgery is hard to stick with. So…… system:  (a task/to-do app)

Toggl (a time tracking app)

both, I believe, are available on Windows, iOS, and Android.
What I did:

First, I had to break my research and reporting processes into specific tasks. I also defined tags, which both and Toggl handle with ease, which fit with my business: things like Billable, Non-billable, Professional Development, all of which could potentially work with a variety of my tasks. Both apps are also capable of tracking tasks and time by clients, as well as types of clients: lineage society applicants, forensic, brick wall, etc.

Once I’d laid all that out, I loaded it into the apps and I was off and running. is not only a beautiful, multi-layered app, it has an absolutely endearing interactive personality, popping up from time to time during my day to remind me to take a breath and regroup as needed; and Toggl is what it says – it works on a toggle basis, two key strokes and I can toggle the time tracker on and off, and it too reminds me if it starts to suspect  I’ve forgotten all about it. It happens :-) Both apps are present and effortlessly accessible on my phone and my laptop.  Life is good :-)

My system helps me stay focused. I start every day with a cup of coffee and an Moment. I review my tasks, and revise my research plan where needed. Toggl keeps me on track. The benefits? Not only do I have an automated reporting system for billable client work, over time I’ve begun to see patterns in my research process which helps me to better estimate client projects and helps me to hone in on areas where I could be more efficient.

As for topic #2: tracking searches…I’ll just say this: Thomas MacEntee has some good arguments for doing this. I often incorporate the search parameters in my research log, particularly when I get negative results, but I’m not consistent. I’ll try to be more aware of that going forward.



More About My Research Log

Revamping my research log, began with considering all different sorts of logs. At first, I looked at the Excel spreadsheet Thomas MacEntee shared, here. It is a great design, and provides a lot of useful information. In particular, given that it’s Excel, the data can be sorted in any number of ways. I like that I can sort it by repository, or proof point.

The keys to being faithful to a log, at least for me, are accessibility and ease of use. And, while I use Excel for a good many things, I am much more comfortable with Word. Having abandoned my genealogy software some time ago, the majority of my research is now stored in Word documents, and I’ve come to rely on Word’s features to stay focused and on track. Whether working online or onsite at a repository, research can move rapidly in one direction or another, and the record keeping can quickly get out of hand. If online on my laptop, I find I work most efficiently when I have a window for my document, and one (or a dozen) windows open on various websites. When onsite, I find it simplest to either type my findings right into my Word document, or take handwritten notes which I type into my document later. I prefer to keep everything in one place, so introducing another software application leaves me with a bad feeling of being disorganized. Plus, if I’m somewhere without my laptop, I at least always have my smartphone to take notes with. While I can manage, with difficulty, to edit a Word document in Android, Excel spreadsheets are even more unwieldy and difficult to navigate through.

At first, I thought the simplest thing would be to just use the Research Notes section of my Research Report Word template, which is in an outline form and looks something like this:

Research Notes

 1. First source examined, in full reference note format

     a. Detailed findings 1- could be notes, an extract, abstract, or transcription

     b. Detailed findings 2, etc.

        i. My comments on source, conflicts, or discussion points. 

 1. Second source examined, etc.

This works really well in a research report, but as a reference tool, it’s a bit bulky and isn’t as easy to sort and search through as a table would be.

Evernote, on the other hand, is my goto app for pretty much of my life, and it lends itself perfectly to log keeping. I decided to create a template, which I first laid out in Word, and then copied into a note.

The Note looks like this:
2015-02-03 13.49.58

I already use Evernote for my research: I save photos of original documents taken on my smartphone to Evernote; I keep to-do lists for family names and repository check-lists; I create notes by forwarding emails with research information to my Evernote email address; and, I use the Evernote Web Clipper to instantly capture online data and digital images. Regardless of how I created it, every research note includes the SURNAME of the research subject in its title. I also use myriad tags to facilitate searching, and because Evernote indexes all the text, I can quickly find whatever I need with just a few keystrokes.

The Evernote table is structured so that the text wraps, so I can add as much information into each field as I need, without it expanding beyond the width of letter paper, because I do find it helpful to print my research notes when I’m analyzing and correlating evidence. Also, it makes it easier to copy and paste the table back into a Word document. The Evernote Desktop application makes notes available offline, so if I do take my laptop into a courthouse or archive, I can key in my findings and the note with sync later when I have an internet connection. Also, of all the note taking apps for Android, Evernote is one of the simplest, most accessible way to take notes, which means if I’m somewhere without my laptop, I can still keep my notes up to date.

Tracking Research: Keep a log!

This part of preparing for a research project is where many of us stumbled in the formative years of our genealogy adventures.At least it was the case for me. Tracking my research has been the single biggest time waster, and is at the root of many of the brick walls I ran into early on. It’s such an obvious concept…keeping a log of all the resources used in pursuit of an ancestor’s vital information or proof of a relationship. Such a log would in turn create an organized, focused to-do list, once again, brilliant in theory, but somewhat elusive when it comes to actually doing the research. It’s so much more exciting to prepare a mental list and then jump right in to the thick of things.

As I’ve said before, my client work revolves around keeping a detailed research log, which becomes an integral part of every research report. My personal research deserves the same care and attention to detail. Thomas MacEntee has created an excellent Excel spreadsheet which you can download here to track his research, and with a few modifications, I could make it my own, but I’m more of a Word girl. As appealing as an Excel log would be, I’m inclined toward creating one in Word, because that’s my comfort zone. I suspect I will have more success this way; that there’s more of a chance I’ll stick with it. Plus, I love Word tables!

Revisiting Old Research: Beginning at the Beginning

Looking back to the time when I discovered genealogy; when I felt the first stirrings of what would become a life-long addiction, if only I’d known then what I know now, I’d have approached my personal research in a much more organized way: beginning with a research plan and starting with what I know, instead of what I assumed; setting goals; conducting a self interview; and conducting family interviews, All of which I write down with detailed citations. It’s never too late, however, to pause to look at that early research with fresh eyes.

Genealogy has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. My journey began with the smallest of moments. While on a family vacation in England when I was 13, my grandfather, knowing my love of all things equestrian, gave me a faded, dog-eared photo of a man on a horse.

The photo was 50 years old and the man was my great grandfather, Leonard Turner. Granddad was patient, answering all my questions and then some; spending hour upon hour of that month long visit feeding my hunger for the past. And so it began…

Back on American soil, I painstaking drew out a pedigree chart, writing in all the information Granddad had recalled about his ancestors. As you might imagine, some of the details and family stories were more fiction than fact, but what did I know… Over the years, that treasured document became quite tattered, as I frequently erased penciled-in facts, and scribbled out the ones written in pen. The handwriting became smaller and smaller with each new fact, leaving no room for citations, even if I had known about them then, which I did not! I kept the chart in a drawer, and dug it out whenever my grandparents came for the summer, or we traveled back to England for a vacation. In the meantime, I turned to my paternal side of the family tree—markedly easier than my British roots, because I was surrounded by relatives. And their history. In fact, I sometimes felt I was living their history. Although I was born in England, I grew up in the house my father built, next to door to the house where he’d spent his childhood, two doors down from where my grandmother grew up, and about a mile down the street from the house my German Ebert ancestors lived in following their immigration to America in the 1880s.

Grampie was one of seventeen children, and I grew up visiting a good number of them at the Varrieur family compound in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where they gathered together on Sundays. As it happened, those great aunts loved to talk about themselves! The stuff of genealogists’ dreams! None of my grandparents’ generation is alive today to answer questions in a formal interview, so I will have to rely on my love of story, and my memory of theirs. I do have documents supporting, or in some case casting doubt on, many of those stories and family remembrances, and it will be interesting to look through them as I layout some research goals for bringing the research up to standard and filling in the holes.

Migration Paths Which Led Our Ancestors to Western Pennsylvania

Our ancestors led lives as complex as ours are today. They celebrated milestones and events just like we do; they weathered hardships similar to ours; and, their actions were driven by the same hopes and fears that we face today. We tend to think that in the ‘good ole days’ back when life was simple, our ancestors lived their entire lives in one place. Family and community were everything. Travel was always difficult and often dangerous. Wagons and saddle bags were the only means for moving belongings. But, colonists and immigrants were a hardy bunch. They’d already survived a trip across the Atlantic and they were adventurers at heart. As the land of the eastern part of our country filled up, our ancestors looked westward. The earliest among them were attracted to a frontier of abundant, virgin land. Later, the draw was industry and opportunity. Some received bounty land for military service, many moved for economic or politic reasons, others followed religious leaders. They migrated with extended family and friends and tended to follow established routes, many of which were laid out by Native Americans long before the colonists arrived. Studying the routes and learning about the push and pull factors of any given time period can help us better understand our forebears and provide clues to the origins of ancestors who seemingly appeared out of thin air.

Erie, Pennsylvania, is an ethnic melting pot. Early settlers were looking for land. Later, waves of immigrants from all over Europe and Asia were attracted by opportunities which arose as industry developed along the Great Lakes. Periods of heavy migration, particular to our region, stemmed from:

1. Seventeenth century New Englanders enticed by open land
2. Post American Revolution, military bounty land.
3. Early 1800s, development of industry along canals and railroads

The first two were primarily rural to rural. The last was usually rural to urban. If you have a general idea when your ancestor arrived in Erie, study the U.S. history of that period. Was there a war? Was there crop failure or economic crisis? What were the predominant roadways and water systems in place at the time. Using historical context, you may be able to trace your ancestor’s elusive origins, by working backwards. Study maps of the time period. Your ancestor may not have made the trip west all at once. It was much more common for migrants to stop along the way for months or even years at a time, while they earned the money needed to continue on their journey. There are two excellent resources for learning more about the specific trails and routes which impacted Erie:

Eldridge, Carrie. An Atlas of Appalachian Trails to the Ohio River. Huntington, WV: CDM Printing, 1998.Eldridge, Carrie. An Atlas of Northern Trails Westward from New England. Huntington, WV: CDM Printing, 2000.

In modern times, when migration was motivated by industry, ancestors can be followed through census records. But moves west before the 1850s are harder to trace. Erie’s population grew from migration along several well–known routes.

The primary early route west from New England was the Mohawk Trail, which followed the Mohawk River. Massachusetts colonists often took a military road known as the “Old Connecticut Path,” westward from Boston to Albany, across the Berkshires, where it joined with the Mohawk Trail. This route crossed the Hudson River and then took a northerly route through the Appalachian Mountains. Loyalists took these trails into Canada, during and immediately after the American Revolution. It was along this route that the Erie Canal and railroads were built, and later the Massachusetts and New York Thruways.

If your ancestors arrived in the mid to late 1800s, especially single young men, they may have come with the canal or railroad. Look along the New York Thruway to find towns where he might have stopped for a period of time.

Braddock’s Road was a southerly route west across the Appalachian Mountains. Developed as a military road during the French and Indian Wars, this route led from the southern colonies to the Pittsburgh area. It was a route taken by many Scotch–Irish, and it was also popular among trappers and traders, heading toward trading settlements in Ohio and Michigan. If your ancestors only stopped in Erie briefly, they could have been on their way farther west.

Forbes’ Road, also military in its origins, led from Philadelphia and Harrisburg, crossing the middle of Pennsylvania to arrive at Pittsburgh.


Reference material for this article was found in Beverly Whitaker’s United States Migration Patterns, National Institute for Genealogical Studies, Toronto. Also, Ray Allen Billington’s Westward Expansion: a History of the American Frontier. 5th Ed. New York: Macmillan, 1982.

My Genealogy New Year: or, Why I’m Abandoning my Genealogy Software

I’m kicking off the new year with the rather lofty goal of starting my personal family history research over, from scratch, follow the lead set by Thomas MacEntee, who is spearheading the very popular project which he’s calling a Genealogy Do-Over; you can read all about it here. Using his program as a guide I’m going to begin by:

1) Setting Previous Research Aside
2) Preparing to Research
3) Establishing Base Practises and Guidelines

Notable of course is the concept of NOT diving right in. If you’re anything like me, beginning research on a new ancestor is a lot like opening a big bag of your favorite candy. Despite every good intention of moderation and common sense, before you know it you’re feeling bloated and maybe even a little dizzy from the sugar rush, and nothing gets done the rest of the day because all you can do is nap. Needless to say, when, as a young teen, I embarked on this journey, I took a lot of naps. Thirty years later, there are family facts I feel certain are true, but proof is often precarious and the documentation to support my convictions is in many cases non-existent. Hence the allure of the Genealogy Do-Over!

Setting Previous Research Aside

Not as hard as you might have guessed because: firstly, I’m just moving my files to a virtual place known as HOLD EVERYTHING; and, secondly, it’s really a mess, a very unattractive, stress-inducing mess, kind of like that hall closet where I shove everything out of place within reach when an unexpected visitor rings the  door bell.

What I am not putting aside, are original records, scans of original records, and copies of vital records and paid research findings because to do so would be a waste of money and time. The difference this time will be the methodology I apply in analyzing and correlating the evidence found in those documents. The original records are filed by family name, and all of them are digitized and stored on my OneDrive for safe keeping and easy access from my laptop, tablet, smart phone, and any computer I happen to find in front of me that has internet access. Redundancy is EVERYTHING!

Preparing to research

For me, this involved determining which branches of my tree would be the focus of re-do. I’m over committed as usual, and can realistically, and in good conscience, dedicate only one day a week (and at this point it’s looking like Saturday) to this endeavor. I could have gone in any number of directions, but I’ve settled on three generations of my paternal grandfather’s forebears.

Ernest Napoleon Varrieur and his wife Elsie, the author’s paternal grandparents

It’s doable, my documentation appears to be only moderately disorganized, and there are a couple of tantalizing brick walls. Plus, I find the families interesting. Really interesting. There’s a painting I love by my dear friend and gifted artist, Frank Sullivan, called The Stories We Don’t Tell. As Frank so eloquently puts it,

We all have our stories – the ones we tell the people in our lives. The one that define us, the ones that everyone we know has heard at least once, the ones that we can’t wait to introduce to new people who come into our lives….They’ve shaped us, made us who we are and they help us to show others who we are. But there are other stories. The ones we don’t tell. The things we’ve done or that have been done to us that we don’t want anyone to know about. The stories that have scarred us or that reveal our dark side. The stories that we’ll take to our graves.

Our ancestors left us bread crumbs. If we’re lucky, those crumbs are more fact than fiction, but we can never really be sure of the motivations behind their actions and the veracity of the details they chose to share. Yes, they took a lot of stories to their graves, but if we dig deep enough and carefully enough, using patience, good organization, and The Genealogy Proof Standard, we can find clues they left behind for us, whether intentionally or inadvertently. I know I missed a lot in the infancy of my role as family historian, which is why I’m going to follow Thomas’s lead and take is slowly this time round.

Establishing Base Practises and Guidelines

So…about abandoning my genealogy software. I bought a new laptop a few weeks ago, a Surface Pro 2 which, by the way, is the best laptop I’ve ever had. Moving my software and files took a lot of time, and one thing I never got to was downloading Rootsmagic 7, my tried and trusted genealogy software for as long as I can remember. Last night, as a first step to my Do-Over, I installed the software and imported my personal Gedcom. My database contains around seven thousand ancestors (at least, I hope they’re mine, although the confidence that they are has waned exponentially with the honing of my research skills). It’s orderly, and easy to search and maneuver through, but, and it’s a big “but,” the structure of the database limits its use in getting an accurate picture of the thoroughness of the research on each family group, quickly highlighting brick walls, and determining the reliability of evidence for each person’s life facts. Family group sheets, while great for some purposes, are no where near as useful, at least for me, as narrative or compiled genealogies. The Board for Certification of Genealogists provides excellent samples of three different formats here. There are pros and cons to each format, and I’m not sure at this point which will work best for me. However, I am sure that the net positives of these written styles clearly out way the net positives of any reports produced by genealogy software.

This opinion has formed over a number of years, beginning in 2011 when I took Boston University’s genealogical research course. My long term clients will have noted an evolution in my research reports since then. I’m really happy with the research template I’m currently using. Essentially, it contains five parts:

  • A defined genealogical problem or question & all known facts and previous research of relevance.
  • A summary of key findings, followed by a detailed discussion of the research, and my written conclusions. Also, if appropriate to the problem or question, a formal genealogy of the research subject.
  • A research log, with bibliography and full source citations, including sources containing negative findings.
  • Recommended next steps
  • Scans of all documents referenced in the report.

Structuring the report as such allows me to quickly ascertain the status of the problem or question, what sources have already been searched, the structure of the family with proof summaries and arguments, with complete source citations, on which I’ve based my conclusions, and a plan for continuing the research. Having images of the documents referenced also refreshes my memory of the research when I next pick up the project, and allows me to further evaluate my findings and conclusions before moving forward. This approach works really well in my client research, so why would I not want this for myself????

One other base practise, which is so critical to good research, it deserves notice here, is to never work without a research plan at hand. Not even, or perhaps especially, when there’s just a few minutes to spare while dinner cooks. In the beginning, research took time, the pace often determined by the post office. The advent of the Internet, while wonderful, introduced speed to the hunt. The ease of accessing information online is mindblowing, and without a plan, you can head off in a dozen different directions in the blink of an eye. This willy-nilly approach, while seemingly productive, generally results in poor or non-existent source citations, and no real proof of anything. Research plans, while malleable, keep us on the straight and narrow. They give direction to our research, and create a work flow that we can refer back to later. I never tackle a client project without one so, here again, why handle my own research any differently??????

My plan then (and, for sure, one in written form!)…while I’m certainly not going to delete my Rootsmagic database, I will begin at the beginning with Word. And about that: my good friend and colleague, Brent Chadwick, over at Knox Trail Ances-Tree, has been hard at work on a Word template which is designed to automate the numbering of a compiled genealogy. I, happily, have been a bit of a guinea pig, and in the process have incorporated much of his automation into macros in my own research template. I generally use the Modified Register method of numbering my genealogies. Entering the numbers by hand is simple enough when one is working with a single lineage, or just two or three generations of a person’s ancestors or descendants; however, things can quickly become unmanageable as new research reveals additional children, or siblings, who need to be inserted in their proper place. Brent’s macros allows for easy insertion and adjusts the numbering automatically and effortlessly.

And, there you have it. I’ve filed away years of research and am armed at the ready with a blank Word template, eager to start afresh with focus, solid research methodology, and my already dog-eared copy of Mastering Genealogical Proof. I’d love to have you join me :-)

Finding Genealogical Gems Tucked Away in Libraries & Archives

I volunteered last month in the ECHS Library & Archives, tasked with packing a special collection of rare books, readying them for the impending move to the archives new location on 6th Street. The particular unit I worked on contained three shelves of books from the Battles Collection. I might have gotten the job done sooner, but as I picked up each title to wrap it in tissue and bubble wrap, an overwhelming curiosity urged me to open its cover, and look through the first few pages. I was particularly drawn to, no surprise, the dictionaries, grammar, and spelling books, inscribed with the names of their young owners. Many of them belonged to CHARLOTTE M. and JAMES WEBSTER, JR., of New York and, later, Girard. Naturally, having a penchant for family history, I wondered all kinds of things: Were they siblings? Did both survive to adulthood? Did Charlotte use her education, privileged as she must have been to be receiving a formal one in the first decade of the 1800s? And, how were they related to the Battles family?

It occurred to me that this small collection of schoolbooks, dating from as early as 1786, is a rich source of information about the Webster family. The subject and condition of the books hint at the family’s lifestyle and provide context to their family activities. The copyright dates place the family in a particular decade and suggest ages of the children. The inscriptions in the front situate the family and suggests migration patterns. The use of such things as “Jr.” in a name provides clues to paternity. The very signature themselves could potentially be useful in establishing identity in records made by persons of the same names later in life. Wow! I can definitely see this kind of resource coming in handy when reconstructing families who predate more typical types of genealogy sources, both here in Erie County, and elsewhere. So, add this to your arsenal of records to check when creating your research plans. Check catalogs at historical societies, libraries, and archives in the communities where your ancestors live. And don’t forget—if your find something useful, take the time to write a complete source citation!!

(This article was originally published in the November 2014 issue of Keystone Kuzzins, the Erie Society for Genealogical Research’s quarterly newsletter.)

Erie PA Genealogy & Historical Goings-on Week of Oct. 12, 2014

Erie Society for Genealogical Research Monthly Meeting

The next meeting of the Erie Society for Genealogical Research (ESGR) is this Tuesday October 14, 2014 at 7:00pm at the Blasco Public Library. NOTE THE LOCATION CHANGE

Jim McQuiston will speak about Scottish research. A membership meeting will follow.


Ghost Walks of Waterford

Judson House, Waterford
Weekends in October: Saturdays 6-9 and Sundays 6-8, and they begin behind the Judson House. Every 30 minutes a new walk begins. Cost is $5/Adult and $3/Child 2-12, under 2 Free. Refreshments are available.
Sponsored by the Fort LeBoeuf Historical Society


Ghosts and Legends of Hope Cemetery

The Little Church on the Hill, 10410 High St., Albion
Sat, October 11, 2pm-3pm (and 8pm-9pm on October 25)

The suggested donation is $3 per person, $5 for couples. RSVP required by 7 am the day of the tour by calling 814/323-0447.


October Erie Cemetery Tours

Sundays join Caroline Reichel for a 60 to 90 minute walking tour of the Erie Cemetery. Tours begin at 11:00am and 2:00pm at the cemetery’s main gate, 2116 Chestnut Street.

SUN Oct 12 “First Settlers”
SUN Oct 19 “Ghosts and Legends”

Cost is $10 per adult, $8 per child (12 and under).

Call Caroline at (814) 868-4423 or email for reservations.


Edinboro Area Historical Society’s Public Program

Edinboro Borough Hall Wed, October 15, 7pm – 9pm

Joy Estock will present an informative program regarding her ancestors who were part of Edinboro’s first pioneers.


Fairview Area Historical Society Public Meeting

Sturgeon House, 4302 Avonia Road (Route 98) in Fairview. Wed, October 15, 7:30pm – 9:00pm

Every month the Fairview Area Historical Society hosts a guest speaker. For more information, contact the Society at (814) 474-5855 or email


Elk Creek Historical Society Coffee House

The Little Church on the Hill, 16410 High Street, Albion, PA Sat, October 18, 7pm – 9pm

Are you interested in music, history, and fun? Then stop by The Little Church on the Hill’s monthly coffee house in Wellsburg, PA. The music begins at 7 pm and goes until 9 pm. There will be refreshments, door prizes, and a 50/50 raffle during intermission. All donations go towards the restoration and preservation of this 156 year old historic landmark. Bring friends and family for a night of music and fun. For additional information, contact the Elk Creek Historical Society at

Genealogy & the Computer Users of Erie

One of our own was the featured speaker at tonight’s Erie Society for Genealogical Research’s monthly meeting.

Dave Howell spoke about the Computer Users of Erie (CUE) which has a genealogy special interest group that meets at 7:00pm on the first Tuesday of every month. The genealogy group was organized twenty years ago, by four or five CUE members who shared an interest in learning how to research their family history. They were novices, and their mission was to learn how to do online genealogy, to develop a legacy they could pass on to their children and grandchildren, and to have fun doing it.

One of their first tasks was deciding on a software program which would produce family charts and narrative histories. They chose Legacy Genealogy software, and still use it today. They also decided to invest in one search engine. They chose Ancestry and were allowed to have a group membership which allows three online sessions at one time. Some members have their own Ancestry subscription, but for those who don’t, they have the option of buying into the group subscription. The cost varies year to year, depending on how many memberships sign opt in, but it’s typically $15 to $20 each.

The group meets at members’ homes. They tackle research problems members are having, and troubleshoot members’ software problems, working collectively to find solutions. There are lots of happy discoveries and laughter, and over the years the group has developed quite a camaraderie. They have also offered classes, geared at helping others get started on their own genealogy research.

Anyone interested in joining is invited to come to one or two meetings, and if they decide to join, a membership to the CUE is $24/year. You can find more information at the group’s website:

Erie PA Genealogy and Historical Goings-On, Week of July 6, 2014

Erie Society for Genealogical Research Monthly Meeting

The next meeting of the Erie Society for Genealogical Research (ESGR) is this Tuesday July 8, 2014 at 7:00pm at the History Center on State Street.

DAVE HOWELL will speak about the Computer Users Group of Erie, which has a sub group for genealogy. A membership meeting will follow. Doors open at 6:40 and will be locked at 7:10.


Hands-On History at Corry Area Historical Society

945 Mead Avenue, Corry
Sat, July 12, 11am – 4pm

Families of all ages are welcome. Activities and games will focus on the 1920-1969 era, and will include a WWII reenactment hosted by local reenactors, an appearance by Elvis Presley, coin and stamp displays, a period grocery store and demonstrations.

There is no charge for the event, but a donation of $2 per person or $5 per family will be greatly appreciated. The first 500 students to fill out an activity card will receive a vintage stamp.


“Erieites by Occupation” Cemetery Tour

Sun, July 13, 11:00am – 12:30pm, join Caroline Reichel for a 60 to 90 minute walking tour of the Erie Cemetery. Tours begin at 11:00am and 2:00pm at the cemetery’s main gate, 2116 Chestnut Street.

Cost is $10 per adult, $8 per child (12 and under).

Call Caroline at (814) 868-4423 or email for reservations.


Lagoons by Pontoon (Daily)

Presque Isle

Discover the natural history and beauty of the park’s interior lagoons in this one-hour interpretive pontoon tour. Sign-up starts 10 am on a first-come, first-served basis at the Lagoons Launch. Run daily.

Next rainy day, check out:

Big Green Screen Theater, Tom Ridge Environmental Center, Erie PA

Daily Shows all summer
Mysteries of the Unseen World: 11 am, 1 pm or 3 pm.
Titans of the Ice Age: 12 pm, 4 pm.
Mysteries of the Great Lakes: 2 pm, 5 pm.

$7.50/adults; $5.50/ages 3-12; $6/ages 65 and up.
$4 double feature (same day).
Afternoon Daily Movie Special: 2 tickets for $10 at 3 pm, 4 pm or 5 pm.
Monday Special: $5 tickets and $1 regular popcorn all day!
Wednesdays are Seniors Days: $5/ages 65 and up.

Subject to change. Call 814-838-4123 for up to date information.