Janna Larson has been an avid genealogist since 1981. She has ancestors who were English, Irish, Scottish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch. Belgian and German. Some came in colonial times; others came in the 1850's. She has extensive experience with many types of research.
She holds a BA degree from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Before becoming a genealogist, she worked in manufacturing administration. Her father was in the foreign service and she has lived in and visited many foreign countries. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Janna has been a member of the Family History Society of Arizona since 1982. She has held many offices in the Society, including President, Vice President, Chapter President, Treasurer, Seminar Chairman and Membership Chairman. She has taught beginning and advanced genealogy classes at Phoenix College and many locations in the Phoenix area. Janna is a frequent and well-known genealogical lecturer in the state. She is currently Secretary/Treasurer of the Arizona Council of Professional Genealogists.
In 1991 she indexed, compiled and published the second edition of Will Hall's "Bennington Genealogy" an 840 page book. She has computerized all the Bennington data, creating a PAF file with over 12,000 names. It will be the foundation for a third edition of the book.
Janna publishes a quarterly newsletter, the Bennington Bulletin. She edited the "Easy Guide to German Genealogy" by Marianne Southworth. She is a co-author of the Family History Society of Arizona's "Seminar Planning Guide." In addition, she has had several articles published in the scholarly genealogical journals including The American Genealogist and The New Hampshire Genealogical Record.
Janna is willing to do extensive research projects or simple research tasks. Easy access to one of the largest LDS branch genealogy libraries in the US facilitates projects.
If you prefer to do your own research, Janna will be glad to help you plan your strategy.
For your convenience, Janna's lecture subjects are grouped by type below. If you would like to hear a lecture that is not listed below, please ask, and Janna will consider creating a new speech.
Are You Curious About Your Ancestors? Do you love a mystery? Do you like to solve puzzles? Genealogy is more than finding names and dates. Your search may uncover fascinating family stories, traditions, heroes, villains, leaders and black sheep. As you increase your knowledge of your family history, medical heritage and ancestral homelands, you will find you have a new perspective on current events and family relationships today. This lecture is intended to pique the interest of those who are interested in family history, but have never done genealogical research. Major resources in the Phoenix area are described, a research approach is recommended, and examples are given for organization of materials, including the creation of an attractive personal family history book.
Beginning Genealogy Where do I start? The lecture begins by introducing the pedigree chart, family group sheet and research log, three standard forms all genealogists use to organize their findings. How to do a preliminary search to find previously compiled history on your family and where to find original records follows. An introduction to the principles of quality research technique and how to avoid some common pitfalls will start the novice genealogist on the right track.
FUNDAMENTALS Mastery of these sources is the first step to becoming a quality genealogist.
Vital Records Probably the single most important source for genealogists, vital records contain a wealth of information that is usually reliable. Birth, marriage, death, and divorce records are all discussed. Strengths, weaknesses and substitutes are addressed and information on how to obtain them is given.
Census Records For American genealogists, federal census records are a major source. They are one of the few sources in which whole families are listed, whether they be rich, poor, married, single, citizens or foreigners. There are tricks to using censuses and census indexes to maximize your results. In addition, there are city, state, local, colonial and foreign censuses that will help you glean information about your ancestors.
PERSI The Periodical Source Index published by the Allen County, Indiana Library is a unique source that no genealogist should overlook. Articles in nearly every genealogical journal that have been published in the United States and Canada are indexed by surname, locality and subject. Major genealogical findings rarely call for the publication of a new book, but frequently the discoverer will write an article to submit to a quarterly or other periodical. PERSI is the place to find these treasures.
Church Records Long before states began collecting vital records, churches kept registers of baptisms, marriages, burials and membership lists. Locating the records can be a challenge and they often include problems and quirks. Nevertheless, church records are one of the best genealogical sources in this and in foreign countries. Wise genealogists will never pass up this valuable resource.
Land Records Deeds, patents and other land records are especially valuable to genealogists because a high percentage of them contain genealogical information or clues. Search strategies vary in the United States depending on whether land is bought from a person, the colonial government, or the federal government. Research technique, abstracting, index types, strengths and weaknesses, evolution of counties and states are addressed, as well as other types of land records such as tax rolls and court records.
Probate Records Few other sources so clearly state family relationships as probate records, and they can be depended upon to be accurate. The lecture will cover the steps in the probate process and provide examples of the many kinds of documents that may be created along the way. Suggestions are given for finding the records in various court offices. Items to note as you study the papers are highlighted and thorough abstracting is emphasized.
Military Records In order for a man to get military bounty land or a pension, he had to prove his service, giving personal identifying information to match his service records, and outline his postwar migration. A widow had to prove she was married to the soldier and give information on their children and his death. Depositions from relatives and acquaintances and sometimes even Bible records may be found in the files. There was almost no time in American history without a military conflict and the abundance of records they create form a major source for genealogists.
Emigration, Immigration and Naturalization Records As our foreign ancestors made their way to America and began the process to become citizens, they created many records of genealogical value. A discussion of the myriad sources available and how to locate them is the focus of this lecture.
Organizing Your Genealogical Records A good organizational system will make it easy for you and for others to see what you have collected, to efficiently study what you have, and to identify new things to be done. The key elements of genealogical organization are discussed in detail: pedigree charts, family sheets, the research notebook, etc. The speaker will show you an example of an attractive presentation notebook that contains photos and original documents along with family group sheets for each couple on her ancestral chart.
Preliminary Research Each time you begin research on a new line, it pays to do some preliminary research to find out if genealogical work in that area has already been done. Depending on your results, your plan of attack will vary. Compiling background information and setting up an organizational system are important elements to get you started on the right course.
Correspondence That Gets Results When writing to relatives you'll want to compose a letter that will pique the reader's interest. The busy government employee prefers one that looks like it will be easy to answer. There are countless people and places genealogists may write to help fill out their family trees. Many examples of letters to differing organizations, and some examples of truly dreadful letters are shown. A list of letter writing tips, and places to write is included in the handout.
Getting the Most Out of Libraries We haven't reached the point yet when everything can be found on the Internet. For genealogists, most data remains housed in libraries. Since very few sources we use were created with genealogy in mind, research can be complicated, requiring sophisticated and diligent technique. The secret to using libraries effectively is to find out what their holdings are. This lecture describes types of libraries, finding ones with relevant holdings, planning a library trip, using the card catalog, on-line sources, and the benefits of interlibrary loan.
Note Taking and Citations First-rate genealogists know the importance of complete citation of sources and thorough research to support the data on their family trees. A good note taking system will help you prioritize future research, preventing needless duplication of effort and make finding filed documents easy. A comprehensive list of sources, biography and comments will be interesting to relatives and invaluable to other researchers with whom you share your work.
Finding Sources Where to Turn Next Have you ever seen someone in the library who is standing there, eyes glazed over, with obviously no clue what to do? Instead of waiting for lightning to strike, let the library and computer work for you. The speaker suggests numerous ways to compile lists of sources from which you can choose the one to help solve the very problem you are working on.
Armchair Research. Armchair research begins with the Internet, but naive genealogists easily may be led down the wrong path. The speaker's favorite sites are given, along with advice on how best to use them, and evaluate the results. Going beyond the Internet, there will be suggestions for finding and writing to relatives and other researchers, using local sources, and contacting government institutions and lending libraries.
Evaluation of Evidence Genealogists consist of three types of people: skilled researchers who know how vital evaluation is, novices who have heard the term but who haven't fallen into traps, and a truly scary percentage (mostly on the Internet) to whom the idea has never occurred. When the speaker was a beginner, she unwittingly spent two years working on an ancestral line that wasn't hers because she failed to prove a statement she found in a book. Don't let that happen to you. Here's how to avoid pitfalls and develop a genealogy you can trust.
Research Technique Skilled genealogists can clearly show and documents their findings, find out what is available for future research, set priorities, and solve tough problems without falling for other people's mistakes and without jumping to conclusions. Organizing records, doing a preliminary search, using libraries, effective correspondence and analysis are all touched upon during this presentation.
Analysis A Critical Step Asking the right questions is the key to successful research. The clue that will unravel your genealogical problem may be hiding within the data you've already collected! Defining your objectives, developing a larger perspective, opining your mind to clues, and testing your results with logic are effective ways of making sources work for you. Smart genealogists use card catalogs, maps, history books, the Internet, time lines, checklists, neighbors' lists and other analysis tricks to get the most out of their research.
Problem Solving Genealogical mysteries come in all sizes. With some of them the solution is almost obvious; others require tenacious detective work. It has been said that advanced genealogists use the same sources that novices do, but they use them in different ways. The speaker shows how she approaches difficult problems, detailing many research methods that have proven to be especially useful.
Professional Genealogy Taking your Research to the Next Level. Do you consider yourself a professional or a hobbyist? Where is the dividing line? What are the qualitites that make for greatness?
Writing for Publication. So you've discovered something on your family that you feel is important to share? Do you sit down and write an 800 page book? Or do you write an article for publication in a scholarly journal? I suggest combining this topic with "Identifying Abigail, the Wife of Daniel Cressey" below.
OTHER POPULAR TOPICS
Love's Labour's Lost-Finding Female Ancestry Finding maiden names of female ancestors may be the most difficult problem genealogists have to face. It is not unusual for a woman to appear on her own only a handful of times in her life. To find them, we must be extra clever researchers. This lecture presents many useful techniques, sources, and suggestions to help you identify these elusive women.
Identifying Abigail, the Wife of Daniel Cressey Solving difficult genealogical puzzles is seldom the result of the lucky discovery of a single record. Often the path to success is through a maze filled with dead ends. This case history outlines the speaker's strategy when dealing with research problems, and leads the audience along the twisty path to find the clues that, when finally put together, proved Abigail's parentage and disclosed two former husbands!
Finding Your New England Ancestors Each area of the US has a unique history that requires a different research strategy. The speaker outlines an effective approach for New England and highlights sources of particular importance and value to genealogists whose ancestry lies in this historic section of our country. Handouts include pages for each of the New England states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island.
Using Tax Records in Genealogy Taxes are often used as a census substitute, and in some ways are better than censuses. For one thing, people pay tax every year, not just once a decade. Tying a name to a piece of land can prove relationships and provide clues to maiden names of wives. The lecture touches briefly on the history of taxation, discusses types of taxes, and procedures used to collect them. Many examples are given showing how taxes may be used to draw conclusions about family relationships.
Dating and Calendars You would be amazed how often genealogists encounter conflicting dates for an event. Other problems arise when trying to calculate a birth date from a tombstone that lists someone's age as 75 years, 2 months, and 3 days. Did you know that in many countries 7/10/96 means not July 10, but October 7? The calendar we use today is a recent invention and January 1 wasn't always the first day of the new year. Many countries didn't count the years beginning with the birth of Christ. How genealogists properly deal with these anomalies is the subject of this talk.
Digging for Ancestors in Cemeteries If you're lucky, your ancestor will have a "wordy" tombstone. Genealogical gems, including birth and death dates, places, names of relatives, military service, immigration details and artistic design may provide clues to extend your family tree. Suggestions are given for finding the cemetery in which your ancestor is buried. Locating published "readings" are discussed, along with proper abstracting principles. Hints are provided for making a stone legible for good photographs and how to make rubbings.
IGI and Parish Vital Records The IGI (International Genealogical Index) is a huge database containing many hundred million events such as births, christenings and marriages that will help you identify possible family connections for your genealogy. Sources include extracted records and member submissions. Tips for effective use of this valuable tool, and cautions about its weaknesses are a feature of this lecture. The Parish Vital Records Index shows which records are being and have been extracted for the IGI project. Also discussed are the Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File, two other databases in the LDS group called Family Search.
What to Look for When Hiring a Professional Genealogist. What qualifications should someone have to describe themselves as a professional? What kinds of things do professionals do? What can you expect when you hire one? What can you do to get the best results? What do you do if you're unhappy with the results? These questions and more are answered to help you get the most for your genealogy dollar.
Connecting the Dots. People tend to move to places where friends and relatives have gone before, to places where they will feel comfortable when they arrive. This talk begins with an overview of migration patterns and motivations. Then discussion what sources are the best to use to solve your genealogical problem.
Altered Names. If you were going to pick an alias, what would it be? Why do people change their names? What are the common ways people choose an alias? This talk includes lots of fun examples and food for thought!
Your Family Health History: A Matter of Life and Death Did you know that of the over 10,000 known diseases, about 3,000 have a genetic component? Compiling your genealogical health history can impact your and your family's future.