Connie Lenzen, CG®
10411 SW 41st Avenue
Portland, OR 97219-6984


List of Connie and Gerald Lenzen's Genealogy Speeches

Connie's Speeches Gerald's Speeches
Connie's Bio Gerald's Bio
Lecture Fees;
contact for particulars
Speaking Conditions

Connie's speeches:

Abstracting Workshop (two hours)

If you make a photocopy of every record you found that might be — or might someday become — important to your research, your hobby could quickly break your budget, and you would need to rent a good-sized warehouse for your files.

Abstracting produces a concise note, one that nevertheless produces the kind of high-quality information you need to identify your ancestors and their relationships accurately.

Artifacts and Your Genealogy

Artifacts are a window into a person's past. They are a vital source of information about our ancestors. When we go to the next level and research those artifacts, we often uncover hidden clues that lead us to a new understanding about our ancestor. Sometimes we even find relatives.

Break Down Brick Walls With Evidence Analysis

Genealogists collect pieces of information and try to assemble them into the story of their ancestor. In the "honeymoon phase" of genealogy, the researcher looks for and finds names, dates, and places. Genealogy seems to be easy.

Before long, the famous "brick wall" makes its appearance. At that point, reality (or disappointment) sets in; all of the answers are not easily found, and genealogy is really hard.

The answers are out there; they really are. It's a matter of learning how to sift through the "stuff" and find the evidence.

Censuses: How to Find Them and How to Squeeze Every Bit of Information From Them

Censuses are one of the first "real" documents that genealogists seek out. They are easy to find on a number of websites. What in the world does it mean "squeeze every bit of infomation from them?"

Censuses are good for a lot of things. They can tell the composition of a family, successive places of residence, approximate birth dates, the state or country of birth, approximate marriage dates, the number of children born to a mother, the immigration and naturalization of foreign-born persons, occupations, value of property owned, home ownership, military service, education and disabilities. Even those censuses with mere tally marks have a story to tell.

Church Records for Genealogists

Church records were usually made by a witness to an event and close in time to the event. As a result, they are some of the very best genealogical records available. This lecture explains what you can expect to find in church records and how to locate them. Examples are given.

Family Traditions: the Search for the Truth

Family traditions are one of the least reliable genealogical sources, but they may be the only lead a person has.

Learn how to evaluate family traditions and to verify them with documentary evidence. This session appeals to everyone who has been told a story that seemed to be too good to be true.

Find Your Overland Trail Ancestor in Oregon and Washington Repositories

Topics covered: Oregon Trail background, local repositories, manuscript collections, Internet research.

Gone to See the Elephant: The Oregon Trail

Sights along the Oregon Trail were so fantastic that the travelers often said they were off to see the elephant--another fantastic sight. Topics covered: background, statistics, travel on the Trail, what the emigrants found, biographies, how to find records for your Trail ancestor.

How to Convert Those Assorted Records to a Story for Your Children or Grandchildren

After research has been conducted, after citations have been created, after piles of papers have been sorted and analyzed, after evidence conflicts have been resolved, it is time to write up the research results. One way is to create a narrative.

I Know They Existed, But I Can't Find Them; Twentieth Century Research

Genealogists have one, two, or three generations of ancestors to track through the 20th century; a century marked by an emphasis on privacy and the closure of records. What do you do if grandpa and grandma did not leave information about the family's birthplace? Or, what do you do if you don't even know grandpa and grandma's names?

Where do you turn after you have exhausted your home records, your relatives have told you everything they know, and those elusive folks didn't leave tracks on the Internet?

Illustrating Family History When You Have No Photos

A picture is worth a thousand words, but we do not always have a photo of our ancestors. If we can not see their image, then we look for images that show their possessions, where they lived, and their surroundings. We show the physical landscape where they lived. By doing this, we illustrate their life and take them out of the shadows.

Just the Facts, But Where Did You Get Them? Cite Your Sources

Do you want to avoid those moments when you can't recall where you found something? Learn how to cite and document your sources to avoid the embarrassment that comes when a correspondent asks you to explain why you have different information than they do.

Location, Location, Location - Put Your Ancestors in Their Place

Many of your research questions can be answered when you place your people on the land. That's easier said than done. How do you figure out where they lived, and how do you find a map? If this is something you want to do, this lecture is just what you need.

Lost Parents: Adoption Research

Adoption searchers are usually working in 20th century records; a period marked by closure of records and privacy issues. The whole genealogical research strategy is used to locate a birth parent.

Naturalization Records for Genealogists

Learn who were the immigrants, the laws and steps in the naturalization process, and how to research naturalization records. (No, this lecture is not boring.)

Newspaper Research

Will Rogers said, "Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers." What we find in newspapers can enrich our genealogy. Newspapers are a window into our ancestor’s lives. They contain marriage notices, death and funeral notices, gossip items, probate notices, and more.

Passenger Records for Genealogists

Passenger lists were not intended to be genealogical documents, but they are an important source for information about our immigrant ancestor. They were created to keep track of people on the move. They have been made for all ships that came to America between 1565 and 1954. They were compiled at the port of embarkation, at ports of call along the route, at the port of arrival, in newspapers at the port of departure, and in newspapers at cities of arrival. Some were required by law, others are private recordings.

Probate Research; Follow the Money . . .

From the first permanent settlement in America, people made wills. Courts were established to handle the disposition of property after death, either with or without a will. Laws differ slightly from state to state, but once you learn about the probate process, you can apply your knowledge to work the system.

Proving A Maternal Line When Grandma Didn't Tell Us Who Were Her Parents

Tracing women is a challenge for genealogists.The research goes beyond censuses, probates, and deeds. Bits and pieces of evidence must be ferreted out and compiled into indirect proof of parentage. This case history shows how to find an ancestress' parents by researching the men in her life.

Report Writing for Professionals

A research report is different from the reports that you generate with your genealogy software. It is a verbal picture of what you saw while researching. It is a reminder of what your thoughts were as you reviewed and analyzed the document. It is a research plan for the next steps. Bottom line: it is a permanent record of the results of your genealogical investigation.

Research Plan: What Do I Do Next?

Whether you start with a family journal or a death certificate, you have to plan your next research steps. Learn how to use your existing records as stepping stones to more information.

Researching the People Who Lived in Historic and Not So Historic Places

In Oregon, most of our historic places were built in the 19th and 20th centuries. That means we are researching people for whom there may be living memory and for whom the documents that were created around them are possibly still in existence. These documents may be published ones, but there is a great possibility they are in manuscript collections. Learn how to find both.

Searching For The Immigrant Roots

Learn how to tie together shreds of evidence gathered from family traditions, censuses, vital records, immigration and naturalization records, local histories, and religious records to provide clues to extend the immigrant family back another generation.

Special Census Schedules

Beginning with the 1850 federal census, schedules were taken for special population groups. These included slaves, Native Americans, Union veterans of the Civil War, and persons described as "dependent, defective, and delinquent classes."

Taming the Piles; How to Assemble and Correlate the Evidence. You have worked hard to locate those records. Problem is, some evidence contradicts other evidence. How do you determine what is right? Do you need to look for more evidence, or is what you have enough? Learn strategies to help you write up your findings and meet that "Genealogical Proof Standard.

The Taxing Details; Tax Records For Genealogists

The census taker may have skipped your ancestor, but the tax man rarely did. Tax records provide information on what your ancestor owned, how old he was, where his land was located, suggest clues as to his relatives, and tell you when he arrived or left an area. They confer form and substance to the individual.

Vital Records on the Web

The genealogical information found in vital records constitutes the backbone of a genealogy or family history. But where do you find them when you don't live where your ancestors died? Learn about the value of the records, how to find them, and then how to use them.

Gerald's speeches:

Exploring Your Roots: How to Begin

Good family histories begin with a clear understanding of research principles. What resources are available, where they are located, and how they can be accessed are important concepts as you begin. Learn how to develop systems for storing and retrieving family data.

Exploring Your Roots: In the U.S. Census

The decennial US Censuses and their indexes are the first important research tools available to the family historian after they have collected and analyzed home sources. Learn about the important features in each of them. Learn how they can lead to other important resources.

Exploring Your Roots: In American Land Records

Land records can identify where individuals lived. Different systems of ownership and measurement are used in various parts of the US Learning how to locate and access the records is very important. Town, county, State and Federal sources are discussed.

Exploring Your Roots: In the Courthouse

The county court houses are treasure stores for your family history. It is almost impossible for individuals and families to live in a place for a period of time without leaving some record in the local court house. Learn about these original records.

Oregon’s First Settlers —The French Canadians

A generation before the first wagons crossed the American continent, retirees from the British fur companies began to settle in the Oregon Country. Who they were, where they came from, where they settled, and where they went is seldom detailed in history books. Learn about them as individuals and family groups.

Footprints of Our Wanderers (America to Germany)

Careful acquisition and examination of records on this side of the ocean helps determine where your ancestors may have originated on the other side. Learn how to scrutinize oral traditions and correspondence. Identify record types that point to family origins. Backtrack on the trail your ancestors left to their original home.

Connie's bio:

Connie Lenzen became interested in genealogy when her grandmother brought some old diaries down from the attic. The question, "Have you ever seen what is in Grandpa's diary?" opened up a world of mystery and intrigue as she pieced together the family stories. It led her to discover the fascination of placing ancestors in time and place. It made history a real entity. It also led to research trips to county courthouses and cemeteries; often with her son and daughter in the back seat. The children grew up picnicking in cemeteries. A granddaughter caught the cemetery bug, and her science fair project was on the effect of acid rain on white marble tombstones.

Connie is a past Board for Certification of Genealogists trustee and president. She is a former National Genealogical Society Director and was awarded the 2009 NGS President's Citation for "Outstanding and Continuing Contributions to the Society." She was also awarded the "1995 Award of Excellence" from the National Genealogical Society Quarterly for her article "Proving a Maternal Line, the case of Frances B. Whitney."

She is an International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (ISFHWE) writing contest awardee for the years 2003, 2004, and 2006.

At the local level, she is a past president of the Genealogical Forum of Oregon (GFO) and is now on their Education Committee. She was the Local Arrangements co-chair for the 2001 National Genealogical Society conference in Portland, Oregon; the Program Chair for the 2002, 2004, 2008, and 2010 Genealogical Council of Oregon (GCO) conferences in Salem; and the general chair for the 2008 and 2010 GCO conference in Eugene. She is past president of the Oregon Chapter Association of Professional Genealogists.

Gerald's bio:

Gerald Lenzen lectures locally, regionally, and nationally on a wide variety of subjects.

He was born in Wisconsin and came to Portland, Oregon, prior to World War II with his parents. He graduated from Portland State University and went to work for Bonneville Power Administration. He is now an active member of the genealogical community.

He is a Life Member of the Genealogical Forum of Oregon, serves on their Education Committee, and volunteers in the library. He is on the Board of the St. Paul Mission Historical Society and a former board member for the Archdiocese of Portland Historical Commission. On the state level, he was president of the Genealogical Council of Oregon. He is a member of APG and NGS.

Lecture Fees: Contact for particulars.

Speaking Conditions:

  • Need projection screen and portable microphone (lapel is best).
  • Masters are furnished for handouts.
  • Audio taping permitted for personal use.


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Connie Lenzen, CGSM