Lectures Currently Offered

I offer lectures related to my areas of expertise: German genealogy and Cook County genealogy, as well as genealogy in general. The talks that are currently offered are listed below. If you are interested in a topic that is not listed, do not hesitate to contact me. I will try my best to accommodate you.

I have two courses that I have recorded for Ancestry Academy that are available to subscribers of Ancestry.com:


German Genealogy: The Basics


The City Directory: Your Guide to the Past

Kickstart Your German Research

A large percentage of people in the United States can claim German ancestry. This lecture offers historical background, naming patterns, and guidelines for German family history research. Discussion revolves around historical German geography, migration trends, and tips on using American sources to find an ancestor’s town of origin. This talk will get you started on the road to success.

Oh Where, Oh Where are My Ancestors From?

Finding your immigrant ancestor's town of origin is often considered the holy grail of genealogical research. What if you've spent years trying to find this piece of information and have not been successful? This talk suggests many strategies that just might help you break down that brick wall. Hightlights include:

  • Basic information you should have for your ancestor
  • More obscure information that might be available
  • Branching out beyond your ancestor
  • Organizing and documenting your research

So, You've Found Your German Town of Origin, Now What? Available Online

Finding your ancestor's town of origin can be exciting, indeed. Once this piece of information is found, you might be left wondering how to get records from the other side of the ocean. This lecture focuses on how to get records for German towns. Highlights include:

  • Verifying the location of the town
  • Strategies for identifying misspelled town names
  • Finding historical jurisdictions for that town
  • Finding records for that town
  • Useful aids for reading those records
  • Tips for hiring a professional genealogist in Germany, when necessary

Hunting For Henry: A Case Study Using Collaterals

Henry Steren was a German immigrant who lived in Quincy, Illinois. The United States records that were created about him indicate only that he was from the Province of Hanover in Germany. This lecture will detail how his town of origin and parents were identified, in spite of the lack of records naming him. Carefully researching each of his associates and correlating all available evidence reveals the origins of Henry. Use of the Genealogical Proof Standard is demonstrated. Complicating factors in this case are:

  • Very few records available for the person in question
  • Multiple people with the same given and last names
  • Steren is often confused with the common surname Stern

He Took Her Name: Understanding German Farm Names

In certain geographic areas of Germany, the custom of German farm names has been in existence since about 1000 A.D. In this custom, a farm carried the surname and anyone who inherited that farm assumed that name as his surname. Usually this was a son of the farmer, but if it was a daughter, her husband would have to change his surname to hers. This lecture explains some of the common pitfalls a researcher may encounter when researching in one of these areas and how to overcome them. Highlights include:

  • The history, origins and geography of this custom
  • Various terms associated with this custom
  • The social structure in these areas
  • How this custom affected naming patterns
  • Techniques to successfully research your ancestor

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Hanover Military Records

Military records for Hanover prior to 1866 are available to researchers in the United States through the Family History Library. Hanover’s military records are largely untapped by American researchers because English-language finding aids are non-existent. This lecture will explain what finding aids do exist and tips for using them. Hanover’s history and its impact on military records will be discussed.


This lecture will focus on three phases of Hanover’s history:


  • 1708-1803 – Hanover was an electorate of the Holy Roman Empire
  • 1803-1815 – Hanover’s army was disbanded and many soldiers fought for the King’s German Legion, under Great Britain’s command.
  • 1816-1866 – Hanover was a kingdom with its own army


The audience will be given the steps for finding male ancestors in this source. If an ancestor was never in the military, conscription lists might exist for the area in which he lived.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of German Military Records

Military records for Germany are an underutilized resource. Because there was no unified Germany prior to 1871, one must search for records under prior jurisdictions. Many records have not survived. This talk will walk through the steps of finding the records that do exist. It will highlight military records available for the former Kingdom of Hanover, which claims a rich collection.


This lecture will focus on major areas:


  • Determine the major jurisdictions where your ancestor lived
  • Discuss successful search techniques for military records in the holdings of the Family History Library.
  • Explain where to find military records that might be available in German archives.
  • Essential vocabulary for non-German speakers will be highlighted.

Read the Tabloids: German Church Records

German church records are a key resource for determining our ancestors’ family relationships. They provide basic information about major events in our ancestors’ lives. Some records contain more facts than others do. Scribes sometimes added notations about the people involved. In some instances, church records can read similar to modern-day tabloids. Decipher and understand these notations to learn more about the people, time, and places involved. This talk will encourage you to use all records to their fullest, dig deeper, and learn more.


Make sure to read all of the fine print in a record. The juicy details hide there.

Consider the new research opportunities implied.

Consider the underlying social implications of the information found.

Learn how laws in some areas increased rates of illegitimacy.

Reading Between the Lines of the City Directory

This lecture encourages one to go beyond the obvious use of a city directory-locating an ancestor. The directory provides an opportunity to understand our ancestor's historical context. Pictures, advertisements, maps of the city and many more items are often included. The audience will be encouraged to understand each directory's unique qualities. Examples will be used to illustrate various points

Holy Cow! Where Are My Chicago Catholics Now?

The first Chicago Catholic church opened in 1833 and by 1900 there were about 140 Catholic churches in the city. Finding your Catholic ancestor's church records (baptism, confirmation, marriage and funeral) can be a daunting task without a few key pieces of information. This lecture will explain how to find the data necessary to tap into these valuable resources. Once potential churches are identified, the process of finding the records for that church and timeframe will be explained.

Truth or Fiction? Unraveling a Family Yarn

George Teeling was a nineteenth century Irish immigrant in Chicago who was featured in family lore. Researching the tale surrounding him proved that much of the story was false. Research led to many surprising discoveries, perhaps more interesting than the original family tradition. This engaging lecture will discuss the research process; a wide array of sources; and overcoming anglicized names to arrive at the truth of George Teeling and his family.

Boost Your German Research: Understand Historical Jurisdictions

Meyer’s Gazetteer is great for determining jurisdictions as of 1912. Germany was not a country until 1871. In the centuries leading up to that, land areas were constantly changing hands. One must understand who controlled a given area in order to find all possible records. Topics included in this lecture are:

  • Use of Meyer’s gazetteer and its impact on the Family History Library catalog
  • Macro jurisdictional changes in historical German areas
  • Tactics for determining jurisdictions of a village or small land holding over time
  • Examples of changing jurisdictions for selected areas
  • Key German vocabulary will be included

Get With the Times: German Newspaper Research

Germany does not have large subscription-based websites for accessing newspapers for genealogical research. Despite that fact, thousands of digitized German newspapers are available online. Many of them are free. Learn where they are and how to access them.

Untangle the Web of German Websites

The internet is offering more and more quality information for German researchers. This talk will focus on collections of free digitized German materials and indexes available on the internet. Most websites presented are based in Germany, so tips and tricks for navigating them will be included. This talk will help you expand beyond church records for your German research. A dollar sign next to a website name indicates that it requires payment to use.

Genealogy.net: Germany's Genealogy Mega Site

Genealogy.net, also known as CompGen or GenWiki, is a free website maintained by the Verein für Computergenealogie. Its volumes of rich content can help advance your research. This lecture provides a guided tour of the significant portions of this website. Come away with comfort navigating a website in the German language. Learn the free treasures that wait for you.

The Voyages of Our German Immigrants

Germans began immigrating to the United States in 1683, according to documented history. This talk will highlight significant aspects of the first four major waves of migration, through 1910. The areas from which they came and motivations that typified each wave will be detailed. Available immigration and emigration records help tell the immgrant’s story. Laws changed over time and impacted various aspects of the immigration experience.

Naturalization: The Path to U.S. Citizenship

A process for becoming a United States citizen has been in place since our country’s early history. Laws have been enacted and modified throughout time. The process has seen many changes as a result. This lecture discusses the history and procedural changes. Finding naturalization records is an important part in researching our immigrant ancestors. Steps explaining how to find these records will be illustrated with examples.

Letters & Umlauts & U-Bogen, Oh My!

Reading old records written in German script can seem like an overwhelming task. Most modern-day Germans cannot read this script, yet it is an essential technique if you plan to research in older German records. This lecture provides strategies for reading the old handwriting; ways to maximize your chances for success; and sources to use when you are having problems.

From Piles to Files: Organize Your Genealogy

Years of research can generate many documents. To keep track of all your valuable information, a workable organization plan is a must. Can you find the documents you have? When you receive a new document, do you know exactly where you’re going to put it so that you will find it easily? The lecture will discuss organization methods for paper and digital files.

Discover the Holdings of German Archives

German archives hold many records valuable for expanding our genealogical research. Church records not available digitally may be waiting in archives. State and local archives may contain emigration, court, tax, and other records to fill in our ancestor’s story. This webinar will explain how to find relevant archives and discover their holdings. It will describe how to navigate detailed online finding aids when available. One need not be fluent in German to do this research. Essential vocabulary and translation tools will be discussed.

Stymied by Stiglers: Solved Using Indirect Evidence

German immigrant, Christina Stigler, arrived in the United States with her sister in 1874. Other Germans with her surname lived near her, alternating between Cincinnati and Iowa. No United States sources name a town of origin for any of these individuals. A current descendant’s DNA match suggests a district in Bavaria for the Stiglers origins. Emigration records, historic gazetteers, and church records provide indirect evidence to find Christina’s town of birth.

Germans to Chicagoland

Germans arrived in Chicago and its surrounding areas in different migration waves. They moved on from there or made it their home. Their motivations varied widely. This talk will examine the push and pull factors that brought Germans to this area at different points in time. Some specific settlement areas will be discussed. Many rich resources are available to research Germans who spent time in Chicagoland. This talk will highlight the archives and records available for researching them.

Contact Teresa Steinkamp McMillin, CG®

E-mail: teresamcmillin@comcast.net

Phone: 847.338.0041 


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