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Finding Origins: Cluster Research in Practice

November 2, 9, 16, 2022
Wednesdays, 6-7:30 p.m. ET
Sheilagh Doerfler
Lindsay Fulton
James Heffernan
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One of the most common—and important—questions a family historian asks is “where did my ancestors come from?” The answer to this question can open your research to new records, relatives, and stories. Whether you can’t find your ancestor before a certain time, want to know exactly where in the old country they’re from, or wish to visit your ancestral homestead, this three-week online course will demonstrate how cluster research can answer this age-old question. Using several case studies, we will present a step-by-step approach to organizing, researching, and resolving your quest to find origins.

This course includes three 90-minute classes, exclusive access to handouts and recordings of each presentation, and in-depth Q&A sessions with the instructors.

November 2

Class 1: Ancestors on the Move
Presented by Lindsay Fulton

Sometimes ancestors seem to appear out of nowhere—you can’t find where they moved from. This first class will use a case study to show how you can build the timeline of your ancestor’s movements and implement cluster research to determine origins when very little is already known about your ancestor.


November 9

Class 2: Finding the Ancestral Home
Presented by Sheilagh Doerfler

We all hope to visit the ancestral home of our ancestors, but changing boundaries, neighborhoods, and topography can make that a difficult task. In this second class we will examine a case study that uses maps and lands records to piece together the location of a family home.


November 16

Class 3: Immigrant Origins
Presented by James Heffernan

One of the hardest tasks a family historian can embark upon is to “jump across the pond” and discover exactly where in the old country an ancestor hails from. This final class will provide practical strategies and a methodical step-by-step approach to uncovering immigrant origins.

Research and Library Services
Sheilagh Doerfler
Eastern Canada
New Netherland
Areas of expertise: DNA, Adoption, New England, New Netherland, Ireland, Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, Norway, and Sweden.
Research and Library Services
Lindsay Fulton
Research Methodology
State and Federal Censuses
10 Million Names
Area of Expertise: State and Federal Censuses, New England, Ireland, and New York research, with a focus on research methodology and organization. Lindsay also oversees the research team working on the 10 Million Names project.
Books and Journals
James Heffernan
James Heffernan, Genealogist, has been with American Ancestors/NEHGS since 2015. He is a graduate of Boston College, where he worked in the conservation department at the John J. Burns Library.