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Faces of NextGen: Meet Becky Zoglmann

Becky Zoglmann, 27, Georgia

Why genealogy? I have always been interested in history–my grandad lived through World War II and has always told me stories that fascinated me. I was also lucky enough to attend a school with a long, rich history and beautiful old buildings. My interest in genealogy started in one of the history classes I took at this school. I started to research my family tree in my spare time as a teenager, but only began to take it seriously as a future career a couple of years ago. The sense of satisfaction I get when I help other people find ancestors they knew nothing about, makes it all worth it.

What are you working on this week? This week, I am working on a side project that I have been researching for the last few months entitled “The Donoghues of East London.”  My great-great-grandparents were Irish immigrants living in the East End of London in the late 1800s. In an attempt to differentiate between my ancestors and other families who share the same name, I decided to research all the different Donoghue families who lived in the same area and time period. It has been fascinating discovering how they are all connected.

What’s the number one secret to your success in genealogy? Consistency and determination have been key in my genealogy journey. It can be very frustrating hitting brick walls in your research, but consistently revisiting your research and reevaluating it can uncover things you have overlooked before.

What superpower would you want to help you uncover your family history? The ability to time travel! Then I would be able to go back and see for myself how my ancestors lived, what they looked like and hear their stories.

What are we most likely to find you doing when you’re not researching family history? When I am not researching, I am taking of my two young children who are my whole world, spending time with my husband of seven years and our four cats and binge watching Netflix shows!

Anything else you’d like to share? Take advantage of social networking! There are hundreds of genealogy groups on Facebook that specialize in all different areas–DNA, photo recognition, etc. I have found so much great information from these groups.


The NextGen Genealogy Network is made up of young genealogists with diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Faces of NextGen showcases a different member of our community each month. If you would like to be considered for an upcoming feature, simply complete our questionnaire and submit a selfie.

Introducing the NextGen Connection Challenge

The NextGen Genealogy Network encourages genealogists to build connections between all generations. Now, we introduce the NextGen Connection Challenge to inspire genealogists worldwide to put this idea into action.

What is the NextGen Connection Challenge? It is a opportunity for genealogists of different generations to meet one-on-one, mentor each other, and become friends. It is suggested that these meetings—led by YOU!—take place on the second Saturday of each month, but you can connect anytime, anywhere.

How can you meet another genealogist outside of your age demographic? Attend a local society meeting, conference, or workshop to become acquainted with genealogists of all ages, or search the NextGen Genealogy Network’s Community Directory to locate a young genealogist near you. Even cousins count—you never know when you might encounter another genealogist in your extended family. Consider meeting for coffee to bounce ideas off each other regarding your latest research, or get together for a research adventure. What could be better than having a genealogy buddy along as you explore a local library, archive, museum, or cemetery?

After you meet, share with us on Facebook or Twitter. Who did you meet? What did you learn from each other? What was the best part about getting to know a genealogist of a different generation? Did you take a selfie together? Feel free to share that, too.

The NextGen Connection Challenge is an initiative launched to encourage genealogists of all generations to build connections with one another. We hope you will join the NextGen Genealogy Network in making the NextGen Connection Challenge one of your most important—and fun—resolutions for the new year!

5 Reasons Why Podcasts are Great Learning Tools for Genealogists

As I sit on my living room couch underneath my favorite blanket, I listen to genealogical experts share their insights. With podcasts, we have the ability to listen to these experts comfortably at home, in our cars on our way to various places, and even at work. Podcasts are extremely beneficial for genealogy researchers to improve their skills for five reasons.

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1. Podcasts allow you to learn information quickly. Last year, I taught a genealogy course at my local family history center. I had a good command of much of the content I planned to explore, but not all of it. Listening to podcasts on focused subjects allowed me to fill gaps in my understanding quickly, so I could pass the information on to other researchers. Further, because podcasts are available any time or day, I did not have to wait to go to a conference or meeting to hear the content.

2. Podcasts can be listened to when you cannot read materials.
Listening to content via a podcast can be more accessible than reading in many situations. I listen to genealogy podcasts while I do chores and when I go running. In situations where you cannot read a book, you can still absorb genealogy material through listening. Reading genealogy and family history books are a must, but listening to content can be an important way to learn as well. With that, there is something special about hearing how someone speaks about a topic. We have all heard speakers that get us excited about a topic in large part due to their own enthusiasm on a subject.

3. Podcasts cover diverse genealogy subjects.
Interested in lineage societies? Interested in how to write for a genealogy journal or newsletter? There’s a podcast for all of the above. From how-tos to information on particular research systems, podcasts allow people to explore whatever they would like to know. iTunes and other services allow you to customize what shows you subscribe to. Blogtalk Radio offers several genealogy-related shows, including “Research at the National Archives and Beyond” and “The Forget-Me-Not Hour.”

4. Podcasts offer a depth of subject matter.
Podcasts are long enough to cover material in good detail. They can offer the right balance of depth and introductory information. Genealogy podcasts commonly last forty minutes to one and half hours. This length usually affords speakers enough time to delve into a subject.

5. Podcasts direct you to other resources to explore. Effective podcast speakers explain what they know and where listeners can find more information. My favorite podcasts regularly direct me to more genealogy references online and in print.

What are your favorite genealogy podcasts?


fullsizerender-1Shelby Ward is from Kansas and lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. She has taught on the subject of African Diaspora genealogy, history, and culture at the Knoxville Family History Center and started the Beck Cultural Exchange Center Genealogical Society. She is the creator of Millie’s Porch, a family history start-up, and participates in several Facebook genealogy groups.

Faces of NextGen: Meet Shelby Ward

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Shelby Ward, 30, Tennessee

What five words would you use to describe yourself? Creative, passionate, purpose driven, contextual

Why genealogy? My mom is a natural storyteller, so I grew up hearing family stories. My overall interest in history coupled with my upbringing contributed to my involvement in genealogy.

What’s the coolest discovery you’ve made? Professionally, I am a lawyer. In my genealogy research, I discovered that an ancestor was a plaintiff in civil litigation that went up to the federal Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in the early 20th century. I think it’s pretty cool to learn how my ancestor came to pursue his case and to explore court records older than I normally see in my everyday work.

What are you working on this week? A relative gave me a cache of funeral programs. I am scanning them and entering information from the programs into a spreadsheet for additional analysis.

What’s the number one secret to your success in genealogy? Always learning from others. I would not have grown as much as I have over the years without learning from other genealogists, reading books, etc.

What superpower would you want to help you uncover your family history? I was going to suggest an automatic interview transcriber (I’m in the process of transcribing oral history interviews). But if I want to uncover new information, I would say a device that magically presented unknown family artifacts and heirlooms.

What are we most likely to find you doing when you’re not researching family history? Listening to podcasts, reading, spending time with my family, scrapbooking, or modern quilting.

Anything else you’d like to share? Join your local genealogy societies! The local resources and information they offer are invaluable. I have joined societies based in Tennessee, Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas.


The NextGen Genealogy Network is made up of young genealogists with diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Faces of NextGen showcases a different member of our community each month. If you would like to be considered for an upcoming feature, simply complete our questionnaire and submit a selfie.