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2015 Lancaster Family History Conference

Celebrities and Cellmates

Saturday, April 25, 2015 8:30 AM –4:30 PM
Lancaster Host Resort & Conference Center

Welcome to our local, long-standing tradition of providing a quality family history conference with content for both the beginning and advanced family historian. This year’s topic, Celebrities and Cellmates—Finding That Famous (or Infamous) Ancestor, taps into a theme that is increasingly gaining interest with the broader public. The format of popular television series Who Do You Think You Are? by Lisa Kudrow and Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s Finding Your Roots, showcase discovering one’s ancestors can be as suspenseful as any mystery novel.

PBS has expanded upon America’s fascination with family history launching the Genealogy Roadshow, currently in its second season. Here, co-host Joshua Taylor aids participants discovering a vibrant, personal, ancestral history previously unknown.  We are grateful that Joshua can join us over the course of the conference on Friday and Saturday to share his insight and experience.  He’ll explore the roots of our sometimes notorious family legends and share insights into sources we can utilize to compile a more complete picture of our ancestors.

We have presentations that cover such topics as obituaries, estate records and taxes, archival research, deciphering German script, and DNA, as well as the practical methodology needed to write and publish a family history.  Please join us Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 23 to April 25, for our 36th year!

Download full brochure here
About D. Joshua Taylor

For more than 15 years, Joshua has been an active genealogist, tracing the histories of families across the globe. Joshua has presented through the Genealogy Roadshow (PBS) and Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC and TLC) and is the Lead Genealogist for, a worldwide leader in online family history. As a nationally known and recognized genealogical author, lecturer, and researcher, he is a frequent speaker at genealogical societies, libraries, and other organizations, including the annual conferences of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, and RootsTech. He has authored articles in American Ancestors, UGA Crossroads, FGS Forum, Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, and New England Ancestors, and was a columnist for Digital Genealogist

He recently authored The Keane and Sheahan Families of Bridgeport, Connecticut, a study of a family’s immigration and life in New England after the Irish famine.

Joshua is the current President for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and the former Director of Education and Programs at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including RootsTech’s Distinguished Presenter Award, the Federation of Genealogical Societies Award of Merit, and the Rubincam Youth Award from the National Genealogical Society. He holds an MLS (Archival Management) and an MA (History) from Simmons College and has been a featured genealogist on NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? with Sarah Jessica Parker, Ashley Judd, Reba McEntire, and Rob Lowe.

To Reserve
  • Click the "Add to Cart" button after any activity below. Add an LMHS membership here to receive discounts on events now and throughout the year. When you're finished, click the "View Cart" button at bottom. You'll be able to change the number of reservations you're making on the "View Cart" page and then pay by credit card. (Your payment will be processed by PayPal, but you don't need a PayPal membership to make the reservation.)
  • Alternately, give us a call at (717) 393-9745. We accept credit card payments over the phone, Tuesday–Saturday, 8:30 AM–4:30 PM.

Field Trips

Conference participants get priority seating on four Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society field trips scheduled for Thursday and Friday before the conference. All tours depart from the Historical Society, 2215 Millstream Road, Lancaster (along Lincoln Highway East). Field trips are priced separately from the Lancaster Family History Conference. 

Lancaster County Archives, 

Unravel the mystery behind the unique collection of records kept at the Lancaster County Archives, which may be the key to finding your own family history. Join archivist John Bennawit as he explains the elaborate collection of courthouse records, their sources, their importance, and interpretation for genealogists. 

This trip provides an introduction to the beginner for searching traditional sources found within the archives. Find out how birth, marriage, death, and land records may hold vital information about your ancestors. Learn valuable research tips when examining a variety of records, and discover how to make connections to additional sources. Following the presentation, researchers are invited to a behind-the-scenes tour of the archives. Researchers will have the option to conduct their own research until noon with staff available for guidance. 

Cost: $25.00 per person.; tour limited to 15 people.

Tours Full

Small-group and research seminars will be available at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. Priority will be given to conference participants. 

4th Annual DNA Roundtable Discussion, Darvin L. Martin

Thursday, April 23 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM 

Now a well established tradition in its fourth year, Darvin Martin will collaborate with participants to show how DNA test results fit into a larger family tree for all people. Discover the new information that can be gleaned from your test results and the next steps you can take to expand testing and enrich your family history. Conference participants who have laboratory results from a genealogical DNA test are invited to ask questions and dig deeper into their data with a small group of peers.

To attend this session, you must submit the results of your DNA test with your registration or in an email to Eileen Kinch ( by April 1. Provide an email address on the registration form.

Session Full.

Behind the Scenes of the Genealogy Road Show, D. Joshua Taylor

Friday, April 24 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Join Joshua Taylor on a journey into our ancestral past, revealing the unique history and contributions of diverse communities showcased in past and current episodes of the prominent PBS series, the Genealogy Roadshow. Discover the methodology utilized to verify or debunk unusual family stories and previously unverified claims. Does your family connect to a significant historical event or historical figure? Can you prove that story handed down from your grandmother, or is it merely an urban legend? Join Joshua Taylor Friday afternoon to find out more!

$25 small-group fee; limited to 80 people.\

Special Project Research Assistance, Steven L. Ness

Friday, April 24 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

The Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society is a research center for Pennsylvania German, Mennonite, and Amish history; genealogy; and theology. It also holds a significant collection of genealogical and historical materials pertaining to southeastern Pennsylvania with a special focus on Lancaster County. Since many people—both inside and outside the Mennonite tradition—have strong Pennsylvania connections, the library and archives are utilized by a vast variety of researchers across the United States and Canada. 

To attend this session, you must provide an email address and the surname which you plan to research, either with your registration or in an email to Eileen Kinch ( by April 1. The Historical Society will optimize your research time by finding family Bibles, surname folders and other resources in advance. 

Session Full

Learn German Script, James M. Beidler

Friday, April 24 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Have you ever been frustrated when you cannot read the primary source documents of your ancestors because you lack the skills to follow their handwriting? The language barrier can be successfully crossed using a dictionary, but few have the skills to unlock the interpretation of foreign handwriting. Here, noted genealogist James Beidler will lead a skills workshop focused on the primary language of our local colonists—German. The workshop will cover basic vocabulary and formats to enable the participants to read tombstones, church records and simple documents of German-speaking people. Included is practice writing and deciphering handwritten cursive script from a variety of sources as well as detailing the quirks of the printer Fraktur font. 

Class Full

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Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society
2215 Millstream Rd
Lancaster, PA 17602-1499
United States
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Phone: (717) 393-9745
Fax: (717) 393-8751

Open Tuesday-Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Closed major holidays.
All facilities are accessible.

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