Every genealogist’s path to becoming professional is different.  Like many others, it began for me as a hobby.  But once I retired in 2016, I got more passionate about it – and more serious.  My first year of operation as a professional has been extremely rewarding and I thank all those who have been supportive!  My focus has been primarily on education and business development.

Business Development: There’s been a lot of activity in this regard, but the biggest milestone has been the launching of the website and blog.  I can’t thank Peter Jonnes enough for building the website and providing marketing tools and business advice.  He’s shown great patience in dealing with old Dad in learning all about blogging, Google Analytics, MailChimp, etc., etc.  Thanks, Pete!

Education: I have 3 certificates from the National Genealogical Society (NGS) for completing the following courses.

  • American Genealogical Studies: The Basics
  • American Genealogical Studies: Documentation & Source Citation
  • American Genealogical Studies: Beyond the Basics

I’m very impressed with this educational series.  The Documentation course is a thorough introduction to the rules of citation based on Elizabeth Shown Mill’s landmark textbook Evidence Explained.  The quizzes and tests are quite challenging – as a result of which, my ability to provide correct citations has improved dramatically.  Beyond the Basics is when you begin to write reports.  To graduate successfully, you have to write 5 professional-level genealogy reports of 3-8 pages in length (depending on the assignment) with proper citations.  The instructors provide excellent feedback and grade the reports according to an easy-to-understand rubric of criteria.  I wrote reports related to the King, Mead, Blalock, Bonn, and Lukemire lines in my tree.

Professional conferences:

  • Fairfax Genealogical Society annual Spring Conference (2 days), April 2018
  • NGS Annual Family History Conference, Grand Rapids, Michigan (4 days), May 2018
  • Association of Professional Genealogists, Kansas City (3 days), October 2018


  • Gave a presentation on Scandinavian naming practices (e.g., patronymics, farm names) at an LDS-sponsored genealogy day in Frederick, Maryland, September 2018.  The Family History Center there organizes a conference every year.  Most of the presentation focused on Norway because that’s where my expertise primarily lies, not to mention my ancestry.  I also helped a couple people individually with their Norwegian research.
  • Published another article with the Minnesota Genealogist, a short item about the spelling of the Jonnes name.[1]Steven Nelson Jonnes, “Are You Sure That’s How You Spell Your Name?” Minnesota Genealogist, 49:3 (Autumn 2018): 17.
  • Took two genealogy road trips, one to the Red River Valley in northern Minnesota and the other to the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.  The results are documented in this blog.
  • Continued to administer a family DNA project on FamilyTreeDNA and began to analyze and communicate the results.

Current Projects: I am currently taking two intensive virtual courses, both of which I hope to complete by the end of 2018.

  • NGS American Genealogical Studies: Branching Out
  • Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG): Researching Nordic Ancestors (Norway, Denmark, Iceland)

2019 Plans:  The calendar is filling up fast.  Here’s what I have so far:

  • SLIG Course: New England to the Midwest 1780-1840, Salt Lake City, Utah, January 2019
  • Fairfax Genealogical Society Annual Spring Conference, Reston, Virginia, April 2019
  • England & Scotland tour, May 2019 (12 days)
  • Cruise to Norwegian fjords, late May/early June 2019 (7 days)
  • Genealogy road trip in Norway: June 2019 (10 days)
  • Genealogy road trip to upstate NY: late August 2019 (3 days)
  • Minnesota Genealogical Society North Star Conference, October 2019

I doubt I’m going to be able to fit in the NGS Family History Conference in May in St. Louis, given our need to prepare for the month overseas, but we’ll see.  At least next year we won’t be dealing with buying a new house and moving again!

I will also be exploring opportunities to give presentations and webinars, and publish more articles.  Another priority is to learn chromosome painting and identify which family members have inherited DNA from which grandparents and great-grandparents.  I won a nice door prize in Kansas City – a DNA test kit for MyHeritageDNA!  So now I get to explore their tools and see how that can augment my knowledge base.


1 Steven Nelson Jonnes, “Are You Sure That’s How You Spell Your Name?” Minnesota Genealogist, 49:3 (Autumn 2018): 17.