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Join us IN PERSON for our 30th Fall Conference!
Saturday, 28 September 2024
Doors open 8:00 am (CT)  |  Conference concludes 4:30 pm

Innovative Ideas for Sharing Your Family Story


Download the Conference Brochure

Join us IN PERSON on Saturday, 28 September 2024 (8:30 am-4:30 pm Central), as we explore unique ways to share your family history and discover unconventional sources that can add depth to your stories. Then, explore ways to merge traditional research with creative and innovative storytelling to captivate the future genealogist in your family.

Learn from emerging genealogy experts Katharine Korte Andrew, Michael Andrews, and Lauren Peightel. The IN-PERSON conference includes four lectures and a hands-on workshop.

New this year: Apply for a Gary Hargis Scholarship to cover the cost of a beginner or rising genealogist attending the 2024 FVGS conference with you!


The Institution Guide by Katharine Korte Andrew

Our ancestors, like all of us, had their strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures. They may have been pillars of the community, lived on the fringes of society, or have been healthy their entire lives or battled diseases. Orphanages, asylums, maternity homes, sanitariums, penitentiaries, and more institutions were some of the first and last places our ancestors may have spent their lives. In this lecture, we will cover the different types of records these institutions created, what they can tell us about our ancestors, and where we may be able to find them.

A Genealogist’s Primer on Fraternal Organizations by Katharine Korte Andrew

So, your ancestor was buried in an I.O.O.F. cemetery and had a masonic symbol on their tombstone, or were you given a bunch of buttons and pins that you do not know the meaning behind? In this class, we will talk about some of the most popular fraternal organizations that our ancestors were members of, the records that they left behind, and dispel the rumors and myths behind them.

Bringing the Past to Life: Incorporating Genealogy into the High School Curriculum by Michael Andrews

This presentation will describe my Humanities course—how it started, how it has evolved, and how we use family history as a vehicle to develop rigorous academic skills such as research, composition, project creation, and oral presentation. The course culminates with a documentary project that allows the students to tell the stories they have uncovered throughout the semester.

Breaking the Silence: Healing Family and Adding Voice to One Sailor’s Story by Lauren Peightel

On a quest for personal healing, connect with Morris Farrell, Coxswain SV6 USNR, and his unyielding silence on an emotional dive into Peightel’s personal family history and Farrell’s religion, perspective, and individual experience aboard LST 504 during World War II. Walk away with a better understanding of how to research someone’s state of mind, how to apply compassion and empathy back into understanding our stories, and tools to begin healing in our families.


Building Mini Memories by Lauren Peightel

Discovering the places and spaces of our stories and memories is invaluable; rebuilding those together across the generations and making new memories is priceless! Explore creative ways to share your story, find avenues for outside-of-the-box research, and be inspired to think big by thinking little. Walk away with stronger memory-maker skills like learning to think like a detail-oriented world-building researcher, being a powerful storyteller, and being a creative and relevant playmaker. Come for the inspiration, and stay for the fun!


FVGS is honored to offer a new scholarship opportunity! The Gary Hargis Scholarship, made possible by a generous donation from long-time member and past President Gary Hargis, will cover the cost for a beginner or rising genealogist to attend the 2024 FVGS conference with their mentor.

This scholarship seeks to support those beginning their family history journey by introducing them to structured genealogy education and networking. It is envisioned to provide a shared family history experience with a partner to spark new avenues for future research, collaboration, and storytelling.

  • Eligibility: All conference registrants are eligible to nominate someone for a scholarship. The nominee must be at least 18.
  • Number Available: Limited to 5.
  • Application Due Date: You must register for the conference before submitting a scholarship application. Your conference confirmation email will include the link to the Scholarship Application Form. Applications must be submitted no later than Saturday, 31 August 2024, at 11:59:59 p.m. (Central).
  • Selection Process: The conference Committee will select recipients. We will notify the conference registrant and scholarship recipient via email by Monday, 02 September 2024. Recipients must confirm acceptance by Wednesday, 04 September 2024.


Northern Illinois University Naperville Conference Center at 1120 E Diehl Rd, Naperville, Illinois 60563.


Attendees are eligible to win door prizes. Check back for updates.


Learn from these emerging genealogy experts at the 2024 Fall Conference. Explore unique ways to share your family history and discover unconventional sources that can add depth to your stories.

Katharine Korte Andrew MS/LIS is an author, genealogist, graphic designer, archivist, and historian based in Chicago with over eight years of professional genealogy research experience. She is a third-generation genealogist and has been doing genealogical research since childhood.

She specializes in researching German-speaking and Germanic ancestors, elusive female ancestors, Quaker (Society of Friends) families, and the stories of those commonly overlooked, specifically individuals in residential institutions.

Katharine’s day job is as the Executive Director and Archivist of the Hinsdale Historical Society in Hinsdale, DuPage County, Illinois, and was previously the Managing Editor of the National Genealogy Society’s online Monthly publication. She holds a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BA in Political Science and Germanic Studies, summa cum lade, with a minor in history, from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

She is also a member of the National Genealogy Society, Association of Professional Genealogists, Indiana Genealogical Society, the Germanic Genealogy Society, and other historical and genealogical-based organizations.

Katharine has been published in the National Genealogy Society’s Monthly, Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana’s LINES journal, and the Utah Genealogical Association’s Crossroads publication. Her book “Images of America: The Village of Lincolnwood” was published with Arcadia Publishing in July 2022. She previously volunteered as the Allen County Genealogy Society of Indiana’s “LINES” publication editor.

Michael Andrews has been an English teacher and soccer coach at Prospect High School since 2003. He has also been an avid genealogist for nearly two decades. At Prospect, he teaches a Humanities course for high school seniors that incorporates a semester-long family history project. The project’s goal is to allow students to explore their own personal histories and teach them to think, research, and create like actual historians.


Lauren Peightel, MA With over fifteen years of research, archives, educational and programmatic design, and administrative experience in museums and societies, Peightel is passionate about the power of storytelling, building community, and helping others forge creative personal connections with the past.

Peightel is a museum professional with over fifteen years of experience in art and history archives care, collections, and research for local and state societies and libraries, academic archives, and national Smithsonian collections. She currently serves as manager of engagement for the Indiana Historical Society, where she was chair of the Midwestern Roots Genealogy and Family History Conference 2019 and 2022, and is project manager for large- and small-scale projects incorporating built community partners, donors, interns, volunteers, and colleagues for an annual average of over 30 in-person and/or virtual programs reaching tens of thousands of adults, families, and student guests. Working closely with reference staff and collection curators, Peightel built relationships and program collaboration and helped acquire new collections from communities of recent immigrants and political refugees, as well as ancestral Native peoples of the region. In 2022, she co-taught a course for the premier mid- to advanced-career professional development institute for history organizations, the History Leadership Institute (formerly Seminar for Historic Administration, American Association for State and Local History), on building relationships with historically ignored communities with professor, scholar, and genealogist John Bickers Ph.D. (Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, Case Western Reserve University). Peightel believes in designing learning experiences over simply teaching and often incorporates the arts, food, game design, and play into conference models, programs, and skill-building classes.

Peightel created the IN-4D research method for the Indiana Historical Society as an ethical and culturally responsive teaching tool for genealogists, a format to build stronger historical empathy and a tool to enhance historical world-building for more comprehensive and contextual research for more invigorating storytelling. IN-4D uses finite environmental sensory stimuli combined with plausible biological responses and advanced historical research with non-traditional sources to inspire cognitive and affective engagement from the researcher/storyteller to any person and circumstance in history. Curt B. Witcher of the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center has incorporated this method into multiple of his classes, and both he and Peightel co-taught this method during Midwestern Roots 2022.

Peightel is also dedicated to providing tools, resources, and inspiration for small history-minded organizations to recalibrate their focus on the communities they serve, sustainability, collaboration, and exciting and inviting research and programming initiatives.

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