Salt Lake Christmas Tour……………….. LAST Week’s Peek !!

This week’s spotlight on our tour professionals features (alphabetically) the last three, Lisa Alzo, Linda Brinkerhoff and Arlene Eakle.   Hope YOU will be there with us in eleven days……………

Lisa Ann Alzo, M.F.A., grew up in Duquesne , Pennsylvania , and currently resides in Ithaca , New York . She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1987 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Pittsburgh in 1997.

Lisa began writing creatively in the fourth grade with an assignment entitled, “All About Me,” and went on to win several English/Writing awards in high school and college.

Lisa specializes in Slovak/Eastern European genealogical research, writing your family history, and using the Internet to trace female and immigrant ancestors.

Lisa has published articles in Ancestry MagazineDiscovering Family History Magazine, Family Chronicle , Family Tree Magazine , Genealogical Computing, Reunions Magazine, NGSNews Magazine, Reunions Magazine, Western Pennsylvania History Magazine, FEEFHS Journal and Rocenka: Journal of the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International, The Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly.

An avid genealogist for 22 years, Lisa currently teaches online genealogy courses for Family Tree University and the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. She is the recipient of the 2002 Mary Zirin Prize given by the Association for Women in Slavic Studies to recognize the achievements of independent scholars, and is a frequently invited speaker for national conferences, genealogical and historical societies. 

Visit for more information about Lisa.

Arlene Eakle, Ph.D.

Dr. Eakle was a co-editor of the 1st edition of The Source, is president and founder of The Genealogical Institute and Family World. She is a professional genealogist with over 35 years of experience, including on-site research at many state archives as well as university and college libraries, county courthouses and public libraries. Arlene has done research in England, Germany, and Canada. She has a 96% success rate. Dr. Eakle shares research tips and shortcuts with clients through consultations. She has addressed more than 300 workshops and seminars in the U.S., Canada and Europe helping seminar attendees solve their genealogical problems. She is author of more than 90 books and newsletters. Arlene has consulted with Salt Lake Christmas Tour patrons since its inception in 1985.

Linda Brinkerhoff

Linda was personally trained by her mother, Dr. Arlene Eakle, and worked side by side with her for over ten years. Linda is a professional researcher, consultant, and lecturer, as well as a U.S. Postal Service postmaster! She is the author of Vital Records Computer Databases and co-author of Family History for Fun and Profit: the Research Process. She is co-editor of several books including Researching Your Roots in New York (4 vols.), Native American Ancestors, and Huguenot Research Sources. Linda has traveled extensively doing on-site research in New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, California, and Pennsylvania for The Genealogical Institute’s clients and has addressed over 75 seminars.

Salt Lake Christmas Tour…………………. Week’s Peek

Everybody who comes to Salt Lake City at Christmas time loves to see the lights on Temple Square. Our Salt Lake Christmas Tour “family” is no exception. Doing some reading about all the lights I marveled at the logistics of getting them up and down and thought you’d enjoy knowing too.

Some 35 acres are decorated; that’s Temple Square and the surrounding plazas. And over 100 smaller trees are brought in and positioned to further decorate the grounds. Over 100 workers are on the grounds putting up nearly a million lights. It takes four months (Aug-Nov) to put up the lights and two and one-half months (Jan-mid-Mar) to take them down. The one tree with the most lights is the (always red) Cedar of Lebanon with 75,000 lights. They are turned on the day after Thanksgiving and turned off January 6th.

And why do they take them down every year? Even with the switch to LED lights (since 2007) the lights produce heat which can damage the trees. A bigger reason is that the tree branches keep growing and the lights used one year might not fit the next.

Besides all the lighted trees, luminaries line the walk-ways and fountains and there are several different nativities, both large and small, positioned for the thousands of folks to visit.

My favorite is the reflecting pool in front of the Temple with the hundreds of floating bubble lights….. what is your favorite?

Donna, aka Mother Hen, until next peek.


Salt Lake Christmas Tour…….. Week’s Peek

William “Bill” Dollarhide will not be one of our professional-library helpers, but he will be giving us a couple of GREAT lecture-presentations.  Bill is the co-author of the Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920, which book has become a standard in all libraries. We genealogists could not do our family history sleuthing without using this book!  Bill has several more books to offer ( and writes insightful and timely tips and helps on this blog.  We look forward to spending time with you, Bill!

Our professional helper featured today is Billy Dubois Edgington…A U.S. and Native American specialist, she has over 40 years of genealogy experience as a researcher, bookseller, author and speaker. With a BA and graduate work in history, she is a staff member with Family History Expos. She was a contributor to the Genealogical Helper. Co-author of  Vital Information from the Guion Miller Roll of the Eastern Cherokees and author of  African Cherokee Connections. We look forward to working with you, Billy!


Donna, aka Mother Hen, until next peek.

Salt Lake Christmas Tour………. Week’s Peek

Today’s professional spotlight is on Loni Gardner.

Loni Gardner is a professional genealogist who knows there’s more to genealogy than names, dates and places. She enjoys creating fun ways to share family information through games, puzzles, etc. She is a co-founder of Medical Pedigree Research Services which traces ascending and descending pedigrees for medical research and owner of Gardner Genealogical Services. Loni has compiled the Census Birth Year Chart, Mindmaps and other forms to help with organization and research. Loni will station herself mostly on the 3rd floor to help with U.S. research……. bring your question and problem to her and she will amaze you with her knowledge and her help!
Donna, aka Mother Hen, until next peek.

Salt Lake Christmas Tour…………. Week’s Peek

Today’s Profile Peek is for E. Wade Hone……. one of our favorite and bestest helpers on the Salt Lake Christmas Tour.  Come and get his help!

E. Wade Hone is devoted to European and foreign language research, and the promotion of European history, geography, and cultural tolerance among high school and college students, in addition to other academic objectives. He recently concluded a thirteen-year tenure as senior partner of Heritage Consulting and Services in Salt Lake City, worked for several years for ProGenealogists, and has been professionally involved in history and genealogy since 1984. His educational background is in world history and linguistics. He is a national speaker and the author of Land and Property Research in the United States and has also produced numerous multimedia presentations on a variety of genealogical subjects. He lives in the Salt Lake valley and spends portions of most years in the former Austro-Hungary regions doing research, inventory and preservation work to compliment that which can be done from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
Donna, aka Mother Hen,  until next peek

Salt Lake Christmas Tour……….. Week’s Peek

Going backwards alphabetically, today we spotlight Ruth Maness. Ruth is ready, willing and able to help you with your Scandinavian research needs.

Ruth Ellen Maness specializes in Scandinavian research. Besides working at the reference desk and behind the scenes on the European floor at the Family History Library, Ruth Ellen Maness has written extensively for Heritage Quest and the Genealogical Helper Magazines. Ruth is a popular lecturer, as well as accomplished Scandinavian specialist. She works on Floor B-1 in the Family History Library.
In case you are wanting to know, Salt Lake City has received its first snow according to this picture from KSL News. But don’t worry; downtown usually does not get much and it either melts away quickly or is scraped away more quickly. But for those of you wishing to see snow, this year might be your year.
Donna, aka Mother Hen, until next peek.

Salt Lake Christmas Tour………. Another Week’s Peek

Maureen MacDonald is our “star” for this peek. I’ve known Maureen for years and years and you have, too, for she’s come on all the Christmas Tours for years and years. This year she will be helping Bill and Leland with the airport-welcoming duty on Arrival Day and she will be teaching four classes.

Maureen lives on Whidbey Island which is in Puget Sound, a ferry ride from Seattle. Google IMAGE search for  “Whidbey Island Washington” to see the beautiful place where she lives.   Just to get to the airport she signs up for the airport transit, crosses the sound on a ferry and drives south to Sea-Tac airport….. a nearly 3-hour trip. And of course it’s in reverse when she returns. (Yes, I know many of you have long airport commutes…. but how many of those trips involve a ferry ride???)

Maureen has been president of her local genealogical society (Genealogical Society of South Whidbey Island, , and is currently Director of Education………. and her classes are always packed. We are all going to benefit from Maureen’s teaching and friendship during the 2012 tour!

Donna, aka Mother Hen, until next peek.

Thomas MacEntee on Turning Your Genealogy Hobby into a Living

Thomas MacEntee has made his hobby his occupation – and with a lot of hard work, it’s paying off. The following excerpt is from an article in the October 29, 2012 edition of Forbes.

How would you like to turn your hobby into a second career?

That’s exactly what Thomas MacEntee of Chicago, a former tech professional who’s now a genealogist, did after unexpectedly losing his job in 2008. The transformation was neither fast nor easy, but MacEntee, 50, couldn’t be happier.

“I am moving forward all because I took a chance on building a career to help people look backwards,” he told me.

An art history major in college, MacEntee spent decades working as a technology trainer, technical writer, applications analyst and project manager for several large global law firms. But after the last one filed for bankruptcy in 2008, MacEntee found himself reeling from the experience of “being tossed out on my butt.” He decided it was time to shift gears.

Read the full article.

Note that Thomas will be with us during the full week of the Salt Lake Christmas Tour – and will being giving a total of 10 lectures. Preregistration for the Christmas Tour has been extended through Wednesday, October 31. Sign up now and join us in Salt Lake City December 2 through 8.

Winter Time is a’Coming… and it’s Time for Research, Grandchildren & the Salt Lake Christmas Tour

We picked the last of the tomatoes, cucumbers, and cabbage on Tuesday, Wednesday the temperatures began to drop dramatically, and we woke up to snow this morning (Thursday, Oct 25, 2012). I doubt the snow will last long and temperatures this time of year fluctuate a lot in Utah.

Patty and I went out this afternoon and supervised the erection of a snowman with Roby and Tabitha. The snow was perfect for packing into a “Frosty,” and the kids had great fun.

Although genealogists usually attempt to try to do most of their “cousin visiting” in the summer, the colder months are our time to snuggle up in a warm blanket, chase ancestors on the computer and compile our genealogy databases. There’s a big exception to all that, and that’s the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour which takes place the first full week of December each year. Now in it’s 28th year, we expect somewhere between 60 and 90 researchers to settle in at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel again this year, working side-by-side with a dozen professional genealogists for a full week of intense research at the Family History Library.

We’ve still got space for more folks on the Christmas Tour. To learn all about it, click here.

Salt Lake Christmas Tour……… Another Week’s Peek

We’re very excited to announce that Thomas MacEntee, the creator of, and a motivating force behind genealogy bloggers and social media genealogists, will be with us again this year. Thomas will be giving us TEN presentations to update our digital and tech skills….. and, as this photo shows, he’s often just working in the little room across from the elevators and YOU, as a tour member, can go sit one-on-one with him to help solve your techhie troubles. What a great big huge plus that is!!!!
Also, here is the Mystery Photo of the Week…………. who is this? She comes from Texas and is my long-suffering roommate:
Donna, aka Mother Hen

Salt Lake Christmas Tour………….. Another Week’s Peek

Given any thought to what the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour has in store for you in the evenings while you’re there?  OF COURSE, you can go back to the Library after dinner and stay until closing time, 9:00. And you can always wander around Temple Square enjoying all the millions of Christmas lights.

But on Monday the Library closes at 5:00 and that’s when we’ve scheduled our Banquet dinner…. which will be handled by the same catering family as last year (for those of you who were there last year and remember) and Paul Nauta will be speaking to us. He is one of the Big Wigs at FamilySearch and this is his second time speaking to us.

Tuesday night Leland and Dale will be giving us a demo of a FlipPal….. and there will be a drawing among those present for a FREE one.

Wednesday evening Mark Olsen from MyHeritage will be giving Part 2 of his program.  And you can opt to go strolling on Temple Square, taking photos under Bill Balter’s guidance. He knows the best photo ops.

Thursday evening Loni Gardner and Leonard will host a Legacy Family Tree Show & Tell & Ask Session.

Friday evening?  Stay tuned!

Saturday evening is our Farewell Ice Cream Social where we have all varieties of ice cream (including sugar-free) and toppings and we re-cap the weeks events, ancestors found  and great stories. And we’ll draw for some last prizes, including two 2-night stays at the Plaza.

I recommend that you catch up on your sleep before you come because we have a chocked full week planned for you at the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour.  (P.S. It’s not too late to sign up to come.)

Donna, aka Mother Hen, until next time


Salt Lake Christmas Tour…… Week’s Peek

We’re spotlighting George Ott today.  I’ve known George since about 1988 and in all that time I’ve known him to be a Gold-Plated Gentleman and Top-Notch Knowledgeable Genealogist. He’s assisted on Leland’s Christmas tour almost since the very beginning and I can safely raise my hand and say that yes, he’s helped everybody who asks him for help and he’s found something for everybody.

Bet you didn’t know that he was one of the behind-the-scenes genealogists on Who Do You Think You Are? Currently he works for ProGenealogists, a professional firm in Salt Lake. He does much of his work in the Family History Library…………. and that’s where he will be the first week in December helping us!

His specialty is U.S. Research and U.S. Military and Italian research. Bring your problems and your questions and plan to spend some quality time with George Ott.  He’ll be giving all of us the first talk bright away Monday morning; George will teach us how to evaluate the Preponderance of Evidence, and I guarantee you will benefit from this opening learning session.

Donna, aka Mother Hen, until next time.

Salt Lake Christmas Tour……….. Week’s Peek














Who knows where these photos were taken??????  The Salt Lake City International Airport, that’s where! Isn’t it fun to arrive into Salt Lake City and be greeted by Christmas-red poinsettias lining the walkways??? Those cheery flowers introduce you to a wonderful week!  Hope YOU are not going to miss it this year.

Donna, aka Mother Hen

Salt Lake Christmas Tour……… Week’s Peek

If you are sitting on the proverbial fence trying to decide whether to come or not come on the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour, please let me push you off that fence onto the side of coming!

In my next few posts, I’m going to tell you about some of our speakers and what they will be offering to us….. and to show no favorites, I’m starting backwards alphabetically.

Dwight Radford travels to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland yearly to learn about Irish resources and to conduct on-site research and we’re as lucky as a Four Leaf Clover that he has time to join Leland’s team to help us on the Salt Lake Christmas Tour. Besides having sign-up sheets and helping us one-on-one with our Irish research problems in the Family History Library, he will give us two classes (to be held in the Plaza Hotel):

On Monday, December 3rd, 1:00, he will present Irish Research On the Internet;  on Tuesday, December 4th, 1:00, he will teach us about Getting Your Irish Ancestor Over the Water.

If you have need for Irish research help, Dwight Radford will be waiting there to help you…… in his beautiful signature Irish sweaters!!

Donna, aka Mother Hen, until next time

Salt Lake Christmas Tour…………. Week’s Peek

Guess what? Mark Olsen from MyHeritage is coming to the Salt Lake Christmas Tour to tell us and teach us all about this fabulous FREE website, . This is probably the best free site to which you can upload your family tree and connect with cousins near and far. Leland is always coming up with things New & Better for our Tour and this is one for 2012!!  Don’t miss it……..

I’m deep into planning our week’s schedule; we will have “more and better” classes than last year. I know many of you would like to know specifics now, and I do understand, but the speakers/presenters are just now letting me know………… hopefully by next week I’ll have a pretty good list.

Things To Remember:  (1) bring at least one small, inexpensive, wrapped gift for our Breakfast Gift Share;  (2) bring cold medicine just in case;  (3) does anybody need distilled water for their CPAP? Let me know.  (4) ‘Tiz handy to bring some return address mailing labels to exchange with new friends.

The City Creek Center Mall will be open! Finally! Click to for a list of the shops and restaurants located right across the street from our hotel. We who have been coming on the Tour for years know it’s taken about five years for this project to become reality. There is a grocery store in the mall too.  And my favorite, a Brighton store, darnit.

You know how Leland loves offbeat gifts, especially when they’re presented to him in front of everybody at our Breakfast Gift Time……….. so please feel free to bring any silly, sneaky, or (dare I say?) sexy thing as a wrapped gift for Leland and we’ll all have some good fun. Well, most of us will.

If you’re on the fence about coming, let me Humpty Dumpty you off that fence and COME !!

Donna, aka Mother Hen, until next week