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Gena Philibert Ortega
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Started this discussion. Last reply by Declan Chalmers Jul 27, 2009.

Gena's Genealogy

Looking Ahead to 2020

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment which granted women the constitutional right to vote. That means 2020 is a great time to focus on researching female ancestors.

Looking for a speaker to provide information on suffrage, women's history, or other topics that impacted our female ancestors? I'm traveling through various states and Canada speaking on these topics and would love to present to your group in person or virtually. Some of my presentation topics include the following:


A Genealogist's History of Suffrage
A condensed look at suffrage and what social history you need to know to tell the story of your female ancestor.

Voting: The Records Left Behind
What records exist to document a female ancestor in regards to voting? What records can you find online and in archives. We will discuss the history of suffrage in the United States and the records that exist. We will also discuss how not every female ancestor had the right to vote in 1920.

Female Ancestors

The Farmer Takes a Wife
“He was just a farmer” is a common lament but what about the farmer’s wife? Sources and material culture can help reconstruct her life. Learn about virtually unknown sources and repositories including the USDA Library, farm newspapers, and more. 

25 Tips for Researching Your Female Ancestors
Every year for Women’s History Month, I create 30 blog posts about researching female ancestors. Based on those articles, learn 25 tips that will help you identify, trace, and discover more about your female ancestors.

Wives, Widows, Spinsters, and Mistresses: Documenting Women’s Relationships
Details about women’s lives are found in examining their relationships. What records exist that document relationships to significant others? Learn what records exist that connect a woman to her husband, partner, or significant other, what information the records provide, as well as where these records can be found. 

Grandma was an Alien?! Marriage and Citizenship in 20th Century America 
Not too long ago, American women lost their citizenship when marrying non-citizens. While the 1920s saw changes to this law, women were still applying for their citizenship well into the 1970s. We’ll discuss marriage and women’s citizenship, as well as their repatriation. Examples from research at the National Archives and other repositories will help tell the story of these women’s lives. 

Her Name was Not Unknown:  Finding Female Ancestors
“What’s her maiden name?” “What happened to her after her husband died?” “How do I start researching my great-grandmother?” We’ve all felt the disappointment of seeing the word “unknown” to describe a female ancestor’s name. How do we go from “unknown” to finding a name?  This presentation will explain techniques, methodology, and resources vital to family history research. Enhance your research skills using a 5-step approach to researching (and finding) female ancestors.

The Secret Lives of Women: Research Female Ancestors Using the Sources They Left Behind
Why is finding a female ancestor so difficult? One reason is the way we research their lives. Successful research must combine familiar genealogical sources and the specific sources that women left behind. It is the sources that women authored or participated in that tell us their unique story.  In this lecture we look at the specific trail women left including signature quilts, community cookbooks, journals, and diaries.

I'm in the Book: Researching Women in Directories
City directories are great, but what other types of directories exist that can lead you to information about female ancestors? Surprisingly there are numerous kinds that include members of a church, community group, and membership organizations. Learn more about directories, what they contain and most importantly, where to find them.

Fabric, Cigars, and Murder: Reconstructing a Community of Women
Imagine finding a 1930s quilt top with the names of numerous women and, through genealogical research, uncovering a community. After I purchased a quilt top in Southern California, I started a research journey that led me to Indiana and a unique community of women and the records they left behind. 

Women in the Newspaper
Newspapers are the great equalizer and women are prominent in their pages. In this lecture we will discuss the types of articles women can be found in, as well as search-engine tips specific to researching women.

Researching Women: Community Cookbooks and What They Tell Us About Our Ancestors
Community cookbooks, commonly known as fundraising cookbooks with the plastic comb binding, have been around since the Civil War. They serve as a “city directory” of women, with everything from names, residences, and in some cases familial relationships and photos. Learn more about community cookbooks and using them for your family history. Presentation includes community cookbooks and food.

Martha Proby and her Book: A Case Study of a 19th Century English Woman
Martha Proby, a spinster living in early 19th century England left behind a unique artifact, a commonplace book. The research done to uncover who Martha was, her community, her manuscript, and her modern-day family includes methodologies that can assist anyone researching a female ancestor. Beyond the same old same old, these techniques go beyond typical family history research.

Join Me In Roswell This Saturday

I'm leaving home and heading to Roswell, New Mexico for the Wilson-Cobb Genealogy and History Library Annual Workshop on November 16th.

We will be talking Genealogy by the Numbers with these presentations:

  • 10 Reasons Why You Can't Find Your Ancestor
  • 25 Websites to Find US Vital Records
  • 10 Facts You Don't Know About the US Census
  • 20 Places to Find a Maiden Name

Find more information on their website. Hope to see you there!

Resources for Researching Women Veterans

Library of Congress

Have a female ancestor that served in the military? These resources are just a few that document the lives of female soldiers during the Civil War, World War I and World War II. 

Happy Veterans Day!

Civil War


Blanton, DeAnne, and Lauren M. Cook. They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War. Stroud: Sutton, 2005.

Halloran, Richard. Women on the Civil War Battlefront. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006

Harriel, Shelby. Behind the Rifle: Women Soldiers in Civil War Mississippi. Jackson: University of Mississippi , 2019. 


American Battlfield Trust - Female Soldiers in the Civil War

National Archives - Women Soldiers of the Civil War

World War I

Cobbs, Elizabeth. The Hello Girls: America's First Women Soldiers. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017.

Ebbert, Jean, and Marie-Beth Hall. The First, the Few, the Forgotten: Navy and Marine Corps Women in World War I. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2002. 

Gavin, Lettie. American Women in World War I. Sebastopol: University Press of Colorado, 2011.

Schneider, Dorothy, and Carl J. Schneider. Into the Breach: American Women Overseas in World War I. New York: Viking, 1991.

Research Guides

Simmons College - Women's War Work During World War I 

Schlesinger Library - World War I, 1914 -1918

The National World War I Museum - Women in World War I 

World War II


Bonnell, Françoise B, Ronald K. Bullis, and Charlotte T. McGraw. Capturing the Women's Army Corps: The World War II Photographs of Captain Charlotte T. Mcgraw.  2013.

Carl, Ann. A Wasp Among Eagles: A Woman Military Test Pilot in World War II. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1999.

Gruhzit-Hoyt, Olga. They Also Served: American Women in World War II. New York: Birch Lane Press, 1995.

Lambright, Jeanie S. They Also Served: Women's Stories from the World War II Era. Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2003.

Merryman, Molly. Clipped Wings: The Rise and Fall of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II. New York: New York Univ Press, 1998.

Monahan, Evelyn, and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee. And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II. New York: Knopf, 2007. 

Moore, Brenda L. Serving Our Country: Japanese American Women in the Military During World War II. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press, 2003. 

Purcell, Martha S. World War II Women in Uniform. Logan, Iowa: Perfection Learning, 2003.

Soderbergh, Peter A. Women Marines: The World War II Era. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1992. 

Stremlow, Mary V. Free a Marine to Fight: Women Marines in World War II. Washington, D.C: History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1994.

Tomblin, Barbara B. G.I. Nightingales: the Army Nurse Corps in World War II. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1996.

Special Collections/Museums

Texas Women's University - Women Airforce Service Pilots

National World War II Museum - Women in World War II

National WASP WWII Museum                 

Join Me for 50 Records That Document Female Ancestors

I LOVE Legacy webinars and Family History Month is the prefect time to discuss female ancestors. Join me for 50 Records that Document Female Ancestors on Legacy Webinars this week!

“Women can’t be found in genealogical documents.” “They are difficult to research.” While these statements can be true, there are records out there that document their lives. We will explore 50 records to consider as you research female ancestors from the colonial period to the 20th century in the United States.


Register now for this webinar to see it live on Wednesday, October 9th. It's also free for a week after the live presentation. After that, you can view it and the handouts with a Legacy subscription. (Well worth it to have access to Legacy's 1,000 + webinars). 

You can view my other Legacy webinars on my page at

Gena's 2019 Northern California Speaking Tour

It's Summer! That means it's time for Gena's annual California Speaking Tour. Join Gena at one of the societies listed below for genealogy and resources. 

Well I'm not speaking in Monterey but it does make for a nice California photo. (2018) Gena Philibert-Ortega.

NEW this year is the opportunity to consult with Gena on your genealogy brick wall problem. Meet Gena in San Ramon for 30 minutes & get help with your research. Just $20! Contact Gena for appointment times at

It's also time to start booking 2020's tour. 2020 includes a speaking tour in California (July), Arizona (April), and Texas (Fall). To learn more, contact Gena! 

See you on the Tour!

July 8, 2019: Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society
Topics: Her Name was Not Unknown: Finding Female Ancestors & We’re Related to George Washington?: Proving Family Stories.

July 9, 2019: El Dorado Hills Genealogical Society
Topic: Journals, Store Ledgers and Letters to Aunt Mary: Using Manuscript Collections

July 11, 2019: Contra Costa Genealogical Society
Topic: A Genealogist Goes to the Library

July 13, 2019: Silicon Valley Computer Genealogy Group
Topic: Her Name was Not "Unknown": Finding Female Ancestors

July 14, 2019: Sacramento Public Library
Topic: The Farmer Takes a Wife

July 16, 2019: San Ramon Valley Genealogical Society
Topic: Anatomy of Birth, Marriage and Death Records

July 18, 2019: Marin County Genealogical Society
Topic:Step Away From the Computer: Using Archives, Academic Libraries and Museums for Your Research

July 19, 2019: Mt. Diablo Genealogical Society
Topic: Brick Walls

July 20, 2019: Ventura County Genealogy Society
Topics: 25 Tips for Researching Female Ancestors & Using the FamilySearch Catalog

Topics are subject to change. See the individual society’s website for more information. 

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Latest Activity

Gena Philibert Ortega posted a note

October Genealogy Virtual Meetings

Virtual Meetings are a way for you to learn more about genealogy from The National Institute for Genealogical Studies instructors.  Everyone is welcome and the meetings are FREE. Join us! Note: NO USER NAME or PASSWORD is REQUIRED. After clicking on…
Oct 16
Gena Philibert Ortega replied to Jeanie Brewerton's discussion Spam
"We have removed the member who was posting spam messages to members. Thank you for reporting it. Gena Philibert-Ortega Director Genealogy Services The National Institute for Genealogical Studies"
Oct 1
Gena Philibert Ortega posted a note


Occasionally, we do get members on GenealogyWise who are here to do one thing, spam other members. Ning, the platform we use, has no way to detect a spammer prior to them bothering our members. The only way we have to find spammers and terminate…
Sep 30
Gena Philibert Ortega replied to Jeanie Brewerton's discussion Spam
"Another member already reported James Pollard for spam. He has been removed from the website. "
Sep 12
Gena Philibert Ortega posted a note

September 2019 Genealogy Virtual Meetings

Have  questions about your genealogy research? Join the instructors from The National Institute for Genealogical Studies for FREE virtual meetings where we discuss resources, records, and answer questions. Below is a list of virtual meetings. Attend…
Sep 6
Gena Philibert Ortega posted a blog post
Aug 27
Gena Philibert Ortega replied to Susan Dzialo's discussion How to find ancestors that performed in show business?
"You don't mention where Mildred lived but the first place you should look, if you haven't already is  newspapers. Several online digitized newspaper websites should be checked including and GenealogyBank. Conduct…"
Aug 23
Gena Philibert Ortega posted a note

June 2019 Genealogy Virtual Meeting Schedule

Have any questions about your family history  research? Join instructors from The National Institute for Genealogical Studies for Virtual Meetings. These online presentations are FREE and everyone is invited. Below are the June scheduled…
Jun 6
Gena Philibert Ortega posted a blog post

MyHeritage Expands to Health; Launches New DNA Test Offering Powerful and Personalized Health Insights for Consumers

MyHeritage Expands to Health; Launches New DNA Test Offering Powerful and Personalized Health Insights for ConsumersThe new MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test provides comprehensive health reports for conditions affected by genetics including heart disease, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s diseaseTel Aviv, Israel & Lehi, Utah — MyHeritage, the…See More
May 20
Gena Philibert Ortega posted a note

May Genealogy Virtual Meetings

Have any questions about your genealogy research? Join The National Institute for Genealogical Studies this month for our Virtual Meetings. Join an instructor for Q+ A, lecture, and more. Below are the May scheduled…
May 10

Profile Information

What surnames are you interested in researching?
McNeil, Smith, Nikolaus, Hibbert, Philibert, Harsbarger, Montgomery, Randall, Earlywine, Chatham, Lewis, Ortega, Ochoa, Marquez, Aquino
What countries and other locations are you interested in researching?
USA, Mexico, England
What is your level of genealogy knowledge?
Professional Genealogist
If you are a genealogy expert, what are your specialties?
American Records
For what reason did you start genealogy research?
I love family history and learning more about my ancestors.
Do you have a genealogy website or blog?

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Virtual Genealogical Association Conference

Posted on August 27, 2019 at 9:29am

Valerie & Myrt’s Excellent Genealogy Adventures debuts today

Valerie & Myrt’s Excellent Genealogy Adventures debuts today
Colorado Springs, CO, Oct 19, 2018 — In anticipation THE…

Posted on October 19, 2018 at 10:33am






The Virtual Genealogical Society is a global organization serving family history enthusiasts of all levels, geared…


Posted on April 29, 2018 at 9:41pm — 1 Comment



March 24, 2018 | Utica, OH

Email Terri O’Connell for contact details, photos, and an author bio.




Posted on March 26, 2018 at 10:19am

Comment Wall (109 comments)

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At 6:41pm on May 4, 2016, Susi (Susan C Jones) Pentico said…

Yup the correct word is NOT CONNECTED????

At 6:40pm on May 4, 2016, Susi (Susan C Jones) Pentico said…

Gena Philibert Ortega,  for some reason the system says my chat is shut off? I keep clicking to go into chat room and it says not available?

619 623 5250

At 10:36am on March 6, 2016, Joe said…

Hello Gena, Thanks for trying to address my email issue. When I click settings...Profile...change email, it gives me a link to click on in my new email. when I do click on it, it takes me to my page. when I re-enter my profile the old address is still there

At 6:49pm on September 15, 2011, Erin Bradford (freeaainnc) said…
Hi!  I tried emailing you about the possibility of starting a new chat, but it bounced and said your box was full.  When you have some space in your email, could you email me  Thanks!
At 2:49pm on August 29, 2011, Hal Horrocks said…


Is there nothing your not involved in?


Hal Horrocks

At 7:55am on July 14, 2011, James P. LaLone said…


Check out Monica Diesma posting the same message to many people, I think it is spam to get in contact with people. Jim.

At 10:29pm on May 12, 2011, Lawrence Wright said…
Thanks for the comment and encouragement Gena.  This is a wonderful site.  I have to confess that I feel a bit overwhelmed.  Trying to find the right pedagogy to learn this has left me feeling like a deer looking at an oncoming car at night with bright headlights on.   Larry
At 11:16am on February 9, 2011, Ellen Healy said…
Gena, So glad to see you here again. I didn't know you had been gone until it was mentioned one night on the chat. Good news!!!
At 8:26pm on November 10, 2010, Ellen Healy said…
Hi, Gena, I really love the lists of sites you have been posting in the newsletter. They are very helpful, and I just copied the ones from todays' newsletter on military records. One question I have is do you know of any good sites where records of the Spanish-American War are listed?
At 5:31pm on October 27, 2010, Sharon Rollins Pustejovsky said…
Thanks for the welcome! I look forward to using GenealogyWise and getting to know other users, and helping each other as much as possible.

Sharon Pustejovsky




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