2023 Annual Seminar

Ventura County Genealogical Society   

Become a Better Genealogist by Understanding Your Ancestors

October 21, 2023  
8:30 am to 4:00 pm PDT   

Zoom Webinar   


Join us for this year’s annual seminar, featuring one of the most sought-after speakers in genealogy. This is a strong program with a good mix of topics that are relevant to all researchers.

Registration fee: $35.  Videos of the presentations will be available for a limited time after the seminar to everyone who registered.  For more information, check out our Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom of this page.


We have multiple prizes to award throughout the day, and an online silent auction for several items.  You do not need to be present to win.

PLEASE NOTE: When Registering you may receive a quick “401” error and “Waiting for a response from PayPal” that may persist.  If so, DO NOT resubmit your registration (you may be billed twice). Your seminar registration will go through. Please check your email after a few minutes for emails confirming your Zoom seminar registration and PayPal payment. We apologize for any confusion this might cause.  If you do not receive the confirmation emails, please contact Brian Rubin at seminar@venturacogensoc.org.


Michael Lacopo

Michael Lacopo

Dr. Michael D. Lacopo is a retired small-animal veterinarian and professional genealogist born and raised in northern Indiana. Researching since 1980, he has lectured internationally and written for numerous periodicals and journals. A self- described “all-American mutt,” his research skills cover a broad range, with specialties in German research, Mid-Atlantic American research, genetic genealogy, social history, and advanced problem solving.



Session 1 – Incorporating Social History Into Your Research

Family history should be more than names and dates. What motivated our ancestors? Why did they migrate?  Who did they interact with? How do social customs of another era affect our research? Social history and its bearing on genealogical research will be covered and a “must-read” bibliography for serious researchers will be discussed.

      • Why social history is SO necessary for good research
      • How to incorporate it into the family narrative
      • Overview of bibliography of “must have” reading
      • Examples of how social history can solve genealogical problems

Session 2 – The Genealogist’s Quadfecta

In the age of digital databases and online resources, genealogists forget the four-pronged approach to research onsite: visiting the state Archives, Historical Society, Genealogical Society, and Library. Although the roles of each seem self-explanatory, digging deeper reveals treasure for your research!

      • The art of on-site research is apparently lost on newcomers to genealogy, with “I’ve looked everywhere “ meaning it’s not found on Ancestry.
      • Discussion of four major repositories of genealogical information on a state level and how each can offer insights and historical context to genealogy
      • Techniques for finding brick-and-mortar locations as well as online entities
      • Obvious types of resources covered as well as unique resources such as manuscript collections and how to find them
      • Application to finding the same four entities on a county or local level as well

Session 3 – Deconstructing Your Family Tree:  Re-evaluating the Evidence

When information passed on from researcher to researcher doesn’t “add up,” it’s time to tear down the walls and rebuild anew. This methodology lecture shows how erroneous conclusions can sneak into our research uncontested. This lecture is pertinent especially today with so many online family trees that get cut and pasted into our own research.

      • Methodology using case studies
      • Very pertinent and amusing anecdotes to illustrate the various ways in which “facts” are not necessarily true – from clerical errors,  bad memory, fraudulent research, and just plain old-fashioned bad research

Session 4 – “She Came from Nowhere …”  A case Study Approach to a Difficult Genealogical Problem

This lecture illustrates the joys and pitfalls of Virginia research as well as a employing a problem-solving approach utilizing social history, female research, and family analysis to identify the parents of Elizabeth Stith, the ancestor “from nowhere.” One need not have Virginia ancestors to see the Genealogical Proof Standard at work!

      • Applying the Genealogical Proof Standard
      • Logical assessment of evidence and how to use it
      • Overview of Virginia records and repositories, strengths, and weaknesses
      • Tackling a “brick wall” problem and following it to a logical conclusion
      • Utilizing lesser-known sources


Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions not addressed here, please contact membership@venturacogensoc.org for issues related to registration.

How much does it cost?

The cost to attend the all-day event is $35.

Do I need to have a PayPal account?

You do not need to have a PayPal account (or create one) to pay for your registration.  We are using PayPal to collect the registration fees.  The PayPal gateway has the option to accept credit cards, without creating an account. After you click on the “Pay and Register” button, you will be taken to the PayPal website to complete your billing details. If you have an account with PayPal, you can charge the seminar to that account.  If you do not have an account with PayPal, you can select to pay via credit card.  You will be prompted to enter your credit card information.

Can I pay by check?

Payment by check will not be accepted this year. Because we are utilizing the Zoom Webinar platform, all registrations must be completed online. This will ensure that your registration is processed quickly and that you receive the proper emails related to the event (confirmation, reminders, etc.).

Is there a deadline for registering?

You can register online any time prior to the start of the seminar.  Once the seminar starts, registration will be closed.

What if I can’t attend, can I get a refund?

Yes, you can cancel your registration at any time prior to the start of the seminar.  Your fee will be credited back to your PayPal or credit card account. Please note that it might take 1-2 weeks for your credit to complete. The link to cancel your registration is included in the confirmation email sent to you.

Will a recording of the seminar be available?

Yes! Each presentation will be recorded. A link to the recordings will be included in an email, sent the day after the seminar, to everyone who registered. The recordings will be available for three weeks until November 11, 2023. Only the presentations and Q&A sessions will be recorded.

How do I get the Zoom link?

After you complete your registration, you will receive a confirmation email that will contain a link to the seminar.  You will have the option to add this meeting to your Outlook, Google, or Yahoo calendar.  A reminder email with the Zoom link to the webinar will also be emailed to you one week prior to the event, one day prior to the event and, one hour before the seminar starts. You are asked to not share the link with anybody else.

Will there be handouts?

Yes, a link to the program handouts will be included in the reminder emails sent to all attendees prior to the event.  If, for some reason, you do not receive the reminder emails, a link to the handouts will also be posted in the Q&A window at the start of the seminar. The handout will contain any material provided by the speaker in addition to information on VCGS and promotional material.