My name is Sheila Benedict,
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Starting about May 2023, I will not be taking any family history cases but will continue to take forensic cases. My goal is to concentrate on writing and speaking (virtually preferred).
I have been a professional genealogist for thirty plus years and can assist with forensic, historical, and genealogical research. Through the years, I attended every institute and conference that taught genealogical research, such as advanced genealogical techniques and Irish Research at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University in Birmingham, now in Georgia; use of federal records at the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) at the National Archives in Washington, DC., renamed Gen-Fed; the genealogy study programs at the National Genealogical Society (NGS), and any workshops and seminars that would benefit and increase my research skills. From 1992 until 2007, I was certified by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) (#681). I had been hired as the archivist and administrator at Old Mission Santa Inés, in Solvang CA, one of the twenty-one California Historic Missions. Working the many hours there, and the schooling needed for that position, did not allow time for client work or extensive travel. In 2012, I resigned as the administrator at the Mission but was immediately hired back to continue to run the archive on a part-time basis until 2018.
I am the current president of the APG Writer’s Special Interest Group, past-president, 2020-2023, the APG Virtual Chapter, current board member of the Genealogical Speakers Guild, and corresponding secretary of The Irish-Ancestral Research Association (TIARA). In addition, I am a life member of the National Genealogical Society and the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society; other memberships include the San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society, Southern California Genealogical Society, California Genealogical Society, and the APG Forensic Genealogy SIG.
LECTURING: includes major National Genealogical Society and Federation of Genealogical Societies Conferences, traveled and lectured in many states nationwide, taught genealogy at Allan Hancock Community College, in Santa Maria, CA through their adult education program, wrote articles for genealogical publications, assisted many clients interested in their ancestry, worked for attorneys that required research about family background, such as for determining heirs to an estate, or in one case, researching surnames being used in a federal domain name case .
FORENSIC GENEALOGY: i attended several Institutes on Forensic Genealogy given by The Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy and other legal research courses. I live in Santa Barbara County, California and am a member of several local societies, such as the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society and the San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society.
WRITING: A monthly column in The Santa Ynez Valley Star since 2017, a semi-monthly newspaper in the SYV Valley; California Missions and Their Records, article for The National Genealogical Society Magazine, Volume 42, Number 2, April-June 2016, pages 23-26; re-published in the California Genealogical Society News Magazine,, Volume IX, Issue 2, Winter 2017, pages 10-13; an occasional book reviewer for the National Genealogical Society Quarterly; article, “Irish and Irish-Americans: Their Impact in the Western United States,” for the Newsletter of The Irish Ancestral Research Association (TIARA), It is in Volume 36, Number 3, Fall 2019, pages 43-44.; also, “Father Albert Bibby OFM Cap.: Mise Éire, Winter 2022, “I am Ireland,” Volume 39, Number 4; The December Issue of the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (APGQ), a review of the excellent publication “Genealogy Standards,” Second Edition, published by Ancestry.com for the Board for Certification of Genealogists, 2019, and intended for ALL genealogists at all levels of experience; article about Ground Penetrating Radar and Forensic Canines, Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, June 2020, pages 11-15; other articles in the works will be reported on at a later date.
For several years now, I have been working on a database of Irish men who came to the USA for a variety of reasons and served in the American Civil War. They died in California and are buried here. My thought is that there are family in Ireland and in the USA who may have lost track of them and this database would help and it has done that. I have gladly done the research without charge to anyone and will continue, for now, to do it. However, I have been offered the opportunity to publish my findings if I change the database to text paragraphs. Due to an unforeseen accident and injury to my left knee, I had to cancel my trip to Ireland for possibly the rest of this year. There is a publisher who is interested in the work and right now, I have about 550+- names for Los Angeles County alone so I will work on that as it may become volume one. If you have someone who fits that description, I will be happy to check what I have for you. I have names in the other counties as well so we would be helping each other.
Research in the States – California, by Sheila Benedict, NGS Special Publication Number 114, NGS, Arlington, VA 2015, available in both hard copy and PDF eBook. The book has California historical information important to genealogical researchers, along with lists of available repositories in each county. You can order the book online through the National Genealogical Society website.
LECTURE TOPICS: My lecture topics are listed on another page of the website and I will happily discuss other topics where my expertise can be of value. Specialties include California research, Social Sciences, genealogical methodology, migration patterns in the USA, Catholic records, Irish-American Research, and forensic genealogy. Therefore, my personal library includes historical and resource texts, CDs, microfilm, microfiche, such as some county court indexes, and other legal sources to assist with forensic genealogy, including the California Civil Codes, especially Probate Codes. Many of these resources are also available online and those are used as well. In addition to California, the library also includes resources for other states, such as Ohio and Illinois family histories and databases. I have extensive knowledge of Catholic records as I worked full time as the administrator of an historic California Mission in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and currently still work there only part-time as the archivist so I can continue my forensic and family genealogy business. In the past, I worked for the Regional Bishop’s office and marriage tribunal, which required taking many classes on Canon Law as pertains to marriages.
IRISH RESEARCH: For an Irish-American tracing their ancestry, the research has to start with as much resources in this country as can be located because just knowing the county in Ireland where ancestors lived will not be enough to find them there. Once that part of the search has been completed, as best as possible, most of the Irish sources in my library are in texts and includes reference materials for Ireland’s Poor Law Unions, Registrar Districts, and other political divisions in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (UK). In a “normal” year, I usually spend at least two weeks in Ireland. In 2019, I was in Dublin for a month and because of Covid-19, have not been back. Hoping for 2022!! My travels in Ireland includes driving or spending time in all four Provinces and thirty-two counties.
CALIFORNIA: some resources in-house examples include old county histories, gold mining, court records, marriage, divorce, and birth indexes (fiche and film) for various years, statewide 1890 Great Register (3 volumes) and many individual county Great Register compilations, a database of California county burials of American Civil War veterans, which includes both Union and Confederate men and many county genealogical society information texts.
PERSONAL: My BA degree is in Political Science from California State University, San Bernardino; studied at the University of California, Riverside and took a variety of master’s classes and paralegal studies at both campuses. I am a member of the national scholastic honor society Phi Kappa Phi. My professional life has been very diverse as I worked with my husband running a quarter horse breeding farm, office manager of his commercial swimming pool business, and was a professional political campaign assistant for a variety of local, state, and federal candidates and ballot issues.
I have quite a bit of microfilm that will go to the landfill at some point. I am attempting to find out which ones have been digitized, especially the census films. I do have some of older Santa Barbara County records I will keep for now but also some that may have information on the Irish CW soldiers buried in California database I am putting together. In the meantime, I am happy to check anything I have. I am more than happy to look through them. Once they are all reviewed, they, along with my microfilm reader, will become old history. I also have a fiche reader and some fiche. I will hang on to those for awhile longer.
Benedict Research Services, Solvang, Santa Barbara County, California USA
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