Tessa Keough

Tessa Keough

Tessa Keough

Tessa Keough is a genealogist in transition (read – this is not her day job but she wishes it was!). She takes advantage of 21st century technology to work on her own family history as well as engage in specialized projects. These projects include a one-place study of her grandfather’s native community of Plate Cove East, Newfoundland, and a one-name study of her Keough surname.

Seeing a need for an online users’ group for her favorite genealogy software, Tessa set up the Legacy Virtual Users’ Group Community on Google+. With three of her fellow genealogists, she provides weekly tips and regular posts, moderates the member posts at the LVUG Community which has over 1,200 members, and co-hosts hangouts-on-air. For the past three years Tessa has served as the USA West Regional Representative for the Guild of One-Name Studies. In 2014 she took on the post of USA National Representative for the Guild and serves on the Guild’s Marketing Action Team. She moderates the Guild’s Google+ Community and co-hosts the Guild’s North American hangouts-on-air. Tessa blogs on her personal blogs, is a contributing blogger to Worldwide Genealogy, and is part of the 5-member interview team for the May I Introduce To You feature at Geneabloggers. In 2015 Tessa presented 4 online webinars (2 via the Legacy Family Tree Webinar series and 2 via the Guild 2015 Conference series). Tessa presented on one-name studies at RootsTech 2015 and will be conducting a computer lab on using Microsoft Excel with genealogy at RootsTech 2016. Tessa enjoys sharing how to use technology and social media with genealogy as well as how to take your family history further with surname and location studies.

In case you did not notice, Tessa is a fan of Google+ and YouTube and an even bigger fan of giving back to the genealogy and family history community. Her volunteer efforts landed her on Lisa Louise Cooke’s Social Media Mavericks: 40 to follow list in Family Tree Magazine’s March/April 2014 edition for TessaWatch (her YouTube channel with 125 short and not-so-short video tutorials). She is also a supporter and member of local, regional and national genealogical societies and associations and believes that family history research is best served by making the best use of online and offline efforts.

Go In-Depth With Tessa:

What is your favorite Repository?
My favorite repository is the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL) located in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The facility is purpose built and the architecture is stunning. The Rooms, where the holdings are located is a wonderful room to work in with fabulous views of the harbour and the town. I spent almost a month in Newfoundland doing research and visiting the places that my Keoughs settled. I so enjoyed the helpfulness of the archivists and other researchers as well as the wealth of records. The city is small enough that you can not only do your research at PANL but it is a pleasant walk to the Roman Catholic Basilica which also has wonderful records, and Memorial University which houses the Maritimes Archives, the Folklore Department and Newfoundland Centre. PANL is a wonderful gift for historians and genealogists. PANL not only houses the Rooms, but also a museum and interpretative centre and a lovely restaurant. With a Tim Horton’s within walking distance to get your caffeine fix, when you find yourself in St. John’s, PANL should be your second stop.

What is the most creative way you have shared your ancestor stories?
Our family had a reunion a few summers ago that included lots of extended family. Often what happens at our reunions is that we tend to visit with our own family members, since most of us come from out of town. We decided that this reunion would be different. We made name tags for everyone with their full name (surprising to some of my cousins’ children!) which included their pedigree back to grandparents. They could check these against the “early stages” family tree/pedigree chart we posted. With each person’s name tag was a die-cut – they had to match it to the 4 other people that made up their “team.”

Each team was made up of members of other families and varying age groups so everyone was with team members that they might not know. We had games: (a) an ice breaker on Friday evening of guessing games – treat items in containers and individuals and team could win the treats to fuel them for the weekend; (b) crossword puzzles (teens and adults) and maze puzzles (children) that had a bit of family history – whether that was names, places, events for the crossword puzzle or the trip from Ireland to the USA in the maze during breakfast on Saturday morning; (c) a game of 20 questions with a twist – the team could ask the elders (my dad’s generation) for the answer but the elders could tell the truth or lead them astray, or they might not know – if turns out my dad is a bigtime liar! – this game was played throughout the day and the team’s sheet was turned in at the end of the day Saturday; and (d) a scavenger hunt where we had hid various items and you could find them or some enterprising folks made up or found their own – which we held on Sunday after breakfast.

We had prizes that included winning the game but also most creative, or biggest effort, and best leader (our family is big on winning and getting a reward) and the games were spaced out over the weekend (Friday through Sunday). The games were fun and everyone had a great time getting to know each other and work together as a team. My cousin told me that her husband had never really spent any time with one of my aunts and he had enjoyed the opportunity to get to know her. On our last evening we had open mic night and people told stories. We picked prompts out of a jar, whether that was a childhood memory, a story about my grandparents, how a couple met, their favorite memory of their parent, etc. You could use the prompt or freestyle. We recorded the stories as people were telling them and then shared them together with the photos from the weekend. The reunion was a huge success and the games helped everyone learn a bit more about our family. My sister who is crafty and I did the name tags, the games and together with one of my cousins we put together the prizes. It was great good fun and lots of family members added their information to our “early stages” family tree.

What are your feelings about adding non-blood related lines into your research?
I am a genealogist and a family historian. That means I want to know the entire story. I think that is one of the reasons that I do specialized studies – I want to know about all the family members who married in and out. I want to follow them on their journey (my family and the affiliated families) from Ireland, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Austria to the New World. I want to learn about the community of Plate Cove East and Open Hall, Newfoundland (every single one of those families who made up the community, not just my own). I want to reconstruct families of those who share my surname, whether they are related to me or not and wherever they are in the world (who knows where I will find them!).

I find that being curious, not only about your family but others, opens your mind to understanding different times, places and cultures. And I feel that if you join our family – whether through adoption, blended families, being such a close friend that we grew up calling you our aunt or uncle, marriage or any other way – you are family. To not include any of those individuals in my extended tree is to shortchange my family history. The beauty of genealogy management software today is that we have all the tools we need to make up these forests of families (you might be unrelated by blood and those can easily be shown in separate trees). I am happy to be able to see the forest and the individual trees.

Find Tessa on Social Media:


and on YouTube TessaWatch

Tessa’s Reprint Policy:

You have permission to reprint articles that have been written by Tessa Keough appearing on The In-Depth Genealogist, except any articles published in Going In-Depth, if the following requirements are met:

  • The article must be reprinted in full with no changes.
  • You must include the following biography with links for each article reprinted.
  • You must link back to the original article through the statement included below.
  • You must send a copy of the reprinted article to tessakeough03@gmail.com.


© 2015 by Tessa Keough

Tessa Keough is a genealogist and family historian who enjoys sharing her love of organization, specialized studies, and technology with the genealogy community. She is a new contributor to The In-Depth Genealogist and writes the bi-monthly column “what did we decide to call the series? INSERT HERE“ and will be contributing regular blog posts. You can contact Tessa via her blog (http://keoughcorner.blogspot.com) by leaving a comment or via email at tessakeough03@gmail.com. You can find The In-Depth Genealogist online at www.theindethgenealogist.com.

This article originally appeared on The In-Depth Genealogist and can be found here. [insert original link]