James Beidler

James M. Beidler, Interim Executive Director for the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, is the author of four commercially published genealogy books as well as writing “Roots & Branches,” an award-winning weekly blog / newspaper column on genealogy. He is also a columnist for German Life magazine and is editor emeritus of Der Kurier, the quarterly journal of the Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society.

He was co-chair for the International German Genealogy Partnership’s successful virtual conference in July 2021 and was a research-reports editor for Legacy Tree Genealogists from 2018 to 2021 (and remains an Affiliate with LTG). Since May 2020, he has been a regular on the “Genealogy Quick Start” television program hosted by Shamele Jordon.

Beidler was also Executive Director for GSP from 1999 to 2003. He was the President of the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors from 2010 to 2012 and served as national co-chair for the 2008 Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Philadelphia.

Beidler is also frequent contributor to other periodicals ranging from scholarly journals such as The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine to popular-interest magazines such as Family Tree Magazine. He also wrote the chapter on genealogy for Pennsylvania: A History of the Commonwealth, published jointly by the Penn State Press and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

As a lecturer, he was a part of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council’s acclaimed Commonwealth Speakers program from 2002 to 2009, and has been a presenter at numerous conferences. In addition to being a member of numerous genealogical, historical, and lineage societies, Beidler also has sat on Pennsylvania’s State Historic Records Advisory Board as well as the selection committee for the Pennsylvania Digital Newspaper Project.

He is an Enrolled Agent tax preparer and owner of James M. Beidler Tax Concierge LLC and previously was a copy editor for 15 years for The Patriot-News newspaper in Harrisburg, PA.

Beidler was born in Reading, PA, and raised in nearby Berks County, where he currently resides. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Hofstra University in Long Island, NY, with a BA in Political Science in 1982.

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German Immigration from Hometowns to Final Destinations

America’s largest ethnic group are people with German ancestry. Searching for your German ancestors, however, requires some special methodologies because many records in Germany are maintained and stored at the local level.

Pennsylvania Predicament! Finding Keystone State Ancestry

A surprising number of historical records across the United States point to origins in Pennsylvania—which makes sense, considering that 1 in 4 Americans have at least one ancestor who set foot in the state. This 3-part series starts with learning about Pennsylvania’s history; continues with descriptions of the best sources and methodologies for identifying where a person was born; and finishes with tips for making the records work for you.

IGGP 2021

Conference Most Valuable Person: James Beidler, who absolutely refused to let the conference fade away despite the Covid pandemic and put together a hard-working team that produced an excellent virtual event.

IGGP 2023 – coming up in June

Church Records Without Congregational Registers: No notation strikes more fear in a researcher’s heart than the words “with gaps” following a listing of a church register’s time span. Learn how to overcome them! (ENG)

Best Tips for Researching German Ancestors! What are the top methodologies for researching Germans? What are the most helpful types of records / documents and where do you find them? Beginners get answers and seasoned researchers a double-check! (ENG)