Introduction to Genealogy Workshop Series: Your First Steps to Unlocking Your Family History

Presented by Diana Thornton, Genealogist & Time Traveler

Aug. 5 and 19, Sept. 9 and 23, 2024. 10am to noon

Poplarville Public Library, 202 West Beers St., Poplarville, MS 39470 (601) 795 8411


Embark on a fascinating journey into your past with this beginner-friendly workshop series designed for both the tech-savvy and the traditionalist. Diana Thornton, Genealogist and Time Traveler, will guide you through the essential first steps of researching your family tree, from documenting and organizing your findings to uncovering long lost details about your ancestors.  Learn timeless genealogy research techniques that apply equally to old-school, with the tangible touch of paper, and the click-and-save convenience of This series will show you how to create a robust and verified family tree. Learn to document and organize the trove of information available online. Begin your ancestral quest and unveil the secrets and stories that have shaped your family’s journey through history!

This Workshop is Perfect for You If…

  • You’re new to family history research: If you’re at the beginning of your family history journey and seeking a starting point, this workshop will provide you with the compass and map to navigate the vast landscape of genealogy.
  • You Seek Clarity Amidst the Genealogical Maze: For those who have started their research but find themselves in a tangle of records and resources, this workshop will offer the tools and techniques to bring order to chaos.

Workshop Schedule:

  • August 5th: Charting Your Course: Essential Charts
  • August 19th: Navigating Census Records: Mapping Your Family’s Journey
  • September 9th: DNA Demystified: Understanding Your Ancestry DNA Results
  • September 23rd: Saving Your Family Photos & Documents: Scanning Done Right

Participants will receive a packet with resources and helpful tips to continue their genealogy research after the workshops.

Charting Your Course: Essential Charts

Aug 5, 2024

Unlock the power of genealogical charts to bring clarity and organization to your family history research and illuminate the branches of your tree. This workshop will provide you with the foundational skills to chart your family’s past: Craft and utilize various charts, organize your research, showcase your lineage in a format that’s clear and visually engaging, build your starter kit, print your Ancestry tree to analyze and share your findings.

Navigating Census Records: Mapping Your Family’s Journey

Aug. 15, 2024

Census records are a goldmine of family history information. Learn how to navigate various census types, understand the information they reveal and uncover valuable details about your ancestors’ lives.

DNA Demystified: Understanding Your Ancestry DNA Results

September 9, 2024

Discover what DNA reveals about your family and find new connections. Learn how to interpret your results and how to use this powerful and exciting tool to reveal your hidden family history and break through brick walls.

Saving Your Family Photos & Documents: Scanning Done Right

September 23, 2024

Are precious family photos and documents tucked away in boxes or albums gathering dust and deteriorating? Learn how to preserve your family legacy by digitizing your photos and documents. Learn the essentials of scanning, from choosing the right equipment, ensuring high-quality digital files, strategies for organizing and storing your files and scanned photos, and sharing your digital family history with loved ones.

Your Guide:

Diana Thornton combines a lifetime of genealogical exploration and a Master’s degree in Archaeology with a passion for historical storytelling and photography. She is a versatile genealogist, biographer and time traveler with 50-years’ experience and a wide range of skills. She has documented numerous ancestors on both sides of the Civil War and her strong German and Scots-Irish roots reach back to Colonial America.

Expertise and Services:

  • Family Tree Research: Breaking through brick walls and revealing family secrets.
  • Biographical Narratives: Crafting memoirs and designing family history books.
  • Photographic Preservation: Specializing in vintage photo editing and restoration.
  • Collection Management: Ensuring the longevity of precious documents and images.
  • Genetic Genealogy: Analyzing DNA matches to connect ancestral dots.
  • Educational Support: Providing tutoring and assistance.

Degrees and Credentials

  • Association of Professional Genealogists
  • B.A. Archaeology, University of Pittsburgh, minor in photography
  • M.A. Texas A&M, minor in photography, specializing in documentary evidence (thesis topic was The Probate Inventories of 17th-century Port Royal, Jamaica which included the possessions of the pirate Henry Morgan).

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned genealogist, Diana can help you with professional genealogy research services, seminars and tutoring, book design, and writing. Diana has solved many family mysteries and loves helping clients break through brick walls. She currently lives on a small farm with goats and chickens in South Mississippi.  504-312-2354

Family Tree Research

Most services: $45/hour

Includes digital copies of everything I find:

  • GEDCOM tree file (uploadable to and others)
  • Source documents, clippings, photos, censuses, maps, etc.
  • Genealogical reports, charts and timelines
  • Final report of discoveries and future research recommendations


  • More Time
  • Laser Print Outs
  • DNA tests – Ideally, several family members should test.
  • In-Person or Zoom Presentation to you and your family of my discoveries

Gift Certificates Available


Prices and Services subject to change without notice.
Please call for consultation and estimate.

Learn more about How it works

Secrets and Scandals

Discovering a family secret can be a thrilling adventure. It’s like solving a mystery where each clue leads to a deeper understanding of one’s heritage.

I can help you unlock the secrets of a specific person or branch, break through a stubborn brick wall.

Meet Your Ancestors Photo Research Package

A Picture and a 1000 Words

Breathe life into a photo from your collection with a 1000-word historical sketch about the person or moment depicted based on genealogical and historical research.


Also: See my Photo Restoration Services.

Check out some recent projects:

Mr. Goad sent his photo to Bessie Sutphin

Around 1910, a young man dressed up in his best suit and bowler hat and had his photo taken. He sent it to Miss Bessie Sutphin in East Radford, Virginia...
Read More

Uncle Jim Thornton and his daughters Olivia and Fannie

A Civil War soldier turned single father, James Thornton faced a new battle after his wife died leaving him to raise his two young daughters, Olivia and Fannie, on his own...
Read More

Ancestral Odyssey

The Ultimate Time Travel Experience

Embark on an amazing guided tour to a moment in your family history powered by multidimensional genealogical and historical research and a personalized travelogue. This package is the pinnacle of historical exploration, complete with an itinerary and a travalogue filled with rich historical details, authentic photos, maps, and what to expect, including what to wear, food, money, and cultural insights. I take care of all travel arrangements, including accommodations, passport, tickets and food.

Choose from narrative styles like “Postcards from the Past,” “Letters Home,” or “Travel Diary.” Includes everything in the “Meet Your Ancestors” package, plus additional research and writing time. Available as a digital PDF download or a custom printed book.

You can enhance the accuracy and depth of your experience by providing information and photos of your ancestors, documents, letters, etc., or opt for additional research time so I can delve deeper into your family history.

This package was inspired by “The Time Traveler’s Handbook” by Wyllie, Acton and Goldblatt.

Legacy Research Package

Finding-Your-Roots-Style Experience

Deluxe Full-Service Packages starting at $4,750

  • In-depth research into multiple branches and generations
  • DNA analysis
  • Custom Presentation book of charts, timelines, photos, maps, clippings, censuses, DNA results and other discoveries.
  • In-Person or Zoom presentation to you and your family of my discoveries

Genealogical Support Services for other Professionals

Call me to help with your next big project

  • scanning / photo editing
  • collection management
  • image searches
  • graphic design/art direction
  • book/report formatting and editing
  • narrative writing, editing and design
  • supplemental research
  • record transcriptions
  • data and citation clean up
  • tree data input