Holly T. Hansen: Genealogist Success Insider



Holly T. Hansen aka “Miss Holly GenTeacher,” is the President and Founder of Family History Expos, Inc. Holly has been instrumental in helping thousands understand the principles, strategies, and sources they can use to trace their roots in today’s ever-changing technological environment.

Genealogy discussion on Big Blend Radio, with Holly T. Hansen “Miss Holly GenTeacher,” As President & Founder of Family History Expos, Inc.

She is the mastermind behind more than 50 Family History Expos held across the United States, and numerous Retreats at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and other repositories in diverse cities. She is dedicated to helping individuals and families, one-on-one, with their personal research needs. Currently, she is involved creating podcasts, webinars, and video presentations to help people move forward in their family history endeavors from the comforts of home.

Holly’s titles include author, lecturer, editor, and publisher. She has produced more than 100 unique syllabus and class handout books for Family History Expos attendees. She is a former editor of Everton’s Genealogical Helper magazine, and editor of the 10th and 11th editions of The Handybook for Genealogists, with more than one million copies sold. She has also authored The Directory of North American Railroads, Trekking for Ancestors, and co-authored a series of 16 family history interview books entitled Celebrating and Capturing the Memories, and 26 in-depth Research Guides for many aspects of family history research. 

So what does it take to be a successful in the world of genealogy? Listen to our Big Blend Radio discussion with Holly T. Hansen and read her answers to our 10 Genealogy Insider Questions about her career, including the challenges she faces, as well as her inspirations.

1. What led you to a career in genealogy?
There are many people and events that inspired me towards this wonderful career. It started when I was a child hanging out with my grandmother. She took me with her to visit elderly aunts and uncles to collect genealogy. I don’t remember what they said, but I do remember the feelings and love associated with these visits. My grandmother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly when I was 12 years of age, leaving a great hole in my life. After I married and began to have a family of my own, I decided to write Grandma’s story. I interviewed many family members, aunts, uncles, cousins, and anyone who knew her. I learned so much; it was exciting. I began to tell friends about the incredible finds while doing research on other family members as well. It was electrifying. They wanted to have the same kinds of good feelings. I got so busy helping others that I began to offer classes. I wanted to learn more, so I sponsored events and invited speakers from whom I could learn along with all of my friends. It didn’t take long to recognize my aptitude in this area, I went to the university to get a solid footing in history and continued to hold events. It has grown into what it is today. I still love family history and teaching others. It’s my passion.

2. What attributes do you have that make you a good fit for teaching genealogy?
I’m happy, I’m curious, I love to solve mysteries, I love history, I love family, I love travel, I love feeling good, I love hard work, I enjoy using my brain, and I love seeing the light turn on for others. Whether I’m working on my own family history or helping others discover their own hidden family mysteries, these attributes keep me going when others might not.

3. Who or what inspires you?
Each new day inspires me. It is fresh and clean ready for me to make my choices. Family history inspires me, it shows me how resilient people can be. Family history can change hearts, give hope, and inspire one to hang on. The lives of those who have gone before us reveal the secrets of overcoming adversity. We learn from their failures and triumphs. We learn why we have some of our unique ways. We come to know that, if they could do it, so can I.
4. Describe your ideal client.
A person with desire. Desire to learn, to increase, to improve, to serve, and to share. A little desire goes on forever.

5.What is your pet peeve in regards to the genealogy industry?
I find it especially annoying when a person or business asks for advice that they really don’t want. The claim that someone has looked at everything and they have done everything possible to solve their problem is also troubling. I promise you, we will never live long enough to look at everything or do it all. There are just too many opportunities to open our minds and see the possibilities.

6.What personal changes have you had to make in order to build your career?
I have made many personal changes—from becoming a more prepared student to developing tech skills that are necessary to reach my goals. I have changed in ways that allow me more time with my growing family and less time for regrets. For me, change is an enabling activity. It allows me to leave bad habits behind, embrace new skills, and find great joy in the journey. It helps me pull out of the downers when they come along.

7.What do you consider your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge is keeping up. Keeping up with technology, my grandchildren, and my to-do list. I always want to do more than is possible in a day.

8. If you could invite any three people (alive or passed on) for a dinner party who would they be?
Today? I would invite Big Blend Radio hosts Lisa and Nancy for sure. And my grandmother who inspires me still.

9. If you could switch careers for a day, what would you choose?
This is the hardest question of all. I have already chosen my career path and can’t think of anything I’d rather do. Wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, business owner, friend, and all-around fun person. Isn’t that a career?

10. What is the most important tip you would pass on to another person just getting started in genealogical research?
Don’t quit. Genealogical research is inspiring, it is fun, and it is hard. To be successful, really successful, you will need to become an educated person. You will learn about history in ways you never thought possible. You will learn about the lives of your ancestors and the great sacrifices they made for you. You will learn about the lives of your ancestors and some of the unfortunate mistakes they made that affect generations. You will learn you can heal the generations by healing yourself. Family History Heals!

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