Thomas MacEntee: The Abundant Educator

Arising within the pre-dawn hours, Thomas MacEntee begins his day by checking in with MyHeritage in Israel. He enjoys the peace and solitude of the morning, says his every day devotional, and watches the solar rise over Lake Michigan. Then he dives into the all-consuming work of getting ready or presenting family tree webinars. He has 250 scheduled webinars this 12 months and presents as many as 3 stay webinars on some days. 

He enjoys interacting with different genealogists by way of social media and webinars. He ponders: What do they need to know? How are they approaching their very own family tree? What are the gaps in family tree training? These solutions information him as he provides to his webinar subjects checklist, which now exceeds 60. 

Thomas MacEntee's mother and her siblings.

From the Nation to a College 

Thomas MacEntee was born and raised by a single mom in Liberty, a small city in upstate New York. Liberty, thought-about “the nation,” is positioned 90 miles from New York Metropolis, with a inhabitants below 5,000. As a baby, Thomas gained his love of historical past by listening to the tales his great-grandparents advised of how they grew up. He cherished visiting their 1840s Dutch farm residence in Grahamsville, New York, simply 10 miles from his own residence. There, he had a number of household to attach with—over 40 first cousins! 

Thomas graduated highschool with honors and continued his training at the George Washington College in Washington, D.C., with double bachelor’s levels in artwork historical past and Spanish language and literature. In April 2010, Thomas acquired an on-line family tree analysis certificates from Boston College, which he claims is among the finest grownup training he has acquired, and he is extraordinarily happy with this accomplishment. 

After school, Thomas landed his first profession job working for the U.S. Division of Agriculture as an administrative assistant in academic programming. He spent the following 25–30 years educating and coaching others. In 2008, throughout the Nice Recession, many info know-how jobs disappeared. As he looked for one thing that may be sustainable, he started researching how one can run a family tree enterprise. That became consumer analysis, which then led to writing and training, which now fills his days. 

His household is now unfold throughout, however he’s nonetheless in contact with many cousins. They’ve kids who are beginning to get eager about household historical past themselves. He’s hopeful he may have somebody to cross the family tree work alongside to—when he is able to hand it off. 

Thomas MacEntee’s Introduction to Family tree 

Thomas MacEntee's great-grandparents outside their dutch home.

In February 1977, at age 14, the miniseries Roots got here on tv, and Thomas remembers watching it together with his great-grandparents. After each episode, he would ask them questions on his personal historical past. He knew then that researching his household historical past was one thing he needed to do.  

Family tree grasped Thomas personally when his great-grandmother, Therese McGinnes Austin, died in 1988. She had a constructive influence on his life. She taught him a love of historical past, was nice to speak to, and had wonderful tales. She was the final of her technology, and there was not an outlet for interviews and extra info. He needed to do his personal analysis to study extra. 

Thomas began to go to libraries to study extra. Whereas in Washington, D.C., throughout school, he visited the Nationwide Archives and the Library of Congress and learn by way of microfilms. He began to see that among the household tales he had heard as a baby weren’t at all times truthful. He questioned, “Do I method my aunt and uncle about it?” His mom, the center youngster of a dozen, was the peacekeeper of the household and shared Thomas’s fascination with historical past, and he or she supplied him good counsel and would information him on what he ought to or shouldn’t share about his discoveries.  

Thomas’s objective together with his analysis was to present voice to his household’s ancestors who might not have had a voice. And thru the information he finds, he has been in a position to inform their full tales. 

Turning Family tree right into a Occupation 

Thomas created his first weblog in 2006, referred to as “Vacation spot Austin Household.” He was in a race to protect household historical past from his mom’s perspective, as she had been recognized with early-onset dementia resulting in Alzheimer’s illness in 2000 at age 59. 

Family tree turned a occupation for Thomas within the summer season of 2010 after taking part in ProGen4 and the Boston College family tree analysis program. Social media was taking off when he created GeneaBloggers, a worldwide group of three,000 family tree bloggers. He started educating others how one can use Twitter, Fb, and different social media platforms for the aim of family tree.  

Portrait selfie of Thomas MacEntee as he happily educates others about family history work.

He quickly created Excessive-Definition Family tree. He began with a imaginative and prescient of doing consumer analysis however quickly discovered that it wasn’t satisfying for him. He pivoted and altered to educating. Nonetheless at present, he’s at all times searching for new methods to coach folks about family tree and assist them on their paths to success. Thomas additionally encourages his college students to pivot of their analysis and studying. Identical to his suggestions to them, he’s altering and morphing his enterprise on a regular basis. 

By November 2010, Thomas MacEntee had given his first discuss as a family tree speaker at an occasion in Libertyville, Illinois, on the subject of social media. He shortly discovered that you simply don’t want family tree certification to be a family tree skilled. The family tree discipline is broad, and it doesn’t contain simply analysis. Schooling is vital and wanted. Along with educating, he’s now the creator of 15 books. 

Thomas continued to develop and encourage the GeneaBloggers group till 2016, when he handed it off to others so he might focus extra time on academic webinars. Along with Excessive-Definition Family tree, the place teams can ebook him for talking engagements, he created the web site Family tree Bargains, the place everybody can discover the bottom costs on all gadgets family tree associated. He additionally runs Considerable Family tree, the place he offers away free family tree “cheat sheets” and extra. And in 2015, he launched the Family tree Do-Over, which now’s a Fb group with over 20,000 members, the place he teaches family tree analysis strategies by ranging from scratch. 

RootsTech Early Adopter and Contributor 

Thomas was on the first RootsTech in 2011 and loves the power the convention offers to the family tree group. He believes that RootsTech has modified the tutorial panorama and was very impressed with the over 1 million worldwide viewers RootsTech achieved in 2021. The shortened class mannequin permits for extra studying in much less time and has helped Thomas pivot his personal plans for his enterprise ventures. 

Try Thomas’s 2021 RootsTech contributions:  


  • The place Else Did Your Ancestor Reside? 
  • Family tree Data Please 
  • Be Family tree Sensible! 


  • Google Instruments for Family tree 
  • Exploring Household Historical past Tech with Thomas 
  • Don’t Chop Off That Department! A Family tree Arborist’s Handbook 
Thomas MacEntee at a table at Rootstech.

Recommendation to You from Thomas 

As a family tree educator, Thomas has a number of nice recommendation for others—regardless of the place they’re of their household historical past journey. 

For somebody who’s new to family tree: “Begin with your self. Don’t deliver within the household tales but. Write down, in a set format, the tales that you simply personally have heard. Then slowly work your approach again. Interview older relations if they’re nonetheless residing.” 

For somebody who’s caught or pissed off with family tree: “Put it down and stroll away. Then come again to it. Generally a brick wall is one thing we now have constructed because of lack of training in regards to the space or about document collections.” 

For somebody who has been doing family tree for a very long time: “Take part in webinars to find out about new applied sciences and new methods of doing family tree. Be open to alter, particularly with new know-how.” 

For everybody: “Family tree shouldn’t be solely charts and supply citations. It’s also about preserving tales, reminiscences, and pictures. Households need issues which are memorable and sharable.” 

Thomas’s Favourite Assets 

Along with sharing recommendation, Thomas MacEntee additionally shares his favourite assets that can assist you in your family tree analysis. 

Convention Keeper—Preserve observe of upcoming family tree academic occasions. 

FamilySearch Analysis Wiki—Use and contribute to the Wiki. 

Atlas of Historic County Boundaries Venture—Learn the way and when counties within the U.S. had been fashioned. 

Trello—This venture administration instrument can be utilized for household historical past analysis. 

What Does the Future Maintain for Thomas? 

Thomas MacEntee loves what he does and likes to collaborate with others. He’s planning to semi-retire from his historic 60-minute webinars in Might 2022, however till then he’s engaged on creating actionable training the place the members do the work beforehand and the webinar is a reveal or conclusion. He’s additionally engaged on creating an internet course for family tree subjects. 

Thomas’s inspiration all through all of his family tree enterprise endeavors got here from his mom, who handed away in 2015. She taught Thomas that “at present is a present and that tomorrow is only a promise.” She taught him how one can be abundantly beneficiant, that information must be shared, to let go of what you’ve been given, and to maintain your palm open and upright to obtain what’s going to come subsequent from God. Day by day is a brand new day. Thomas MacEntee is really an ample educator. 

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