Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Applying What We Learn

Do you find that the number of opportunities to learn about genealogy and how to do it are increasing year by year?

I am sure if you read this blog then the answer will be yes.

If you use the internet and a computer for your genealogy there are an ever increasing number of ways that you can watch , listen or read about better or different ways of recording your research.

I like to join Hangouts on Air, watch webinars or other recordings, listen to podcasts and read blogs. In fact I am beginning to wonder if I actually find time to do any research.

Family Tree University run courses 
(I participated in one last year having won a free registration), as does Pharos 
both of which are online, and you can book online for courses at 
The Institute for Heraldic and Genealogical Studies who do day courses and a correspondence course. 
One of the new genealogy education courses is the Hack Genealogy Boot Camp  I signed up for the second event on 25th January 2014 and copies of the recording are available (for a charge) on the website if you want to catch up, to find out more go to

With all these courses available when do I find time to do my research??

In fact I have done very little research away from home the last 2 years, although I have previously accumulated a range of documents, and more of what I would have had to go to the archives for in the past is gradually being made available as digital images online. 

I also took a look at my organization and decided that before I attempted any further research I would get what I had in order. To this end, and with the knowledge obtained from the various genealogical education experiences there has not come a point yet where I feel happy to spend on a research trip away from home.

If there is one thing I have learnt it is to get the best out of any research trip one needs to plan. This should also apply to any online research, though I am sure it is something many of us forget to do (especially when we see those shaky green leaves at Ancestry).

How many times have you done a search with a negative result. 
Did you record what you searched for? 
You may need to repeat that search again at a later date would you remember what you had done?

We can all learn from courses but do not forget that we need to learn from our own mistakes. None of us starts out an expert but the wise among us learn from our experiences and the shared experiences of others to improve our skills and our methods.

I do hope my comments give you food for thought to maybe think can I improve what I am doing, what goals do I need to set myself and how am I to achieve them, but don't forget to look back to consider did I set the right goals or should I change them, am I too ambitious or should I expect more of myself.

The key to effective learning is to give yourself time for REFLECTION.


  1. Points well made and well advised. Thanks for reminding us.

  2. I pick up new things here and there but I don't really take classes or go to webinars. I just keep researching. I find that I need time for reflection with the research too because sometimes as I'm laying there between sleep and wake, I realize an important point.

  3. A perceptive point Hilary. It's all too easy to find oneself rushing from pillar to post (blogging in this instance) without reflection or planning. Some times we need to follow the inspiration of the moment but other times we're too responsive to external idea, a blog theme, etc...what I think of as having the tiger by the tail. I've put a comment on the top of my whiteboard - to remind me to follow my own priorities.

  4. As a former librarian, I like to think of myself as being well organized, but I can easily fall into many of the traps you identify,. I know when I have limited time at a library or archive centre that I have travelled to, it is such a temptation to rush with my note taking - only to realise back home that my notes are not as clear as they could be and I have forgotten to note down key facts. Yes, it is the same with online research, where I decide not to print off a census entry, for example, but then find I have to go back to the record, because I have not noted something down. Thank you fo the reminder to reflect first and plan research.

  5. Funny that you should mention negative results! I had an interesting experience with that just yesterday. One of my clients had been told by Archives staff that there is an entry in the register of inquests but the file itself is missing. It isn't. I found it exactly where it is supposed to be. Moral of the story: "A second pair of eyes" is always worth a try! Another moral of the story: "Keep a list of searches with negative results, and try again later." I once searched the National Probate Calendar (index of wills and administrations for England and Wales) and didn't find an entry for someone whom I thought would have left a will. When I repeated the search the next day, I found it. Amazing what a difference a good night's sleep can make!

  6. Hilary, so true.

    I am plugging away on my database revisiting my old data, evaluating it and trying to mend my ways of yesteryear. Evaluation and reflection are vital parts of any process.

  7. You've struck a chord here, Hilary! I can be a bit of a butterfly and get caught up by something new and exciting - especially when I've been plugging away at a tricky subject and I'm fed up with hitting wall after wall. Maybe that's not a bad time to take a break and come back with fresh eyes, as Judy reminds us. But with a plan.

  8. This is where I have found myself. I feel like I am at the stage of needing to learn more, organize more, and to write out goals for myself as I go along. Thank you for this post...

  9. That's the pledge I did with myself this long, cold winter. I watched a ton of webinars.I treated myself to a couple genealogy boot camps too.I taught myself a new genealogy software which was a goal I put off for a long time and finally, a few online genealogy courses in regions I never explored before. The possibilities are limitless when one stretches their comfort zones.

  10. What a great lesson in the discipline of planning. I spent two years being distracted by shaky leaves. I'm not saying I'm totally immune now, but I am much better at planning out my work. My latest project is working on the families I've discovered from my DNA testing. In the mean time old books I've ordered have arrived, but I'm ignoring them for now.


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