Genealogists cannot rely on a librarian, archivist or courthouse clerk to bring them up to speed on things like:
- the historical basis for the development of a record group
- advice about other record groups that may also prove beneficial
We become "newbies" all over again, when it comes to changes in an ancestor's residence, occupation or religious affiliation.
Encountering unknown terms in a legal document or an unfamiliar cause of death leave questions to be answered.
|IMAGE: Myrtle Eliza Weiser at the time |
of her engagement circa 1917. SLC, Utah.
From the author's private collection.
Clearly, genealogists have a need for additional education specific to research at hand.
Ancestral metaphor: My paternal grandmother, the real Myrtle in our family, decided she wanted to be a nurse, and as such she matriculated at St. Marks Hospital Nursing School in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her family wasn't wealthy, since her father was often led away for years at a time by interests in such things as a travelling circus. Myrtle's mother had many mouths to feed. Despite the problems, the sacrifice was made and tuition paid. Grandmother studied hard, passed her tests and practicums and served as a nurse through much of her adult life.
Family historians have two options when it comes to accurately compiling their pedigree charts:
- hiring a professional genealogist as a mentor or as a researcher
- educating oneself about relevant record groups and research methodologies
Assuming we are committed to active learning, note-taking and follow-through, let's consider two types of learning experiences:
Participant-led curriculum, meaning you choose which classes to take and in what order.
- A plethora of short subject tutorials are provided by such services as www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com, FamilySearch, Ancestry, The National Archives Podcast Series, and Cousin Russ' Family Tree Maker videos, to name a few employing a variety of delivery formats. You might check out the calendar at www.GeneaWebinars.com for more ideas.
- Earlier this month, Pauleen Cass posted To conference or not to conference in this WWG blog, where among other considerations, she points out expenses associated with conference attendance. And we know how my Grandmother Myrtle felt about spending money for things considered important.
Instructor-led curriculum, meaning the course coordinator designs the series of multiple class sessions with homework, group projects and practicums, leading to a certificate of completion.
- Week long, live-in advanced genealogy course studies include the well-regarded Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research, Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and Genealogical Research Institute of Pennsylvania.
- ProGenStudy Groups involve 18 months of dedicated mentoring, in online format, following the 18 chapters in Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills.
- Sue Adams provides a thoughtful post titled Time for Formal Genealogy Education? and includes a listing of in-person courses, online courses, institutes, and undergraduate programs.
- Genealogical Proof Standard from the Board for Certification of Genealogists includes brief descriptions of elements of the GPS with notations about how adhering to each element contributes to the credibility of our compiled genealogies.
- National Genealogical Society Standards and Guidelines includes standards for sound research, the use of technology, sharing with others as well as guidelines for using repositories and libraries, publishing web pages and suggestions for self-improvements and growth.
Let genealogists commit to overcoming inexperience by selecting appropriate educational opportunities to improve comprehension of relevant extant record groups and hone research methodology skills.