I am participating in ProGen 8, an 18-month home-study course based on the book Professional Genealogy, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills. We attend monthly group “online chats”, group members critique each others assignments and we all have access to a “genealogical” mentor who has volunteered to support our group.
This month’s assignment was to pull together our own personal Genealogy Education Plan. I thought that it might be helpful to share some of the items on my list and some things that I have done already to help further my research skills.
Just as an Accountant or Doctor must keep us with changes in their field, so must a Genealogist. Primarily we gain knowledge through hands on research experience. But learning is also enhanced by attending conferences and institutes, completing self-directed online (or classroom) based study courses and by reading genealogical books, magazines and other publications. To many of us, learning is a lifelong passion and by the way – as a side benefit – lifelong learners are believed to have lower incidences of Alzheimer’s Disease.
My three favorite books:
- The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, Val D. Greenwood
- Google Your Family Tree, Daniel M. Lynch
- The Family Tree Problem Solver, Proven Method for Scaling the Inevitable Brick Walls, Marsha Hoffman Rising
Free Online Courses:
- Genealogy.com geared mainly to the beginner: http://www.genealogy.com/university.html
- FamilySearch (beginner to intermediate) at FamilySearch.org, http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/education/frameset_education.asp?PAGE=education_research_series_online.asp%3FActiveTab=2
- Brigham Young University (beginner to intermediate) http://ce.byu.edu/is/site/courses/free.cfm
- About.com (beginner) http://genealogy.about.com/library/lessons/blintro.htm
- Board for Certification of Genealogists, skill building columns (free – Intermediate/Advanced) http://www.bcgcertification.org/skillbuilders/index.html and their publication Onboard ($15/annually) http://www.bcgcertification.org/publications/onboard/index.html
- Roots Television (beginner to intermediate) http://www.rootstelevision.com/
Other Online Courses:
- The National Genealogical Society has a number of options http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/online_courses, they offer free classes to members ($60/year for an individual memberships which includes other benefits – Four issues of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly , and NGS Magazine, Access to the UpFront with NGS blog & a number of discounts to other courses and conferences.
- The National Genealogical Society- NGS American Genealogy: Home Study Course (graded $495, and ungraded options $315) – I would HIGHLY recommend this course for beginner and intermediate genealogists, it offers a great foundation (NGS recommends that beginners take the online course before enrolling in the home study course).
- Ancestry.com’s Learing Center (beginner to intermediate) http://learn.ancestry.com/Home/HMLND.aspx?cj=1&o_xid=0001029688&o_lid=0001029688 (beginner to intermediate – free with paid subscription).
- NEHGS (http://www.newenglandancestors.org/ (beginner to intermediate – free with paid subscription).
Brick and Mortar
- National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR), held 11-16 July 2010 at the National Archives (NARA) in Washington, D.C., and College Park, Maryland, their website describes the course as “an intensive program offering on-site examination of federal records. Designed for experienced researchers, it is not an introduction to genealogy”. The 2010 course (held July 11th-16th) was $350 – http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~natgenin/
- The Samford Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) - $445, They describe their offerings as “provides an educational forum for the discovery, critical evaluation, and use of genealogical sources and methodology through a week of intensive study led by nationally prominent genealogical educators. Students may choose one of the offered courses that range from a course for beginners to courses on specialized topics.” Registration opens in January 2011, and many of the courses are filled within minutes http://www4.samford.edu/schools/ighr/
- Boston University Certificate in Genealogical Research http://professional.bu.edu/cpe/Genealogy.asp (also available ONLINE) class starting 9/2010 is priced at $2,695, the prerequisites are described as follows: “Some prior genealogical experience will be assumed; the student should have spent a significant amount of time searching for multiple generations of a family through record repositories and online sources, then documenting results. Students are expected to possess basic computer skills, including the ability to use a web browser and word processor. Students should also be able to communicate well in spoken and written English”. I will tell you this class is WELL worth it based on my personal experience!!
- The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy http://www.infouga.org/index.php?option=2011institute fees for Jan 2011 are $320 (intermediate to advance)
There are lots that I haven’t mentioned. These are just the ones with which I am familiar (either I have taken them, am in the process of taking them or plan to take them). Cyndi’s list names many more http://www.cyndislist.com/educate.htm or try a google search on: education ~genealogy
It’s also helpful to read some of the popular blogs – There are 100’s – I list my favorites (to the right of this post) in my blogroll.
It might be fun to attempt to complete the blog series entitled 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy, described as: ” to get all genealogists and family historians – both new to the field as well as the “lifers” – to stretch their brains and examine certain aspects of what some of us pursue as a past time, some as a profession and all as a passion”- http://wetree.blogspot.com/2010/01/52-weeks-to-better-genealogy.html
Magazines and other publications are helpful as well. Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings posts the table of contents for many of the popular ones so you can pick and choose. Just search on the words “table of contents” in the search box within his blog: http://www.geneamusings.com/
I regularly read articles in National Genealogical Society Quarterly, New England Historical and Genealogical Register and American Ancestors. I don’t yet follow Internet Genealogy ($27.95/annually), but it’s recommended by many of my classmates, they do offer one free online issue http://internet-genealogy.com/InternetGenealogy_Extra.pdf
So what’s the value in reading articles that are unrelated to your own personal genealogical surnames?
1. It helps to improve your own research techniques learning how someone else found that missing record or correlated information to come up with a genealogical conclusion.
2. You learn of sources which you may not have been aware, which may help with the progression of your own family history research.
3. They are a great source for enlightening discussions (blogs too).
4. It raises your awareness of some of the top genealogists in the field because you have read their work. This helps when you are deciding whether or not to take a course or which session to attend at a conference – Who are my favorites, you ask? 99% of the courses/presentations that I have attended were WONDERFUL – here are just a few off the top of my head (certainly not an all-inclusive list) – Dr. Thomas W. Jones, D. Joshua Taylor, Elizabeth Shown Mills, Elissa Scalise Powell, Melinde Lutz Sanborn and Jean Nudd…..
This video by Mary Penner taped at the APG Professional Management Conference given in September 2009 on Henry O’Neil will give you an idea of how genealogies written by others might teach you something… https://fch.ldschurch.org/WWSupport/Courses/FGS_2009/The_Bachelor__Reconstructing_a_Solitary_Life_Using/Player.html
Last but not least, volunteer! Helping to transcribe records or find records in different repositories “pays it forward” and helps to improve your skills – see my related post: http://passagetothepast.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/genealogy-volunteering/