My Persistant Pursuance of a Passion

Dictionary Series - Miscellaneous: genealogy

If it has not already become apparent, I have a true passion for genealogical research.  I believe the appeal is not only in learning the unknown about my own ancestors but rather in the human stories, suspensefully revealed piece by piece, and uncovered through the dramatic building up of clues and information.  Who among us does not enjoy a detective story, a mystery which we have fulfillingly solved ourselves?

However, this preoccupation is less fulfilling without the skills required to obtain those story pieces and to puzzle them together.  Up until January I have been a self-taught magnifying glassgenealogist.  I had the aptitude and I was able to search out the resources to help me develop my abilities.  Webinars, my own trial and error, reading blogs, articles and books have all been my learning tools but in January I decided I wanted to pursue my passion more seriously.  I want to be taken seriously as a genealogist, I want to build credentials, and I want to be able to legitimately provide services and assistance to others in search of their family’s past.

This was the impetus for me to go in search of a Canadian genealogy education program and I was gratified to find exactly what I was looking for: an online certificate program through the National Institute of Genealogical Studies. The National Institute of Genealogical Studies (NIGS) has been offering genealogy courses for over 15 years.  Why I had not thought to pursue this new path of education years ago I cannot fathom.

NIGSThe Certificate in Genealogical Studies — Canadian Records is a 40 course program resulting in a certificate and post-nominals (PLCGS).  I have completed 7 of the 9 Basic Level courses and will be taking the final 2 basic courses this coming month.  Completely online, each course includes module readings, assignments,  an exam, and optional live stream chats.   The program includes required Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced level courses as well as elective courses which can be selected from a wide menu of choices.  Most courses are about two months long however you can work ahead if you wish.  You are allotted approximately 2 years for several of the culminating analysis courses which appear to be more intensive. I enjoy working at my own pace!

I am excelling thus far and more importantly enjoying my learning experience. The director of the program  has been very helpful and personable whenever I have had any questions.  Even if you are not interested in obtaining a certificate you may enroll in NIGS courses individually   or in groupings to further your knowledge and aid in your research endeavours.  Whether you wish to pursue Genealogy as a business professional/academic or you just want to gain quality skills to aid you in your personal genealogy the National Institute of Genealogical Studies could be what you are looking for just as it was for me!

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Tuesday Tips ~ Evernote and My Future Research

256px-Evernote.svg

I must admit, though I have stated that I am a traditional paper and pencil girl, I also tend to scribble notes down on scraps of paper which often end up helter skelter.  I use notebooks but find in order to properly organize myself I need numerous notebooks for various things—different family branches, research on various locations, to do lists and so forth.  While I have made this work I find carting so much paper can be a bit cumbersome, especially when travelling.  Although I don’t think I will ever entirely give up my physical notebook tendency, I do think I am ready to supplement it with the newly available technology of Evernote.

Several weeks ago I decided to take my recipe card” Brick Wall Ancestors File” and add it to Evernote.  I created an Evernote notebook for my brick wall individuals and then one for those on my husband’s tree.  It was not only an organizational endeavour but it actually turned out to be a review of those Brick Walls.  As I transferred the information from card to computer I had several eureka moments. It is amazing how, what seems a simple sort can lead to new finds.  Review, review, review!  (That is my bonus tip).

I was so impressed with how my Brick Wall File developed and how easy it was to navigate that I was determined to further utilize Evernote by creating “A Future Research Notebook”.  It began with a few key references I wished to order or look up in future for my Great-Great Grandfather, and became a well-organized guide or to do list for things I could not immediately accomplish.  Most of these tasks are those which must be done at repositories too distant for me to access currently or for documents which must be ordered but I presently do not wish to spend funds on.  I know if I do not take note of these I may not remember.  I do record this information under the notes of individuals on my family tree but with so many individuals it can be easy  to overlook.

I began organizing my Future Research Notebook by individual but then thought it might be even better to organize it by repository or organization.  For example: I am looking for Assize Court records for my Great-Great Grandfather.  These are housed at the British National Archives.  Also at the British National Archives are various other records I require for research on other ancestors.  The title therefore of one of the notes in my “Future Research Notebook” could be “The British National Archives” and under that title appears an ancestor’s name and the reference numbers for the documents I wish copies of.  I could also effectively have titled my note by individual:John Carter, or by record type; Assize Records, or a combination there of. My notebook is a combination of notes for individuals, and individual repositories but you could choose one or the other if you find this more organized.

Individual example

Individual example

Example by repository.

Example by repository.

Another example by repository

Another example by repository

I like that I can alphabetize my notes with the click of a button and know that new notes I add will also be alphabetized–this can be done far easier than with writing in traditional notebooks! I also love that I can use check boxes in front of each document reference or task.  I can simply tick them off as I go or ultimately just delete them.  I can also edit notes and add new tasks or documents I may learn about on repository visits or in online searches, to deal with once again at a later date!

Data and information collected can also be added to notes in Evernote if I have notebooks dedicated to research trip note taking or create research log templates to fill in.  I have yet to learn how to create such research log templates but when I do find a day to sit and learn I believe Colleen Greene has a blog article I can refer to for assistance!

Remember, you can teach an old dog new tricks…it may just take a little longer! Oh, and life-long learning keeps one from stagnating!

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Friday Follows ~ Diversions Can Be Practical!

Down the Rabbit Hole

Sorry this was posted late!  My internet went down yesterday.  This is when I realize that reliance of technology can be dangerous! Some great finds this week and the excitement of being interviewed for the Geneablogger series “May I Introduce…” It was a good exercise in self-reflection answering the interview questions.  It definitely gave me reason to contemplate my research and re-evaluate my goals!

The Practical Archivist: Tips and tricks to deal with your archival materials.

~ Family Oral History Using Digital Tools : Amazing articles on ways you can use new technology to record oral histories and also some great ways to prompt oral histories and conversations about family history!  Loved this one about the Census and talking to the blog author’s mother!

Opening Doors in Brick Walls: It was through this site that I discovered Colleen Greene but it also provides great information in its own right!  Lovely family stories which help guide you through the genealogical research process.

Colleen Greene: Colleen Greene is my favourite find this week! Not only is she a Genealogist she’s a librarian, and a web designer.  Because she has a knowledge base in web design and html she has provided fabulous articles on how to improve your blog and how to use my newest genealogy tool, Evernote!  I’m excited to work through her past posts to hopefully gain a better grasp of what this tool can do for me!

Ancestories: Always has great Friday Finds and Follows and she has some great series posts.  I think I will need to try the series of posts on Getting More Traffic to My Blog 😉

Being a Beginner Again from the blog “Life From The Roots” : Great little article that helps put things in perspective.  We all start over as genealogists each time we start a new area of research or delve into the history of a new ancestor…no one is alone!

~ Genealogy Tip of the Day and Genealogy Search Tip of the Day : Always looking for tips, advice, and reminders but it is often hard to find the time to scour the internet and read countless articles.  I like these quick tips!
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Tuesday Tips ~ Keeping a Brick Wall Ancestors File!

My Old-Fashioned Brick Wall Ancestors File!

My Old-Fashioned Brick Wall Ancestors File!

I do not always feel willing to share my systems of organization.  I am terribly tactile and visual and still find hard copies appealing regardless of all the amazing technology available and the shift to the digital.  However I do realize that I can save far more in far less space and far more efficiently digitally.  It also has become apparent that portability is essential when travelling to archives and libraries, cemeteries, and well, just anywhere our research takes us!  I always carry my phone or ipad to capture information but it has become a hodgepodge of disorganization when not housed together in one organized, efficient system.  It is time to learn to properly use Evernote and change over my old fashioned files!

One file I have been keeping in hard copy format–yes on traditional cue cards in a file box quite like recipes–is my Brick Wall Ancestors File. When I encounter a very challenging, impossible brick wall individual–in our direct lines–on my family tree I created a card for them.  It included all the basic facts I had gathered on the individual on the front and, on the back, what I still wished to discover, the questions I had regarding the individual, and where I might find this information.  Similar to a research plan but in miniature!

Evernote Notebook.

Evernote Notebook.

I’ve found the file helpful to keep my research grounded and focused and helps me to visualize the present reach of my family tree’s branches!  It will be far more useful in a digital, carry-along format and I think Evernote is going to be my go-to location for this file of notes!

I’ve created a notebook for my Brick Wall ancestors and a separate one for my husband’s.  I am ordering the notes alphabetically and have indicated the country/countries of research. I added the key information in bullet points then numbered my basic questions and research starting points.  If I find additional information in my research I have added it through checklists and attachments until I can verify and add to my tree.  Fingers crossed this will be effective and efficient!

Note Example.

Note Example.

Note Example.

Note Example.