Saturday, June 22, 2013

Interested in Genealogy as a Profession?

This post is part of my continuing series of course reviews from the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University. Friends of mine have been invited to blog as guest authors and share their experiences in the courses at IGHR. Here is a review by Pamela Holland.

“Genealogy as a Profession” course at IGHR (Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research)

By Pamela Guye Holland

Taught by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL; Alvie Davidson, CG; Michael Hait, CG; Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA; J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA; David Rencher, CG, AG., FIGRS, FUGA; Judy Russell, J.D., CG, CGL; Benjamin B. Spratling, III, J. D.; Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL.

As an aspiring professional genealogist I want to learn as much as I can about starting a business based on the work I love. When I saw “Genealogy as a Profession” offered at IGHR at Samford University this year I jumped at the chance and signed up. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. The week long format of the class allowed me to thoroughly explore the genealogy profession and to hear from a wide variety of professionals. I left empowered and emboldened to start my own business.

Day one we jumped right into discovering what defines a professional genealogist and then delved into office setup, record keeping, business formation, contracts and setting fees. Our homework that night was to write a preliminary business plan. Taking the ideas we learned that day, setting them down on paper and creating a concrete plan was a wonderful exercise. My initial trepidation before starting the class was completely turned around and I felt like “I can do this!” Even better I had an actual plan I could start implementing as soon as I got home.

Next we studied marketing, client communications, ethics, research planning, evidence analysis and writing research reports. Elissa Scalise Powell has a wonderful method of “writing as you go” that makes creating reports part of the research process rather than a tedious chore left to the end. We learned about copyright issues both for our own work and for the things we want to include in our writing and publishing. Copyright is a complex issue every genealogist needs to be aware of but now I feel I understand it better and have the knowledge I need to make the right decisions.

The course was rounded out by investigating different ways to earn money and augment our skills. Some of the suggestions included DNA research, lecturing, publishing and heir, adoption and mineral right legal cases. We heard many times we cannot be just a “general researcher” but need to diversify as well as have a specialty or niche to attract clients. In this digital age the future of the genealogy profession is changing rapidly but this course taught me how to recognize potential new avenues for growth. I feel I now have a solid foundation to build my business on and I know the skills I need to acquire to be a successful professional genealogist.

Pamela Guye Holland completed the Boston University Genealogical Research Certificate program (OL10) in 2012 and is a member of ProGen19. She won first place in the 2012 Writing Contest sponsored by the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists (MSOG) for “It Started with a Cough: A Month of Mourning for the Ritter and Blackett Families Living in Boston Highlands, Massachusetts,” MASSOG 36 (Fall 2012): 83-92. Pam researches family roots found in New England, New York, Ohio and West Virginia with ties to England, Germany and Ireland. Pam serves on the boards of the Merrimack Valley chapter of MSOG and the Irish Ancestral Research Association (TIARA) and also volunteers for the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS). She can be found at

Friday, June 21, 2013

“Writing and Publishing for Genealogists” - Review of IGHR Course 5

This post is part of my continuing series by guest authors sharing their experience with courses offered at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University. Here is the experience of Karen Stansbury in course 5.

Overheard at NGS 2013:

“You cannot achieve genealogical proof until you have a written conclusion.”
“Writing might help you realize you have already solved your own brick wall and didn’t know it.”
“Write as you go.”
“Did you know Tom Jones uses Microsoft Word as his genealogy software program of choice?”

If you listen carefully in the halls of any professional genealogical gathering, the mantras bounce off the walls. You try to avoid the painful truth. But, your carefully constructed wall of denial is crumbling.

I confess ---writing intimidates me. My daughter affectionately refers to me as the “Queen of Passive Voice.” This year I decided the time had come to take a deep breath and plunge into the murky depths of modifiers, pronouns, voices, clauses, and that hated villain, passive voice.

IGHR Course 5: Dr. Thomas W. Jones’ “Writing and Publishing for Genealogists”

The carefully organized curriculum builds on each previous lecture. Dr. Jones delivers the material within an intense but manageable structure. Each lecture builds on the one before. He punctuates the lectures with just the right dose of humor.

  • You discover the “Dreaded Footnote” is no longer your enemy: it actually will aid you in the careful analysis of your evidence.
  • You realize there are many more uses for a dictionary than spelling.
  • You suddenly have an uncontrollable urge to own the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style.
  • You look at him in disbelief when he assigns you to trim your own fat; then twenty four hours later, you realize lean and mean equals clarity ---AND THAT YOU CAN DO IT!
  • You begin to imagine the feeling of having one of your own articles accepted for publication.
  • You create child lists and generational superscript numbers as if you had been doing it since fifth grade. And you finally understand the difference between Register and NGSQ style.
  • You will never look at verbs the same way again.
  • You appreciate the value of writing, and re-writing, and re-writing, and re-writing.
  • You begin to conquer your fear and you plan (dare I say, anticipate with excitement?) drafting a proof argument.
Take this course. You will not regret it. You will improve your writing. You will become a better genealogist.

And by the way, I am asking peers to review, edit and vet this piece before I submit it for publication.

Karen Stanbary is a genealogical researcher, specializing research in the Midwest, Chicago and Mexico.  She lives in Chicago.  She will be completing the ProGen Study Program with ProGen 15 in August. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Miss IGHR? Read about it from other attendees

If you missed attending the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research this year and would like to know what went on in the classes, here are links to reports on some of my friends' genealogy blogs. I will be writing my own post as well, but spent a few days with my kids when I returned from Alabama, so I am just getting back online.

Cinnamon Collins on the (Mis)Adventures of a Genealogists blog.
IGHR 2013 - Day 1

IGHR 2013 - Day 2 
IGHR 2013 - Day 3 
IGHR 2013 - Day 4

Judy Russell on The Legal Genealogist blog

IGHR and historical maps 
IGHR and new resources

Jenny Lanctot on Are My Roots Showing? blog
IGHR Day One
IGHR Day Two
IGHR Day Three
IGHR Day Four

Cari Taplin on Genealogy Pants blog

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Is the Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum course right for you?

Are you trying to decide if you would like to take the Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum course at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy? Registration opens today so I thought I would share some reviews from those who have taken the course to help you decide if it is for you. 

This hands-on course is an opportunity for advanced genealogists to put their research skills into practice. Participants work on five complex genealogical research problems—a new one each day. Each case requires careful evidence evaluation and/or additional research to solve. The objective is to give each student experience in conducting research on complex problems, analyzing and correlating evidence, and reaching conclusions.
The cases are all brand new for 2014 and you can read about the instructors here.
To give perspective on the Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum course here are some reviews from past participants: 

What I learned at SLIG 2013: Ponder and Mull by Anne Gillespie Mitchell 

The toughest genealogy course you can take? by Harold Henderson, CG

More on the Toughest Genealogy Course by Harold Henderson, CG

A Challenging and Inspiring Learning Experience by Barbara Ball

Measuring Your Success at Solving Genealogical Problems by Melinda Henningfield

An Insider's View of the Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum by Harold Henderson, CG

Waking Up Your Brain with the Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum course at SLIG 
by Corey Browder Oiesen

Participants in this practicum will work individually on the cases to analyze documents and evidence provided, and also conduct research online and at the Family History Library. The research problems will be varied, offering students the challenge of stretching their mind and skills in directions that their research may not normally take them. The class will meet with the expert instructor to compare strategies and methodologies used, discuss difficulties encountered, and receive guidance on the case solution. Students will learn from each other as well as the instructors. This course is designed for advanced genealogists who have sufficient experience and education to work on complex genealogical problems.