Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending the New Jersey Family History Institute … from the comfort of my own home! Melissa A. Johnson, CG® has put together a fantastic two-day course on New Jersey Family History Research. I have a project in mind to work on some of my New Jersey ancestry and so when I saw this opportunity, I jumped on it. The course is offered online or in person “to learn all about sources and strategies for researching NJ ancestors and families.”
I expected two days of lectures giving me a run-down of the unique history, geography, record sets, and other information to help me with my New Jersey research. I even figured I’d fold laundry while I listened. What I got was a whole lot more. I did manage to fold the laundry, but I also found myself paying very close attention, taking notes, answering class exercises in the chat, and creating a research plan for a future research trip!
Melissa has done a fantastic job of creating an in-depth, interactive course (even with the online audience), with in-class exercises pertaining to the topic of the hour. She asked for people to share their answer to the exercises, including those online, and would read them out for everyone’s benefit, which also made me feel like part of the class. Optional homework was given as well.
This course covered topics ranging from the basic timeline of New Jersey, highlighting key points as they would pertain to records and research, to laws and their impact on research findings, a breakdown of the court system, major resources, libraries, collections, and so on. A lot of attention was given to differentiation between the Colonial period and post-statehood. Melissa is a fantastic instructor, not only because she provides the students with the information they need to be successful in their research, but by also giving relevant exercises that were challenging and educational on the topic at hand. Furthermore, she is very cognizant of the online community tuning in as well, repeating questions from those in class and interacting with us in an individual and meaningful way.
While this course is over for this year, I suspect it will be held again. The website indicates that more courses will be added in the future on other topics as well. You can join the mailing list to be informed when new events are added.
I will be watching this educational resource for future opportunities and encourage you to do so as well!