Category Archives: Skill Building

Announcing NEW NGSQ Study Groups

During my time as a facilitator for the Certification Discussion Groups (CDG), organized by Jill Morelli, students indicated to me that they wished for some more options in discussion groups to talk more about the “meaty” techniques and methods of genealogical research, particularly when working with evidence analysis and the Genealogical Proof Standard.

IMG_3953I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while and have finally settled upon the details. This is a monthly study group that will examine one National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) journal article per month. We will study these articles with a focus on principles taught in Mastering Genealogical Proof (MGP) by Tom Jones. We will discuss topics on the genealogy standards, evidence analysis and correlation, writing, citations, and more.

The cost is $50 for the year. For this price, you will:

  • Participate in a monthly study group session for up to two hours with your peers, led by me, Cari Taplin.
  • Receive the discussion questions at least two weeks prior to the online meeting.
  • Have access to a private Facebook Group for mid-month discussion. This Facebook group will be limited to study group participants only, no outside noise!

There will be no individual feedback given unless you want to sign up for a private consultation session. There will be no required peer feedback, except for what you choose to post and receive in the FB group. Your commitment is to read the articles, any indicated sections in MGP, and come prepared to discuss the questions (or simply show up and listen). I believe the benefit you will get out of a class is equal to the effort you put into it.

Please Note: You must have access to these articles either by being a member of NGS or from your local library. You will also need to have a copy of Mastering Genealogical Proof. Due to copyright, I cannot provide copies to you.

There are three sessions, two daytime and one evening.

Sign up now or click for more information.

This is meant to be an INTERMEDIATE discussion group, not a beginner or advanced. If you aren’t sure if you fall into that category here are some possibly helpful descriptors to help you decide (all or none could apply but this is the type of group I’m aiming for):

  • You’ve read NGSQ articles and generally can follow them (I’m not asking if you fully understand them, but they aren’t “Greek” to you either)
  • You own Mastering Genealogical Proof(or at least know what it is and will buy a copy before this class starts)
  • You own or have access to a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills
  • You’re interested in certification or accreditation and have participated in one of Jill Morelli’s Certification Discussion Groups (CDG)
  • You know what the Genealogical Proof Standard is.

If you aren’t sure, send me an email and we can discuss it further.

To keep the discussion manageable and allow everyone a chance to speak, class size is limited to 25 participants, so sign up now!

I’m looking forward to studying with you!

It’s National Genealogical Society Conference Week!

This week I am attending the NGS Conference and am so excited to participate! My schedule is quite full this time! First, I am attending the BCG Education Fund’s “Putting Skills to Work” day to refresh and update my skills.

During the conference I am presenting three lectures:

  • Session W154, Wednesday, 4PM, “Breaking New Ground: Creating a Locality Guide for New Research Areas”
  • Session F328, Friday, 11AM, “How’d You Find That?!? Tips for Locating Obscure or Hidden Records”
  • Session S421, Saturday, 11AM, “Family History Piecework: An Approach to Writing” (BCG Skillbuilding Lecture)

Working at the booths for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), the Association of Professional Genealogists, and the Board for Certification of Genealogists is also on my agenda.

Beyond this, I am looking forward to new and exciting “things” in the exhibit hall, learning new techniques at lectures, and catching up with old friends and making new.

BCG Putting Skills to Work 2018

I’ve been in Grand Rapids, Michigan since Tuesday when I attended the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) Education Fund’s “Putting Skills to Work” class. What an excellent day! The time was split between two classes.

Connie Lenzen’s class “Planning and Executing Reasonably Exhaustive Research: Or How to Ensure a Successful Hunt” discussed research questions and plans. I have to say that I was quickly reminded of what I should be doing everyday. I get so excited for the research that I forget to focus, slow down, and set forth a path for my search.

Tom Jones made us think about “Citing All Kinds of Online Sources.” This class focused only on sources you find online and really made us look at all of the layers that an online source might have. The original source, the microfilmed version, the scan of the microfilm, an original digitization in color, previously published or not, and so on. We worked through many example citations as a class and discussed each of the parts.

The level of interactive instruction that one gets at a BCG “Putting Skills to Work” class is incredible. If you are interested in certification, are already on the clock, or are already certified, it doesn’t matter. These classes are wonderful examples of hands-on, lecture with discussion with exercises, types of classes many of us enjoy and will benefit for our own continuing education.

The BCG Education Fund’s “Putting Skills to Work” occurs on the Tuesday before the National Genealogical Society Conference every year, so you will want to adjust your schedule accordingly. Next year’s schedule was announced at this years’ class, and will take place in St. Charles, Missouri on Tuesday May 7, 2019:

  • “Meeting Standards with Twenty-First Century Research Reports” with Melissa Johnson, CG
  • “Evidence Analysis: Theory, Practice, and the Real World” with Nancy A. Peters, CG, CGL

For more information on the BCG Education Fund, visit bcgedfund.org.

Tips for Learning to Read Old Handwriting

In my work as a professional genealogist, I have to be able to read old handwriting. I know others struggle with this, and I have a couple of tips to share that really helped build my confidence when it comes to reading old handwriting.

My first tip and the best thing I can suggest is to take part in a volunteer indexing project. I signed up for the FamilySearch Indexing project the year it was released. I was onboard when the 1940 census was indexed in a matter of days, when the Civil War Pensions project was indexed, and for a whole host of state-organized projects through various state societies. After working on so many projects, I got really good at reading old and often messy handwriting.

Family Search indexing is not the only indexing game in town. There are indexing projects available through the National Archives and the DAR (if you are a member) as well. Here are those links:

My second tip is to get the book Reading Early American Handwriting by Kip Sperry. You can find it at Amazon or another online bookseller.

My last tip is to transcribe, transcribe, and transcribe. Any and all of your own research documents. Don’t have any? Go to FamilySearch and pick any record such as a deed or a will, and get started. If you choose to transcribe documents from a location where there is a local genealogical society that publishes a quarterly journal or other research publication, consider submitting your transcriptions to be published. Society journals are always looking for content. For more information about best practices for transcriptions, see chapter 16 of the book Professional Genealogy (edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills) titled “Transcripts and Abstracts.”

Truly the best way to get better at anything is to practice. I hope the above tips help you find your best way to practice and to also perhaps give back to the genealogical community at the same time.