I cannot stress enough the importance of continuing education for genealogists whether you consider yourself a beginner, a hobbyist, a professional, an advanced researcher…whatever. There is always more to learn! And different people have different ways of doing things and their ideas or variations on methodology may make more sense to you and help you break through research challenges.
If 2020, and it looks like a large portion of 2021, have done anything, they have brought genealogy education to our fingertips. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many educational opportunities, both large and small, have been made accessible to participants across the world. With our digital world and platforms like Zoom, we have had so many opportunities than we have ever had before. With so many week-long institutes, multi-day conferences, and day-long seminars going virtual, so many more people have been able to participate. Think about those who can’t travel for whatever reason (disability, finances, family obligations, etc.) and those who want to attend everything but can’t due to travel and time and finances. I do hope we keep offering virtual options as our world returns to whatever “normal” is after this.
My advice for genealogical education has several steps or layers:
- Identify where your skills and knowledge are lacking. This could be a long or short list, but determine where you’d like to grow, and write it down.
- Identify places that have classes, webinars, institute courses, etc. that cover those topics.
- Make a plan as to when you can attend those classes. Some things are available all the time (webinars at Legacy Family Tree Webinars, for example, are available 24/7 by subscription). Some are available only once per year, or rotate every couple of years. You might find books or articles on the subject(s) as well.
- Join a local genealogical society. EVEN if your research is not in the place where you live. Most genealogical societies offer classes, monthly lectures on various topics, and a social network of other genealogists that can help you. Many local societies are offering virtual meetings currently so see what is available in your area.
- Join the genealogical society (societies) in the places where you DO research. You will benefit from their newsletters, journals, blogs, monthly meetings (if they are virtual), and any other member benefits they offer. But they have the local knowledge!
- Join a state, regional or national society. I recommend the National Genealogical Society, the Utah Genealogical Association, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, or a state society in the area of your research. I am a member of the Ohio Genealogical Society, for example.
For a complete list of genealogical education opportunities, visit Cyndi’s List: https://cyndislist.com/education/ where you can find so much information on genealogical classes, course, study groups, institutes, webinars, books, and so on.
Family history is an important part of our identity; the more we understand our heritage, the more we understand ourselves. And I hope, whether you are a beginner or have been doing this for a long time, you found some useful items in this Beginning Concepts series.