Tag Archives: national genealogical society

Getting the Most Out of Your Memberships: NGS

This is the next blog post in my series on getting the most out of your memberships by taking personal responsibility. To read the original post, click here.

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) was organized in 1903 and claims to be “the first national genealogical organization.” It has always been a leader in genealogical education with its conferences, seminars and workshops, research tours, books, magazines, and a scholarly journal.

As a member of NGS you receive the following benefits (straight from the NGS website):

  • NGS Magazine: delivered quarterly by print or digital access. A top choice by NGS Members, with articles on effectively using records for family history research—i.e., vital records, immigration, land, and courthouse records—and columns on genetic genealogy, repositories, technology, writing, etc.
  • NGS Monthly: delivered monthly by email. A digital publication with articles, authored by an award-winning genealogist on methodology, research techniques, sources, and NGS news.
  • NGS Quarterly (NGSQ): delivered quarterly by print or digital access. A leading scholarly journal in the field, highly in demand for its case studies and genealogies, essays on methodology, and book reviews.
  • Discount registration for the annual NGS Family History Conference
  • Free Family History Skills Course (online, take anytime, anywhere)
  • Discounts for online genealogy courses (only NGS offers the e-learning system Canvas):
  • American Genealogical Studies Four levels of courses that teach skill building + Certificate in American Genealogical Studies available
  • Continuing Genealogical Studies Ten individual courses, you chose topics of interest to you
  • Discounts on Research Trips to Washington, D.C.; Salt Lake City, Utah; and more
  • Discounts on books, including our Research in the States Series and Special Publications
  • Free Member-only Resources, including genealogy templates and charts, tutorials, and articles
  • Free Access to e-Library and Archival Resources, including fully searchable NGS Magazine, NGS Monthly, and NGSQ articles with 24/7 access on our website:
    • Twelve years of NGS Magazine issues
    • 50+ articles from NGS Monthly since inception February 2016
    • 500+ issues of the NGSQ
  • Upfront with NGS: a blog featuring news and resources for genealogists
  • Special packages for audio and video recorded lectures at PlaybackNGS.com
  • Full access to Voices of Genealogy, a series of mini-documentaries with interviews of leading scholars in genealogy
  • Eligible to enter the NGS Family History Writing Contest
  • Special Offers from NGS Partnerships and discounts from Affiliates

ALL of these benefits require some action on YOUR part. If you want education, you have to read the articles or watch the videos. If you want to tour research centers, you have to sign up, pay the fee, do the prep work, and go. If you want discounts on items, you have to check the list and click through the affiliate links. And so on. There are 17 broad categories included on the website for member benefits. Seventeen. If you are not “getting anything” out of your membership, I challenge you to take a look at the website, read the emails and blog posts.

Next time you find yourself saying that phrase, take a real look at what you should be expecting from your membership and determine if the problem lies with your priorities and how you choose to spend your time and/or efforts.

**Of course these statements may not reflect everyone’s experience. If you have had a different experience and/or a legitimate complaint, PLEASE take it up with the proper direct channels for that organization. I’m sure they want to know their members’ views and to try to make it right. This blog is only expressing my personal opinions and is not the place to vent your frustrations with a given society or organization.

Getting the Most From Your Memberships: Personal Responsibility

I am a member of a lot of societies, near and far, local, regional, and national. And I serve on several boards, locally and nationally. So this post comes from my personal experience from all of those realms, not any one group in particular. I hear colleagues, friends, and Facebook acquaintances say about their various memberships that they “just aren’t getting anything out of it.” And that statement always makes me pause.

I have always lived by the principle that you get what you give. If you don’t give time, effort, energy, or attention to something, you are going to get very little out of it in return. This goes for various memberships and subscriptions in all aspects of life, not just in the world of genealogy. (For example, have you checked the benefits for your Alumni Association lately? So when someone says they aren’t getting anything out of something, I truly believe they are probably putting little effort into it. If you don’t have time, or if it is not a priority for you to put time into that particular membership, then perhaps it is not the membership’s or the society’s failure, but rather the effect of your own priorities. There has to be a level of personal involvement and responsibility when it comes to what YOU are getting out of your memberships.

I am writing this series of blog entries to try to convince my friends and colleagues to be cognizant of what they are actually saying when they say “I’m not getting anything out of my membership.” If a particular membership is actually not offering anything of value, then by all means, don’t renew it. However, if it provides a long list of benefits that you are choosing to ignore (whether on purpose, or because you don’t have time, or you didn’t research it), and I mean this in the nicest possible way, but that is on you. If you ignore/delete/archive emails that provide important announcements about your membership benefits, again, that is your choice.

And I fall into this trap as well; I am not claiming to be innocent here. However, I’m also not blaming my lack of getting anything out of my memberships on the societies themselves. I realize that I am just too busy with X, Y, and Z to take full advantage of the benefits of a particular membership. This means that I have three choices: I decide to not renew; I decide to renew anyway, being supportive of the group, but knowing I won’t be getting full value out of that membership; or I decide to re-prioritize and make an effort to get everything I can out of my membership.

I hear this complaint again and again. I’m not singling out any particular person or group with this post. Like I said, I’ve been involved in many societies and I have heard this sentiment at all levels over many years. I’m not sure what else societies can do for their members if their members aren’t reading society communications or taking advantage of the benefits their membership already provides. Remember that most of these societies are volunteer run organizations and they are doing as much as they can with the resources they have. If you want to see changes or improvements, volunteer to help.

At the national-level, there are three “big” memberships (there could be more in this category, but these are where I am currently focusing): the National Genealogical Society, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and the Association of Professional Genealogists. There are a host of local, state, regional, and topical societies as well (including lineage societies, geographical focus groups such as german genealogy, and others). Over my next few blog posts I am going to highlight benefits that are available at these national groups and at local levels to remind you of what you can get out of your memberships when you put some effort into them.

**Of course these statements may not reflect everyone’s experience. If you have had a different experience and/or a legitimate complaint, PLEASE take it up with the proper direct channels for that organization. I’m sure they want to know their members’ views and to try to make it right. This blog is only expressing my personal opinions and is not the place to vent your frustrations with a given society or organization.

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.

My 2017 Plans…at least so far

calendarI know it has been an incredibly long time since I have posted anything. I’d like to report that I have been away on a fancy vacation, backpacking across Europe or something equally as exciting and adventurous, but let’s be real here. I’m a parent and a self-employed genealogical researcher and speaker. Who has time for adventures like that? (Well, unless it’s research-related, right?)

This doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy! The biggest thing that has happened is that I have taken a position as the Case Manager for my friend and colleague Deena Coutant of DigiDeena Family History Solutions. This means I am working to supervise all of the projects she’s got going, sending them to contractors, helping with marketing ideas, and working on research projects as needed. This job has been keeping me quite busy, especially as I get stabilized and familiar with the processes, and learn how to work with the contractors Deena already had in place, and helping to hire new contractors. It is an exciting time and we are having a great time working together!

I have also been busy getting my speaking schedule in order for the coming year. Here is what I have on the calendar so far:

*all times in Central time zone unless otherwise noted

There are several other items I have in the works, but the details aren’t firmed up yet, so when those items are worked out I will be sure to update this page and my calendar.

Here’s to 2017 being an awesome genealogy year!

My First IGHR Experience

My Gold-Star Certificate
My Gold-Star Certificate

I wasn’t sure what to expect from IGHR or Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Advanced Methodology Course. I heard a lot of rumors about how hard it was. When people would find out which course I was taking they’d say “Ooooh. Gosh, be ready for a lot of homework.”  Of course then I begin to second guess myself. “What if I’m not at the level needed to take this course? What if I’ve overestimated my abilities?” It turned out to be at just the right level and pace for me. I was familiar with almost all of the topics covered, with the exception of the government documents (gov docs for short) section. I’ve listened to lectures about gov docs before but never had the opportunity to use them. Everyone has a unique brain and therefore a different way of doing things and I thoroughly enjoyed learning how someone of Elizabeth Shown Mills’ caliber approaches a problem, what interpretations she makes from any given record and where she goes from there.

I think the biggest lessons I learned from the course are:

  • There’s always something more.
  • Citations are an art not a science.
  • Research the neighbors.

Of course there were many lessons to learn. I definitely have a new way of approaching my research problems! And there was a fair amount of homework. I spent about 4 hours per night, but I found myself going off on tangents. (Anyone else have that problem?) I did not attend any of the evening events except the banquet, because I wanted to do the homework to my satisfaction, and I wanted sleep. Craig R. Scott taught a lecture or two in our course and my favorite thing he said was “A good genealogist needs sleep.” I still didn’t get enough sleep, but an adequate amount. (I hope Elizabeth takes the yawns as a sign of hard work and not as commentary on her lecturing!)

I was surprised when I received a gold star on my certificate. I was doubly surprised when I got home and received an email from Elizabeth letting me know that I had won the Walter Lee Sheppard Jr. Prize. This is from the press release:

Cari Taplin of Longmont, Colorado, has been named the 2013 recipient of the Walter Lee Sheppard Jr. Prize, bestowed annually upon one or more genealogists who demonstrate sound practices and exceptional potential. Candidates for the award are drawn from the Advanced Research Methodology and Evidence Analysis track at Samford University’s Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research. The stipend awarded to each recipient covers the preliminary and final application fees for pursuing certification by the Board for Certification of Genealogists.
 
Past recipients of the prize include Debbie Hooper, CG, of Millsboro, Delaware; Judy Russell, CG, of Avenel, New Jersey; David Ouimette, AG, CG, of Highland Utah; Phil Burnett Adderly, CG, of Shreveport, Louisiana; and Teri Tillman, CG, of Natchez, Mississippi.
 
The Samford University IGHR and the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) were both founded in 1964 by a cadre of genealogical educators seeking to advance quality and professionalism within the field. Across the decades, BCG has co-sponsored the IGHR; and a significant number of Board-certified genealogists have been its course coordinators and instructors.
 
The prize itself memorializes the late Walter Lee Sheppard Jr., one of the twentieth-century’s leading genealogical scholars whose example strongly promoted sound reasoning and careful analysis in all genealogical specialties. As a mentor, his discerning eye could be counted upon to identify a missed source or clue in family reconstructions, thereby strengthening a colleague’s conclusions. A founder and president of BCG, Lee was also a fellow and president of the American Society of Genealogists, the National Genealogical Society, the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, and other bodies. In 2007, he was elected to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame.
 
The Sheppard Prize is privately funded by an IGHR Track 4 graduate, for whom Lee acted as mentor and patron. The prize has no affiliation with the Board for Certification of Genealogists itself.

The Walter Lee Sheppard Jr. Prize is funded by a private person who was mentored by Lee. This is serendipitous because having had an awesome mentor is the only reason I am here (in the genealogy world) today. My dear friend and mentor Birdie Holsclaw told me I could be, she told me I could do this, that I had potential, that what I was doing was fun and interesting and that people would want to hear about it. So I began speaking and writing articles. We would sit up until Buffalo Wild Wings kicked us out (around 2am) talking about my work and she’d just impart her wisdom on me, freely
and with such patience and grace. Then she and some other friends invited me to a small group of people who were thinking about becoming certified. And I’ve been on that path slowly ever since. Well, now, it’s not going to be slow anymore.

The next 18 months is going to fly by and I hope to do Birdie proud! And I hope to be able to pay forward the mentoring gift someday. All in all, that is not a bad first time at IGHR!

Home Study Course

NGSLogoDuring 2012 I started and completed the National Genealogical Society’s American Genealogy: A Home Study Course. Overall it was a great experience, taking me through many different record sets, repositories, methodologies and techniques many of whom I hadn’t fully utilized in my research. The course was very valuable to me in that it gave me a broader experience in these areas and taught me some different ways to organize and analyze my research.

The program does have a few drawbacks which I know the organization is aware of. First of all, it is all on CD. Therefore, there are no opportunities for updates to the lessons, links, etc. This did become a little frustrating when, after following the directions on the assignment, it was returned to be reworked because of a change I was unaware of. Secondly, the price was a little high for the actual return value… meaning, the grading is done by volunteers and therefore, some lessons weren’t returned for months after submitting them, which I think was pushing the limits since I did pay $475 for the graded option of the course. Third, the online list-serve was not archived, for which they had their reasons (I’m not sure I ever understood why) so if you asked a question, it may have been asked and answered a million times before. The overall tone on the list-serve was negative and after about a month, I unsubscribed because I found it challenging to read.

I attended the NGS conference in Cincinnati in May 2012, and attended a lunch-time review of upcoming changes to the program. They intend to put the course into an online format and update the lessons to match the technology of today. They gave us a preview and showed off many amazing features that will really improve this course. I think this is one of many benefits of being a member of the National Genealogical Society and I am excited to see changes and updates to the course. They didn’t have an exact timeline for this new platform so keep checking on it.

Genealogical Education

I have been working really hard on the formal education piece of genealogy. I am nearly done with the National Genealogical Society’s American Genealogy: A Home Study Course, I recently began studying with ProGen16 and in just a few weeks I will be heading to GRIP (Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh) to take Josh Taylor‘s course “Beneath the Homepage.” I have been learning so much and so quickly that I have had little time for writing or blogging. There are several really amazing experiences that have happened lately in my genealogy world and I will be sharing them soon!

Until then, happy hunting and may you find your ancestors!