By Lisa-Dawn Crawley, Student
Like the Baseball World Series but waaay better because it’s GENEALOGY, my favourite course from The National Institute for Genealogical Studies is not just ONE course — it’s an entire SERIES. I couldn’t pick just one!! I’m a Genea-Knowledge Nerd and, as such, I triumphantly welcome you back to Nerdville.
I have to admit that I was definitely most looking forward to Methodology Part 2: Organizing and Skill-Building of all the (six) courses in the series. You should probably know that I’m the kinda gal who enjoys creating organizational systems and cleans when she gets stressed… However, if you want the answer to the question “What the HECK do I do with all this crap I’ve gathered from my own investigating, gramma, auntie, the attic, that nook, yonder cranny…??” this course will help you with that. I say “help” because I still don’t have everything in my vast cavern of accumulated genea-goodies labelled, filed and stored in comprehensive, orderly fashion. [I bow down to the genea-freak who does!! Are you out there?? Please say No so I can continue on in my delusion that everyone else is just as bad as me…] But at least I know what to do and how to do it!!
I must pause here to note that this course does NOT address the issue of proper preservation materials and techniques for your precious items. The Naitonal Institute does offer a course on that topic called Protect Your Precious Documents.
The material in Methodology Part 2: Organizing and Skill-Building builds slowly and surely upon that which was introduced in the previous course, delving deeper into the development of basic research skills. Emphasis is squarely placed on the importance of accuracy with objectivity and consistency in documentation. Ye olde noggin be not failproof nor foolproof, genea-friends! No matter how spry you think you are, memory alone is never good enough for tracking what you looked at, where it was, what it said, what you did with that information and how it impacted your research. It’s best to learn NOW, at the beginning, to prevent repeated work and wasted time. With that said, my own advice can only be to establish your good habits and best practices as early in your genea-journey as possible…
[You don’t really think about how MUCH you’ve learned in a National Institute course until you go to write a blog post about it. I mean, the sheer quantity of information just boggles my mind – how much I didn’t know before I started, how much I have learned since finishing and how much I need to review. But I digress… ] Education is ever ongoing, right? Right! So whether you’re looking to refresh, recycle, initiate or improve – this course delivers!
Always careful to acknowledge the fact that one way of doing things which works well for one person may not work well for another [and that is perfectly okay!!! as long as you abide by the consistency rule], Methodology Part 2 focuses on the skills required to “do genealogy” effectively. It reinforces the idea that research should not be a collection process but one of progression from the unknown to the known. Skills like citation, transcription, abstraction, extraction, deciphering old handwriting, noting interpretations, making comments and standards for these are explored in-depth. Methods of organizing (ie, reference numbering systems) and documenting your research processes (ie, checklists, forms, journals) are discussed. Much attention is given to the Not-As-Scary-As-It-Sounds Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) which should govern your research practices and lead in the development of your research plans.
It’s a lot — but don’t worry!! A plethora of examples and exercises are provided to gently guide students along. Teachers are only ever an email away are are usually quick to answer questions. Don’t forget to check out the Virtual Meeting schedule and make a date to assail your genea-gurus with your myriad queries! [They actually like it!]
Until next time…
Lisa-Dawn Crawley is a current student of The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. She is enrolled in four certificate programs (Methodology, Professional Development, Canadian Records and English Records) and hopes to graduate with honours in her hometown of Ottawa, Ontario at the 2017 OGS Conference, in the National Capital’s celebratory year of Canada’s 150th birthday. Her new blog LDC: The Zombie Genealogist chronicles her sleepless endeavours to bring the dead back to life, to interest her relatives and the younger generation in family history, to preserve some of her own thoughts, experiences and memories and, ultimately, to become a professional genealogist. Besides genealogy, LDC’s vices include books (so, so many books!), movies (and Netflix), boardgames and geekery (zombies, minions and Star Wars, oh my!), photography, contesting, bargain hunting, social media and privacy (yes, conflicting).
You can usually find LDC online at:
Personal Blog: http://thezombiegenealogist.blogspot.ca/