A personal note from Louise…
I have some major changes coming in my life very soon… I am retiring! After 30 years in the educational field of the genealogy community, I have sold both my companies: Heritage Productions and The National Institute for Genealogical Studies.
Here’s a bit of history:
I took my ‘first’ retirement in the mid-1980 when the company Canadian Insurance Computer Systems was sold to AT&T. Shortly after, I received a few interesting items about our family from my aunt Nora. This piqued my interest in our family tree. Eventually a family video was prepared for Aunt Nora’s 60th anniversary of being a nun. Afterwards, family charts and family calendars were provided to my extended family. Many still refer to those calendars today.
By 1992, my new passion had taken over. I was invited to lecture at various conferences. Next, an instructional video tape on researching your family tree was produced. It sold in large numbers in libraries across Canada and the United States. And then, I started writing books on topics I enjoyed lecturing on. Ten books in total! And that was the beginning of Heritage Productions. Today, this Canadian publishing house has over 125 titles on topics dealing only with genealogy.
A few years later, in 1997, at the Faculty of Information Studies in The University of Toronto, I lead an eight-week program on Climbing Your Family Tree. I was joined by other genealogists to lecture on various topics for the family historian. That was when The National Institute for Genealogical Studies was born! Twenty-five years later, The National Institute is still the Leader in genealogical education with over 240 courses and 13 certificate programs. I am proud to say that at The Institute, there is something for everyone, from the very beginner to those who want a career in genealogy. We have courses for records close to home here in Canada and the USA, but also from as far away as Australia and New Zealand, and so many countries in between. Courses on such a variety of topics are included from Planning a Reunion or Preserving Precious Documents or Researching Social History to Choosing a Genealogy Career and Skill Building; there are topics for everyone.
This journey has been incredible. The Internet has revolutionized the genealogy world. We’ve delivered our courses entirely online starting in 1999! And we’ve had to build all our tools along the way, including our course delivery and management software. I must admit, it has been exciting…
All of this cannot be achieved alone… it is thanks to a team of individuals, each passionate for genealogy. Thankyous… I have so many… Let’s start with Karen Melville from the U of T, who believed in us, and let us put our foot in the door. Our early program architects, especially Penelope Christensen, Sharon Murphy, Beverly Rice, Brian Hutchison, and Kory Meyerink. The authors of course materials… there are so many. Our current staff and consultants, Susanna deGroot, Gena Philibert-Ortega, Cheryl Levy, Brenda Wheeler, and Laurette Viau: student consultations, preparation of course materials, virtual meetings, social media interaction, posting final marks, student support, and shipping products — each individual is so important in their role. Jith Liyanage, our programmer, has been with us since the beginning of The Institute; what would I have done without him!
My fabulous family. I remember saying to my mother 25 years ago, I’ll be really busy for three years (that’s how long I thought I needed to put together the Canadian program; I never thought we would continue with everything else we have done!). The support from my brother Donald, and sister-in-law Marlene, and my step-kids, Rachelle and Daniel and their spouses, has always been there. And especially, my Maman and Papa, Denise and Jules, and my husband Michel; they are and were always my ‘Rock of Gibraltar’, my support system. If I asked in the early days for help with binding books or folding flyers or helping at a conference, they were always there to lend a hand. In the last many years, Michel has not only been there with moral support and accounting assistance, but also as my muscle; he has carried lots of boxes of print materials into and out of our office in preparation to send to our students!
To everyone who has helped along the way, and there are so many, a sincere thank you from the very bottom of my heart. This could not have happened without all your help and dedication…
And now to the future… what does it hold for The Institute? Angela Breidenbach, a graduate student of our English program, will be filling my shoes. She is a successful author and administrator. I truly believe she has very similar philosophies as I do regarding genealogical education. This characteristic was so important to me. Angie has new visions for The Institute. This is great; new blood is always good in any organization. I can’t wait to see what she will develop!
And what does the future hold for me? For the next few months, I will be helping Angie with the transition. Next, I will turn my attention to finishing up a project started a long time ago – the new website! After that, I hope to spend some quality time with my husband, my parents, my step-kids, our 3 lovely grandchildren, and our friends, both in Canada and in Florida. Hopefully, we will soon return to some great travelling. We will be heading to all corners of Canada and the USA, and then off to international destinations we want to explore. Without a doubt, there will be new adventures in my future; I’m just not sure yet what they will be! But, if you have read my long ramblings up to here, and if you want to be kept in the loop, send me an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org . I will more than likely be setting up a blog.
Often, I am told, I sound so passionate. Well, I am…… I believe I am passionate because of you, those who have worked with The Institute, and you, our students. In our interactions by phone, at conferences, through emails or chats, you, our students, are so excited about this hobby, or about starting this new career. Your enthusiasm is contagious… You make me want to help you succeed; you inspire me to help you reach your objectives. A huge thank you to all our students going all the way back to 1997. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of the history of this amazing story. The National Institute for Genealogical Studies is, today, a success story because of the involvement of every one of you. Thank you, thank you! You have given me lots of joy and ‘joie de vivre’ throughout these years.
Louise St Denis, Director Emeritus
The National Institute for Genealogical Studies
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