The National Institute for Genealogical Studies


The National Institute for Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

Genealogical Sources

Sources are the foundation of our research. They are the places from which we get information that provides evidence to form a conclusion. Examples of sources include, documents/records, books, photographs, artifacts, websites, newspapers, video or audio recorded interviews, and people. Sources are classified by type;  original, derivative, or authored.

Used with permission. Angela Rodesky.

Original sources are considered the first interaction of a record. For example, the first recording of a birth shortly after the birth occurs.

Derivative sources include transcriptions, abstracts, and translations. For example, using the birth record scenario above, if we requested this record from the county recorder’s office they may extract some of the information from the register and type it up on a certificate form. This certificate would be considered a derivative source since it was created based on the original register.

Authored sources are works that are created based on other sources and the author’s analysis of those sources. Sources such as family histories, local histories and case studies, would be considered authored sources.

Used with permission. Angela Rodesky.

While original sources are preferred, they are not always possible to obtain. It’s important to fully understand how to evaluate the sources used by family historians. Learn more about sources in our Skill-Building: Breaking Down Brick Walls  course.

More To Think About In Nuts & Bolts

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, DC 20540

by Shannon Combs Bennett, Student

What do you think the hardest part of writing is?  Maybe you find the ideas or planning hard. For me, it is the editing. Self-editing and proof reading are my downfall on many projects. Not only do I find it tedious and boring, the further my writing is away from my “natural” voice the more difficult I find it to correct. English class was never my best subject in school.

Editing is a necessity though for anyone who wants to do any type of writing. In the last module of the course Skill Building: Nuts & Bolts of Reporting Research we are taught about everything you need to think about while you are writing your research. While the list may seem long and intimidating, in the syllabus it is quite a wonderful list to go through. Trust me.

One important thing to keep in mind is, do you have permission to publish certain items?  Now, if it is for your files you may not be as concerned about this aspect, but remember citing your sources is vital. If you ever want to publish your work (online or in print) and it contains anything from another person you must get their permission to reprint it.  No exceptions.  I was excited that this subject was covered because it can be confusing for many people.

Finally the list of suggested reading was excellent.  I have added the suggestions to my list of worthwhile books and articles. Yes, another guide I have created. Books, articles,  lists of things that are good to re-read or share with others.

Needless to say I was very happy and impressed with this course. I learned a few things from a different aspect and filled in more holes. Yes, sometimes I have to hear things multiple times before it sticks.  It is just the way I work. Now, off to write!  Those ancestors are not going to report on themselves after all.

Nuts and Bolts of Report Writing

Typewriter Keys Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

by Shannon Combs Bennett, Student

Well, this is when we get into the meat and bones of the course Skill Building: Nuts & Bolts of Reporting Research. Report writing. Now don’t be scared or nervous. This was a great section on all the why’s and how’s for you to become a great report writer.

Before that however you need to plan your research. The section on research planning, complete with example case studies, was an excellent outline of how the process should work. We all know, or should know, that you need to have the ground work of good research laid out before you can build your report. But, how do you do that?

It is a combination of many smaller things that when merged together create a solid case for your writing.  Through the research planning section of this module the process is laid out nicely step-by-step.  Complete with online, and off line, resources for you to consult.

The breakdown of the types of reports out there I think will be very helpful to anyone who has never created one before. For those of you who don’t know, or just need a refresher, the types of reports you can create are:

  • Narrative
  • Software formatted
  • Letter
  • Formal

Depending on your background these may have varying degrees of difficulty for you. That is ok, too. For instance I tend to enjoy writing formal reports and have very little experience using software programs to generate reports. This is where the case study comes into play. It gave me great practice into how to layout, plan, and write. I bet you will  find it useful too.

See you online!




The Nuts and Bolts of Research Guides

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

By Shannon Combs Bennett, Student

Well Modulus 1 and 2 are under my belt for the course Skill Building: Nuts and Bolts of Reporting Research and I am happy to say they covered two of my favorite topics: citations and guides. You are probably wondering what the big deal is?! We all know how important citations are but guides, what do you mean?  If you have never made a research guide then you are in for a treat.

Guides are a wonderful resource for you as a researcher. I learned that many years ago, and continue to create them for places I go to do research. However, I have discovered that many researchers do not do this and, to be honest, I think research would be a lot easier for them if they did.

You can create a guide for a specific place (town, county, state, and country), a repository, type of publication, or really anything else that you reference or use frequently in your research. As a living document (i.e. one that is designed to grow and change over time) you can start small and build on your experiences making sure all the pertinent information you need to be successful is listed there.

I have several types of guides on my computer as well as in my filing cabinet. My computer documents contain ideas, website information, checklists I have created, resources that I keep track of, etc.  In the cabinet I keep facility/tourist brochures, handouts that I get while on site, or other non-electronic information that I collect for that guide.

Needless to say I picked up a couple more ideas for my guides from this module. I know you will like it too!  On to the next lesson.

See you online!


Starting: Nuts and Bolts of Reporting Research

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

By Shannon Combs Bennett, Student

One of the most important skills a researcher needs to have under their belt is how to report the information they uncover. While there are various writing styles and types of reports to choose from there are specific items that need to be covered so your reports represent your best work. Which is why I was very excited to see a new course offered in the Skill Building track, Nuts and Bolts of Reporting Research.

While I enjoy writing blog posts and articles, reports can be like pulling teeth at times. Reports are necessary however, even if you never take a paying client in your life. Technically, your family are your clients. I am sure you have heard that we should document our own research the way we would want a professional too. So, that means you should really be writing reports for yourself, your loved ones, and your files.

Looking over the syllabus it looks like instructor Leslie Brinkley Lawson makes it easy and simple for everyone to learn. While some of it looks like review  (or maybe you have attended lectures on the topic) there are also a few gems in there. Practical exercises are always a wonderful way to practice, learn, and hone your skills. Exercises and case studies are exciting additions to a course and I was thrilled to see them both being used in this course. Case studies are excellent ways to learn from someone else’s experience.

For those who enjoy writing it also looks like the last module covers various types. While I find the thought of writing an article for the Register or NGSQ stomach turning, I do know many who want to do that at some point in their life. That’s  right, you can write more than just blogs and reports in this line of work!

One note, there is required books/readings for this course. Some articles/books are online or available through inter-library loan. You may purchase the books through The National Institute’s GenealogyStore. All of the books are excellent additions to your bookshelf. They include:

  • Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace
  • Genealogy Standards
  • Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians 

Which means I am off to try my hand at learning more about reporting my research.  Maybe it will help me make sure I have ideas for my own blog!

See you online!


What’s New? Skill-Building: Breaking Down Brick Walls

Photo by Gena Philibert-Ortega. Used with permission.

Photo by Gena Philibert-Ortega. Used with permission.

The National Institute is proud to announce our newest course, Skill-Building: Breaking Down Brick Walls. Brick walls are a reality in genealogy research, but fortunately there is hope. In this course, we  look at a variety of strategies you can implement to help turn your research roadblocks into breakthroughs. We begin with a quick refresher of some key research concepts to help focus your research and prepare you for success. Next, we walk through some simple steps to get you prepared for the journey. Finally, we investigate four different approaches you can use to do some brick wall busting. By the end of this course, you should have some new ideas for researching brick walls and the inspiration to forge ahead.

Written by genealogist Julie Cahill Tarr, this 8 week course will teach you the methodology you need to solve your toughest research problems. A comprehensive course full of practical examples, Julie says, “I wanted to give students a variety of ideas to help them reframe their research and forge ahead on those difficult ‘brick wall’ ancestors. Instead of telling students about the various techniques, I show them ways to actually implement these strategies and give real-life research examples for further illustration. My hope is that students will walk away from this course with new ideas they can try immediately, and with a renewed sense of hope.”

Because this course was created for the professional or the serious minded researcher, it is advised that you complete the Analysis and Skills Mentoring Program-Part 1 course or have a working knowledge of the topics taught in that course prior to registering for this one.

The Skill-Building: Breaking Down Brick Walls course is available  starting in October.  To learn more about this course, please see our website.

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