Thursday, June 30, 2011

What did NIGR do for me?

NIGR is the abbreviation for the National Institute on Genealogical Research held each July at the National Archives (NARA) in Washington, D.C. Each year the NIGR Alumni Association hosts a dinner on Friday evening of the institute to honor the graduates and welcome them as new alumni. This year Chuck Mason is going to be the banquet speaker, and he posted the following query on the APG mailing list:
"I am looking for people who have attended NIGR in the past, who are willing to share their experience and what attending has done for them... Also, who did you meet at NIGR that has assisted or encouraged you to become a better genealogist."
Well I think this is a fun topic for the NIGR Alumni Association dinner, and I responded to Chuck with my thoughts. I decided to write a blog post on the same topic as it highlights value of networking at genealogical institutes.

I attended NIGR in 2008 and am still friends with a least 17 of my classmates (attendance is generally limited to 40 people). I love to reconnect with them when I attend other national conferences and genealogy institutes. The institutes are absolutely my favorite type of genealogy education! Here are just a few of the lasting connections I made with classmates at NIGR:

Andrew Brethauer (NARA staff member) attended in 2008 and still assists me with questions when I am researching at NARA.

Joni Kesler and Danielle Batson attended from the Family History Library and I visit them when I am in Salt Lake. Joni occasionally hires me to do work for her at NARA.

Cafi Cohen and Cheryl Storton introduced me to their four-generation heirloom albums complete with photos, charts, maps, stories and original documents. I have created two of these beautiful albums for clients. IN 2010 they brought members of their California genealogy society on a research trip to D.C. and I assisted them with researching at the National Archives.

Cathy Desmarais and I were both in the first ProGen Study Group when we attended NIGR, and now five more of my NIGR classmates are participating in this study program (which I happen to manage).

Deane Dierksen and Jennifer Dondero live in Virginia and I see them at Fairfax Genealogy Society meetings.

I love the connections I make with other genealogists at institutes such as NIGR, SLIG and IGHR and how we continue to support each other in our genealogical endeavors.

My comments to Chuck focused on my classmates, but I really should give appreciation to the NIGR directors and instructors too!

Patty Shawker (director of NIGR) and Claire Bettag (former director and current instructor) have acted as mentors to me and encouraged me in my professional genealogy goals. They are very supportive as I work to develop expertise in federal records, and now both serve as mentors in the ProGen Study Program benefiting many other genealogists.

I wish to express my gratitude to the many genealogists who have had such a positive impact on me and my career! I could write the same type of post for each of the institutes I have attended.

I could go on and on about what NIGR has done for me beyond networking with other genealogists, but I think I will save that for another blog post.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Genealogy Heaven

I reserve this blog for posts on genealogy education, was too busy during my week in "genealogy heaven" to write much. I have now integrated back in to my regular life routine and have time to write about my week at the Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University.

I call it "genealogy heaven" because that is how it felt. I was surrounded by other serious genealogists for a whole week learning from some of the best in the field. The joy began on Sunday evening June 12th when the members of the ProGen Study Group gathered to network. There were 48 of us together that evening! It was fun to meet many of my online study friends in person, and also to honor the mentors and recent graduates of the program. I tried during the week to talk to each of these friends one-on-one, even if it was only for a few minutes, but always wish I had more time for “talking shop” with them.

The theme song from the TV show "Cheers" refers to a place where everybody knows your name. I loved being in a place where I could greet so many friends by name! Every morning I would walk through the campus and say good morning to many friends as I passed them on the way to class.

My week progressed with an intensive focus on writing as I was attended Dr. Thomas W. Jones' "Genealogical Writing and Publishing" course. In addition to Dr. Jones we had classes taught by Dr. John Colletta, Craig Scott, and Elissa Powell. I have great respect for these instructors and really learned a lot about clear and concise writing. Now I just need apply all the things that I learned.

In addition to fabulous instructors, it was great to be in a course with many of my genealogy friends. I really had a great time listening to the questions and ideas of my fellow genealogists. It was also very fun to meet new friends and form connections.

While I enjoy attending conferences, online study groups, and many other genealogical education opportunities, there is nothing that compares with the intensive genealogy institutes and the camaraderie felt there.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

This Is The Face of Genealogy

In response to Thomas MacEntee's post The Face of Genealogy  I am posting not only a photo of my favorite ancestor, but the genealogists in my family who came before me and continue to inspire my work. Each of these ancestors collected records and information on family members and left me a wonderful legacy to build upon.

Hazel Olson Packer (1914-2004)
Olson Family Genealogist

 William Dalton Neal (1869-1918)
Sons of the American Revolution, Chapter Registrar
 William White (1826-1905)
Immigrant from Wales

 Ann Eliza Dalton Neal (1833-1920)

Anna Marie Sorensen Wilsted Robinson (1862-1962)
Immigrant from Denmark

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ask Archivists Day on Twitter June 9th

There is a worldwide event coming to Twitter on June 9, 2011 called Ask Archivists Day. I think this is a great opportunity to ask questions of archivists around the world. We all have ancestors that came here from other countries and this is a great opportunity to ask questions about the records that may exist in their homeland.

According to the announcement on NARAtions, the blog of the National Archives, this event “will bring together the people who collect, care for, and research archival records in one space where questions from general research practices to whether a repository has your ancestor’s information will be answered.”

On June 9th you can ask your question to a particular archive, or to archivists in general using the #AskArchivists hashtag in your tweet. For the U.S. National Archives direct your questions to @USNatArchives. You can watch the discussions develop by following @AskArchivists on Twitter.

If you are not a Twitter user, then you can also post your questions on the Research at the National ArchivesFacebook page or on the NARAtions blog.