Friday, May 25, 2012

Measuring Your Success at Solving Genealogical Problems

This post is the third in a series of posts by guest authors sharing their experience with courses offered at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. Here is the perspective of Melinda Henningfield.

The Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy

Genealogist work alone. They work in dusty repositories or at home, poring over old documents; gleaning every bit of information and evidence; and analyzing and correlating their evidence into conclusions. They use their own or their clients satisfaction as a measure of their abilities. Sometimes they publish an article, knowing at least the editors and peer reviewers agree with their conclusions. There is no other yardstick for a genealogist to measure their success—until now.

I had the unique opportunity to measure my success against my peers this past January at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. I took the Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum course. The instructors were some of the leaders in the genealogy world, Kory Meyerink, BS, MLS, AG, FUGA; Karen Mauer Green, CG; Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS; David Ouimette, CG; and Jim Ison, AG, CG. We were given a series of five problems beginning on Sunday night. We had twenty-two hours to reach a conclusion. In most cases, we could work using the documents provided to us, the internet, or in the Family History Library—conveniently across the street.

The problems were varied and included the U.S. to Germany, the U.S. to England, Illinois and Missouri, the northeastern U.S. to Canada, and South Carolina. In twenty-two hours we had to familiarize ourselves with the available records of the area, write a research plan, research, analyze, correlate, and form conclusions using evidence we had gathered along the way. Sound familiar? The final two hours of each day was spent with our group and the expert instructor. The instructors walked us through their research and their reasoning in reaching their conclusions and we shared our findings if we wished.

This is a unique opportunity in the field of genealogy. You can measure your methods and research capabilities against your peers and against some of the finest genealogists of our time. Don’t worry—you can keep how you match up with them to yourself if you want to. You can use this as the educational opportunity of a lifetime. You can use the lessons you will learn—and if you are anything like me, you will learn a lot of lessons—to grow as a genealogist. Don’t miss this opportunity. They are offering this course again in 2013. Some of the experts are different, but all are leaders in the field of genealogy. Registration begins on June 2nd.

Melinda Henningfield
Medford, Oregon

1 comment:

  1. Yes, and we should just advise that people taking this course should not plan on being able to do their own research in the evenings.:-)