Saturday, May 26, 2012

Top 5 Signs You're Ready for Tom Jones' Advanced Genealogical Methods Course

This post is the fourth in a series of articles by guest authors sharing their experience with courses offered at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. Here is Vicki Wright on the Advanced Genealogical Methods course.

Top 5 Signs You're Ready for Tom Jones' 
Advanced Genealogical Methods Course at SLIG

  1. You tell your kids the choices for breakfast, and wonder what the source citation format for that would be.
  2. You can recite what all those letters stand for after Thomas W. Jones name (Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS) without having to look any of them up.
  3. The County Recorder knows you by name – and you don't work there.
  4. When excitedly showing your family a copy of an old deed, you lose your temper when they get hung up on the “long s” and the “thorn”.
  5. When the family is planning a vacation, you bring along Evidence Explained, just in case.....
But, joking aside, if you're serious about producing quality genealogical work, then Dr. Tom Jones' Advanced Genealogical Methods  course at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) is for you.
Not only will you learn to research more intelligently, but you will also learn to tease relevant information from all records – even the ones that aren't there.  And you will learn to methodically, and critically, put all that evidence together to complete the jigsaw puzzle that is each and every genealogical problem.

You know you are in for an exhausting week when emails start arriving weeks before the Institute begins.  Some of the attachments to these emails are dozens of pages long.  You are expected not just to read them, but study them.  These “hand-outs” form the back-bone of the course.  In almost every lecture, you will systematically, and interactively, draw out each element of the genealogical method from those pages. “Find 5 examples of indirect evidence.”  “...of primary information.” “...of original sources.”  You get the picture.

You will work together with your classmates, desperate to get the answers “right”.  But you won't.  Not all the time, and maybe not even most of the time.  That's why you're here.  To learn how to get it right.  By the end of the week, you will be on your way to understanding what he is trying to teach you.  Just know for now that your mis-steps are aiding the teaching process by giving Dr. Jones the best gift you can give a teacher – a teachable moment!

The guest lecturers, masterful CG's Claire Bettag and Rick Sayre, will allow your mind to take a break from methodology, and instead fill it to overflowing with their unparalleled knowledge of federal records and map sources.

There will be homework.  It is optional.  Choose to do it.  Take advantage of every opportunity offered you to apply the knowledge you have received that day.  By doing the homework, you will reinforce the lessons.  And then you won't spend the first hour of the next day wondering what everyone else is talking about.  And you will experience that swelling sense of pride when you realize that you found the elusive source, or you correctly identified how many different “Tom Jones'” there were in the records you were analyzing.

You owe it to yourself, and to the genealogical community, to keep advancing your knowledge base, and your skill set.  Dr. Jones is a legend in the genealogical profession.  No doubt.  Look at all those letters after his name!  But he is also a patient, generous, funny, and gifted, teacher.  Don't miss the opportunity to learn from him.

Advanced Genealogical Methods is not a lecture course.  It's a hands-on, minds-on genealogical learning experience.  And if you're serious – really serious -  about producing quality genealogical work, then you must take this course.

Vicki Wright trained to be a lawyer, but would rather be a genealogist.  She is making up for lost years by attending as many quality genealogical institutes, conferences, and events as she can.  She completed the Genealogical Research Program at Boston University's Center for Professional Education in 2010.  She attended the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) and the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) in 2011, and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) in 2012.  The rest of 2012 will see her again attend IGHR, as well as the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), and the Forensic Genealogy Institute (FGI).  She will also graduate from the ProGen Study Program in June 2012.


  1. I am taking this course at GRIP and I can't wait!! Thank you for the preview.

    Cathi Desmarais CG

  2. Great read, thanks Vickie for sharing your experiences.

    Linda Vert