Saturday, February 6, 2016

SLIG: Intermediate U.S. Records and Research, Part II

Over the next few weeks I will be posting reviews of the courses offered at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. I am excited to feature guest authors, as friends who attended each course share their perspective on the institute and the education they received.

SLIG: Intermediate U.S. Records and Research, Part II
by Anne Irvine Savo

As part of my ProGen study group, I created an education plan and set goals for myself to build my career as a professional genealogist. One of the goals was to attend at least one institute each year. After looking into SLIG, GRIP, and IGHR, I decided that SLIG was the best choice for me. SLIG offered several courses I was interested in, was held at a time of year that was convenient for me, and had the added benefit of being in Salt Lake City, close to the Family History Library. 

Since this was my first institute, I was unsure of my skill level and felt an intermediate level course would be a good place to start. I chose the U.S. Records and Research course, hoping to expand my knowledge of resources in areas where I hadn’t done much work before. My personal research has been concentrated in Pennsylvania, Scotland, and Germany. As a researcher based in Connecticut, I have experience with New England records, but that still leaves an awful of country left to cover. While this course is the second part of a two-part course, either section can be taken first.

Our instructors were Paula Stuart-Warren, Josh Taylor, and Debbie Mieszala. Some of the topics we covered were: Clustering and Maximizing Online Searches; Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Research; Census Records–Beyond the Basics: Non-Population and Special Schedules; Passport Applications; Lessons and Hints from Public Directories; and Finding Family Gems in Manuscript Repositories and Special Collections. We spent time in the computer lab at the Family History Library exploring some of the online resources we learned about in our lectures. We also had opportunities to bring our own research problems and discuss them with our instructors in a one-on-one consultation.

But it we didn’t just learn from our instructors. When an unusual record was used as an example, a classmate gave the class an introduction to the history of Eclectic Medicine. In addition to our lectures, the class divided up for a group project, which gave us a good chance to get know our classmates and learn from them as well as our instructors. Each of us brought a different skill set and approach to the task. Each group was allowed to choose the direction of their project, and on our last day, we regrouped to discuss our findings.

SLIG also offers several evening events. Sunday night there was a welcome reception with door prizes and light refreshments. On Monday, David McDonald gave an excellent plenary talk and had us all “Thinking Genealogically.” Wednesday was SLIG Night at the FHL. Participants could sign up for consultations or attend lectures, or just gather with other attendees for research and collaboration. All of these are included with your registration fee. Also included with your fee was the Friday night banquet, which featured a moving talk, “Suffer the Little Children,” by keynote speaker Judy Russell. I was excited to win one of the prizes at the banquet, a free course from the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research (VIGR). I’m looking forward to expanding my education plan with this unexpected opportunity. And, of course, another highlight on Friday is the announcement of the course lineup for the following year. Overall, it was a great experience and I can’t wait to go back next year!
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Anne Irvine Savo is a Connecticut-based genealogist and lineage society junkie. She holds an MA in history from the University of St Andrews in Scotland. She’s currently enrolled in ProGen 26, and is a member of the Association for Professional Genealogists. This was her first SLIG, but it won’t be her last!

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