Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Swing Through the South at SLIG

This is part of my ongoing series featuring guest authors writing reviews of the courses offered at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. I am excited to to have these friends share their perspective on the institute and the education they received. 

Review of "Swing Through the South" 
By Charmaine Riley Holley

In Womenfolks:Growing Up Down South [Houghton Mifflin (Trade) (July 26,1984)] Shirley Abbott wrote: “Besides its content and methods, the cuisine devised by squaws and hillbilly women, as well as slave women, had another thing in common, which was the belief that you made do with whatever you could lay hands on--pigs' entrails, turnip tops, cowpeas, terrapins, catfish--anything that didn't bite you first.” 

In the 2016 SLIG (Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy) course, Swing Through The South, we may not have discussed historical Southern cuisine, but we discussed geography, military, research methodology, and much more. We most definitely missed course coordinator J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA, but the course co-coordinator Kelvin L. Meyers and course instructors Deborah A. Abbott, Ph.D, Ann Gillespie Mitchell, and Michael Hait, CG, took us through a whirlwind tour. 

There were several presentations on general research methodology such as “Wills, Estates and Guardians” and “Essential Federal Records (Non-Military)”. Anne Gillespie Mitchell taught us how to be super searchers in “ Where Do I Go Next? Essential Search Skills”. Michael Hait shared the concept that “Everything happened in a place.” in “Maps, Atlases, and Gazetteers”. 

Kelvin, master of all things Texas, presented several of Mark’s lectures but truly shined when sharing his knowledge of researching the Lone Star State, as well as church records (“How Great Thou Art! Essentials of Church Records”). We covered seven major time periods in Texas history from 1519-1865. Kelvin does an excellent job of using his family and client case studies to exemplify the use of specific records. I hope that at sometime in the future one of the institutes has him do an entire session on Texas. 

In “Finding Records Through the South” Michael Hait reminded us that, not only do we need records, but we need to know who created the records. Next, we need to ask where are the original records now. Thanks to Michael and ARCHIVEGRID ( ) I found a Woodford County, KY slave record at Pennsylvania State University in their Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection. 

Anne Gillespie Mitchell is an energetic presenter and covered “Uniquely Southern Military Records” and “Farming and Other Occupations” along with being our tour guide for North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. During her class on “Strategies of the South” she reminded us to start with a solid research plan and to consult with fellow researchers. We were also provided with many tips on doing online research along the way. 

Dr. Deborah Abbott presented one of the most outstanding case study based lectures I have heard. Her love of using maps, manuscripts, and special collections was evident in “Learning about Neighbours, Family and Friends Through Manuscripts & Special Collections” and “People, Places, and Connected Records” (“black records that white people should look at”- Dr. Abbott), but “Follow a Case with Land” was mesmerising. Her tenacity and use of maps was extremely enlightening and the case was fascinating as presented. 

Homework assignments were reasonable and instructive, as were the short sessions we had with Mark Lowe when technology cooperated. I left SLIG with new knowledge, a 188 page syllabus full of information (thanks Luana Wentz Darby for great hard copies!), and a truism and admonition from Mark Lowe: 

Truism : “People die where they are.” (M Lowe) 

Admonition: “We should know our ancestors so well that we recognize them without their name tags.” (M Lowe) 

Charmaine Riley Holley has been a family historian and genealogist for more than thirty years. She is 100% Colonial Southern on her maternal side and has one “Yankee” line (Massachusetts Bay Colony) on her paternal side. Fascinated with incorporating DNA, Charmaine has recently been hired to do contract genetic and non-genetic genealogy research with a major company. She has attended many institute programs and hopes to attend many more as a great believer in continuous education.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Advanced Genealogical Methods - A Legend at SLIG

This is part of my ongoing series featuring guest authors writing reviews of the courses offered at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. I am excited to to have these friends share their perspective on the institute and the education they received. 

A Review of the "Advanced Genealogical Methods" course

Course coordinator - Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS
Review written by Victoria Kinnear

Tom Jones’s Advanced Methodology class is something of a legend at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. There are tales of excessive homework and the overall difficulty of the class. For many students, there is even a certain amount of apprehension about taking the course but when graduated students were asked about their experiences and if it was worth it, have all replied affirmatively and that the course has made them better genealogists.

In the course prerequisites, the class is described as being “intense” and for “high intermediate” genealogists with experience in having taken an intermediate genealogy course and have experience researching original records including probate and land. There are appropriate descriptions of the course and the necessary skills for getting the most out of it. Without solid research experience, students would be, for the most part, lost.

Before the course, several articles were provided to the class and were required to be read before the class began. This material should be studied and known very well in order to get the most from the class. A casual reading of the articles will not serve a student well as they are examined in great detail in the class during the week.

On the first day of of the class, the students introduced themselves and discussed why they were taking the course. Everyone was an experienced researcher who wanted to improve their skills, hopefully break down some brick walls, or were considering certification.

The class was a mix of a genealogy “how to” reviews and exploring several methods of research.  Much of the content reminds experienced researchers how to logically and completely research a question. An examination of the research process, developing a hypothesis, planning research, and the types of evidence were covered. Additionally, resolving conflicting evidence and research correlation were discussed. All were solid reminders of how to approach problems logically and with discipline and focus rather than getting excited and chasing squirrels in the middle of researching a problem.

Among the research topics covered were Archival Research, Probate Records, Military and Pension Records, Transcriptions and Abstractions, Land Records (including Federal), Maps, and Immigration and legal issues.

In addition to Tom Jones, Judy Russell, along with Pam and Rick Sayer were additional lecturers in the class. Each of the instructors were able to present information to the class that they had years of experience in performing as well as having a clear passion and depth in their lecture topics.

What I found to be most helpful was that I was able to examine where my strengths were as well as confirming some areas where I wanted to spend more time working to improve my skill levels.

Tom and the other instructors exhibited great patience and answered all of the classes questions thoughtfully and thoroughly. Tom even took the time to answer the questions after class and during breaks.

There was optional homework every night, some of it more challenging than others. It was all geared toward obtaining results if the time and effort was put into the tasks. For those who took the time to at least attempt the homework, positive and reinforcing results were learned.

Overall, the class is well worth taking for a serious genealogist and those wanting to go on to the next level of certification. It reinforced the things that I know and confirmed some areas that I need to work on to become a better genealogist.

Victoria Kinnear

Victoria Kinnear is the owner of My Ancestors Lived Here and has researched for television shows including Finding My Roots and Genealogy Roadshow. A strong believer in continuing education, in addition to completing the BU Certificate course in Genealogy and NIGR (Now GENFED), she attends GRIP, SLIG, IGHR, NGS, FGS, and OGS annually. She has deep Maryland roots and is the current President of the North Capital Area Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists Chapter and serves on the Executive Board of the Maryland Genealogy Society.