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 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.