Summer Education Opportunities

It is time to hunker down and stay in the house. Yes, I know it is summer time, but I live in Tucson. Today, the temperature is 110 – yes, 110! Tucsonans view summer the way most of the rest of the country views winter. One needs indoor hobbies for summertime. Luckily, genealogy fits the bill.

However, being a good genealogist means learning new research skills, discovering new (mostly free) resources and developing technological skills to keep up in today’s world. Yes, there are summer institutes, a few conferences and online courses. I’m not denying that there are some top notch educational opportunities out there, but I’m retired, so paid experiences have to be special for me to part with money for the event, hotel, travel, meals and vendors.

That also has nothing to do with the quality of free products available on line. There are fantastic resources available on line for free. Here are some of the websites I plan to visit this summer to enhance my genealogical skills:

1. Southern California Genealogy Society – I was really disappointed to miss Jamboree this year. I had tentatively planned to attend, but then came an opportunity for an Alaskan cruise. Oh well, there is next year. HOWEVER, Jamboree sessions are available to view on line FREE until July 5.

The link isn’t terribly obvious, but go to genealogyjamboree dot com. In the top right corner, there are two blue tool bars. The one below the image includes “Live Streaming Info Links” with a drop down menu. Click on “Register Streaming – Jamboree.” SCGS will then email a link to view the sessions. These are free to anyone only until July 5.

SCGS has a second great option for online learning. the 2015 Webinar Series runs throughout the year, not just in the summer. Free webinars are presented on the first Saturday and third Wednesday of each month. Last night, speaker Debbie Mieszala presented “Lessons From a Snoop: Collaterals and Associates.”

2. Legacy Family Tree Webinars – Legacy presents multiple webinars every month. There are seven scheduled in July alone and I will be tuning in to most of them. Two of my favorite speakers/bloggers, Thomas MacEntee and Judy G. Russell are scheduled for July 8 and 10, respectively.

Legacy’s archived webinars are only accessible by subscription, but the live webinars are free. Just register and mark your calendar.

3. Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems is also a subscription site, but she includes a few free options, like Google Earth for Genealogy. I have watched this before, but don’t use Google Earth too frequently and I forget the steps. She also has a link to her free Genealogy Gems podcasts, to which listeners can subscribe (free) on iTunes. The link is on her home page.

4. The Florida State Genealogical Society has once-a-month poolside chat webinars scheduled. They are also free. June’s speaker was Judy G. Russell (yes, I attended online). Diahann Southard will present Using DNA To Explore Our Origins, Part 2 in July. The August speaker, KC Reid’s topic is Where You Are Depends on when You Are: Resources for Finding your American Ancestors in Time and Space.

6. The New England Historic Genealogical Society presents free webinars and maintains a number of archived webinars also available for free viewing.

7. Last, but certainly not least, is FamilySearch. Their Learning Center contains links to hundreds of archived videos and courses, covering everything from getting started in this highly addicting hobby to RootsTech 2015 presentations.

Whether you live in a stay-in-the-house-in-the-summer kind of place or just have some free time and would like to hone your genealogy skills, there are many opportunities to learn from top-notch speakers and none of them cost a penny.

If you have a favorite resource that I haven’t mentioned, please leave a comment. Being a retired teacher, I believe that there is no such thing as too much education!

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