Category Archives: Genealogy Education

My Genealogy Education Plan for 2015

A couple of weeks ago, Thomas MacEntee challenged genealogists to develop an educational plan for 2015. I’m glad he didn’t call it a list of New Year’s Resolutions because it seems like not many of those are kept. Being a retired special education teacher, an “educational plan” sounds much more doable. I spent many years writing student IEP’s (individualized education plans) and the trick is to keep the goals to as short a list as possible while making the maximum learning gain.

Keeping that in mind, here is my 2015 Genealogy Education Plan, which centers around building genealogy-technology skills:

1. This is easy – learn as much as I can at the dual FGS-RootsTech 2015 conference in Salt Lake City in February. I’ve already started a list of possible sessions to attend, but that list will change as the conference draws closer. It will also change while I am there so what I plan to learn is a bit up in the air.

2. Master some level of expertise beyond “beginner” level in Heredis and RootsMagic, both of which I recently bought. I have dabbled only a bit in them and want to learn more about each.

3. Learn how to do at least five new things in WordPress, which I use for my blog. One thing I want to figure out is how to post a comment so that the response isn’t “I think you are a spambot,” which is what it told my friend and my husband when they each tried to post valid, detailed comments so I could see whether or not a plug-in I had installed was working.

4. Attend at least one webinar per month covering technology-themed subjects. I have attended several live webinars and viewed a couple of others in the latter part of this year. There is always good information to be learned and I need to make this a regular part of my genealogy time.

5. Continue to develop skills in navigating Danish and Swedish records, particularly in using the Danish military levying rolls (one ancestor was a career soldier in the Danish army) and in reading old Gothic script, as most of the Scandinavian records I now need date from the early 1800’s and back.

My 2015 Educational Wish List:

6. Attend Jamboree in Southern California June 5-7, 2015.

7. Attend the National Genealogical Society Family History Conference in St. Charles, MO May 13-16, 2015.

Last, but not least, as I have been the recipient of many acts of genealogical kindness, I would like to continue to give back and help others:

8. Continue to teach the ladies in my local Welcome Club interest group “Kin Seekers” in a way that keeps genealogy fun and teaches them new strategies to develop their own skills.

9. Participate more actively offering help and suggestions on the several genealogy-themed on line groups which I’ve joined.

I find that by helping others, I not only provide them with information, I usually learn something new myself so #8 and #9 count as part of my education plan.

That’s it. I think it’s a realistic plan for the upcoming year. Not overwhelming, but enough to keep me busy – plus, it leaves plenty of time for breaking down more brick walls. 🙂



What Books Would You Have in Your Basic Genealogy Reference Library?

No genealogist can have too many books. However, practically speaking, with cost and space considerations, a serious genealogist would want reference books in his/her collection that obviously stand the test of time in terms of written quality. I am suggesting that a beginning genealogist also keep in mind books that will allow future personal growth. When the ladies in Kin Seekers, my welcome club genealogy interest group, ask about reference books in general, I often mention the same books time and again.

These books would fit perfectly into the reference collection of a genealogist, whether they be a beginner or a professional. While these choices are geared towards a more experienced researcher, a beginner can grow into them as they develop genealogical research skills.

As with the free websites recommended in yesterday’s post, these books are in no particular order.  Instead of links, as most will go to somewhere to purchase the book and I’m only suggesting quality books for a collection, not recommending the purchase of any one individual book, there are images of the book covers.

1. The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy, 3rd Edition by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, Ancestry Publishing, 2006.

2. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 2nd Edition by Elizabeth Shown Mills, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2012.

3. Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses by William Dollarhide, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1995.

4. Courthouse Research for the Family Historian: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures by Christine Rose, CR Publications, 2004.

5. The Family Tree Problem Solver: Tried-and-True Tactics for Tracing Elusive Ancestors by Marsha Hoffman Rising, Family Tree Books, updated in 2011.

6. Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case by Christine Rose, CR Publications, 2009.

7. Professional Genealogy: A Manuel for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians by Elizabeth Shown Mills, Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001

8. 19th Century Card Photos Kwik Guide by Gary W. Clark,, 2013.

Like with my recommendations for the top ten free websites, I am leaving #9 and #10 open for specialty interests. Possibilities might include ethnic handbooks, a guide to genealogy and DNA, how to create family history books using multimedia  or a research book on incorporating all the social media and new technological advances applicable to genealogy research. These types of books likely would not having the staying power of the other eight books because of the topics involved.

What are your own top ten essential books for a reference library?