The classroom buzzed this morning as we turned in our class projects and absorbed a few more hours of vital education. Earning our certificates of completion, we departed eager to practice what we’ve learned. Proudly, we are at last qualified for the coveted Advanced Methodology course. Hopefully many of us will meet again there next July. (This diary began at Sunday’s Orientation.)
Friday, June 17, 2016
All week, we have been adding material to a Research Plan for one ancestor of our choice. Each night, we considered all we had learned that day, and decided what new resources we should consult. By class-time this morning, we had either emailed them to Angela or brought them in with us on paper.
We began to arrive early, tired but energized that we were nearing the finish line. We were already trading business cards and email addresses with our new friends before the last hours of instruction began. And the last hours brought valuable new information.
Angela walked through a really fascinating case study with us — a situation in which two men shared the same name, had married women with the same name, went to the same church, and were pretty close in age. She presented ten techniques to separate one from the other and to make sure the right records were attached to each.
I find the case studies the very best instruction we get at IGHR. In this, the exercise I will remember most was the way Angela used a spreadsheet to sort the two men out. Structuring the data on the key elements that could be known about each — things like addresses, birth dates, and so forth — and using colors and font attributes to sort like things together, the picture of two distinctly different men emerged.
I am almost eager to encounter the same-name problem as I get back to my work. I want to put this into practice before I forget the tricks.
Keys to using archives & manuscript collections
Kimberly Powell returned to wrap up our course. I have a PhD in history, so I wasn’t really expecting to get too much new from this session on manuscripts and archives. I was wrong.
While I have used manuscripts and archives quite a bit, I was not aware of a couple of search engines that compile the catalogs of many archives. Even if Kimberly had shown us those alone, it was worth the hour and then some.
How I got through graduate school without becoming conscious of the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC) and ArchiveGrid I do not know. But I know them now.
NUCMC, pronounced “Nuck-muck,” compiles the bibliographic information of manuscript records from over 1,800 repositories. Via the Library of Congress site, it offers free use of OCLC Worldcat’s manuscript entries, a service that is usually only available through host institutions to members.
ArchiveGrid encompasses a smaller sampling of archives, about a thousand, but Kimberly tell us it has better finding aids. It is also associated with Worldcat, but I was able to access it from home without going through my university.
Until Kimberly brought these up, it had not occurred to me that I might be able to find needles in haystacks with a broad search across thousands of institutions. I will definitely bookmark these two engines for the work ahead.
Graduation — Course 2: Intermediate Genealogy & History
While I suppose there has been enough said, let me say one thing further to those who have been pondering whether to invest in this sort of training: Do it.
How much does it cost to spend years climbing someone else’s family tree because you are not adequately trained in vetting evidence?
How much does it cost to spend a hundred hours doing something you could have done in three, had you known about a time-saving tool?
As you take on the responsibility to create the history your family will believe, preserve, and pass on for generations to come, how good does it feel to have a growing stack of certificates like this one to say you did it right?
It feels like a million bucks. See you all next year at the University of Georgia.