Genealogy Education & Training

Genealogy Training – Volunteering, Attending, Reading, Conferences, & Videos — oh my.

I was recently asked about what I do for Genealogical Training.  How do I keep up with things genealogical?  Of course, learning is an ongoing process, but the key to learning, in my opinion, it to provide an environment for learning.  I do that in several ways.

First of all, I volunteer at my local historical society and museum. There, I regularly answer questions from individuals who have questions regarding their genealogical searches. I have only been in Maine about a year and a half, so my volunteer work helps me really learn about the place where I am living and the ancestors of this place. I am also learning about the genealogical records available here. Not only does it help me help others but it also helps me understand what types of records are available at a historical society in general.  I am amazed at the kinds and types of materials that are possible. There are resources that I would never have thought of. By volunteering, I have the knowledge to ask other societies for specific types of materials or searches and hone in on specific possibilities.

Next, I attend my local chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society.  Every month they host a speaker who talks about various genealogical topics and I attend.  Not only does it give an hour of education it has the side benefit of meeting and conversing with individuals who actually care about my genealogical successes and brick walls as I care about theirs. Just those conversations can be motivating and inspiring.  I even gave one of the talks last summer regarding “Social Media and Genealogy.”  There is nothing that teaches you more than preparing to give a talk.

Next, I am particularly interested in genetic genealogy. There is a new Genealogical DIG (DNA Interest Group) here in Maine,  which I am now attending.  I also volunteered to help with a website for them. Not only do I learn about genetic genealogy through the meetings, I learn even more as I help with the content of the website.  And again, being able to chat with individuals with a similar interest in genetic genealogy can sometimes be inspiring. 
Next, I read. I subscribe to several magazines and the other societies I belong to send magazines focused upon their society. I also subscribe to several blogs of individuals that I know their writings will usually be interesting. Another thing I did was create a daily magazine at Paper.li. I am still using the free version and have the system create a Genealogical Daily.  I check it every day.  You can modify your paper to ignore some types of content and I’ve adjusted mine to eliminate some of the more flagrant sales pitches. Sure, it sometimes duplicates items I’ve already seen through my few blog subscriptions but I can quickly bypass the.  I think it is a great resource. If you are interested in seeing what I’ve done, see it at http://paper.li/DT_Genea/1445328221. Feel free to subscribe or favorite it. If I see enough users I might try to curate the postings.

Next, I plan to attend three, day-long genealogical focused seminars or conferences this year. All are sponsored by my state Genealogical Society.  

1.   2016 Maine Genealogical Society Spring Workshop – April 23, 2016. The keynote speaker is well-known genetic genealogist Blaine Bettinger

2.   2016 Southern Maine Genealogy Conference – May 21, 2016. The keynote Speaker is D. Joshua Taylor of “Genealogy Roadshow” fame.

3.   2016 Maine Genealogical Society and Annual Meeting – September 17, 2016. The keynote Speaker is Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL

I think between the workshop, conference and meeting, I’ll pick up many new things.

Finally, I watch a one hour video every week.  I tend to miss watching a video on weeks that I’m attending a conference but I watch one most every week.  My favorites are usually RootsTech videos.  They never have a bad video. 

My plans include about ninety hours of semi-formal training, (50 hours of videos, at least 15 hours at conferences, and 24 hours of presentation at society chapter and DIG meetings. Add another 100+ hours of volunteer service at the Historical Society and Museum supporting genealogical activities and I figure I’ll be learning all year.

How many can you check off?

þ Volunteer at local historical or genealogical society.
þ Attend your local genealogical society’s chapter meetings.
þ Attend your local genealogical DIG meetings.
þ Attend local genealogical conferences.
þ Subscribe to and read genealogical magazines.
þ Subscribe and read genealogical blogs.
þ Watch genealogical educational videos.

Important Links:

Greater Portland Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society (Facebook)
   2016 Spring Workshop –  23 April 2016
GeneaBloggers has over 3000 genealogical blogs listed on their website. (Facebook)
Paper li and Don Taylor’s Genealogy Daily
RootsTech 2015 Video Archive (Note: RootsTech 2016 is in just a few weeks. Typically, these videos are unavailable when the new RootsTech takes place. There may be a couple weeks between when the video archive for 2015 is not available and the 2016 archive becomes available.
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ISSUU – Another Genealogical Tool?


I’ve seen ISSUU before, but I have never had a chance to really explore it. I thought I’d give it a look and see what I might find there.

I was amazed. A simple search for “Genealogy Maine” brought up about 11,000 results.[i] I quickly found that “Discover Maine” magazine has a regular feature, “The Genealogy Corner” by Charles Francis. The “Welcome Guide to Franklin County, Maine” let me know that the Strong Historical Society has a display of the town’s saga as the “Toothpick Capital of the World.” There is also a regular magazine, “The Downeast Shamrock” which is “A Monthly Journal of Irish Heritage and Genealogy in Maine, New England, the Northeast, and Canada. A very interesting publication.

On Issuu, you can clip individual articles, share an article through Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, email and more. You can also create “stacks” for your magazines. For example, you could create a stack just for “The Downeast Shamrock.”

Sadly, you can’t download any of the books or magazines as PDFs; however, knowing the title you can sometimes find a PDF version on the internet.

I will definitely add ISSUU to my research sites. There will often be too many items but if you are specific in your searches and you might find a real gem.

 

[i] ISSUU provides thumbnail results that are not numbered.  I used a google search “Genealogy Maine site:issuu.com” to provide the approximate number.
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Social Networking for Genealogy

Title slide for
Social Networking for Genealogists
I’ll be giving a presentation on “Social Networking for Genealogy” to the Greater Portland Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society on August 1. This will be the first presentation I have done since moving from Smyrna last year; I am really looking forward to it.
I attended a “Social Networking” presentation a couple years ago (in Georgia) and felt that I could do a much better job than that speaker did. The biggest issue that I had with that presentation was that the speaker talked about his family tree excessively and he didn’t tie his findings to social networking. In other words, he didn’t keep to the topic – an issue I often have with speakers. Anyway, I’ll be talking about some techniques I use and will speak of some of my social networking successes. I will stay on topic and, hopefully, people will enjoy the talk.
I’ll probably post my slides to “Social Networking for Genealogists,” my Pinterest board sometime after the presentation.
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Jump Hunting and the Maine Register

 

Painting by Henry Thomas Alken
[Public domain]
My foster father, Duane Olson, took me hunting when I was in high school. He liked to “jump-shoot” ducks. He knew places where there were likely to be ducks. We would then stalk the ducks at those locations. Once we got close, we would “jump” the ducks into the air. We’d get a couple birds most every time.Often my genealogical efforts use the same method. First, it helps to know where the information might be. Then, I stalk the places and “bag” my information.

I was recently at a genealogical conference and saw a copy of the Maine Register. I was immediately struck with how useful the book could be. After I got home, I looked to see if there were on-line copies of the book. There were. I found three editions on Archive.Org:

Maine Register, State Year-Book and Legislative Manual

1887-1888 – https://archive.org/details/maineregisteror00donhgoog
1891-1892 – https://archive.org/details/maineregisteror01donhgoog
1912 – https://archive.org/details/maineregistersta00port

Maine Register #43 (1912)
Page opposite of 889

I don’t have many trees that have Maine roots, but I thought I’d take a quick and see if the Maine Register would shed light onto the families that I do have. I pulled up the 1912 edition to see what I could find. Sure enough – there were over twenty entries on a “Bickford” search and nearly as many for “Whitten.” Briefly looking at the search results, I saw noticed several known ancestors in the findings. I also found an interesting company, the Swan-Whitten-Bickford Co., wholesale grocers in Belfast[i]. I would speculate there must be some kind of connection between that company and the Whitten-Bickford marriage twenty-five years later.

Thanks to the Maine Register, I’ve jump-shot the ducks. Next, I need to clean them, and then cook them. (Document and interpret the findings.)

If you use the Maine Register, great! If you aren’t using it yet, I highly recommend adding it to your list of important sources to “jump shoot” when you are hunting for information on your Maine ancestors.

I’ll bet other states have them too.  If you know of a similar book for another state, please let me know by posting a comment below.

[i] Maine Register, State Year-Book and Legislative Manual – No. 43 – July 1912, Published by Grenville M. Donham, Portland, Maine, 1912. Accessed via Archive.org. (https://archive.org/details/maineregistersta00port)
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