Monday, June 3, 2013

Getting serious about genealogy

Where to go when you need to find people who take genealogy as seriously as you do?

As befits a volunteer-driven community with little formal, economic, or academic infrastructure, genealogy offers a variety of places, but they are not obvious to the newcomer -- nor to the long-time hobbyist becoming aware of additional dimensions and higher standards in this fascinating pursuit.

I've been involved in many of these, and I list them in a rough order beginning with the least demanding, costly, and formal. It's quite possible that I've omitted some. (Obviously it helps to be exposed to books, blogs, lectures, and webinars by the best genealogists, but I'm focusing on real and virtual places to meet others with the same interest.)

* Transitional Genealogists Forum, lurking or participating.

* Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation and Source Usage, the web site or ongoing symposium conducted by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

* volunteers in your area who are directly involved in transcribing, indexing, abstracting, or digitizing original records.

* the ProGen Study Group -- and its offspring, the Gen Proof Groups studying Tom Jones's new book Mastering Genealogical Proof. In general, any group(s) devoted to studying good genealogy texts, including NGSQ Articles Online Study Groups. and Dear Myrtle's MGP Study Groups.

* the Association of Professional Genealogists -- benefits of membership include local and virtual chapters, the members-only list, continuing education opportunities in business and genealogy, quarterly journal, monthly newsletter, webinars, and regular gatherings at national conferences.

* intensive institutes (usually lasting about a week, but not to be confused with genealogy conferences), notably the Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research (Samford University Library, Birmingham, June), Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (Utah Genealogical Association, January); Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (July); National Institute on Genealogical Research (National Archives, Washington DC, July); and the Forensic Genealogy Institute (Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy, Dallas, April?).

* the Genealogical Research Program through Boston University's Center for Professional Education.

* the two genealogy credentialing bodies, BCG and ICAPGen. Unlike all of the above, these are not membership bodies open to all comers, but even those who don't choose to seek credentials can learn from their web sites and occasional public events.

Nobody designed this network of opportunities, and some will suit you better than others. Enjoy what you can!

Harold Henderson, "Getting serious about genealogy," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 3 June 2013 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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