Family History Research

Follow Friday – August 19, 2011

My friend Laura, an archivist, started a new blog this week called The Last Leaf on this Branch. Check her out! I think you will find her blog interesting.

Also be sure to read the Fountaindale Library’s post about next week’s Family History Writing class. It’s free. Live in the area of Bolingbrook, IL? Sign up. I’ll be there!

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NGS Home Study Course Thoughts

Since last December-ish I have been working on the NGS HSC graded version. My goal was to learn some things I didn’t know, brush up on things I did and in the end, earn a certificate. I thought it was an affordable way to expand my genealogical education. If I had it to do over I think I would save my money and find another educational opportunity.

Why, you ask?

While I do not mind independent study courses, this is a little too independent for me. There have been a few instances where I emailed a grader of my assignments only to not have my specific questions answered. Asking questions again still went unanswered. And the grader was not very kind in the responses.

In a lesson on census I was supposed to list everyone on page one of my pedigree chart and all the census years in which they could be found. I listed each person and under those who were immigrants, specifically noted the year they immigrated. The grader chose to ignore this and berated me for not including all the censuses for those people’s life time. Well, if my great grandfather immigrated in 1904, he certainly will not be found on the 1900 census will he? Or because he was simply alive I should have included the 1900 on the list even though he didn’t live in the U.S.? That isn’t competent research.

Today I got a lesson back marked complete on military records. The lesson said to choose a grandfather. A grandfather, not list every male in my pedigree chart. Then list the grandfather’s known ancestors and all the wars they may have served in starting with the Revolutionary War to WWII. Well, I had two grandfathers. Jerry who immigrated in 1925 and could have served in WWII. Jerry’s father died in Bohemia. The End.The other grandpa Joseph was listed. I also listed his father and said specifically that he immigrated in 1904 so he could have served in WWI. He died in 1930.

The grader said in my comments that it she didn’t believe I had no other male ancestors in the country during that time period. But she would give me the benefit of the doubt that I had listed them all. I sent a note to the course administrator who forwarded it to the grader. I asked if I didn’t complete that part of the assignment correctly because it said to choose a grandfather. Not every male. The grader responded apologizing saying I did complete it correctly and that she should read the assignment directions before grading.

WHAT? I have never had the same grader twice. So don’t they focus on one set of the lessons? How could you NOT understand the instructions if you are responsible for grading one specific lesson over and over?

I get the feeling sometimes that those dealing with the NGS HSC don’t understand that not all of us have ancestors who have been here since the Mayflower. That some of us have shallow roots in this country. And I really feel they do not provide enough feedback or answer questions like they should.

I have many years of research experience but it concerns me that those who are just starting out or have only a few years under their belt are not getting the full experience they should. They are not being provided with enough feedback. So how are they supposed to fully learn? And how can you learn if your questions are not being answered?

I will finish the HSC as I only have five lessons left. I have learned a lot and do not regret taking the course. I just wish my experience had been a little better to this point.

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Motivation Monday – Online Scholarly Resources

I received my NGS Magazine last week and was able to read the entire thing this weekend. There is a great article called Breaking through the scholarly divide: open access for family historians by Dawn C. Stricklin.

Dawn discusses online websites that allow the general public to access theses, dissertations and other scholarly works. She cites specifically, GoogleScholar, DOAJ and OpenSIUC.

Read Dawn’s article in the latest NGS magazine. You may find just the resource you need to break through a brick wall!

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Lesson 6 of NGS HSC

Antonia and Josef Subrt in Bohemian National Cemetery, Chicago

Wednesday was a whirlwind day of genealogy research and travel all over Chicagoland. I started my day at Bohemian National Cemetery and looked up some graves for a couple of clients. One client’s family was buried in Section 15. I knew I had family there but couldn’t remember who off the top of my head until I walked in one corner of the section and there were my great grandparents, Anna and Frank Brouk. Said good morning to them and walked on looking for the client’s family.

Passed by my great great grandparents Josef and Antonia Subrt and a few cousins from the Vit, Kratky and Oul/Aul families. At the opposite end of the section from my Brouk family were the client’s family.

My next stop was across the street at IRAD. Did you know the meters there are 30 minutes only? Yep! Thankfully I had a list of two marriage certificates I wanted and knew I needed a couple examples of 1871-ish licenses for my NGS HSC assignment. The IRAD intern was almost 10 minutes late, leaving me 20 minutes to finish, pay for my copies and run back to the car. I did it! Gave the intern the dates and numbers of the certificates and he quickly pulled the films. I asked for a roll with 1871-ish certificates and he gave me that as well.

Now all that is left to do is scan in those licenses I copied and finish my assignment. I hope to accomplish this tonight or tomorrow morning. Once I submit it I will have five lessons to go!  Progress is exciting!

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