Family History Research

Wisdom Wednesday – Attend a Schaumburg Library Genealogy Meeting

Are you new to genealogy research and live in the Chicagoland area? Are you an experienced researcher looking for great programming and speakers? Then you will want to check out the Genealogy Group at the Schaumburg Township District Library

Last night a friend and I attended the Genealogy Group meeting for the first time. Neither of us are new to genealogy and we both have experience working with genealogy societies. What we witnessed was amazing! Tony, the librarian who runs the group, is a one man genealogy society in the library. He works approximately 9-10 hours a week and runs the Genealogy Group by himself, the way an entire society board would run a group.

You can read the full extent of what Tony does at Chicago Genealogy at Examiner.com.

What was really impressive is something I have never seen at genealogy society meetings. Tony provided all new attendees, regardless of how long they have been researching with a thick folder full of information. This folder even included a genealogy book. I have never seen a genealogy society provide new members with this much information. What did I receive last night?

  • A handout entitled “A Genealogy Intro” written by Dick Eastmann.
  • A book by a fellow colleague in DuPage County, Jeffrey Bockman, entitled “Give Your Family A Gift That Money Can’t Buy.”
  • Information on the upcoming National Genealogical Society conference with a note that says, “What you can expect to find at a national conference.”
  • Brochure of printed and online genealogy resources.
  • An information sheet about the Genealogy Group and resources online through the blog and library.
  • A huge packet called “Beginning Guide and Research Tips.” Tony’s business card is stapled to the front page so you can contact him with questions.
  • A copy of the Genealogy Group’s surname and locale research list. All new attendees are encouraged to complete this form so connections can be made with other researchers. Sharing information is not required though.
  • The Schaumburg Township District Library’s Genealogy Audiovisual Materials Guide.

I was so impressed with the meeting and the handouts that I encourage everyone to attend the next Genealogy Group meeting in Schaumburg. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of the month. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and the meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. Meetings end by 9:30 p.m. and the library closes at 10:00 p.m.

 

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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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Military Monday – NGS HSC Lesson 14

I continue to work my way through the graded version of the NGS Home Study Course and am getting closer to reaching my goal of completing it by April 1, 2012. ProGen ends in April and my plan is to finish both and begin focusing on certification.

Today I submitted Lesson 14 on Military Records. I learned some new things about pre-Civil War records which is very helpful considering my newest clients have families that go back that far.

My assignments were to first choose one of my grandfathers and create a list of all wars he could have participated in during his lifetime. Then list all his known male ancestors and the wars they may have participated in during their lifetimes starting with the Revolutionary War and working forward. That part of my assignment was super short. My grandfather on my mom’s side was an immigrant and didn’t serve. I didn’t even list him. I listed my paternal grandfather who was a first generation Bohemian-American. He served in World War II in the Naval Armed Guard. His father was the immigrant and could have served in World War I. End of assignment one.  I have pretty short roots on most of my lines here in America.

Assignment two allowed me to compare and contrast a World War I Draft Registration Card to a World War II Card. I used my great grandfather, Joseph Kokoska for this assignment. The one big informational difference between the two cards was his address. Pretty much everything else, even his occupation and place of employment remained the same.

At this point I have six lessons left to complete. Lesson 6 on marriage and Lesson 10 on local land records I will partially finish next week and read those lessons. I need to visit repositories to complete one section of each lesson and will do that so I can submit both lessons by September 5 before I go to FGS.

I’m still transcribing the 1910 U.S. Census for Joseph Kokoska for lesson 11 and that is only one part of that assignment. My goal is to finish that by October 1 along with Lesson 7, Church Records.

Lesson 15, Kinship will take a while so my goal is December 1 submission. Then when I receive the word it is complete I’ll start Lesson 16, Biography which I plan to finish by April 1. If I reach my goal it will have taken me almost a year and a half to work through all three CDs.  Gosh time flies when you are having fun!

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