Thursday, 11 February 2016

Genealogy Education: NGS's "The Basics"

After years of casual consumption of webinars and blog posts being my main form of genealogy education, I have decided I would like to pursue more formal educational opportunities in the hopes of one day in the distant future achieving certification.  However, being a university student currently limits my options mainly to online or local courses due to financial and scheduling constraints. In searching the internet for suitable options, I came across the National Genealogical Society's American Genealogical Studies series.  While it is called "American genealogical studies", when I looked at the course syllabi, it seemed to cover fairly general concepts that would also apply to my (primarily Canadian and European) research.  So I decided to sign up for the introductory bundle which includes "The Basics" and "Guide to Documentation and Source Citations" for $100.  This post will review my experience with "The Basics".

"The Basics" has four modules: Getting Started, Creating a Research Plan, Home Sources, and Family Traditions & Connecting with Others.  Within these categories, topics covered include: genealogical standards, pedigree vs family group sheet, steps to building a research plan, photographs/clippings already in your possession, evaluating the family Bible, theories and hypothesis, assessing family lore, interview techniques, letters/queries to potential info sources, and social media.  The course syllabus is available online.  As someone who has been doing genealogy for more than three years, a lot of this course was review of information I had already figured out as I went along.  That being said, it was still really helpful to see these various topics formally laid out.

The part I found most useful was the module on creating a research plan, as I had never really created an actual research strategy before besides just "find out more about so-and-so".  I am looking forward to putting these newly acquired skills to the test soon and hope it will help me achieve success with some of my more complicated ancestors to research.  I also enjoyed the sections about evaluating a family Bible and interview techniques.

Because "The Basics" was mostly review for me, it didn't take me long to complete the course (I would estimate about 6-8 hours total).  The grading scheme is based on a number of multiple choice quizzes. I'm excited to now move onto "Guide to Documentation and Source Citations" as that is definitely a knowledge area that I know I need to work on...

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