If you have information, stories, photographs, etc., to share about anyone in my family, please contact me - howardka at earthlink.net. If you use anything from this blog, please contact me for permission to post/use elsewhere. I don't mind sharing but would like credit for these original posts and family photos.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Lot of Learning Can Go a Long Way

It's been way too long since I last posted to this blog. I've not stopped researching my ancestors. I've actually done a lot in the past 18 months. One thing I've concentrated on is my ongoing genealogy education through classes. That's what I want to write about this post.

Since I moved to North Carolina after retiring from 30 years in education, I've become a student. After starting in the fall semester of 2009, I've taken a total of 13 classes, plus two I'm taking this semester. Tri-County Community College, where I take my classes, has a very knowledgeable and experienced instructor who teaches all the classes . . . Larry Van Horn. Everyone who's taken his classes over the years has not only gained a lot of knowledge but also knows his family almost as well as our own. These classes have been the best thing that could have ever happened to me as a budding genealogist.

Here are the classes Larry's taught and I've attended since 2009.

Beginning Genealogy
Searching for Your Family History on the Internet (Have taken this class three different years because what's available on the internet concerning family history changes often)
Advanced Genealogy
Legacy Genealogy Program Basics
Researching an American Genealogy, Part 1
Researching an American Genealogy, Part 2
Google Earth (how to use for genealogy)
Hidden Sources
Discovering Your Female Ancestors
Genealogy - DNA (Spring 2014)
Introduction to Ancestry dot com (current class)
Genealogy - DNA (Fall 2014 - starts in October)

I also go to a Genealogy Discussion Group that meets once a month and a Legacy (genealogy program) SIG, also a monthly meeting. Thanks to Larry and my genealogy friends, I'm getting a fine education. I'm so glad to have found a community of friends through these classes and groups.

 If you are interested in finding out about how to begin your family history or you have already started, I recommend that you educate yourself on how to research properly by taking classes, using genealogy websites research help or using excellent print resources. Learning good research techniques is very important. Also see if there is a genealogy group that meets in your area. Not only will you find others interested in genealogy but also experienced people who can help you. At least, that is how the group I go to operates.

First, my favorite website is Ancestry dot com. You have access to Ancestry's educational programs without becoming a paying member. You have to have an account which you can get for free. On the home page you can click on the Learning Center tab for webinars, first steps and more. Check your local library to see if they have Ancestry Library Edition. If you have an Ancestry account (again, it's free), you can use the site at the library to search for your family and download records. You can also use their international side as well. You don't get all the privileges of a subscriber, but you can get a lot of information, records, etc. This is how I started out on Ancestry before I decided to become a subscriber (US only). It's worth a trip to the library to try it out. Make sure you take a thumb drive in case you want to download anything. Just make sure you learn how to research correctly by taking time to go to the Learning Center. You can also put a family tree on this website to keep track of who you've found.

Another good website is FamilySearch dot org. It is free to register and use. They have a lot of indexed records but also many digital records to search and to download. The Wiki tab will take you to the how-to's of how to do genealogy and more. Again, it's good information.

Find a Grave is another excellent resource. Go to findagrave dot com. This information is from their website. "Find a Grave's mission is to find, record and present final disposition information from around the world as a virtual cemetery experience. Find a Grave memorials may contain rich content including pictures, biographies and more specific information. Find A Grave is a resource for anyone in finding the final disposition of family, friends, and 'famous' individuals." Put in some names of your ancestors to see if their information and even some photos are on the website.

Besides the above online resources, there are two good books I recommend. The first is Genealogy, 2nd Edition, by George G. Morgan. The back cover says, "This genealogy guide helps you tap into the wealth of global ancestry records and offers proven strategies for both traditional and electronic research. It explores basic rules of genealogical evidence, evaluation of source materials, research methods, and successful techniques for web-based research."

The second book is, Genealogy Online, 8th Edition, by Elizabeth Powell Crowe. On the back cover it says, "Using this guide and your computer, you can successfully embark on a genealogical research project, locate family roots, and possibly find new family members. You will discover how to begin your search, find specific types of genealogical information on the Web, and use online tools effectively and efficiently. Techniques for tracking, organizing, analysing, and sharing research are included."

If you've ever wanted to find your roots, give it a try. Be warned, though, that it can be an addictive endeavor. I went from knowing very little about my ancestors to learning so much about them, and I haven't stopped yet. You might like it, too.