Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Call for Genealogy Assignments

I feel like I start every entry with this statement but...

It has been so long since I have posted anything here. 

And here we are in the middle of Family History Month. I've got to write something...

...So I will give you just a little update on what I have been up to.

Often when I am absent from posting it means I am knee deep in family research; if not my own then someone else's.

I really am enjoying working with patrons out at the Mastic-Moriches-Shirley Community Library. I now go out there twice per month to work one-on-one with individuals researching their family history. I am surprised to see such a wide variety of individuals at this pursuit. I had this assumption that most of my patrons would be little old ladies...and some of them are but many of them are much younger than retirement age or have just recently retired. More than a handful have been younger than me. Additionally, I have a lot more male clients than I thought I would. 

In any case, they keep me on my toes and provide me the opportunity to explore resources that my own family history would not have led me to. 

Did you know Pennsylvania's death records on Ancestry? As are Alabama's...and Texas! Yeah, none of that applying to the state's Department of Health or sending in any identification. It's right there.

Anyway, all of this is helping me to prepare for a course I will be teaching this summer. Yup. I am slated to teach an online summer session course on Genealogical Resources through St. John's University. 

Since receiving notice of the opportunity I have been giving a lot of thought to how best to teach this type of research. I know how I learned. I worked on my own family history but it took a lot longer than 4 weeks...a lot longer.

I know I will be expecting my students to research their own family history using an array of online resources. In good conscience I can't grade anyone on their family tree as every family is different and not every individual left enough, quality resources. Nonetheless, they will have to learn how to fill in a family tree form, as well as family group sheets.

I think I am also going to have them watch and critique some of the popular genealogy based television shows as well as discuss the impact Roots had on family history research in this country.

Local history and resources related to specific ethnic groups play an important role in genealogy research as well. So I'd like to incorporate some aspect of that into my syllabus as well. Remember though, we only have 4 weeks.

Ultimately, I think I am going to have each student write a well documented biography on an ancestor. Ideally, I'd love to see each write a 3 or 4 generation family history narrative like those published in periodicals such as The New England Historical and Genealogical Register...but then again...we only have 4 weeks.

So if you have any ideas about resources, readings, discussions, or short activities that you think might help someone to learn how to find and use genealogical resources, I'd like to hear your ideas.

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