Thursday, August 3, 2017

Genealogical Sources & Services 101 in Review

It has been awhile since I have posted. It's been a very busy spring and summer. If you have read my blog in the past, you may know that this past June I taught my very first online graduate course on genealogical sources and services through St. John's University's Division of Library and Information Science.

It was a great experience. I really really enjoyed it and my students seemed to as well. I received really positive feedback from the 14 students I had.

They were from very diverse backgrounds which made their final papers fun to read. The focus of the 4 1/2 week online course was for each of them to write a brief biography on a relative who passed away before the student was born. In order to do so they had to conduct their own family history research. This included conducting a family history interview, building a family tree, using online databases through Ancestry.com & FamilySearch.org, and developing research strategies to fill in the gaps in their findings. Additionally, we covered topics more specific to librarianship in the field of genealogy; topics like ethics, empathy, referrals, and public perception. 

Some of the feedback from my students verbalized thoughts and feelings I myself have experienced but was never able to put into words like this:


"While I did not uncover anything earth-shattering about my ancestors, seeing their signatures on documents, photos on naturalization papers, and handwriting on forms (ie: WWI and WWII draft registrations) was enough to bring a smile to my face."

"Going back through my family history made me appreciate where I am today even more."

"I really enjoyed ... how my project brought my family closer."

I look forward to teaching the course again next summer and I'm already thinking about what changes I would like to make to the course. I think I am going to cut out a portion about interviewing professionals and just post some interviews I conduct by myself with genealogy librarians. Also, I think I might add in some brain storming activity about creating potential library programs one could design related to genealogy.

Have you attended any genealogy related programs at your public library that you really enjoyed and/or learned a lot from? 

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