Genealogy Class #2

Tonight was the second genealogy class, finishing up where we started on Monday. Yay! The totality of this class was by-far the best class I’ve taught so far, and for a year of classes, 1-2 a week, that says something! Hooray!

The second class seems like it would be easier, but never quite so much. Especially because, in theory, you leave a good portion of the first of the class to questions about the previous class, a recap on what we covered, and what experiences/challenges came up when the ‘students’ went home to play on their own.
In my class, no one apparently went home and played. So…. the Q & A portion of the class was about 3 minutes, instead of my allotted 30min. Hmph.

So, in following the ideas that we covered on Monday – the bigger databases, Ancestry, LDS, and Rootsweb, I thought we’d first need to backup and start with some simple searches on Google, and move from there. The class ended up looking like this:

– Google. How to search on Google. Use Quotations! The fun of Google Books, and just basically outlining what information you’d find in a basic Google search (like people’s personal websites, archived information… what “archived” means)

– Forums. Both Rootsweb and GenForums. These have been invaluable to me, and hopefully a great place to start for people who don’t have a lot of information yet. Seems like with the examples I showed tonight (from my own family and family searches from the class), there isn’t a lot of activity on the GenForums any longer. Is there somewhere better? Rootsweb still seems to have a lot of action.

– The GenWeb. I’d always found TWO helpful aspects to the Genweb – county “lookups” and the search engine for the archives. While the archive search is still AMAZING and something EVERYONE needs to have bookmarked, all the counties we looked at (four), none had volunteer “lookups” any longer. Is the GenWeb losing some oomph in that way?

– Gravesites. We covered Find a Grave and Interment. Find a Grave seems to have greatly expanded, now offering (not consistent, mind you, but still) obituaries and family group links. WOW! Someone is really on it with this site. Interment is helpful, but Find A Grave definitely stole the show.

– A quick look back at PAF software and how to create a gedcom file, exporting.

And that was a wrap. Whew! I think I overwhelmed them. I would’ve been overwhelmed if I was just starting out. It was a lot of websites. And we finished 1/2hr early. But… I got great feedback from the class – that they really enjoyed it, learned a lot.

So… YAY! I want to teach more! I want to start a, once a week, Genealogy Group!! I want to be a GenWeb volunteer again (I was for years when I was NC, going to the library and printing off old newspapers from the 1800s and then transcribing and uploading). I want to join more groups. Lawd. I’d never work. And I’d never make any money to afford me time to do all that I want to do.

The class said was that they could tell I was passionate about genealogy research. It definitely came across. I hope that’s a good thing 🙂


Genealogy Class #1

Tonight was my first genealogy class.. that I’m teaching! Whoo-hoo!
So, not my standard blog, but definitely something worthy of reporting on. I am not a genealogist, do not promote myself as such, disclaimer disclaimer, blah blah blah. But I am an educator. I teach computer classes and had interest from my ‘students’ on a genealogy class. “hmmm… I could probably do that!”

It’s an answer. “Sure!”
I’ve been doing this for 17years, sure, I can help teach others on where to start.

Where do you start?

It’s been a long time since I was a beginner. I’ve had to channel that newbie researcher in me, that’s talking to family members and having everything hand-written, maybe in a binder, maybe not even there yet 🙂
And certainly assuming that when I started, I wasn’t tech savvy… that I teach Intro to Computers classes mainly and my ‘students’ are Seniors, Of course you have to start at the beginning of what a “database” means. Not just your own database, but at the very beginning of “The Internet” lesson – a website is a site within itself, housing it’s own data. It only has the data submitted to that site. So no one site will have everything you need. You will need to research multiple sites.

Once I wrapped my head around this idea as a starter for a lesson plan, day 1 ended up something like this:

– Background on genealogy, period. Lots of handouts on family group sheets, individual record sheets, research logs, etc. All the things you need before you even start researching, so you have the proper tools to write down your information (a bit more than that steno pad you’ve been carting around for a while).

– Starting your family tree. Online tree (and what options there are) vs. your own software (and how to pick which software to use). I, of course, promote Personal Ancestral File because it’s EASY and FREE — two words that are key for seniors (and myself, cause, hey, it’s what I use. I dig EASY and FREE!)

A lesson on Family Trees… how to input information

– Finally, the internet… a lengthy discussion on what you can even hope to find (on the internet, or at a Clerk of Court); how internet sites work, and what is Free and what is for Cost.

– Today we covered Ancestry first. Because it’s what everyone knows because Ancestry has now flooded our televisions with creative and flattering marketing campaigns.
LDS – which everyone loved more, which is typical. Because (i forget), when you’re starting out, you’re not looking for source data so much, you’re just trying to FIND people, and file submissions are the easiest places to start. Plus, they have submitter information, so you can contact your ‘cousin’ – which is totally what you want to do!!
– And Rootsweb

We covered my surname because LOOPS is a great example for searching because you don’t get 10,000 results. And finally was able to spend the last 20 minutes of class looking up ‘students’ names, through LDS and Rootsweb (Ancestry forgotten at this point).

A Great Class!!! 100% successful (despite the technological failures of working for the City, which were horribly embarrassing and left me looking completely incompetent for 20 minutes). But once that was over, people were excited, actually wanted to go home and play, and were so happy that we had another day to do more.


Wednesday should cover something like, adding more to your database (notes & sources), exporting GedCom’s and why you would even do that, looking at reports. And of course, more websites like FindAGrave, the world of the GenWeb, and how to just run Google lookups. I realize the latter will confuse people. There’s a lot of lessons involved in exploring Google, like using quotation marks, etc. But it’s a necessity. Google is awesome and shouldn’t be ignored. If you have any ideas for Wednesday, let me know! I’ll keep you posted on the lesson plan.