Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Back to School Blog Party

This post is for Elizabeth O’Neal’s Back to School BlogParty. The premise is a genealogy school and what our students need to learn.  Be sure to check into the Blog Party site throughout the month to get some helpful hints.

This topic is timely because I lead a special interest group for beginning genealogists for Indian River Genealogical Society.  We meet September through May so I’m preparing for our new season.

So… What do my group attendees need to know?

Cite Sources
Always document sources – even casual sources.  If you got information from cousin Edna, note that. Information from family interviews may not always be accurate, but we need to know where it came from. If a fact is from your own personal knowledge, note that, too. As research continues, sources get more verifiable and concrete. Sometimes it is important to know where misinformation comes from.

Question Everything
Even “official” documents may contain misinformation. The information on a death certificate, for example, is only as accurate as the knowledge of the person giving it. A young man may have lied about his age when enlisting in the military. A young woman may have fudged her age when applying for a marriage license.   Census records are often filled with misspellings, and erroneous information.

Don’t rely on one single document as absolute proof.  Verify! Verify! Verify!

Make Use of Free Resources
Subscription sites are great but there is a great deal of information available at no charge
and so many others

Continuing Education
            LegacyFamilyTreeWebinars (free)           
Free weekly webinars.  Each webinar is available to view at no charge for one week following the live presentation.  Buying a subscription gives unlimited access to all previous webinars and the syllabus for each one. (more than 300 webinars)
            FamilySearch Classes and Webinars (free)
            AncestryAcademy (membership required)
            GeneaWebnarsCalendar – a listing of upcoming webinars

Read blogs by professional and amateur bloggers – especially those who are doing research similar to yours.      – a wealth of blogs and blogging resources

But most of all, they tell me what they need to know so that they can make progress along their genealogy journey.



  1. Good reminder about free resources. I use Family Search all the time! Cyndi's List has so much to offer and I have to check there more often.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Marian. It's too easy to get stuck in a rut of always going to the same sites; and Cyndi works hard to keep her list up to date. Don't know how she does it.

  2. It's important to keep plugging educational opportunities. Digitization projects are happening so often and so quickly now that staying up to date with methods and resources is vital. I love all the webinars available now, but so many seem to not even know about them.

    1. Thanks, Linda. My Gen Society has a Facebook page where I post the link to FamilyTreeWebinars a couple of times a year. Currently, I'm in love with Chronicling America.

  3. Citing sources and questioning everything! YES! Wonderful advice. When I was starting out I did not document where everything was coming from and now many years later I sit with several unidentified photographs and snippets of information that I have no idea about!
    Sue -

  4. Yep, me, too. Sometimes I think that so much emphasis is placed on "proper" citation that beginners are reluctant to enter casual sources such as family lore. It's not truly evidence, but we need to note where each item came from.

  5. Great post! Love that you cover the important stuff in such a concise manner :)

  6. Some great tips, Mary - thank you for participating in this month's GBP! I sure wish I'd started citing my sources 19 years ago when I began researching, but that just wasn't encouraged like it is today. Live and learn!