Continuing Education: What’s In My Queue?

For anyone on the arc of becoming a professional genealogist, or working to professional standards, continuing education is of vital importance.

APG has a new continuing education requirement for Professional Genealogists as a tenet of its “Code of Ethics and Professional Practices” that reads:

“Engage in sufficient continuing education to maintain competence and comply with applicable requirements”.1

In addition, there are several standards put forth by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) that address continuing education, in terms of both formal and informal engagement.

No one needs to convince me of the value of continuing education – in fact, I thrive on it. For me, the in-person multi-day genealogy conference or institute experience (or both!) is the highlight of my year. In addition to the learning opportunities, the networking, camaraderie, and research aspects are essential to my development as a professional genealogist.

For the last seven years, I have spent my vacation time from my day job in class, improving my skill set as a genealogist. Friends of mine at work groan – you’re doing what for your vacation? – is a common question. Just wait until they learn my next vacation will be in Pittsburgh. In July, I will attend the Genealogical Research Institute in Pittsburgh, otherwise known as GRIP, for the first time. There were a number of excellent courses to choose from, but it was not really a difficult choice in the end. I settled upon “Gateway to the Garden State: Sources and Strategies for New Jersey Research”. This is the first time I have seen a New Jersey course taught in the institute format, so I was quick to avail myself of the opportunity; I live in the Pacific Northwest, but spend a fair amount of my research time working on my New Jersey ancestors. After July, the next item on my continuing education plan is a return to the Salt Lake Institue of Genealogy (SLIG) in 2018. I have attended SLIG more than any other institute for several reasons: quality of education and speakers, and proximity. Proximity to Seattle, and proximity of the institute to the Family History Library. Yes, there are many FHL records online at FamilySearch, but so much more is available at the library that it makes a trip very worthwhile. The sheer breadth of their collections means you can research in many record types and many geographic locations across the globe from a single location.

Now and then I am able to combine classes with a more traditional type of vacation. In 2015, a friend and I were onboard for the maiden voyage of the FGS Alaskan Cruise with Royal Carribean. We went to genealogy sessions while at sea, and then were tourists in the ports of call at Juneau and Skagway, Alaska and Victoria, British Columbia. We went whale watching, did a brewery tour and tasting, and saw Coast Salish art at a museum, all while sampling the local fare. A genealogy cruise is a more intimate format than a large conference, as tables are set aside to dine with FGS attendees nightly, and there were several social hours for our group. We even had the opportunity to share a table one evening with Elizabeth Shown Mills, whom I was able to ask about where to submit a particular type of article for publication.

When possible, I choose to attend events in those areas where I have research to do, or where I can easily commute to places I need to do research. For example, I attended the 2003 National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference in Pittsburgh, and then spent several days afterwards visiting cemeteries and the library and courthouse in St. Clairsville, Lorain Co., Ohio where family had migrated to in 1803 from Virginia. Five years later, I attended the 2008 NGS Conference in Kansas City, Missouri where I met up with several colleagues from my local genealogy society. I then took some time after the conference to travel to St. Joseph, Missouri and Topeka, Kansas to visit family and ancestral cemeteries. I did research on-site in local libraries and at the Kansas State Historical Society (KSHS). Plus, I was able to get my barbecue fix at Jack Stack in Kansas City with my brother before heading out on my road trip.

The Library of Virginia in downtown Richmond is a huge draw for me as well, so I attended both the 2007 and 2014 NGS Conferences and stayed over both times to do research in the library and archives. Sharing oysters with a like-minded travelling companion at Rappahannock after a full day of research was a highlight which I hope to repeat.

Sometimes I cannot take more vacation time to attend conferences and institutes, plus the budget only goes so far. Fortunately, there are now plenty of online courses to choose from. I am currently enrolled in “Elements of Genealogical Analysis: A Class in Methodology”, a five-week session being taught by the esteemed Robert Charles Anderson of Great Migration fame, through the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS). His approach is a logical one based on what he calls “linkage analysis” and the building of linkage bundles and, ultimately, dossiers from carefully correlated linkage bundles. He uses examples from his book and from various short articles that we read offline to flesh out the methodology.

Earlier this month, NGS held its annual conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Although I was unable to attend in person, I purchased one of the two live-streamed event packages, each consisting of five presentations. I signed up for the BCG Skillbuilding package taught by five of the top genealogists in the field today. Besides live-streaming of limited sessions, PlaybackNow offers audio recordings of most of the other lectures. These can be purchased as part of a larger package, or individually through the branded PlaybackNGS website. I picked up six individual sessions to add to my library of conference recordings that goes back to the first conference I attended in 1989.


PlaybackNGS website for the 2017 NGS conference in Raleigh, NC

Maintaining a spreadsheet of lectures helps prevent against duplicate purchases. Although not shown above, I cross-reference each entry with the starting page in the syllabus for ease of use.

The best part of the new format is that recorded sessions can be ordered online and are delivered immediately. I can listen to or watch conference sessions from the PlaybackNGS website, or through the PlaybackNow app. The app itself is a free download available in the iTunes or Google app stores – conference sessions are extra. Watching or listening to presentations using the app is simple and the quality is excellent. The conference syllabus is even available with purchase of any recording either through the website or in-app, by clicking PDF near the bottom left corner of the screen.

 
BCG Skillbuilding courses queued up in the PlaybackNow app

The only real task for me now is deciding which session to cue up next. I am delighted that I am again able to listen in the car on my daily commute via bluetooth streaming.

Whether you choose to attend events in person or online, continuing educational opportunities for genealogists at all levels are now readily available for a range of price points. Some are totally free and some can run up to about $125 for a series of webinars and related materials.

What’s in your queue?


Sources:
1 Association of Professional Genealogists, Code of Ethics and Professional Practices     (https://www.apgen.org/ : accessed 28 Mar 2017).

Web Sightings: Kentucky Tax List Articles

Tax records are among the most under-utilized records by genealogists. Kandie Adkinson has a comprehensive series of articles on historic Kentucky tax records online that may help bridge that gap.

Kandie Adkinson NGS Presentation on DVDA presentation on DVD by Kandie Adkinson, an expert on Kentucky land and tax records

When I go to national genealogical conferences, I am typically overwhelmed by the sheer number of available classes. With so many simultaneous great sessions it is difficult to choose among them. Narrowing the selection down to one is darned near impossible, but is necessary due to the laws of physics. I can only be in one place at a time.

One way I make the cut is to see what classes are being recorded that would then be available for purchase. Not all sessions are recorded. Even if recorded, some topics lend themselves to live viewing because of the use of visual aids like PowerPoint. If a class is recorded, then I may choose to purchase the DVD rather than attend in person.

It was for these reasons I came home with the DVD from Kandie Adkinson’s presentation at the National Genealogical Society’s 2014 annual conference in Richmond, Virginia. The presentation was titled: “Kentucky Land Patents: Mind Bogglers or Treasures?” I have listened to this presentation perhaps 7 or 8 times now, and wish I had chosen to attend her talk in person. It is that good.

Because of the quality of Adkinson’s talk, I recently decided to search for more information about her and other material that she may have published. I learned that Kandie Prather Adkinson is an Administrative Specialist with the Land Office Division of the Kentucky Secretary of State’s Office with more than 30 years experience with land records. She also received an award in 2011 from the Kentucky Historical Society for two articles about tax records published in Kentucky Ancestors, the state genealogical journal.

Why am I telling you about this great content from a DVD and a printed journal from 2010 in an article about web resources? As I have learned, four articles about Kentucky tax records authored by Adkinson were published in 2015 at Kentucky Ancestors Online, a digital publication of the Kentucky Historical Society.

Here are the direct links to all four of Kandie Adkinson’s fantastic articles on Kentucky tax records, covering the time period from 1792-1880. Click on the links under each image below to read the full article.

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Tax Lists (1792-1840): An Overlooked Resource for Kentucky History and Land Titles

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Tax Lists (1841-1860): An Overlooked Resource for Kentucky History and Land Titles

Kentucky Civil War Tax Lists
 Kentucky Tax Lists: Revenue Collection During the Civil War (1861-1865)

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Kentucky Tax Lists: Revenue Collection after the Civil War (1866-1880)

Perhaps after reading these articles you will be encouraged to delve into tax research whatever the geographic location of interest to you. I know that I will definitely pursue Kentucky tax records on my next visit to the Family History Library in January 2016 in an effort to learn more about my early Bingaman ancestors who were supposedly living there by 1798.

A New NGS Member Benefit

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) quietly released a new digital publication called NGS Monthly in late February 2015. I say “quietly” simply because it wasn’t on my radar until this morning, even though I am a long-time member who follows them on Twitter, reads the printed publications of the society and their e-newsletter.

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NGS Monthly, the new digital publication of the National Genealogical Society

Although NGS Monthly appears to be a standard WordPress blog, only the first four articles (those published in February & March 2015) are available to the public at large. Clicking on any other article link takes you to a page where you can login with your membership credentials or are invited to join the society.

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The NGS Monthly “paywall”

The orange subscribe button on the website allows you to add the blog’s RSS feed to your favorite feed reader. When a new article is published you will be notified. Without logging in, however, you will only be able to read the first few sentences of the post.

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NGS Monthly via RSS feed. Click to enlarge.

Despite the inconvenience of having to sign in every time, this is a fantastic new resource for members of NGS. If you have not yet joined the National Genealogical Society perhaps this latest membership benefit will sway you.

FREE articles, written by Melissa A. Johnson, CG. Note that you must be a member of NGS to click into any of the internally referenced NGSQ journal articles.

“What is an NGSQ Case Study?”
http://ngsmonthly.ngsgenealogy.org/what-is-an-ngsq-case-study/

“Eight Tips for Deconstructing an NGSQ Case Study”
http://ngsmonthly.ngsgenealogy.org/eight-tips-for-deconstructing-an-ngsq-case-study/

“The Great Mix-Up: Sources, Information, Evidence, and Proof”
http://ngsmonthly.ngsgenealogy.org/the-great-mix-up-sources-information-evidence-and-proof/

The Proof Is In the Writing
http://ngsmonthly.ngsgenealogy.org/the-proof-is-in-the-writing/