Monday, September 27, 2010

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.