Since every family presents a unique research situation, genealogists are perpetual students. To identify ancestors correctly and place them appropriately in their historical setting, we need to learn about the techniques most likely to be effective and the nuances of the records, resources, and repositories for each ancestral locale and period.
Fortunately, educational opportunities for genealogists have increased dramatically due to virtual platforms. In the first article for this back-to-school issue, NGS Education Director Angela Packer McGhie surveys the changing landscape of education and its variety of options to suit individual needs—from self-study to formal courses—based on preferred learning style and other factors.
Genealogical societies can contribute to the education of members by offering special interest groups (SIGs) and small study groups as part of their programming. Cari Taplin discusses the operation of both types of groups and the tendency for member interaction to lead to more active participation in society projects.
Another way to go back to school is to visit university libraries, which can be intimidating to many genealogists. Tim Pinnick explains how to tap their wealth of resources for African American history and genealogy in databases, microfilm, government documents, journals, books, and theses and dissertations.
Resources produced by and for students can add depth and character to family histories. Gail Shaffer Blankenau demonstrates the targeted, well-researched information in dissertations and theses, which have become more available due to digitization and databases allowing public access. Thomas Stephen Neel examines the types of photos, community context, and glimpses of personality that appear in high school and college yearbooks.
In the final back-to-school article, Kathy Petlewski compares the evolution of educational systems in three colonies (Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia) to explore the likely experiences of ancestors and the availability of some colonial school records.
NARA archivist Claire Kluskens describes the scope and uses of a significant source for veterans and their families: the set of original bounty land warrant application files at the National Archives. NGS and NARA recently announced a joint project to increase accessibility by indexing and digitizing the 360,000 files.
The issue wraps up with Carla Cegielski’s investigation of search engines for identifying and accessing genealogical content, including general and genealogy-specific search engines, and Paul Woodbury’s analysis of potential clues in the profiles of mystery DNA matches for determining their identities, building their family trees, and ultimately discovering how they are related.
- Bounty Land Warrant Application Files by Claire Kluskens
- Genealogy Education: A Changing Landscape by Angela Packer McGhie, CG, FUGA
- University Libraries and African American Research by Tim Pinnick
- Using Theses and Dissertations to Enhance Family History by Gail Shaffer Blankenau, MA
- What Can Genealogists Learn from Yearbooks? by Thomas Stephen Neel, MLIS
- PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE by Kathryn M. Doyle
- EDITOR'S NOTE by Deb Cyprych
- 2023 NGS Awards and Competition Results Announced by Judy Nimer Muhn
- SOCIETY FORUM
- Form Strong Membership Bonds in SIGs and Study Groups by Cari Taplin, CG
- REFERENCE DESK
- Roots of Education in America: A Comparison of Colonial Experiences by Kathy Petlewski, MSLS
- TECH TIPS
- Search Engines for Genealogy by Carla S. Cegielski
- DNA DISCOVERY
- Considering Every Clue in the Identification of Mystery Matches by Paul Woodbury