Sunday, January 20, 2013

SLIG 2013

ProGen group at SLIG

My week at SLIG 2013 is over; I returned home last night. A colleague suggested I post information about the course, Advanced Genealogical Methods by Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, during the week but I was too busy, and too tired to do so. Here is a review of the week. The italicized sections are all I managed to write during the week.

Saturday: Dropped my bags at the hotel around noon, and walked to the Family History Library to work on a personal project about the Eastham family.  

Sunday: Reviewed the case studies for the course.  Sunday evening we received a course syllabus and attended a reception. The tables, set up by class, allowed us to meet our  instructors and and classmates. It was fun to meet several people I knew on-line, including Claire Bettag and Angela McGhie, from ProGen.

Monday: "Evidence Orientation." Evidence: direct, indirect and negative. Sources: authored, derivative and original. And so on. If we thought we knew everything about this topic-we didn't. A bit different from the model we're used to, and a bit more confusing for some. The case studies we received weeks before the class were used to illustrate the lecture and for class exercises, an excellent way to reinforce the topic. This is not just a lecture course.
The afternoon sessions were Claire Bettag "Archival Research" and "Getting the Most From Military and Pension Records" by Rick Sayre. No homework this evening as there is an evening session by Tom Jones, "Planning Efficient and Effective Research." The evening ended with a "Genealogy Game Show," hosted by  Craig Scott which was a fun way to test our knowledge. It was easy for me to spot gaps - I know the South much better than the North. (I knew all about the Battle of Point Pleasant.)

Tuesday:  (Written Tuesday night.) I left my room before 8 am and returned around 10 pm. We had two sessions by Tom Jones today, one each from Judy Russell and Claire Bettag. It seems we are way behind schedule. Dr. Jones spent quite some time emphasizing the first sessions as they are the basis of the course.

The homework assignment involved finding government documents. I once located an act that led to a civil war pension for a ancestor. The pension file is quite large and provides many details about his life. But I did not trace the "Act" throughout it's life, I went immediately to the pension file. Claire's assignment was to track a document from beginning to end using the Serial Set, now available through Heritage Quest and GenealogyBank.

This is what I  managed to write Wednesday: 10:10 pm. I think I have solved our homework problem. (It was actually 11:10, my computer is on PST.)  It was a very good exercise-that is, it's a good exercise if I came to the right conclusion.

Thursday: We started class this morning at 8 am with a review of yesterday's homework assignment.  I'm happy to report I came to the correct conclusion on the assignment. I used a paper version of a spreadsheet to solve the puzzle, with pieces of paper all over the bed each with various facts and names and dates.

We are still running behind in the class, although we made up some of the time today as we powered through.  Research questions, reasonable exhaustive search. I will always, I hope, hear Dr. Jones saying "evidence does not exist in the absence of a question." And then on to the analysis, interpretation and correlation of various record groups, probate for example. Today's homework is to review the eight pages of research material, determine which is relevant, and correlate and resolve conflicts to answer the question of paternity.

11:00 pm. The end of the fourth day of SLIG. I just completed our last homework assignment after a trip to the Family History Library. What a week!

Friday: Another session each by Claire Bettag (Federal Land Record) and Rick Sayre (Mapping Strategies). Excellent, of course. Finished up with correlating evidence, resolving conflicting evidence, and writing. A  full afternoon. It's hard to believe it's over. Most of us left with mushy minds.

And finally, a banquet with a hilarious talk by John Colletta. A nice ending to a wonderful week.

Saturday, for many, was check out and head to the library for more research before going home. I managed almost seven hours; that's a lot of microfilm.

I made some new friends at SLIG. Some of us lunched together, researched together, and met before class to discuss homework methods and results, especially Marolyn, Morgan, Heather and Perry.

What did I learn, aside from the obvious. I learned to squeeze every bit of evidence from every source available. I learned how to take the steps I have taken one step further. I learned to look at information in a whole new way. And so much more. Although many of the sections of this course are about records, it's not so much about the records as it is how to use them to get the most from them. And once you do that, what do you do with it.

I also came away from the course with another list of books for my library, including Tom's new book, Mastering Genealogical Proof. I wonder if there are pre-sales, NGS?

As anxious as I am  to put some of this knowledge to good use, I  need to let my brain rest a day or two.

I thank Dr. Jones for a wonderful week of learning.

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