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From the Green Valley News, Wednesday February 18 2009, page A13

Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG

Continuing Education is a Must!

Continuing education is a fact of life today for nearly any activity, whether for profit or fun. Technology changes constantly and to keep up on the latest developments in any field we need to be informed. Genealogy is no exception.

In the dark ages of 1963 when I began researching my family, I bought Gilbert Henry Doaneís Searching for Your Ancestors. Written in 1948, the 15 year old book was "cutting edge" for its time and I studied it over and over. Indeed, itís still worth reading today for basic information.

Genealogy workshops, seminars and conferences were many years away and Al Gore hadnít even dreamed of the Internet yet. Libraries were just acquiring copy machines, censuses hadnít been indexed, and printing from microfilm was impossible at least in my part of the world. Learning was by trial and error, self motivated and haphazard at best.

Today there is no excuse for not being well informed. Local societies offer classes and seminars, national societies conduct annual multi-day conferences, and many self-study Web sites are on the Internet. In addition, several colleges and universities are beginning to recognize the popularity of ancestry searching by adding family history courses to their schedules. Some even award certificates or degrees to those successfully completing their courses.

Here at home, the Green Valley Genealogical Society is sponsoring three classes in March at the Green Valley public library. The classes are from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., free and open to the public. The first class, "Beginning Genealogy" is on Tuesday, March 3, 2009. Geared to new researchers and those who want a refresher course, students will learn where to begin, how to create a family pedigree chart, what records are available, where to find them and how to use them.

On Friday, March 13 "Courthouse Research" will discuss the ins and outs of researching in courthouse records whether on-site or on microfilm. Students will learn the types of records found at the county level, how to locate them and the variety of information you can expect to find in the various record sets. Many researchers are intimidated by the complexities of courthouse research but family problems are most often solved in the courthouse.

"Ramp up Your Research" on Tuesday, March 24 is designed for those who have been doing family research for awhile and wish to refine their skills and improve their research results. Topics will include how to create an effective research plan and problem solving via the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) with illustrations from case studies.

If there is enough interest, the latter class may be expanded with monthly meetings tackling a number of difficult techniques in genealogical research. Difficult problems are solved by the application of skilled analysis and logic yet these skills are seldom taught. Analytical thinking is learned by practice in combination with review and correlation of known evidence. While absolute proof may not exist for every problem, the sum of evidence can weave a web of logic that forms a valid conclusion.

Local societyís monthly meetings also provide excellent opportunities for continued learning, the society newsletter keep readers informed of news in the genealogy world, and contact with other members keeps you from being isolated at your computer while the rest of the world goes by.

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