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From the Green Valley News, Sunday 18 March 2012, page C6

Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG

Do You Have Seminar Overload?

In February, many of us attended a great seminar sponsored by the Green Valley Genealogical Society with Dr. Tom Jones as the featured speaker. We were all enthralled by his teaching and the concise way he has of presenting problems and demonstrating how to solve them.

After an event like this, we may come down with a crash, having the knowledge but not sure how to apply it to our own problems needing solution. We come home from the seminar exhausted, put the syllabus aside and play a few games of FreeCell to unwind. The next day life gets in the way of rethinking our weekend experience and we go on as usual.

As a veteran of many seminars and conferences I have some tips to help you cope in the aftermath of seminar overload.

Start by thinking about those genealogical problems that are filed away waiting for answers. Every ancestor wants to be found, we just have to find the right tool or method to use. Pick one and study your previous research for some piece of information you may have overlooked or some clue left undiscovered.

After youve reviewed your most pressing genealogical problems, dont get depressed. Get enthused. Youve just come from a seminar with one of the countrys leading genealogists who shared every research strategy he uses with you. Its up to you to make his strategies part of your genealogical toolbox.

So get out your syllabus and start methodically reviewing each lecture. Study the notes you took also, as there must have been a reason why you wrote them when you did. Something was said that you wanted to remember for future use, and now is the time.

Look for similarities in your problems that match problems solved by Dr. Jones. If it worked for him, it can work for you. Often we give up too easily when we are just on the brink of discovery. Now is the time to persevere and follow the steps he provided to solve our problem.

For example, review the session "Finding 'Unfindable' Ancestors", particularly the methodologies for locating "Unfindables". Likely one or more of the suggested approaches will fit your situation. Some may be more time consuming than others, but the goal is worth it.

Now write a research plan with an elusive ancestor as the focus of the plan. State your objective and detail the steps to take next, the records to search that may hold the answer and the places where you should look whether on the internet or in a distant repository. Its important that your plan be written. When we write errors in our thinking process or in our past research seem to come to the surface where they can be spotted and dealt with.

Above all, remember Dr. Jones summation to the "Unfindable" lecture: 1. Expect success; 2. Search broadly; 3. Focus on characteristics; and 4. Focus on evidence not just information. If you follow this formula, success is more likely than failure— and one success breeds another.

When you solve one problem, move on to another and repeat the steps above, beginning with the research plan, and so on. This will reinforce the actions taken and eventually they will become second nature to you.

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