Friday, January 6, 2012

"Beginning Genealogy" Presentations

Connie Sheets posted an interesting question on the Transitional Genealogists Forum mailing list yesterday, saying:

"I would like to hear from those experienced in making presentations along the lines of "introduction to genealogy" to community groups (e.g., at a local library), primarily in terms of what can reasonably be covered in one hour."

There have been a number of responses in the thread - I suggest that you read each post in the thread.   Perhaps the most interesting one is this summary by Thomas W. Jones:

"If I had just "one shot" to influence beginning genealogists, I would emphasize oral history, DNA, and networking (including society membership). I also would touch on indexing activities (another very useful legacy), and all this before introducing documentary research and what it can yield."

Like many genealogists, I do some speaking to "Beginning Genealogy" audiences.  I've developed three presentations for different audiences:

*  A 30-minute talk for small groups (fraternal, church, civic groups) - with or without a presentation mode

*  A 50-minute presentation suitable for heritage groups (e.g., DAR) and genealogy/historical societies

*  A 90-minute presentation suitable for libraries or organizations with more time to use (e.g., OASIS sponsors these talks at local libraries and at their facility)

I gave the 50-minute presentation yesterday to the Linares Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in San Diego to about 40 attendees, including a number who are in San Diego area genealogical societies.  I was worried that the talk was too basic for experienced genealogists, but was assured afterwards by many of the experienced attendees that they were informed by the talk and appreciated the two page handout of genealogy resources.

The 50-minute talk has these main segments:

*  An introduction of "what is genealogy," "how many ancestors do we have," "who's in my tree (bragging)," and "why do I do it."

*  An overview of several of my ancestors, including collected documents and family photographs.  For the DAR, I added documents from a Revolutionary War Pension file and a DAR descendants list from the DAR Patriot Index. 

*  A 12-step program of "how to do genealogy research" that includes some collected documents and photographs as examples, but no screen shots of websites.

*  A warning that "not everything is on the Internet" and a reading of "How Green Was My Valley."

For the 90-minute program, I add more document/photograph/screen shot examples to the 12-Step program. 

The two-page handout provides a list of my "12 Steps," San Diego area societies and repositories, genealogy software, and a list, by subject area, of traditional repositories and online resources.

Do you have a "Beginning Genealogist" presentation?  What do you include in it?

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Copyright (c) Randall J. Seaver, 2012


Celia Lewis said...

1. Introduce myself, how I got started in genealogy & why, a smidge about my tree.
2. Ask everyone "Why do you want to build a family tree? - What do you hope to achieve?" Discuss briefly.
3. Explain basic genealogy language and concepts, pedigree & family group sheets, family trees as being "more than dates & names".
4. Use humour about how spelling is highly variable and interesting, dates are clues but not data unless supported by documents; i.e., all the "interesting but not impressive" information people often think is truth in their family.
5. Discuss how to ask for help (we're adults, and often very bad at asking!), and where: local genealogical societies, historical societies, librarians, museums, archives...
6. Provide short list of free places - non-internet, and internet, to help get started.
7. Very brief idea of how to organize documents/photos through 4 family lines (using 4 grandparents as basic starting points).
8. Provide several ways the public can learn more: my 4 week/8hour course; society meetings; genealogy conferences/workshops; magazines; online [FamilySearch videos e.g.].
9. Hand out my talk outline, with a free Pedigree chart (5-gen.). This can be done passively as people enter the meeting, which sometimes is best. Personal choice.

The above can be done with no computer access, just needs a whiteboard or some such item to write things on; and can be finished in from 45-90 minutes, depending on how much time is available and how much discussion is generated. If it's a large group (over 50), one will need to control discussion while keeping interest high. Cheers.

Ernie said...

Beginning Your Genealogy

Ernie Thode

Where Do I Start?
How to begin

*Start with yourself, your documents, your living relatives, and work backwards
*Work from the known to the unknown
*Begin with exact full names, exact dates, life events
*Rely most on primary sources (documents)

What Do I Need?
Start the Chart
*Record your genealogy on forms (charts, group sheets) or better yet
*Use genealogical software (mention several programs available)
*Cite your sources, always! Don’t trust your memory!

Where Do I Look?
Look close to home

*Look at home (attics, drawers, scrapbooks, Bibles, photo albums)
*Then look at public records (court houses, health departments, libraries, historical and genealogical societies; digitized records on genealogical search sites)

What Will I Find?
What to look for

*Life events – births, marriages, deaths
*Legal events – censuses, wills, taxes, land purchases, deeds
*Mentions – newspapers, reminiscences (diaries, journals, etc.)

Connie Sheets said...

Thanks, Randy, for bringing this discussion to the blogosphere. Good ideas!c