Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Education, Collaboration, Crowd-sourcing and Cat-herding at CVGS Today

We had an interesting Research Group meeting at the Chula Vista (CA) Genealogical Society (CVGS) today.  This monthly meeting is two hours long, with myself as the moderator, and is in two major parts - the first hour for education and the second hour for sharing.  We usually hold it in a 20 seat conference room at the library, and now can use the library wireless connection or a cell hot spot using my tablet computer, along with the projector, to show a presentation or live Internet research on the screen.

The purpose of the meeting is enhance genealogy education and research skills, and to help our members (and guests) move their research along by answering their research questions and making suggestions for further research.  The members' research skills and knowledge have grown significantly over the ten years we've been meeting like this, and the group is refreshed by new members with zero to advanced knowledge.

In the first hour today, I used the Internet connection to display and discuss my 23andMe DNA results for the group to see and try to understand.  Several other attendees had received their results also, and were able to contribute their knowledge.  We touted the $99 sale price for the 23andMe test (autosomal, mitochondrial, Y-chromosome, plus health genetics) and the 30 March 2013 CVGS seminar featuring CeCe Moore.

We then discussed genealogy video education - highlighting the coming RootsTech 2013 live streaming sessions, the RootsTech 2012 sessions, the Legacy Family Tree webinars, the webinars and DearMYRTLE's webinars on YouTube, and the FamilySearch Research Courses.  There is a wealth of online genealogy education available for free if the genealogist will just search for them and learn from them.

The second hour of our Research Group was devoted to answering research questions from the attendees, trying to help an attendee's research by going onto the Internet to find records or make further research suggestions, and attendees sharing their successes or frustrations.  This part of the meeting gets everyone involved in thinking about what research they would perform or recommend, and invariably provides education and instruction to the attendees through this collaboration and crowd-sourcing effort.

Today, the group answered these questions:

*  Where can I find divorce records?  Answer:  Civil court records in the county where the divorce was filed.

*  How much information do you put into your family trees online?  Do you share sources?  Answer:  Some put everything, some hold back.  Some provide sources, some don't.

*  How do you correct an entry on Find A Grave?  Answer:  Register yourself, and contact the creator or owner of the memorial.

The group also crowd-sourced three brick wall problems:

*  Where can I find a birth record for an Elizabeth Titus probably born in Buffalo, New York in 1855, who moved to Illinois with her family?  The only useful evidence found was an Illinois death record, which stated he was born in New York City rather than Buffalo.  She had already found the death record and an obituary, and could not find church records for her in Buffalo.

*  What happened to Leo Clark Bruns, born in Otsego County, New York in 1889?  We could find him only in the 1900 U.S. Census, despite searching many name variations with other known factors to narrow the search.  He wasn't in the World War I or II draft registrations or the Social Security Death Index.

*  Harold F. Thomas was born in Illinois in 1920, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943;  what happened to him, and who were his parents?  We found that he received a bronze star in World War II in Burma, and died in Georgia and was buried at Andersonville National Cemetery.  All of this was new information for the attendee.  We suggested she obtain an Illinois birth certificate, a Georgia death certificate and/or a Social Security Application for him to determine his parents, since census research was not conclusive.

It was a fun and informative genealogy day at CVGS...they usually are!  Every meeting there are new educational and research challenges and opportunities, and I'm very happy to be able to contribute to helping resolve them.

Moderating these meetings is sometimes like herding cats - we had 18 attendees today, and they quickly got in the routine of raising their hand to ask a question or comment.

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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Lauri said...

These meetings sound so interesting. Wish I lived in San Diego.