Category Archives: National Institute of Genealogical Studies

Tuesday’s Tip: Utilize All Forums When Possible

Last week on twitter I was having a quick conversation with someone about a website that I utilize from time to time. When the site first went up, genealogists were all over it. Unfortunately, I do not think that it gets the use today that it did originally. This site is Genealogy Wise (GW), and it is run by the National Institute of Genealogical Studies.

GW is run a lot like facebook, it is a social networking site that is just for genealogists. Right off the bat, you have something in common with everyone on the site, you are into genealogy. There is no glazed over, bored look there. Like facebook, GW has many different groups you can join, some freely and others where you have to request. Many genealogists on this site are offering free assistance to those that need it.

When I am looking for a quick out of state look up, for say an obituary, I will post a message on GW, under the group Look Up Angels. But, I am not done there. I will also go to and post it in their forum for the specific state and county. To top that off, if I am on my A game, I might also post on and maybe to my facebook and twitter accounts as well.

The point is, that I am getting the information out there to anyone who happens to be reading that day. Sometimes, I have gotten a reply the very next day and sometimes you have to wait. The only thing I want to remind you of is, if you post to multiple sites, please remember which ones and then go and update all the queries that you have the information. It would not be good to have someone go out of their way to do a free look up for you and you already have the information from someone else on another site.


2011 Resolutions – 1st Quarter Update

In late December, I wrote a post about my 2011 Resolutions. Since we are entering the third month of 2011, I thought it would be a good time to take a look and see where I stand on these goals so far.

  1. Attend a conference – I will discuss this in a future post
  2. Continue researching my O’Connell line – always a work in progress.
  3. Start researching my Teahan line – I have found nothing so far.
  4. Give back to genealogy community – So far I have transcribed 219 names through FamilySearch. Some of the records I have transcribed are TX birth records, PA, NY and AR WWII Draft records and Canada, Ontario Marriages. I still need to reread all information for the Restore The Ancestors Project and do my 10 pages there. I have worked a bit more on my class through NIGS and I have signed up for another on that starts in March.
  5. As for blogging, I cannot say I have been consistent. But I am trying. Working with pen and paper has been more helpful in January, I just need to stick with it.


NIGS Update

In December I started my classes through National Institute of Genealogical Studies, I started with the basics of the American Studies Certificate. This past week, I finished my 6th class and I am excited to report that I am enjoying all of my classes and I am also doing very well with these classes so far. At this point, my lowest grade has been a B+. Not bad for someone who has not been in a classroom in 14 years.

My last class was Religious Studies 1, which I really enjoyed. There was quite a bit of history discussed within many different religions. I never really thought about the history of religion, beyond what I was taught in school. I really look forward to taking the next Religious Studies class to see what else I can learn. Being raised in private schools all of my life, I definitely appreciate any church. I think that most of the older church buildings are beautiful, the architecture and the stained glass, simply take my breath away.

So, for the three classes I have left to take, Research From  Family History Centers to Family Search, US: Land Records and Analysis and Skills Mentoring, I am not sure which one I want to do next. My time restrictions are tight (with work and family) and summer is here. Do I really want to dedicate myself to studies when it is beautiful outside. There are so many things I can be doing instead, like going to the local cemeteries. I found a few older cemeteries by work which I would love to go and photograph. Not to mention, my plans for my research trip east!

Should I move forward with a class that might be easier for me to do, like the Family History Center class? Too many questions with decisions that I need to make. I guess I will sleep on it for a few days and decide from there.

What is everyone doing for the summer? Are you going to continue with the classes you are taking?

Vital Records

I spent the last month on a Vital Records class through the National Institute of Genealogical Studies. I continue to enjoy the classes that I am taking Though many of most of them are at the beginning level, I look forward to finishing this level to move on to the harder classes to see how I can handle them.

As for the learning aspect of this specific class, I believe it was the marriage records. Who knew there were so many kids of records that can pertain to a marriage.  For instance:

  • Marriage Bann
  • Marriage Bonds
  • Marriage License
  • Marriage Return

The best information out there is to make sure you truly look over the record you have acquired to make sure a marriage has taken place. Otherwise, you might end with a record that shows an intention of a marriage that never happened.

School’s in Session, post 6

I finished the Methodology class on 21 Feb. I am very excited to have completed my second class. I moved ahead in this class because it was easier then the US: Census Records class. I seem to take more time with the census records and having to do research. Now, I can spend the next few weeks dedicated to the research in the Census Records class.
As for Methodology, I have learned that I need to be more organized and use more forms to track my research. This way I do not beat the same pavement in each search. The class has given many great examples of forms that can be used and I will go through and see if there are any changes that I need to make to incorporate them into my work.

Completion of the US: Census Records took a bit longer. I finished it on Wednesday, 3 Mar 2010, I am excited to be done. The very last assignment too me about 3 hours to complete. I cannot say that I will retain 100% of the information given in this class, but at least I have some great tools to utilize when I research within the US Census Records.

Final learning of these classes, be more organized and be detailed with the information we are abstracting from the Census Records!

School’s in Session, post 5

US: Census Records was not so bad this week. We went over the different census records you can find, besides the Federal Population. I found the Native American Schedules interesting, just because the government deemed who was countable and who was not. When they finally got around to counting all Native Americans, the Census is lost in the 1890 fires. Ughhh! How aggravating for anyone researching their Native American ancestors. I actually completed this class in one day, no procrastination needed. Finally! 

This weeks learning: Maps are important for any genealogist to utilize. Understanding the border changes will only help us with our research, especially when it comes down to ordering records at the county level, we can accidently try to order a record from one county when are ancestors are living in another. Same thing when it comes to the States or the different Territories of the US. 

On a personal note, I wish I had a history teacher that was passionate about the subject. I sailed through my history classes being bored and uninterested! When my eldest was in High School we went to Open House,  and I can recall two different years that I loved her history teacher, because they brought the subject to life. I remember wanting to be a part of her class, just to enjoy the discussions or take part in the cool projects they were doing.

Only one week left and then 2 new classes to start. There is a good possibility that I will start my new classed before the six weeks is up on my first two. Next up on the list are:

US: Vital Records, Understanding and Using the Records

Electronic Resources: Using the Internet

Hopefully there will be some good material to review here as well.

School’s in session, post 4

As I continue to go through my classes, I am still procrastinating on the assignments that involve more work. For example, in my Census class, I read the module last sunday and did not start the homework until Wednesday. On Wednesday, I only answered the questions that did not involve much research or time. Then, I spent Thursday morning do my research and answering the questions. Though I am  procrastinating, I am still loving the each of the classes and look forward to next ones. I have two weeks left on each of these classes and then I will start the two new ones. 

Really glad I am taking this class and exposing myself to new things.

Learning of this week, though I feel organized, there is plenty I can do to become more organized. Unfortunately, I do not have an office to get organized in. So, for now. It is what it is! I will hopefully, someday soon be able to spend time organizing myself according to the list of things I have to do.

School’s in session, post 3

I finished module 3 for both classes early this week. I read both modules on Sunday and did the assignments for Methodology that day as well. Today, I took about 1.5 hours to do the assignments for the US Census Records class. I feel good that I finished early in the week. Because my goal is to get a head by at least one week. That way when the month of March starts, I will not feel to overwhelmed that there are two new classes waiting for me. In order to attain my goal of finishing the certification by April of 2011, I really need to stay on course and try to finish the classes in 4 weeks instead of five. 

I am learning many new techniques to keep track of my personal information. What I need to do is make a list of things I would like to change in my systems, (such as keeping a directory that is specifically for genealogy purposes) I started this awhile back and just need to go through and make sure I am continuing with it. Maybe I will purchase some index cards to make notes on these specific things, I like the feeling of crossing things off a list. Of course I can do this with either my phone or computer, but there is no satisfaction in deleting an item on my to do list. 

Forms are very important to researches, we use them to track what we have researched, what we want to research, who we have contacted and who has replied. I really need to find one that works for me. I have made a few, some have worked and others have not. 

This weeks learning:

It is easier to research your own family it seems, it makes more sense to me. Patience is needed to get through families I am not familiar with. I can get through this, some of the subject matter will be new to me and that is ok. I am doing this to learn and better myself.

School’s in session, post 2

Second week of school is done. I finished a few of the assignments today for one of the classes. One thing I have learned about myself in this process is this, if I have concerns over something I have not done before, I am a huge procrastinator. I read module 2 for my Methodology class and did the homework assignments that I had complete understanding of. As for the ones I did not, they waited until today. 

I started today off rereading the sections about abstracting information from records. This is not something I have done often and when I have done it, it has been a simple abstract of information. Simple because the record or index I had been looking at was simple information. What we need to abstract information off of was a document from the 1700’s, which is not something I have had any practicing looking at. 

Though I procrastinated for a week,  I did finish the assignment and can say I am glad that is behind me. Now on to week 3!

This weeks learning:

It is ok if you do not know everything, we all need practice. I need to spend some time transcribing and abstraction documents to improve my skills.

School’s in session, post 1

Finally completed my first week of classes for my certification through NIGS. Since my last post, things have changed a bit. Instead of taking 3 classes this month, I am taking two. Methodology Part 2: Organizing and Skill Building and US: Census Records. Let me say that these classes have already proved themselves harder than Methodology 1, which I finished all six modules in about 1.5 weeks, with an A- in the class. I was very excited about that. Good way to start school, right?

This week, I have put in about six hours of reading and research for my homework. I have learned that doing this late at night, is the best time to do the work. I thought it would be the best time, but I had to search for a specific person in the 1790 census and could not find him at all. I spent over an hour on this the other night. Today, I found him in less than 5 minutes. 

Learnings for the week:

Census records offer a wealth of information, creating a timeline using census records is beneficial to any genealogist. Something I will definitely start doing.

%d bloggers like this: