Monday, January 23, 2012

SLIG - Day 1

Last night did not go as planned....neither did today.

Homework took me a lot longer than I thought, and still wasn't finished. Consequently, I stayed up later than I'd planned, and decided to take the bus in so I could work during the commute time. But that of course meant an even earlier morning to catch the bus.

Managed to get here, and enjoyed a fabulous breakfast! Then, as a bonus, had an hour between breakfast and the first class. Even better, the brilliant people at UGA who organized this, made plans for "study rooms." I was so there to make another effort at the homework since I really didn't want it hanging over my head all day. I made tremendous progress, and felt much more ready to turn my focus to the courses at hand.

My primary "professor" is John Phillip Colletta of "They came in Ships" fame. A very charismatic (and experienced) lecturer, very easy to listen to. YAY!!! (nothing like getting a dull professor to listen to the whole time, I get enough of that in college).

We also had Tom Jones lecture in the afternoon today

There are 4 classes each day, two in the morning, two in the afternoon, with 15 min breaks in-between and 90min for lunch.

Today's courses included a general overview, how to evaluate the evidence you find, case studies that could only be solved via original sources, and 5 ways to prove (or not prove) who your ancestor was.

All 4 courses included a lot of great case studies, and both lecturer's knew how to tell them in a way to keep you glued. The last class was one of the best classes on the Genealogical Proof Standard that I've attended. I particularly liked that he pointed out the GPS includes "reasonable exhaustive search" and that far too often we focus on the "exhaustive" part and we forget that its "reasonable." We hear time and time again of people spending 30 years to proof or disprove one thing. It can be very overwhelming. Using his methods, it seems much simpler, without becoming willey-nilley searches.

The GPS is used for determining if a relationship, identity, situation or event is substantially credible based on:
  • a reasonably exhaustive search
  • complete, accurate source citations (he also pointed out that we don't want our work tossed out when we die, so essentially we are doing all our work for someone else, thus increasing the importance of this)
  • skilled analysis and correlation of the data
  • resolution of contradictory evidence
  • a soundly reasoned conclusion
To meet this, he basically said 1. don't rely solely on family sources (Aunt Jane said that so-and-so told her that....) 2. Don't rely on any single source, no matter how high the quality. 3. And don't just follow a single trail of evidence until you find what you're looking for. But DO 1. gather multiple correlating sources and 2. weigh conflicting evidence and resolve the conflicts.

All logical and seemingly basic, but good reminders.

Dr. Colletta seemed to hit the public vs. private issue quite a bit, reminding us to check both, and explaining that a lot of places do have multiple archives, historical societies, etc. because one may have been started with private funding while the other was established with public funds (even though now both are often run with both type of funds).

He also brought up that each state handles their archives differently, some are connected with their historical society, some are separate.

There are numerous ways to find the repositories you need. Of course the internet is a great place to start, but there are also genealogy manuals which contain the info and other guides, catalogs, indexes, inventories etc. may mention the repositories as well.

One major item that you'll probably need to get on-site are manuscript collections. I recently learned from the catalogers at work that Manuscripts are basically anything not intended for publication. (though the definition of "publication" is coming to debate in our new age of e-publishing). Basically, they're collections of papers, mostly loose papers, but it might also include family bibles, or journals, newspaper clippings. Basically that box of "family history stuff" and memorabilia that Uncle Joe kept for years but his kids had no idea what to do with so donated to the local library, archive, or historical society. But it may also be the papers of an organization, a company or societal group.

Life got even more "exciting" when, during the break, my computer started to crash and show signs of a virus. Luckily, I'm close enough to the office that I was able to run over during lunch and get a techie to save me. I lost a few things, but the homework was saved. (One item lost: homework time during lunch). Then of course, since I wasn't able to sit near one of the scattered few outlets in the conf room, so my battery was low, the outlet on the bus was also not working so I lost power 10min into the ride home.

Did finally get my homework done, just in the nick of time.

Despite all the frustrations, the classes were so great I can't even call it a bad day!

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