Monday, April 7, 2014

RootsTech 2014 Will Your Family History Have Lasting Value? presented by Thomas Jones

On Friday February 7, 2014 I attended the second class taught by Tom Jones. It was RT1933 Will Your Family History Have Lasting Value? 
This was a very motivating class with great personal application for me. I think that all genealogists want to create a family history that their descendants will cherish and that has irreplaceable value. That is our goal.

Tom Jones began the class with a very specific challenge: "Consistently make your first genealogical priority to do today what future generations cannot do tomorrow." He elaborated saying that because of advances in technology and availability of records and DNA results that future generations will be able do some research much easier and more quickly than we can do today. But they will not have access to older members of our families. So our first genealogical priority needs to be to get information from these older family members and from our own memories before it is gone. He advised us to gather our family's oral history systematically and then to share it widely. He said not to interpret it. Do not present it as fact or fiction. Collect photographs and artifacts and share them on paper and electronically. Collect as many DNA samples as you can afford.

After this challenge, he urged us to acquire skills. He shared his personal history with us. He became interested in genealogy as a teenager in Lubbock, Texas. He learned by subscribing to genealogy magazines and getting books from the New England Genealogy Historical Society on loan. He said that he believes that his first twenty years of research was almost a total waste. It took him a long time to become a competent genealogist. He said genealogy research is hard, complex and requires an advanced skill set. Some of his suggestions were:
Plan your research.
Learn state by state and country by country about the records available.
Use FamilySearch Wiki.
Read the original handwriting and language.
Interpret the records.
Learn to follow a trail of records.
Use the information you have to get more information.
Use an evidence approach rather than an information approach.
Read a lot and write a lot. (Hmm, this is another reason for me to keep up with this blog.)
Study Elements of Style by Strunk and White.
Take courses.
Read genealogy periodicals and study the case histories.

The next section of his presentation was about creating a genealogy of enduring value. There are four essentials. (BEAD)
A is accuracy. Accuracy is invisible.
B is biography. This is the meaning or the uniqueness of a person.
D is documentation.
E is explanation.
There is very little online that meets these standards, unless it was first in print.

After this class I went to the Exhibit Hall and purchased Genealogy Standards: 50th Anniversary Edition by the Board for Certification of Genealogists edited by Thomas Jones.

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