Thursday, May 30, 2013

"Become a Better Genealogist" Part 2

On May 8th the members of the TriCity Genealogical Society finally got to enjoy the sequel to January’s topic “Become a Better Genealogist”. Margie Beldin, as the TriCity Genealogical Society Education Chairperson, didn’t disappoint those that waited for the conclusion of her first presentation.

I personally appreciated Margie’s idea of a Genealogy Toolbox. Margie opened her toolbox and showed us some fascinating tools that will help us be better genealogists. Her toolbox was full of Internet links, library book call numbers, and electronic documents organized in an easy to find fashion that could be used to research family history. She encouraged everyone to create their own toolbox and fill it with the tools that she shared. She also taught us how to pack our toolbox for easy transportation by introducing the idea of online cloud storage.

Another juicy tidbit that I’ve munched on since Margie’s presentation was a principle I had never heard of before, but could immediately accept. This was the principle of Occam’s Razor. The Skeptic’s Dictionary at defines Occam’s Razor as “plurality should not be posited without necessity”. Margie broke this down for us and explained it simply. Our ancestors typically took the easiest path to go from one point of their life to the next.

The FAN Principle as introduced to the genealogical arena by Elizabeth Shown Mills is another principle that Margie shared. The FAN Principle encourages family history researchers to investigate the lives of Friends/Family, Acquaintances, and Neighbors to enhance our research on our ancestors. No one, not even our ancestors, lived in a glass bubble.

Margie wrapped these ideas, and more, into the Genealogical Proof Standard. By using this standard we can analyze data that we collect.
1. Reasonably exhaustive search
2. Complete and accurate citation of sources
3. Analysis and correlation of the collected information
4. Resolution of conflicting evidence
5. Soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion

After giving us these important theories, principles, and standards to consider, Margie encouraged everyone to evaluate, record, and write our findings.

Does that sound like a “packed full of information” presentation? It was. Not a person in the room was able to leave without tucking something away in their pocket for further investigation later. We had so much to ponder. Margie delivered all of this with class and poise that has been developed over years of providing information packed presentations. When I left the presentation I felt that I had truly experienced a treat and was encouraged to become a better genealogist.