A Perpetual Student

If I could have my way, I would be a perpetual student. I enjoy learning and trying new things. Jumping into genealogy with two feet, however meant I had large holes in my knowledge base. Yes, I knew how to do research for college papers and my hobbies, but it soon became apparent that just being able to get the information was not enough. There was an entire new lexicon to learn and an all new ways to do things.

There are a lot of resources online to help with at home education. Family Tree Magazine became a go-to source for a lot of the information I was interested in. I participated in webinars that were convenient to my schedule, listened to podcasts, and read blogs and society websites from various sources. However, I still had this nagging feeling in the back of my head that I was missing something. All this jumping around and flitting here and there had left holes. It was time to get back down to basics.

I took the three First Steps classes through Family Tree University in October. They were exactly what I needed. There was some review, but more importantly, there was information that I was missing. Each class was designed for the novice family historian, to help guide them into the correct way to research their family. I finished those courses more confident in the way I was doing things, except in the matter of citing sources.

Keeping track of my information has become an overwhelming process. The software I am using for my database confused the heck out of me when I tried to enter the information manually. Then I gave up and let it do the citing for me. That was a large mistake. I went back several months later and while the information was there, I had no idea where exactly it came from or exactly what it was by just looking at the citation. Now, I have the daunting task of spending hours going through each and every bit of information making it right.

The largest surprise to me was that the way I wanted to cite my work was very different than what seems to be the way the genealogy community wants it to be cited. Books, journals, and online resources seem to be similar; it is when I got into the odd sources that I was tripped up. My solution? Take a Family Tree University class on source citations. I am really looking forward to what it has to offer.

In addition to that, I have several independent study courses that I am starting while on holiday with my family this month. That should keep me busy on the airplanes and while suffering from jet-lag. I am looking forward to what I will discover in the New Year thanks to these classes.

Photo from the Library of Congress

Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Shannon Bennett of Locust Grove, Va. Read all her posts at Family Tree University.

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