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Friday, January 4, 2013

To educate or not to educate... that is the question

No new discoveries this week, yet, but lots of tagging, storing, sorting, and reading since we came home this past weekend.  However, I have discovered once again that my thoughts are drifting back to taking classes in genealogy.  What can I say?  I am an odd person.

From the Library of Congress
Woman reading a book (Eloyse et Abailard)
The classes I took through Family Tree while their blogger where great.  They gave me the basics, got me started on a whole bunch of different topics, but I still feel I need something else.  Call it my over prepared, overly organized, what don’t know, genes kicking in.  Yes, I am the type of person who doesn’t do anything until it has been thoroughly thought through, planned out, and I have read the directions five times.  Well… there are exceptions to that rule, which have led to hilarity and bizarre outcomes.  So, like I said, total preparedness is good!

From what I can gather there is a lot of choices on education out there; professional level all the way down to hobbyist.  I still don’t know what I want to achieve with this new found path of mine, but I do know that I still feel like I am missing some key component to my education in this world.  When I was reading up on the subject I found this great post by Gena P. Ortega called Getting a Genealogical Education.  She had a good listing of free and paid classes, podcasts, university settings, and more.  You want an education? Gena tells you how to accomplish it.

I have come to the conclusion that I am a researcher at heart.  This is a fact; it is something that I have been doing for years.  You have read about how I love to sit on the floor of libraries, crawl around dusty books, and drink my tea while spending hours searching the internet.  The research is the thrill for me, which is why I loved my undergraduate research project.  The main difference between that and this was in one I watched crystals grow under a microscope for three years and now I hunt down dead people.  The crawling around libraries hasn’t changed though.

What I need to get better at is putting it all together.  Mainly taking my findings then making them into a useable and engaging piece and finally putting them out there in the world for others to read.  It is still hard for me to think of myself as a writer after years of being told this is something I would never excel at (once again, there are only so many ways to write a lab report) that it may take a while to break down those built up walls in my head.  Talking with you is easy, maybe because I only know a handful personally.   

Besides being a better, more researched, and well-spoken writer I think one day I would also like to help others.  I have a service streak a mile wide in me.  Giving back and helping is second nature to me, and has got me in hot water a time or two with over volunteering.  However, if I could turn this obsession into something that could assist others and possibly garner a pay check, that would be awesome. 

There are many free resources out there, and I have used most of them.  I guess I need to know if I am missing something by not taking “formal” classes.  Right now I am only looking at things I can do online.  As a busy mom I have to work around school schedules and bus times which leave little opportunity for me to up and go anywhere (like an institute for a week).  Below is the list I complied of places I have looked at and my thoughts on them.  If you think I have missed one that I should consider, or have an insight into a program, I would love to know.

Boston University:  I have been looking at this program for over a year.  In fact, I even filled out their online questionnaire and talked to a representative from the college.  The Certificate Program in Genealogical Research is supposed to give you a basis to prepare yourself for Certification through the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCD).  Certification is a process that I really want to go through for some reason, even though I am not sure why I have the urge.

National Institute for Genealogical Studies:  They offer a variety of courses that certify you in a specific record group (there are 9 to choose from).  After completing the program you receive a Certificate in Genealogical Studies and can use the postnomials PLCGS (Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies).  Looking at the certificates available through the program think I could get the most out of either the General Methodology Certificate, or one of the specialized certificates in a country that I am interested in.  The Librarianship Certificate looks interesting, but as I have no training as a librarian nor do I work at a library so it would be silly to take it.

National Genealogical Society(NGS):  As a member (which you all should be… it’s a steal) you can participate in the Home Study Course.  However, this course means you, the student, have to be self-motived and on top of everything.  There is a graded option, which would be my choice since that would force me to work in a timely manner and not procrastinate.  In addition to this course the NGS also has a plethora of other materials available for their members, some free some not.

Heritage Genealogical College:  This site was intriguing to me.  Still poking around it, but I am not sure that I would be able to dedicate myself to a full course load of 15-19 hours for the foreseeable future.  At least not until my youngest one is a bit older and isn’t as dependent on me.  Besides, you can never have too many Bachelor’s degrees right?

Decisions… decisions…


  1. Looked at the Heritage Genealogical College but could find nothing about their accreditation. Do you information on that?

    1. That is a really good question. I will find out and post back here when I get a reply from them.

    2. On the menu down the right side of the page they tell you their degree requirements. There is a certificate, Associates, and bachelors degree in genealogical research.