Have you been thinking of joining our upcoming Research Like a Pro Study Group? You may have wondered if you had enough research experience or if it would be worth the money and time. Participants from the inaugural group came from varied backgrounds, but each had a positive experience, learning skills to help them move to the next level of research expertise.
Today self-proclaimed research novice, Nancy Brown, tells her story.
Am I Up to It? A Novice’s Questions About Joining a Research Study Group
by Nancy Brown
Although I’d not done much actual research beyond exploring the tools of Ancestry and FamilySearch, I had a desire to expand my knowledge. I had often referred to helpful articles on the Family Locket Blog related to various family history projects.
One family line posed a conundrum, trying to identify whether an ancestor, William Atkins Gheen, truly did appear in 2 different 1880 Census records in neighboring states, or if these were 2 different individuals. Answering this question seemed important as a wife and child appear in one record. I couldn’t ignore those individuals. So when the study group was offered, it seemed a perfect chance to move my skills beyond just dabbling and see what help I could get in resolving this question.
I had been referring to the multi-part blog series “Research Like a Pro” and “Back to the Basics” to help me, which had been very beneficial. However, I’m so glad I became accountable to prepare and show up every 2 weeks as part of the Study Group. The pace of the class was perfect, allowing time to complete assignments but still keep focus and energy. Diana’s lessons were well organized. She is a master at covering learning material but still engaging group participants and allowing time for questions. Although packed with valuable information and tools, lessons never felt overwhelming.
Having access to the week’s’ study materials was so helpful in actually applying what I’d learned. We asked each other questions during our preparation time via chat. Opportunity to both give and receive feedback provided more growth. It was great to see the varied purposes, geographical locations & time periods and ways of organizing information that members brought to the group. Several of the research objectives of group members and the work they shared could be helpful for me in work on other family lines. Having these materials available for reference and ongoing study will keep me moving ahead.
A significant benefit of participating was in learning the orderly process, the foundation laid step by step that makes for successful genealogical research. The course is aptly titled “Research Like a Pro”, as it is the process that Diana uses when researching for her clients. We worked through analyzing evidence to clearly identify a research question all the way to concluding with a readable research report and then some suggestions for organizing all these family records.
Seeing the “Big Picture” was eye opening and provided the most overall benefit for me. It was liberating to be able to define a discrete and manageable objective, see it through to its conclusion, then begin the process again. Although the work of family history is never “done”, we can finish a specific project, set it aside and select another focused objective. This may be an outgrowth of that just completed project or we can apply these tools to a totally different family line. The productivity tools and organization ideas shared by the group have answered so many questions and given me a way to pursue this interest, even when life is full of many other duties right now.
I’ve kept you in suspense. Did I figure out the identity of my two Williams? I’ve learned so much about the location, its geography & local history that informs my family history. I’ve found valuable records that add to my understanding of the lives of these families. But the research question remains unanswered. I have other ideas to pursue suggested by group members. I will search, record & interpret findings and write a report. At that point, I can say that I have done due diligence to support whatever conclusion emerges. That is a satisfying perspective. So although I have much more to do, I’m far more confident about how to proceed.
So even if you consider yourself a beginning researcher, seriously consider joining this study group. The time spent will benefit any intended projects, whatever they may be. Participating in a scheduled group accelerated my learning and progress far beyond what that same time spent on my own could have done. Great dividends came from the investment of this time.
Thanks, Nancy, for sharing your experience!
If you are considering signing up for the next session of the Research Like a Pro study group, please feel free to contact us with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
If you are interested in learning about the Research Like a Pro process, we recommend purchasing our book, Research Like a Pro: A Genealogist’s Guide.