Monthly Archives: April 2006

Teaching about Evidence

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Thomas W Jones wrote an important article entitled. "A Conceptual Model of Genealogical Evidence: Linkage between Present Day sources and Past Facts" that appeared in National Genealogical Society Quarterly 86 (March 1998) pages 5-18. I think I must have read it four or five times trying to get my head in gear. In the end I concluded that evidence was the product of the interaction between the researcher and the information before him. Before there is evidence there must be the resercher's question. Let me explain.

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Teaching about Information

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Donn Devine teaches us about information in his article, "Evidence Analysis" in Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians, (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001) page 333. He says, "Any source or record may contain information based on both primary and secondary knowledge – one of many reasons that genealogists must distinguish between the source and the information it offers" So what is the difference between primary and secondary information?

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What’s in your Media Kit?


I've been thinking about my dreadful media kit since I wrote Man Bites Dog a while ago.  So I started looking for some advice on building my media kit. It was an eye opener.  May I suggest you check out these two sources to start with. 

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Teaching about Sources

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A source, sometimes referred to as a document or a record, is the "container" so to speak of genealogical information. Historians refer to sources as being primary or secondary. Genealogists see the fallacy of describing a source this way because it is the information that is primarry or secondary. The legal profession describes sources as being original or derivative, a much more practical approach. Genealogists prefer this finer distinction. Lets look more closely.

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Saying Something Important for Nothing

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An intersting exchange is noted in the comments for the posting Speaker Fees
that merits a comment about doing lectures without a fee. Generally this bothers me a bit. I do find it troubling to think we'd expect a mechanic to do our car repairs for nothing because he belongs to the same ball team as we do.. But I am not bothered by the idea that he might offer to do it for nothing. Consider the following case

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Sources, Information and Evidence

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A couple of years ago I met one of America's great genealogists, Helen Leary in Toronto where she was speaking to the Ontario Genealogical Society. One of the topics she touched on was teaching beginning genealogists. Her comment was that she would in their first lessons teach these concepts: sources, information and evidence using the records of their own life! Later that weekend I was fortunate to have a late lunch with her and discuss this idea some more. I'll be exploring my thoughts on this issue but to start I would suggest some reading on your part.

Donn Devine, "Evidence Analysis" Professional Genealogy, A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2001) 329-342

Elizabeth Shown Mills, "Working with Historical Evidence: Genealogical Principles and Standards" National Genealogical Society Quarterly 87(September 1999) 165-184

Thomas W. Jones, "A conceptual Model of Genealogical Evidence: Linkage between Present-Day Sources and Past Facts", National Genealogical Society Quarterly 86 (March 1998) 5-18

Do a little reading and watch this space for some of my thoughts on these concepts and how to teach them.

WordPress was Down for Easter

Sorry for the inconvenience caused by WordPress going down. Seems they found rabbit fur, chocolate eggs and an Easter chapeau gumming up the works and shut down for repairs unexpectedly.

Web-Based Learning for Jewish Genealogy

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Schelly Talalay Dardashti tells me that there is a new venture in distance learning for students of Jewish genealogy. Here's what she says,

" Jewish Internet Research begins May 4 at Learn how to navigate the Internet for information on your Jewish ancestors."

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Self Directed Learning: Personal Library Building


Recently I mentioned Joy Reisinger and her chapter, "The Essential Library" which was published in Elizabeth Shown Mills (Editor), Professional Genealogy, A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001)on pages 62-82. I'd like to refer you back to her chapter again for those teaching themselves. I am a great believer in using the public, college and university libraries, but nothing replaces that shelff of books behind my desk for tools I use daily. So you need a purchasing plan to to build that library.

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Another Look at My Program Evaluation Form


I’ve been tinkering with my program evaluation form to see what what could be simplified, added, removed etc. The purpose of the evaluation form is to provide feedback to me the speaker concerning a variety of factors impacting on my effectiveness. I am thinking about changing the rating scale questions to something like this:

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