I spent many hours the last couple of weeks working on my syllabus material for the July week of the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. I coordinate and teach in the course Digging Deeper: Records, Tools, and Skills. I’ve made a few changes in this course over the years but it still remains mostly at the intermediate level. Along with the other three instructors, we talk about analysis, research planning, standards, delving deeper into records, and improving our skills in these and other areas. Why am I telling you all this right now? During my work on my sections of the extensive syllabus, I had several moments when I did some self-reprimanding.
You may cheer that I am admitting some things. None of us should ever be stagnant in our research, education, or in reviewing what we already have discovered. As I updated a ton of links, record discussions, and PowerPoint slides for the sessions I am teaching, I realized that I had neglected to check several things on parts of my own extended family. I need to go back to other military records for several uncles. I need to understand more about one uncle and why he was in New York city when he died in a subway accident. The death certificate is not pretty. Why was this young man only a few years out of the army not back in Winona or Saint Paul with his mother and siblings?
Where is the family bible that was supposedly in the hands of Great Great Grandfather James Stuart (1815-1899) who was living with one of his sons in Chicago at the time of his death. How do I know about this bible that had been handed down for several generations and that originated in Scotland? I’ll save that story for another post. I need to do some follow-up with a few distant cousins.
As I teach throughout the week and help solve mysteries and record locations with the students in the course, I’ll probably be reminded of some more loose ends I need to work on. Oh, I do have a list of things to do as far as family history, but when records do exist, I need to push myself to practice what I preach. Have you reviewed your paper and computer files lately? What should you be checking? If you don’t know, you can always join us in this course. It really does make us all analyze what we have, learn more about specific records that take us beyond basics, and adds to ways to figure out who that doggone DNA second cousin match really is!