Monday, June 15, 2015

Of Magnolias and Education

It is June and in Birmingham, Alabama temperatures in the 90s and high humidity are the norm. So why would this northern girl who suffers in such a climate head south? A little over a thousand miles drive, Birmingham is home to Samford University and at least for another year, is the host of the Institute of Genealogical  & Historical Research (IGHR). This year for the first time, my husband and I were registered and made the trip to this institution. He was taking the Intermediate course in Genealogy and I took the Genealogy as Profession

Elissa Scalise Powell CG, CGL, coordinates the course I took with additional presentations by the following:
Tom Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS
Michael Hait, CG
J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA
Kelvin Meyers
Benjamin Spratling, J.D.,
Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL

Through five days of both fun and learning with my 14 classmates, we covered many aspects of research, elements needed for a business and various opportunities available within the genealogy community.  

Our Class with 2 of our instructors

Although a few different aspects were mentioned and talked about in class, the reality is that there are endless possibilities for a profession in genealogy. They range from working for one of the big companies such as, working in a library, to self-employment or even leading a group of researchers. Our instructors were only able to mention a few of the possibilities during the week and I and my fellow classmates, have many additional ideas as we get ready to either launch our own businesses or further our efforts along these lines.

Other topics covered included writing research plans, lecturing, time management, DNA, forensic genealogy and certification. As IGHR is a southern institute, many of the students were from such southern states as Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. The north was also well represented with not only two students from, New York, but students from Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois as well.

Optional lectures were in the evening as well on various topics. It was not all about learning though. There was plenty of social time, meeting old friends and discovering new ones. I attended a gathering of “ProGen” on the first evening at a nearby restaurant. This group consisted of facilitators, people taking the course and many of us that have already completed. For those not familiar with the ProGen study course, it is an 18 month on-line course where people meet once a month to discuss a topic or two from the book Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FNGS, FASG, FUGA. In addition to the discussion each month, you have an assignment that you complete and submit to be reviewed by a group of your peers, while at the same time you are reviewing their assignments and helping each other on them.

Did I just mention Elizabeth Shown Mills? She was the speaker at the banquet held on Thursday night. After a delicious meal in a beautiful cafeteria in the main campus building, she gave an entertaining talk entitled: “Lost Eyes, Whipping Posts, and Wife Swapping: Lessons from Yesteryear.” I’m not sure how long it lasted, but the night deepened almost unnoticed outside as we listened riveted to her talk as she not only entertained, but also educated us at the same time.

The campus of Samford itself is old and beautiful. When you imagine a university campus in the traditional sense, this is what comes to mind. Stately buildings from the 1800s grouped around a quad that is grass filled lawns with magnolia trees in bloom. Pathways leading to and around fountains with benches and tables to sit down at to relax, enjoy the views, or perhaps actually study. The architecture is such that I could imagine men in old-fashioned attire accompanying women in hoop-skirted dresses along the pathways. This is not to say that the campus is way behind. Modern amminities abound including wi/fi throughout, a food court in the main building and such. New buildings were going up as we studied this past week.  

Receiving My Completion Certificate from Elissa Powell

Altogether, it was a grand week. I left feeling energized and inspired, ready to further my plans for creating a business. Of course, it was not without sadness that I left as well, I made many new friends this week and got to know a number of people better than I had before. Was that drive south in June worth it? Well, let’s just say I’m hoping that come next June, my car will once again be pointing towards Alabama!

CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Photos are courtesy of Carolyn Rybnikar one of my fellow classmates. 

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