When I started doing genealogy research, I did all my research online, from the comfort (and isolation) of my desk. I was able to find a huge amount of information. Twenty-first century genealogy researchers are truly fortunate.
But I’ve learned that getting away from the desk and researching at other repositories can be really beneficial. When I was researching at the Midwest Genealogy Center, I was reminded of the benefits of scanning a section of books. Titles jump out that I wouldn’t have thought to search for. Friendly librarians pointed out resources I didn’t know existed. At the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, a professional genealogist on staff gave me a mini research lesson as she helped me confirm that a person I’d found was actually my great great grandfather.
There’s another way to learn by stepping away from the desk: Going to conferences. Last Saturday, I attended a one-day conference sponsored by the Genealogy Society of Southern Illinois. It was in Carterville, Illinois, two hours from my home in St. Louis. I learned about it from a blog reader, Vickie Sheridan, who commented after I expressed my disappointment over not being able to attend the Midwestern Roots Family History and Genealogy Conference in Indianapolis as planned.
The conference was terrific! I am so grateful to Vickie for telling me about it. There were at least four ways it benefited that made it well worth the time and (somewhat minimal) expense:
- I learned a huge amount of information that will help me in my research
- I got ideas for blog posts
- I met Vickie
- I met Thomas MacEntee, the conference speaker (he did four talks!), whom I’d been looking forward to meeting in Indianapolis
I’ll write more in a future post about some of the great research tips and tricks Thomas presented, but I’ll whet your appetite with this one. Tom has created what he calls a Genealogy Research Toolbox in which he has organized a huge collection of over 150 valuable genealogy links. He encourages people to use it and share it. Here it is: Genealogy Research Toolbox.
In discussing the value of curating links such as these, Thomas made a very cogent point.
Why should I spend 30 minutes looking for a link when I could spend that 30 minutes looking for my ancestors?
That’s just another way that being organized can help us be more productive researchers. I’m so glad I left my house in an effort to become a better genealogy researcher!