Thursday, March 5, 2009

Beginner's Guides

By Ann Rabinowitz
One of the helpful things that many large-scale subscription databases are doing is to provide on-line video learning guides, webinars or pod casts or other visually-based learning tools.  One such example is findmypast.com which is British-based, but which has information that is helpful for connecting to research in many other countries.
They have a newly published series of five Beginner’s Guides or tutorials which are brief overviews that can be found here.
These Guides cover the following general topics:
  • Getting started in family history. 
  • Beginning your family tree.
  • Using the birth, marriage, and death records.
  • Ordering certificates.
  • Using census records.
Despite the fact that the Guides are being promoted for beginners, they are easily of use to the longtime researcher who is unfamiliar with the particular records available on findmypast.com.  It is also helpful to take a refresher course if you have not utilized the particular record sets in a while or are not familiar with how findmypast.com has them setup.
I found the “Using census records” quite useful as it was a quick reminder of what to look for and how to find it in the Census records. 

Another subscription site which has a learning center is Ancestry.com and it covers the following topics:
  • Getting Started. 
  • Find Answers.
  • Build a Tree.
  • Join the Community.
  • Discover More.
  • Keep Learning.
Along with these are a number of other tutorials which are of interest.  In addition, the Ancestry.com webinars are quite good and cover a wide range of topics and skill levels.  All of these can be accessed at the top of the front page of Ancestry.com.  It really pays to check out these resources as they come with your subscription and help to enhance your research experience.

In addition to these direct on-line tools, JewishGen, which is a non-subscription organization, also provides learning experiences through its periodically scheduled courses for various skill levels (click here to view the current schedule).

There are many other groups which have on-line learning tools, but this will give you a brief encounter with a few to start with.  The more learning or training you obtain in genealogy, the more you will be likely to find.  So, take advantage of the tools that are out there for you.

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