How to decide what heirlooms to pass down

How to decide what heirlooms to pass down

Recently I was giving a presentation about social history and telling the stories of our ancestors. Those stories can/should include the heirlooms we inherit. One of the participants asked, "how do I ensure my grandma's china remains in our family?"

Good question. We all have that question. The automatic answer is probably, "you can't." No matter how much you love a treasured family heirloom you can't control what happens to it once you shake off this mortal coil. That's just reality. We all treasure different material objects and assign meaning to some while viewing other things as disposable. However, this is a subject that weighs on us, especially for the family historian who has seen countless articles and books in the last five years about downsizing your life and what your kids want and don't want to inherit.

My take on this subject is simple. No one wants to inherit something they need to store long-term. Your children or other family members have their stuff; they don't have endless storage space for your stuff. So what does that mean for your treasured items, and how you decide what to do with them?

I think people are more likely to keep and treasure something that has meaning for them, no matter the inherent or perceived value. What does this mean for grandma's china (or apron, jewelry, furniture, etc...…)?

If it's not fragile and falling apart, use it. People will treasure what they see. That means they need to know the item, so display it, use it, tell stories about it, so they can build memories to it. When I consider my "treasures," it doesn't matter that an inherited item means a lot to me. It needs to mean a lot to my kids who didn't know my grandparents or have any memories of them.

I use my grandma's china. I need to use it more, but I use and display it. Could I accidentally break a piece? Absolutely. I'm surprised I haven't. But it's there for my family and me to enjoy. It does us no good hidden in a cabinet. Despite using it, my kids may not want it when I pass. That's ok. I won't be around to give them my opinion. I’ll write down what my wishes are and approach the person I think would want those pieces. I would love for my kids to want the china, but in the end, I need to enjoy using something that brings back memories of my grandmother, who I dearly loved.

Is there any guarantee that a treasured heirloom will remain in the family? No, nothing is guaranteed, and as life changes, so do people's attachments to specific items. People have circumstances that dictate what they keep, like, etc. Taste changes (if it didn't, there wouldn't be antique or thrift stores). But when something is meaningful, it is more likely to be kept and treasured. Telling the stories of our ancestors should include the treasures that remind us of their lives.

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

 


Add Library Digital Collections to Your Genealogy Search List

There is little doubt that a library is essential for genealogists. Still, with the emphasis on researching at a library, we may be forgetting about an essential part of its online presence, digital collections.

I realize not every library website includes digital collections, but enough do to include them when considering the public library located where your ancestors lived.

A digital collection is an online collection of digitized material that range from newspapers to historical photographs, books, and documents. While these collections aren't typically described as "genealogical," they have genealogical value. These collections will be found on the library website under a research or collections heading (for example). They may also be referred to as a digital archive or digital collection.

Add Library Digital Collections to Your Genealogy Search List

 

Let's look at an example from the Evansville, Indiana Public Library. While it's probably more apparent that a large public or academic library hosts digital collections, don't assume a local public library would not. In this example, their digital collections are found by clicking on the word Collections at the top toolbar, and then under Special Collections, choose Digital Archive.

Evansville Library Archive

"The Digital Archive collection created by the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library contains images of photographs, postcards, cartoons, and documents representing people, places, and things in and around Evansville, Indiana.

Original images in this collection are from the Indiana Collection, located at Central Library in downtown Evansville, or from local residents."

So, what has genealogical value here? Almost everything, but pay special attention to the directories and yearbooks. Once you find the collection you're interested in, you can browse it to find the exact item like any digitized book collection you are familiar with. Once you select a singular directory, you can search within that book.

Once you're done exploring those, the homepage for the Digital Archive includes links to other collections, including genealogical.

Medicine hat library

Although I chose to start with a US example, any online library may include digital collections. Consider this example from the Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada public library. In this case, the digital collections are part of a more extensive offering the library has, combining free and paid subscription databases. Not clearly labeled, this one took a little more effort to find, but it was under Books & More at the top toolbar and then All Online Resources.

Medicine hat all online resources

Like most libraries, this one includes their subscription-based offerings, accessible with a library card, but they also have links to free collections, including the Alberta Heritage Digitization Project which is "free online access to cultural and heritage materials. Browse newspapers from 1885, read entire books about local communities, research legal documents, view historic photographs, and explore much more!" Yearbooks are just one of the genealogical finds you'll see in this collection.

Medicine hat 3

Libraries are vital for genealogists but don't forget what they can offer your research virtually. An online search of your ancestor's local public library (or even another one nearby) might reveal historical photographs, newspapers, directories, or digitized books that can help your genealogical search. Don't stop at the library homepage or even the catalog. Explore the entire website to see what genealogical items might exist.

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

 


Not Another 1950 Census Article

Not Another 1950 Census Article

You will most likely be looking at the newly released US Census by the time you read this. The release will be in its infancy, so it won’t be thoroughly indexed, and there may be bugs to work out. But you’ll be closer to better understanding your family’s life in 1950s America.

Every census reveal is an exciting event in the genealogy world. Those waiting for the 1921 UK Census that was recently released know the feeling. I remember when the 1930 US census came out and all of the celebration, indexing, and overall sense of discovery (heck, I think I even have a t-shirt commemorating it). 

And lucky for us, there is a vibrant genealogy education community that has provided us with articles, lectures, and videos with information to conduct better searches on the 1950 census as we prepare for the release. Legacy Webinars has also helped us prepare with webinars like this one from Dear Myrtle and Russ Worthington and an upcoming webinar by Lisa Louise Cooke.

But this isn’t going to be another one of those 1950 census articles. 

Instead, I want you to think about something along the lines of “I’ve looked at the census, now what?” For most researchers, you already know that you will find a family member in the 1950 census. You probably created that list months before the release date. Yes, there are probably some who aren’t sure if the family member had died and looking to the census to verify an absence, but for the most part, you know who you are looking for and expect to find them.

Once you find your family, you will note the information, save the census to your computer and/or family tree. 

Now what?

What will you do next? Is our census search just about finding people on the census, recording them, and then moving on to the next record?

Once you found your family in 1950, what will you do next? The answer should be “analyze and build on what I've found.”

BlankCensus Form-top

Next Steps

How do we do that? It starts with transcribing the information and using the enumerator instructions to understand our ancestor’s answers. One problem with the 1950 Census is we won’t know who answered those questions, so we can’t determine how accurate the information is.

Once we have transcribed and studied the answers in conjunction with the enumerator’s instructions, we need to ask ourselves what these census answers tell us about our ancestors and what other records help complete this picture of their lives.

Ask research questions and then seek out the answers. Consider what the census tells us beyond a name, age, and race. For example, you might learn of a street address. The street address helps to answer where our ancestors lived, but we may want to know more about that place. What type of home is it? Is it a house or an appointment? Are they institutionalized or at school? We could follow up that address from the census with a look in our family photo collections for that house or a historical map (even the enumeration district map). We might want to look up that address today and see if a photo or description of the house exists online (if a house, maybe it’s on a real estate website) or Google Maps.

We need to look at our family in the census and verify we have all the relevant records for them, such as vital records or if they are one of the men asked about military service in the supplemental questions, any relevant military documents. Remember, our families in 1950 have just experienced a world war, and their lives were impacted both at home and on the battlefields.

Once we transcribe, read the enumerator instructions, ask research questions, and gather pertinent documents, we need to write up our findings. Even if the idea of writing makes your eyes cross, write up a simple paragraph stating what the 1950 census tells you about their life during that time. Adding personal photographs and newspaper articles from the 1950s can also help that story.

The release of the 1950 US census is exciting, but don’t let it become another record that is looked at and forgotten on your family tree. Make the most of what it has to tell you about your ancestor in that snapshot in time.

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

 


How Many Photos are on Your Phone?

How Many Photos are on Your Phone?

I have a confession to make. I am one of those people. You know. The people who have thousands of photos stored on their phones. Embarrassingly I will admit that almost 15,000 photos dating back to 2015 are on my phone. They run the gamut of vacations, research trips, family gatherings, and books. Oh yes, lots of books. One day my son told someone that I have more photos of books and food than of my kids. Well, I don’t think it’s true, but I’ll admit it’s probably a close tie.

Iphone photos

Books and Quilts...that's about normal for me.

 

What do you take photos of? The options are endless with a cell phone or mobile device. As genealogists, we have the opportunity to take photos of documents, books, microfilm, and heritage travel. That’s wonderful and it’s such a great research tool. But it isn’t enough to take the photos, you need to get them off your phone.

This is a concern I’ve had for a few years. Those photos might “disappear” if they aren’t backed up by the time I get a new phone or this phone breaks. What happens if I shake off this mortal coil? Will my family take the time to go through 15,000 photos and retrieve the ones that are family memories? (That answer is no and I don’t blame them. So don't forget to share what's important.) I’ve spent some time reading about organizing the photos one collects on their phone and considering what I need to do to organize and focus my rather large phone photo collection. Some of what I have learned might help you.

Not every photo is a masterpiece. I don’t know about you but there are the photos I took to remember where I parked at the airport. There are the photos I took of who knows what that came out blurred. Or the one photo I thought I took that ended up being a burst of 20. Those photos that should be deleted end up being “hidden” by the countless other photos I take in the days after. So that is why it’s important to Delete.

You can delete photos while watching TV or waiting for an appointment. Go through and delete the ones that no longer serve a purpose (like the parking lot photo) or that aren’t worthy of saving to a more permanent solution (like the cloud). Keep deleting and remember to go back and delete every so often so you aren’t cluttering your storage with photos you don’t need. 

Save to something that’s not your phone. One way I solved my photo issue was to pay for a cloud backup. Now, every so often my iPhone is backed up to my Apple storage. I pay a few dollars a month and I no longer worry that those photos of loved ones or trips I took will disappear if my phone dies or If I accidentally delete too much. You will replace your phone at some point. Don’t leave your photos on it!

Organize those research trip photos. Research trip photos need to be downloaded and organized. Update your research log, save the photos to the appropriate folder. It’s too easy to leave them on your phone and forget. And there is never enough time in the far-off land of “I’ll do it later.”

Use Other Apps. I take a LOT of books photos. Or at least I did. Now before I start taking photos of the latest book I want, a little voice in my head says “Use GoodReads.” So I stop, open my GoodReads app and add the book to my list of books I want to read. I don’t need to take a photo and all my books are organized there.

It doesn’t matter what you use. Evernote, Dropbox, GoodReads, or a genealogy app, but there are some photos that might be better off as data in an app and not a photo on your phone.

What’s on your phone?

Your photos are important so why keep them on your phone? Take some time to organize, delete, and upload your photos to another storage device, app, or even print them (gasp!, remember when we did that?!) Make sure that your photos live on by getting them off your phone.

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

 


A Virtual Museum Visit for Women’s History Month

Ready for a field trip? How about a virtual field trip focusing on Women's History Month and specifically thinking about writing or researching the women in your family tree?

Google arts

Consider checking out Google Arts and Culture. According to Google, this website is "a non-profit initiative. We work with cultural institutions and artists around the world. Together, our mission is to preserve and bring the world's art and culture online, so it's accessible to anyone, anywhere."

You can search, browse, bookmark, and view exhibits on your computer or mobile device via the Google Arts and Culture app. I find the app a great way to pass the time when I'm stuck waiting at an appointment.

A search on the phrase "Women's History" brings up 32 collections and 151 stories. Those virtual exhibits include:

I highly recommend browsing through the stories since some of the collections don't have obvious connections with women's history, but the stories do since they are individual online exhibits.

I'm always amazed at the items found on this website. While you might expect art from great museums worldwide (and you'd be right), there are also genealogically relevant materials like records, letters, and history. No, this isn't a website to research. Instead, it's a website to explore and better understand your ancestor's world.

There are several ways to search the website, but I'd recommend searching (click on the magnifying glass) using a topic, historical event, or place. If you want to search by a specific repository, click on the three lines in the top left of the website and then click on Collections and browse alphabetically or using a map. Besides museums, don't forget that you might find items from libraries and archives. As I browsed various archives, I found this exhibit from the Arkansas State Archive on Home Demonstration Clubs, something your female ancestor may have been involved in.

Arkansas 1

Arkansas 2

Now you may be thinking, "that's nice, but what does this have to do with genealogy?" Museum exhibits are a visual representation of our family history. They provide a way to view a specific time, place, and event. And the museum exhibits may contain explanatory information that can help with our research. For example, consider the Library and Archives Canada exhibit on 19th-century marriage listed above. The exhibit focuses on courtship and marriage with a case study told via letters and documents. This allows the family historian to become more familiar with practices in this time period.

LAC 2LAC 2

Take a virtual field trip and see how it can inform your own family history research.

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

 


Here’s to the Non-Genealogists

Here’s to the Non-Genealogists
Last weekend I spent some time going over some of the information I have collected over the years. I wanted to make sure it was all scanned and uploaded to my online family tree. So I opened a binder I created for one family line back in the early 2000s and saw pages of photos diligently scanned and printed on photo paper by a half grand-aunt that I had never met. In the binder, I had included my emails to this distant family member, and her responses back. I then started wondering about her and, with a bit of Internet sleuthing, discovered she had unfortunately died in 2020. I realized how lucky I had been to find her and benefit from her knowledge.

As genealogists, although we do many things in the quiet of a home office or by ourselves in a library, an archive, or cemetery, we benefit from collaboration. When I present, I often talk about the benefit of networking with other researchers who have experience with the location or time period, or type of research you’re doing. There’s no doubt that we all benefit from crowdsourcing and collaboration with those in genealogy societies, professional staff at library and archives can provide. But there’s another group we often fail to mention.

The Non-Genealogists

You know who they are. They include the older members of your family who consent to interviews. They are the cousin who forwards you obituaries. They are the family member who goes through the family photos and identify family names for you. They are the people you call and ask questions of.

I’ve had several of these people in my life. They don’t care to research family history, but they are interested in helping you preserve it. My dad was one of these people. He spent hours helping me research his grand-uncle, who he knew as a child, and would forward me information he found online that he thought would help. I’ve had cousins I’ve never met before meet with me to take me on tours of ancestral hometowns and share their photo collections. And this half grand-aunt who I found via her half-sister, my grand-aunt, who corresponded with me decades ago and provided me with what she knew about her dad’s family, one of my great-grandfathers.

Non-genealogists aren’t like us. They may care about the old photos and want to pass on the family stories, but they don’t want to spend hours in a library trying to uncover a fact. They graciously part with their time, memories, and their help. They may even reach out to other family members and help you make connections. They're just as happy to have you do the actual research and share your findings with them.

When we think about asking for the non-genealogist for help, whether it's their memories, their heirlooms, their photos, or their DNA, we need to consider:

  • They are busy with their lives
  • Our priorities aren’t theirs
  • They don’t have the same passion for shared family history
  • They may not have an interest in helping us

I see this a lot with DNA matches. Genealogists get upset that DNA matches either don’t have a tree or don’t respond to messages. “Why did they do the DNA test?” Maybe it was a gift. Perhaps they were just curious. Maybe they looked at the results and then never looked at it again. Everyone has different priorities.

Does this mean we shouldn’t reach out to non-genealogists? Of course not. They might be waiting to tell those stories. Maybe they wish they knew a family member interested in those old photos or documents. Perhaps they would like to learn more about your shared maternal line.

Non-genealogists are essential to our work. We need to consider reaching out to them to piece together our family histories. Who knows, they may end up enjoying the thrill of the genealogical chase just as much as you do.

To the non-genealogists, thank you for all you do to help us, genealogists. We couldn’t do it without you.

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

 


Periodical Source Index (PERSI) Available for Free at ACPL

Have you used PERSI? If you have been using PERSI over the years, you may have searched it from a genealogy subscription website, but it was recently announced that PERSI is going back to its home at the Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library. You can now search PERSI from the Genealogy Center website for FREE.

Not sure what PERSI is? Let's start with an introduction.

The Periodical Source Index

The Genealogy Center explains that “PERSI is the premier subject index for genealogy and local history periodicals, and is produced by the staff of The Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library (ACPL). Using this valuable resource provides citations to readily-available periodical sources.”

PERSI is a periodical index of history and genealogy magazines, newsletters, and journals that span the 1800s to the present day. The majority of the periodicals are US-based, but it also includes publications in Canada, the British Isles, and other countries. The periodicals in PERSI are in the collection of the Allen County Public Library (Fort Wayne, Indiana), and they index the materials. However, it is not an every-name index. Instead, it is a subject index and includes indexed words such as record types, location, surnames as subject, and how-to articles.

Why Use PERSI?

You might be thinking, "why should I use PERSI? After all, it's an index!" Indexes provide us with a unique finding aid. In this case, these periodicals have articles of use to our research including histories, images, and indexes of local records that genealogy societies, historical societies, and individuals have published in newsletters, magazines, and journals. These articles can provide an ancestor's name or context for researching your ancestor's time and place. And they can point the way to unique record collections you didn’t know existed. It's vital to seek out and identify materials located in the place your ancestor lived. These periodical articles can provide a glimpse of what is available.

Searching PERSI

PERSI Homepage

How do you search PERSI? ACPL has the PERSI search page broken down so that you can search:

  • Surnames
  • United States
  • Canada
  • British Isles
  • Other Counties
  • Research Techniques
  • Article Title Keyword.

This search page is different than previous versions of PERSI. In the past, various genealogy websites have licensed the PERSI content and created their own search for the materials. This new version is slightly different. Also, the previous license holder, FindMyPast, started digitizing articles found in PERSI. Those digitized copies do not exist in this edition. 

Although there is a surname search, please don’t limit yourself to just that search. Genealogists are accustomed to searching by name, date, place on genealogy websites, but that's not the best way to search PERSI. You would be better served by doing a location search and exhausting what articles have to do with your ancestor’s location. I'm not saying don't search by your ancestor's surname under any circumstances. What I am saying is don't stop there.

PERSI location search

For example, once you click on the country you're interested in, you will come to a page that asks for, in the case of the United States, state, and county. Once you click the search button, you’ll receive a results page that includes categories and how many articles match that category for your location.

PERSI Location Results

Once you click on the category of your interest, you can see a list of articles.

PERSI Cemetery Results

So now what? You can order photocopies of the article from ACPL. Click on the link for Article Fulfillment found on the Our Services page. Use the information found in PERSI to complete the form and the fee. You will receive an envelope and bill for the per-page copy charge of your ordered articles in about six weeks.

Do you have to order copies from ACPL? No, you could see if the periodicals are at your local library, or you might be able to find them online or through an interlibrary loan. If you're planning a research trip to ACPL, you might want to have a list ready so that you can copy the articles yourself.

To learn more about searching PERSI, see the Genealogy Center's webinar at https://youtu.be/RN7gUzHdZ4o.

What Will You Find?

I love PERSI because it's an easy way to find the information you may not be expecting. Some of my favorite finds have been articles with names from community cookbooks and signature quilts. Those articles had names I was researching but were not searchable by a name. Instead, I had to search by location. You don't know what you don't know, and PERSI is a great way to find treasures you aren't aware of.

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

 


Can You Guess the Historical Object? - Answer

Can You Guess the Historical Object? - Answer
So did you figure out what that mystery item was? Chances are you did since it seemed that most blog readers knew exactly what this item is.

If you recall I gave you the following clues:

  • This item is made of a lightweight metal (aluminum or tin)
  • This was mostly used by women to complete chores in more than one room of the house.
  • You would find this for sale in catalogs in the early 20th
  • It could be used in the kitchen but it has nothing to do with food.
  • This item saved money
  • This one that I bought at an antique store is just one “look.” There are different versions including a version that is square instead of circular.


The item in question is called a soap saver. Its purpose is probably obvious from its name. It held pieces of left-over soap (you know, those small pieces that no one wants to use). You add those pieces to the wire mesh basket and then when doing laundry you could swish the basket in the water and use up that leftover soap. This helped families save money by using all of the soap and would have been used when doing laundry pre-washing machines.

Did you get it right?

How did I figure it out? Well, it took a bit of researching in old retail catalogs. I assumed it dated somewhere around the early 20th century. I first thought it was a kitchen gadget and in a way it could be, but not for cooking. So I looked through catalogs until I found a photo of it.

Once I had the name, I looked in Google Patents for examples of it. Here’s one that I found.

Soap saver patent

From there I Googled “soap saver” and found other examples. Because there are modern-day “soap savers” I sometimes added a keyword like “metal” to my search. One article I found from the website Love to Know, included a photo of my soap saver.

 

Love to know screenshot
Love to know screenshot

Readers figured out the mystery item in any number of ways. There were those who knew what it was because they had a family member who owned one themselves. Like this comment by Anthony Grace:

"I believe this is a device to use up small soap remnants. By agitating it (with a piece or pieces of soap) in washing up water, the user could generate soapy water solution for cleaning pots and pans. I occasionally used one of these items as a child (70+ years ago!) so the answer was in my memory!"

But there were others who figured it out using various online tools including online retailers like Etsy, Google, and Google Lens. In one case a reader commented that she learned how to search using an image and that helped her find the answer (Geoff did a TechZone video about searching using a reverse image search.) In some cases readers even found modern-day examples that you could buy. Edwina Shooter found one for sale in Australia at this website.

It was a lot of fun to read everyone's comments. The reason we didn't publish them as you submitted them is we wanted everyone to have a guess without the correct answering showing up in the comments. One of my favorite comments was from Judy Conklin who wrote, 

"The object presented is a SOAP SAVER. I just Googled the words "old soap saver" and a picture of the object popped up. We had one at home - many years ago. Now, if only birth, death and marriage records were as easy to find!!"

I agree Judy! But any type of research can help improve your overall research skills.

The most common wrong answer was a tea infuser. While they are similar, the metal mesh on this item is too wide and the whole thing is too big for a tea cup. The photo below shows the difference in size compared to my butter dish. It does occur to me I should have provided something to show the scale and I have found tea infusers online that do look similar so that was a good guess. 

 

Tea infuser and soap saver

Did you figure out what the item was? All those who left a comment with the right answer were put in a random drawing for a free month subscription to Legacy Webinars. The winner of a one-month Legacy Webinar subscription is Ruth Taylor!

Thanks to everyone who participated! 

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

 


Can you Guess the Historical Object?

Ready for something new for 2022? Let's take a look at a historical object. The goal is to identify and research the item using the image and the clues I provide.

What sources should you use for your research? Familiar genealogical sources probably won’t help. Concentrate on websites with retail catalogs, periodicals, books, really anywhere you think you can find the answer. You can find these items by using Wikipedia, Google search, Google Patent search,  digitized book websites, and digitized newspaper website.

Once you know the answer, post in the comments what the item is and what sources you used. [Answers must be posted in the blog post comments (not various social media feeds) by Thursday, February 4, 2022 to qualify for the prize]. Feel free to add any other information about the item. We are all here to learn.

After a week, I’ll post the answer and more information about the item. Those who have posted the right answer will be put in a drawing to receive a 1-month subscription to Legacy Webinars. Already a subscriber? That’s ok, one month will be added to your subscription.

Ready?

January item 1

January item 2

January item 3

Your clues are:

  • This item is made of a lightweight metal (aluminum or tin)
  • This was mostly used by women to complete chores in more than one room of the house.
  • You would find this for sale in catalogs in the early 20th
  • It could be used in the kitchen but it has nothing to do with food.
  • This item saved money
  • Though this item has a round "cage-like" shape, not all of these looked like this. 

 

Questions:

  1. What is it?
  2. Where did you find the answer?

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

 


Your Genealogy Webinar Action Plan for 2022

Your Genealogy Webinar Action Plan for 2022

Happy New Year! In January, our thoughts turn to new beginnings and plans. Geoff Rasmussen recently announced the 2022 Legacy webinar schedule. That schedule always gets me thinking about all the education opportunities coming up for the year. So my question is, what do you plan to learn?

It’s easy to respond with an enthusiastic “Everything!” But you may want to take some time to plan out your webinar watching and come up with an action plan so that you can make the most of your webinar viewing. From my personal experiences teaching and watching webinars, I know there are some best practices to consider to get the most from your experience.

6 Best Practices

We are so lucky to live in a time where technology has brought us so much knowledge and information. I remember in college, I had an independent study class that consisted of recorded lectures on VHS tape, and I thought that was very high tech! That early version of the webinar did allow me some flexibility to listen to lectures on my schedule.

But easier access doesn’t always mean that we are doing what we need to, to get the most of the experience (remember my recorded college lectures? I tended to fall asleep due to a heavy work and school schedule).

What are some “best practices” to get the most of what you watch this year? Here are 6 I would suggest.

1. What is your goal?

What’s your reason for listening to that webinar? Do you have a specific research type or methodology you want to learn? Take time to write that goal down. When you find yourself not paying attention, you can remind yourself why you are there and what you want out of the next hour.

2. Focus on the Webinar.

No really. I know how it is. You have a webinar playing, and you're checking social media, and answering someone's email. Then you're ordering groceries to be delivered and wondering what you should make for dinner. No, don't do that. Give yourself the gift of focusing, totally being present only on the webinar. If you have to do a quick search of the website the speaker just mentioned, fine. But try to focus on what the presenter is saying. When we simply watch a presentation, we don't retain everything we hear, so imagine how much you retain when your mind is multitasking? According to author and TED Talk presenter Julian Treasure, we only retain only 25% of what we hear so imagine what you're missing in that other 75% [1]. 

3. Jot Down Questions.

Before you even watch the webinar, what do you want to get from it? What do you need to know for your research? Jot those down before the speaker even begins and if those questions aren't answered, consider asking in the chatbox.

4. Take Notes.

Do you take notes when you watch webinars? Note-taking helps you to retain information simply by the act of writing the information down. You can print the handout and annotate it so that it is more meaningful for your particular research.

5. Ask Questions.

Use the chat to ask questions. Your question may not be picked, but you have a better chance if you make sure to ask right away.

6. Summarize.

A TED talk by Julian Treasure (mentioned above) teaches an acronym to use when thinking about listening. That acronym is RASA which stands for Receive, Appreciate, Summarize, and Ask. Receive means to pay attention. Appreciate is one way you can show your listening to a person (using responses like oh, ok). The last two are probably obvious, Summarize what the speaker said back to them, and Ask questions.[2] Even though this is meant for 1:1 conversation, you could do the same thing when listening to a webinar. Remember those notes you were taking? You can note any follow-up actions like searching on a website or checking out a recommended book. After the webinar is over, take some time to jot down the three main points (or more) that are your take-aways from the webinar.

What do you do to prepare to learn from a webinar? What are your best practices? Let’s share ideas in the comments below.

See you at the next webinar!

 

[1] “5 Ways to Listen Better,” TED (https://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_5_ways_to_listen_better/transcript?language=en: accessed 5 January 2022).

[2] Ibid.

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.