Saturday, April 28, 2012

What did I learn today from Jeremy Palmer?

Today I made an effort to trek down to Sydney-town to attend a course run by Jeremy Palmer at the Society of Australian Genealogists. Apart from enjoying the experience of being in the Rocks (the older part of Sydney, just under the pylons of one end of the Harbour Bridge) and being in a lovely old sandstone building, the course was well worth the effort. Jeremy spoke about how to be a professional genealogist but his ideas are useful for all genies, I think.

Jeremy runs a professional family history and research business, Anzestry, and has plenty of tips for genies down under (wherever they are).

Here are the top five tips I learned from him today:

  1. Negative searches. These are the searches you make when you don't find what you're looking for. Jeremy explained that these types of searches are costly and take longer than positive searches. After all, if you find what you're looking for, your search usually ends. However, when does a negative search end when you haven't found what you're looking for? It could go on for a long time, especially if you aren't sure whether or not the record you are searching for even exists. Jeremy's tip: make a record of your searches so that you don't repeat them. This will prevent you from wasting more time searching a set of records that you have already searched through before without any success. Of course, if databases are regularly updated and add to, re-doing the search can be worthwhile.
  2. Sources are important. This is an old chestnut but a useful thing to remember. Even experienced genies sometimes forget to record sources. Keeping a records of the records (census, BDM, etc.) and the sources (books, websites, etc.) that you have searched is a great way to save time in future research and a great way to ensure that your future searches can build on what you've already done, rather than starting the whole process from scratch.
  3. Brickwall breakers. Professional genealogists can help you to dismantle the brickwalls in your research. A few hours work from a paid professional may save you hours and hours and hours of your own precious time. Also, an outsider's eye is often the key to breaking these brickwalls.
  4. Research records. Although the thrill of the chase and the excitement of the find is what motivates many genies, you can save yourself a lot of time and prevent the risk of double-searching if you keep a record of where you search. Jeremy suggested keeping a research log which includes what you have done in your searching - such as letter writing, information requests, etc.
  5. Learn more. Join a society, enrol in a course, attend a webinar, read books, ask for advice, practise your skills. When does a genie stop learning? Never:)

Thinking of becoming a member of SAG? I'd recommend it wholeheartedly - whether you live in Australia or overseas. There are loads of benefits for a small financial annual outlay. For less than $100, you can join and pay for your annual membership. The advice, publications, access to courses and records, not to mention the camaraderie, are some of my reasons for being a member. Plus, it's a great way to find out what's going on in the world of genealogy.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blogging beautiful!

While preparing for my next Genies Down Under episode, which is all about blogging, I just had to share these blogs with you.

The following blogs are all related to topics that would interest Aussie genies - so I thank all of these bloggers for their wonderful work and interesting blog posts.

Find out more about blogging in the Genies Down Under May podcast - available on iTunes on 1 May 2012.