Monday, May 3, 2010

Back to school?

Not really.

But today is the first day of the first course I'm taking with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.  It is affiliated with the Continuing Education Department at St Michael's College here at the University of Toronto, and they offer a number of courses that lead to various certificates in Genealogical Research.  The program is online, assignments are submitted online and there are chats at various points throughout each course.  Grades are assessed. 

I'm quite excited about this as it's been a hobby for some time and I've always felt that I'm not very organized or methodical when doing research.  We are so lucky here in Toronto with many resources for primary research, and of course, the internet has fundamentally changed the way historians and researchers can access data when searching for ancestors.  This is the kind of hobby that "could" turn into part time work if I decide to go that way, which would be fun, as it's something that really excites me.

My first course is in Basic Methodology, and in for the first (ungraded) assignment, we were asked to introduce ourselves to our fellow students by posting briefly about the families we are researching and the types of documents/resources we have already accessed. This is what I wrote:

I have been researching my ancestors for most of my adult life (about 30 years), with serious effort made in the past 10 years or so.  

My father’s ancestors were Russian Jews and I have had difficulty making much progress here due to language difficulties and lack of accessible records, not to mention my inexperience.  The families on this side are Berkman and Elstein.  I have had luck with Canadian census records, telephone directories, burial records, as well as with immigration and land grants.  My father was an only child who passed away over 20 years ago, and was not in touch with his relatives.  

My maternal grandfather was (I believe) a British home child with surname Gear, and I have identified a possible immigrant, but am not positive that I have the correct individual.  This is something of a brick wall for me at the moment.  I have used census, newspapers, vital statistics, and passenger lists in my searches here.  His wife was from Aberdeenshire, Scotland with the surname Morren.  I have had some luck with records from Scotland’s People (vital statistics mainly).  There is some interesting history associated with this couple that I am still untangling.  Other surnames that appear in this branch are Forbes, Gordon, and Ross.

My mother’s mother is from England with the surname Goddard.  I have connected with another researcher through a family history association who has compiled a very extensive and well-documented tree that includes my family.  I would like to spend some time confirming details in my pedigree and then write up the history in a narrative format.  Other surnames in this branch are Price and Drury.

So this should be fun!  I'll keep you posted.

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