If you are a serious genealogist, or at least serious about your genealogy research, you will want to constantly be improving your research skills. Many of your skills will naturally improve the more you do genealogy work. Others need to be purposefully worked on whenever you get a chance. The better your skills, the more information you will be able to uncover regarding your family history, and the farther back you will be able to take your research. You will also have the satisfaction of knowing the vast majority of your research is likely correct. Here are three ways you can constantly be improving your genealogy research skills.
1. Read Books on Genealogy
There are plenty of books on genealogy out there, and you should read as many of them as you are able. Each one will give you new insights into your research b teaching you techniques you may not have considered, introducing you to previously unknown record sources, instructing you on how to get certain types of genealogical documents, and showing you how to properly cite your sources. All of these things are important in improving your genealogy research skills. It is especially important to learn how to cite your sources correctly, as this is something beginning and amateur genealogists often neglect to do. Getting your sources on your written genealogical research and citing them correctly will give you the confidence your research is correct, and allow other genealogists to go farther down your line by re-tracing your work. It is a valuable research skill that every serious genealogist should know and practice. – Learn More
2. Join Genealogical Societies
Some of the better known national genealogical societies have journals they send to their members. The National Genealogical Society and The New England Historic and Genealogical Society have particularly well-known and well-regarded ones. Some of your state and regional genealogical societies may also have excellent journals of good, high-level genealogical scholarship for their members. Not only can you often get access to databases of genealogical information not available anywhere else by joining these societies, you will also be sent their journals, which are typically sent out quarterly (but may vary with regional and local societies). You will learn a lot about how proper genealogical research is done and written in a professional, credible manner by reading these journals. So, join as many societies as you are able, and read the journals when you get them, even if the articles don’t have anything to do with your particular family lines. You will learn a lot just by reading them and can transfer what you’ve discovered about good genealogical scholarship to your own research. – Learn More
3. Go to Genealogical Conferences
When you join genealogical societies, another benefit is being invited to attend their conferences. Some of these are local conferences, while others are national. When you go to the conferences, you will have plenty of learning opportunities, as most conferences have several mini-seminars in various areas of genealogical research going on during the day, and a keynote speaker at or after dinner. At most conferences, you will get a list of the seminars being offered and will choose the ones you wish to attend, as most of them will be running concurrently. This enables you to keep busy all day every day of the conference by going to seminars teaching things you particularly want to learn about genealogy, either in your own state or on the national or even international level. The more conferences you attend, the more you will learn. Therefore, it is an excellent idea to attend as many as your budget allows. – Learn More
As you improve your genealogical skills, you will begin to see a real improvement in your work. You will also gain confidence in your skills and abilities. If you keep it up for several years, you may even gain the confidence to submit your own research studies to genealogical journals for publication. You may even become so well known in the genealogical community that you get invited to be a teacher or speaker at genealogical conferences. Then, it will be you who is teaching beginning and less skilled genealogists how to become better at what they do.
Will Moneymaker founded Ancestral Findings back in 1995. He has been involved in genealogy research for over 20 years. The thrill of the hunt, the adventure, and the excitement begin when he started investigating the meaning of his surname. Why I Love Genealogy (And You Should, Too!)