August 2


Six months of catch up & ProGen #49

By Cathie

August 2, 2020

It has been ages since I wrote a post for this blog but the last few months have not been normal ones for any of us. I last wrote about using the colourising tool on MyHeritage and my two weeks at SLIG/SLIG Academy in Salt Lake City towards the end of January 2020. Once those two fabulous weeks were over, I stayed in Salt Lake City working on my family history thesis until RootsTech rolled around at the end of February. This was a terrific opportunity to meet new people and to reconnect with old friends. However, by that time, the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to become more concerning and widespread so I was pleased to arrive home in early March.

Since then, Australia has gone into lockdown (as has the rest of the world) and is now slowly reopening but so many plans and schedules have been thrown into disarray. The closure of family history societies had an impact on my thesis as I could not travel to local areas to find out more about my 3x great grandfather so that, coupled with other family matters, has delayed its submission. I also had two presentations during July, one of which was a brick wall workshop for 10 people.  This required research time for each of the brick walls and then coming together with the attendees to provide guidance and help them formulate a research plan.  This workshop was face to face but the presentation the following week was on Getting the most out of FamilySearch.  This course had 27 people booked in and it was the first time I had used Zoom in this way. I started with a poll to find out what the group knew about FamilySearch, then did a brief presentation followed by a demo of the key components. I then used breakout rooms at the end. Attendees were put into small groups and used the different areas of FamilySearch to find answers to a set of questions.

I also deferred my entry into ProGen in January to the June intake, expecting that it would be my sole focus by July but that has not been the case. Still, I am so pleased that I did decide to take it up because in just a couple of months, I have learnt so much from a terrific group of people. All members of the group are interested in Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) accreditation which means that we are very focused on the end goal and exceptionally professional in our interactions with each other.

So what is ProGen?

ProGen is an 18 month program which uses both editions of Professional Genealogy, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills, as its text. An assignment is set once a month relating to a chapter or two in the texts. Each member of the group (limited to 8 with a mentor and a coordinator) provides feedback on the submissions prior to the next online meeting. Feedback must be constructive with positive and negative points raised. The online meeting (using GoToMeeting) is around an hour long and is recorded so you can play it back if you missed any insights or important comments.

I am the only non-American in the group and the rest are from across the USA.

My takeaways to this point are:

  • The PROGen group’s mentor is a BCG certified genealogist and provides feedback on her personal experience.
  • ProGen alumni have an accreditation success rate of over 75%.
  • The group is focused on a high standard of work and the feedback exemplifies this.
  • I understand more about the importance of correctly documenting/citing my sources.
  • Doing a research locality guide for the city where you live is harder than it sounds.
  • Transcribing an English will, written in italic hand in 1822, hurts the eyes and the brain (and some of the group have told me that)!

I will try and write more about the process as the months go on but won’t promise anything as we live in such uncertain times at present!

  • Great post Cathie. Thanks for explaining what ProGen is, as I’ve been wondering since I heard the term earlier this year. I am pleased at how we are all adapting to the new ‘norm’ although sad that it has curtailed having the ability to travel to do more research. The one thing that has been highlighted in 2020 is how important the internet is in our day-to-day lives.

    • Totally agree about the importance of the internet Bobbie and hope that what comes out of all of this is a new way of looking at how things are done.

  • I remember that wall at Rootstech. Aren’t we fortunate that we were all able to be together and enjoy our time, before this craziness began? What an absolute pleasure to meet you. I can’t wait for the next RootsTech. I’m doubting it will be 2021, but hope for the following year. It was very difficult to do “normal” things when this lockdown first began and I couldn’t blog either. With a new kind of normal having set in, I can now write again.
    Hope to see you soon,

    • Likewise Diane – it was wonderful to meet you too and we have the photos to prove it! I am also living in hope that RootsTech will be back on the travel agenda for 2022 (maybe London at the end of 2021). Best of luck with the writing – I do enjoy reading your posts.

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