I don’t know what I’m thinking, but I’ve pretty much decided that I don’t have enough to do in my life right now (cue sarcastic snort), so I’m going to attempt to get an Accredited Genealogist® Credential. I’ve started on the four-generation project for the Level 1 ICAPGEN accreditation and I am already wondering what the heck I was thinking!
I am still working through my search for Sidney, but for the four-generation project, I wanted to start with a clean slate so I could actually track my research methodology instead of just the facts and citations. I think the biggest learning curve of this project is going to be forcing myself to slow down and not only cite the documents that I find, but also write down my process as I do it.
I have a habit of following the BSO’s – the bright shiny objects – that so often catch my eye while searching. What that looks like is this: I’ll do an ancestry search for an ancestor, using the info populated from the tree. You know how that works – the site fills in all the information for you in order to focus the search. Then, when I get the search results, something will catch my eye and tear me away from my specific goal. I may be looking for a census record, but instead, I find an index for a marriage record and then I go chasing that. After looking at the index, I try to find the actual document or image. The next thing I know, I’ve wasted an hour (at least) of my time that I should’ve spent focused on the census records and have nothing to show for it.
In researching what is involved in becoming accredited, I learned that the ancestor I start with has to be born before 1939 (since I probably won’t submit it until next year) and all four generations need to be focused in the same general location. I am also going to have to explain how the documents pull together to ‘prove’ the facts that I present. Sounds easy, right? HA!
I let my son pick where I started – I laid out his 8 great-grandparents and had him pick one at random. He chose my husband’s mother’s maternal side. This actually turned out to be a lucky one, I think. Her maternal side has been pretty well researched by others, so I have never really spent much time on those ancestors. As I’m sure many of you know, genealogists become very familiar with their ancestors – I could tell you birth dates and marriage dates for several generations back on many of the folks in my trees. I spent a lot of time reminiscing about them via records and online indexes. But with her line, I barely can remember the surnames, let alone know any details.
After it was decided where I would start, I called my mother-in-law and ‘interviewed’ her. It was a rather awkward conversation to start with. I’ve been married for 26 years and I felt like I should know all these pieces of information about her family. But, I explained what I was doing and I asked her questions as if she were a client of whom I knew nothing (I will DEFINITELY have to work on my interview skills for future work because I didn’t get nearly all I should have).
During the interview process, I actually learned a good bit about her family; she gave me some names and dates to get started with and I jumped in, feet first. To say I’ve been slightly obsessed since then is an understatement, but I’m learning a method that I think may actually work for me. As I am doing the searches on the individual ancestors, I am writing my process out in Scrivener. I explain my thought process – why I searched where I did. Why I chose the order to search for documentation. Where I searched for which type of record. It’s been very enlightening to me! Granted, most of my written notes aren’t going to end up in the final report, but having to write out an explanation of how the facts come together is really helping me find holes in the stories of these new ancestors.
Enough rambling for me tonight. I just wanted to share my excitement at the prospect of accreditation with people who understand my nerdy love for the dearly departed!
If you’d like to learn more about the accreditation process, go check out the guide on ICAPGEN’s website.
Keep an eye out for future posts about the SATTERWHITE family. Those are my four-generation peeps!