Tag Archives: education

My Path to Certification – Issue No. 4

Today is August 1st. I promised to submit my application to the BCG on August 1st. Well, I completed the application last Friday and put it in the mail. Hopefully, it arrived in Washington, D.C., about today. I can’t take it back at this point so I should consider myself officially on the clock. I feel a mixture of emotions from excitement to panic. I wonder if I can possibly pull this off in the next year. We shall see!

After taking the plunge and finally submitting the application, I worked on some other aspects of my plan. I don’t really have a plan, per se, past knowing that I have a year to submit my portfolio. I know some people who schedule what element they will work on each month. I do want to do a major portion of work on my KDP first so that I can put it aside and come back to it later. I feel such a large piece of writing needs to sit so I can go back and make improvements with a clearer vision. I can only do that if I walk away at some point. Right now I’m try to figure out how to continue researching but transition from research to writing. One strategy I am trying is—to just sit with a pad of paper and pencil and write with a purpose. For example, chose one section of the KDP to write about. No fact-checking or writing footnotes. Just write. I can go back later and correct the specifics and add the footnotes.

I received a great recommendation for a book this week—On Writing Well by William Zinsser. The 30th anniversary edition includes a chapter on writing family history (which I haven’t read yet). I believe the book is helping my brain make this transition from researching to putting pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard). Writing is such an important part of the portfolio (or the job of being a genealogist). Learning to write well should be an integral part of any genealogist’s education plan. I have read my share of absolutely boring family histories. I do not want to be one of those family history writers who strings a bunch of facts with footnotes together to make a narrative. I want to breathe life into my ancestors! Finding a balance between sound technical genealogical writing and entertaining family narrative is my goal. A couple take-a-ways from the book so far:

  • Use action verbs and consistent verb tenses – These are both lessons I learned during my time at BU and ProGen, and I cannot stress them enough. I hear them repeated at genealogy seminars and conventions continually. It’s great to read a non-genealogy related person give the same advice.
  • Writing is hard work. It requires practice just like any other craft. Find a writer whose style you admire. Read the journals—NEHGS, NGS, TAG, etc.—to find a fellow genealogist whose style you like.
  • Use a dictionary and thesaurus – I have a beat-up copy of Roget’s Thesaurus that I have used since my college days. I still use it!
  • De-clutter your words – If you can get the point across with fewer words, do it!

In the last week, besides my trip to the Family History Library to copy microfilm, I spent part of my weekend downloading journal articles (and not genealogy ones!) In order to add historical context and knowledge to my narrative, I must learn about the social, historical, and economic factors that may have influenced my ancestors lives. Sites like JSTOR and Internet Archive provide access to historical texts. I downloaded articles on the early history of my county as well as contemporary books that were written for people interested in migrating to the region where my ancestors lived. With these, for example, I gained insight on diseases that may have affected my ancestors or construction projects (railroads, canals) that impacted their lives.

Genealogical Standard 57: Background information“Assembled research results provide sufficient background information for readers to understand…what [an item] means in context of…place and time…[which] may include concepts from economics, ethnic studies, genetics, geography, government, history, law, religion, sociology, and other fields.”

I finished my sweater this weekend. Now, I’m working on completing another “almost-done” project—a sweater I started for my son last fall. He has grown a couple inches since then so hopefully he will get some use out of it!

My teacher hat goes back on this week. School starts next week so I must parcel out my time and prioritize my various projects more efficiently. Until next time!

©2017 copyright owned Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2017/08/01/my-path-to-certification-issue-no-4/

Smallpox Epidemic, Part LVI

Indianapolis Journal - 1900-04-05 (Smallpox epidemic), p. 3No Danger from Smallpox.

To the Editor of the Indianapolis Journal:
A large number on inquires have come to me of late from prospective students at the State Normal School in regard to the smallpox situation in Terre Haute. These letters, received from many parts of the State, show that greatly exaggerated reports have got out in regard to the number of cases of the disease in this city. One writer wished to know when the city of Terre Haute will be released from quarantine. Another says it is reported in his county that we have six hundred cases here at present. Still another wishes to know if it is true that a person can stand on the front steps of the State Normal School and count sixteen red flags. A letter just received says that just as the writer is starting, with her trunk packed, to come to school, she hears that there are so many cases here it is wholly unsafe to set foot inside this city. These and other letters of similar tenor show that there is a very erroneous impression abroad in regard to this matter. The facts are as follows: Since Jan. 1 we have had about thirty cases of smallpox and varioloid in this city. It has prevailed in so mild a form that some of the physicians even have doubted whether it was really smallpox. No case has proved fatal, and only a few have been serious. The Board of Health has dealt with the matter in such a thorough manner as to prevent the spread of the disease, and it has now practically disappeared. My understanding is that there are now but two red flags left, and that the persons quarantined in these houses will soon be released. All pupils of the public schools that have been out, owing to their refusal to be vaccinated, are to be readmitted on the opening of school next Monday, and the students of the Normal School are no longer required to be vaccinated. In other words, the disease has practically run its course here and is at an end. The Board of Health assures me in a letter that there is absolutely no danger of any one’s contracting smallpox in this city at this time. The State Normal School opens its spring term to-morrow morning, and the indications are that we shall have as large an attendance as can be properly accommodated, over six hundred having already registered, but I wish no teacher to be deterred from coming by a false understanding of the situation.

President State Normal School.
Terre Haute, Ind., April 4.

“No Danger from Smallpox,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), 5 April 1900, p. 3, col. 3; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ : accessed 3 Feburary 2015).