“Collaborative Genealogy” & “So What”

“Collaborative Genealogy” was used at the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI), it works everywhere!-Join your local & national genealogy groups. If you don’t have one, start one! Folks will come, we all need help on this research journey. It is a “cool” way to get a small group together focusing on genealogy issues. This is not a new concept, but new to a lot of researchers and proven to help each other. It is like a team working on a project! If nothing else, you will be able to come up with some new places to research, ways to solve some issues, etc. We are all at different levels of genealogy research. Some of us learned some bad habits of research-some didn’t learn any and have only learned from genealogy conferences. Folks, you need to join together and learn from each other and share the information. Those of us who are presenters, lecturer’s or facilitators all bring something different. Experience each of us. The collaborative group is focused on “your” situation, then focuses on the next person’s. Grab the tea & cookies or beer and pizza and dig in. Everyone has something to share, your voice is respected and heard. You get the opportunity to receive assistance, but also to give assistance.

Tune in to the weekly blogtalk radio shows like Bernice Bennett’s “Research at the National Archives and Beyond” (Thursday’s 9p EST), there are others, like Marian Pierre-Louis’s & Janice Wilcox’s. Follow Thomas MacEntee’s GeneaBloggers-tracking new blogs, fine him on Pinterest. Locate Judy Russell’s the “Legal Genealogists” blog, different topics come out weekly. Tune in to the weekly (Friday’s) podcasts like Angela Walton-Raji’s Africanrootspodcasts and to the “hangouts” on Google with Dear Mrytle and others. Learn from those that do! Did you know about the Legacyfamilytree webinars, they are every Wednesday at 2p EST. Have you visited the Afrigeneas website, the forums are a good example of virtual collaborative genealogy working. Ask a question and wait for some input from others. Love it!

Societies & genealogy groups: set time for your monthly meetings to take on a couple of members questions, brick walls, etc. You never know who can help or who you are connected too! Two or more heads are always better than one! Lead some “so what” sessions. If you want to know some tips in generating a collaborative genealogy session, email me or locate me on Facebook so others can see your questions and answers! If you are in my area, invite me to come, I love leading these sessions. If you have questions-ask!

The root of collaborative genealogy is timeline’s and the “So What” principles. I facilitate the Murphy’s “So What” principles. It’s all about “questioning & challenging” the documents you obtain. Document’s needs to be analyzed-every line, every box! if not, I would suggest that you are just collecting paper and don’t know what you have or where you might be able to go in your research. Our goal is to “share the stories”. Question the information or what information is missing. Ask “Why” was this document created, what are the laws in place during the time it was created. “So what”-I have a death certificate -some will stop their research at this point. OMG! You are just getting started when you obtain a record or even a resource (as attendees learned at MAAGI). Analzye & Question what you are looking at…hmmm…I see a location of a birth for this ancestor, I see my great grandparents names and a state where they were born, but not a county? What is the value of the information you see to your research? What is missing? Who might know where the missing info is?

I always recommend you begin developing a “timeline”, every, I mean every thing that was happening around one or all of your ancestor’s life, all information should be listed. Learn the history of the community, there could be pertinent info that impacted your ancestor. List the births marriages, census federal and state, law changes, incidents, land purchasing, etc. Everything around your ancestor!  if it is not there, you need to question where is it? Who might know this information and go get it. Once you have the document analyzed-begin making a list, of questions and missing info, which is the beginning of your “research plan”. Include the questions you have and also lay out your next steps of research, leave a column to note if you completed this action. Keep everything in date order, start with the ancestor and go down. Make sure you include your resources, no this is a please, “cite” where you obtained your information, where you obtained in, include the pages and volumes. Check out Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills (https://www.evidenceexplained.com)-one day you or someone else might have to go view that resource. 

Tune in to this weeks African Roots podcast-hear about “collaborative genealogy” at its best and see what comes out of it. (photos taken at 2014 MAAGI, St. Louis-I lead a small group 8 with Nicka Smith, another facilitator at MAAGI on the internet verifying and finding new resources. We began by reviewing individuals homework (timelines). We worked on everyone’s timeline to help further each other’s research, last was Gary’s…listen in. 

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About familytreegirl

Shelley Murphy, aka “familytreegirl”, a native of Michigan residing in Central Virginia, Shelley has been an avid genealogist for over 25+ years researching the Davis, Marsh, Goens/Goins/Goings, Roper, Boyer, Worden, Cureton, and Murphy family lines. She is a Coordinator and faculty for the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI), presents Genealogy 101 workshops at the local community college, state and national genealogy conferences. She holds a Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership and works as an adjunct professor for Averett University. Murphy is known for her inspiring and interactive “Getting Started” Methods and Strategies for genealogy research, “Time and File management” along with interesting problem-solving methodology lectures. Shelley currently has 20+ publications with Charlottesville Genealogy Examiner and the Central Virginia Heritage, a publication of the Central Virginia Genealogical Association. She is an instructor for the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI). Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership, Adjunct Professor, Professional Genealogist. Volunteers for American Red Cross as a Disaster Services Instructor, facilitates financial education workshops for the last 8 years, and former licensed Real Estate Broker
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