17 June 2016

Genealogy: It's a Process

As you may know the BDC has 5 major focuses for collecting materials and providing services: history, Gullah culture, genealogy, archaeology and our natural environment.

We often help people interested in learning more about their ancestors who once lived in this area and in that process we end up teaching them a bit about the genealogical process. Some people arrive knowing a fair bit about the genealogical process but knowing little to nothing about local and state resources here in South Carolina. Some people learn best by using self-paced tutorials in print or over the internet. Some people prefer a bit more guidance. Some people learn best in an one-to-one learning situation such as during a Research Consultation. Some people arrive expecting for their entire family tree to miraculously appear from our vertical files or with minimal effort on their part. (These folks are sadly disappointed by reality.)

Genealogical research takes time and effort - and requires acquisition of a unique skill set. Getting that skill set can vary depending on one's interests and inclinations. For example, some people enjoy workshops, teaching themselves, or learning as they go.

If you're a self-learner interested in the African-American genealogy process, we highly recommend the "African American Genealogy: An Online Interactive Guide for Beginners" by Dee Parmer Woodtor, author of my favorite guide to the process of doing Black family history, Finding a Place Called Home (1999).
If you're a self-learner interested in learning the basics of the say Polish American genealogy process, Cyndi's list about Poland is a good place to start. She has links to just about every national and ethnic group on the planet. (That written, she doesn't as yet cover extraterrestial life - but who knows? That may be coming soon.)

We provide access to Ancestry Library Edition on all our public computers in the Beaufort County Library. You can explore the Learning Center for help. (Alas, we cannot provide access to ALE over WIFI nor to your home or office.)

Similarly, Family Search has a learning center with tutorials for three skill levels of family historians: Beginner; Intermediate; and Advanced. If you're new to the practice, check out the "5 Minute Genealogy" series.

Contact me (843-255-6468, gracec@bcgov.net) to set up an appointment for some one-on-one help to flesh out your family tree. Our services and appointments are free of charge (though you will have to pay 10 cents per photocopy and 25 cents per image made on the microfilm reader/printer).

One of our fellow Beaufort County Historical Resources Consortium members, the Heritage Library Foundation, has recently opened a branch office in the Santa Elena History Center. It, too, offers access to genealogical sources and databases. Contact them at 843-686-6560 for additional information about their services, resources, and fees.

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