Friday, September 18, 2015

Offline Lectures and Courses Part I: Local Socities

Offline Lectures and Courses

for the Genealogist Who Doesn't Know Where to Go Next

Part I: Intro and Local Societies

One of the easiest ways to improve your genealogical skills is through lectures, classes, seminars, institutes, and other "taught" mediums. Being directed by a "teacher" is certainly simpler than having to find the information yourself and I'd consider listening easier than reading. A live teacher, online or offline, also gives you the chance to ask questions.
In the last few years, quality, and more advanced, lectures/classes have been coming online. This is great for genealogists who can't travel. And even if you can travel, it gives you more options. Some of these online options are free. The more in-depth or advanced ones usually cost money. This article is about offline education, but online choices are getting better each day. You should find a combination of online and offline education that works for you.

Education from Local Societies

The best "economical" option for taught education, online or offline, is usually through a genealogical society. Larger societies often have both online and offline educational offerings. Webinars are often free for members or available in an archive so you don't have to attend live (this loses the advantage of asking questions but is better than completely missing out because of your schedule). Nearly all societies, regardless of size, offer offline education.
Local genealogy societies may be at the state or county level or for an area or even specific topic. They usually have in-person meetings which include a lecture or several lectures. County level society meetings are usually free and held monthly. There may also be more involved events such as conferences, seminars, or fairs which require paid registration. State or regional societies usually meet less often and their events often feature several lectures requiring a paid registration. Events with a paid registration also often feature one or more vendors, a great chance to pick up some genealogy books, maps, software, or charts.
Don't assume a local society only has lectures related to local genealogy. What is offered depends on the membership: what their interests are, how many members, and how active they are. Also, all societies are looking for more volunteers. This is the primary limitation on what they can offer. It doesn't matter how many members there are if there aren't enough volunteers to handle running the society and its programs. Consider volunteering with your local society regardless if their programs exactly fit your needs. You may find one more set of hands is all they need to add a program you love.
Check out the societies near you for convenience and also the societies for the locations where your ancestors lived. You may find events you are willing to travel to.
Part 2 will cover National Conferences