As a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, I am required to complete a minimum of twelve hours of relevant education every year. This year, I will have exceeded that requirement by an astronomical amount. As will probably every professional genealogist I know.
There are a number of ways to fulfill the educational requirement, including genealogical institutes. An institute is a week-long (generally) program that offers the participant the opportunity to attend a subject-specific course. The most popular institutes are:
- Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG)
- Genealogy Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP)
- Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR)
- Genealogy Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed)
This year, I participated in the SLIG course – Fundamentals of Forensic Genealogy (online), and the GRIP course – Hands on Forensic Genealogy (in person).
I may not have attended GRIP had I not realized that Forensic Genealogy is the perfect combination of using my paralegal skills and my genealogy skills. Not only did the GRIP Institute help me to hone my forensic skills, but it gave me the opportunity to meet people in-person that I have been interacting with online, and to make new friends!
Do genealogist really need so much education?
The short answer is yes. Genealogy is really a multi-discipline field. Genealogy is not just pulling records. Genealogist do a complete review of a historical document, taking into consideration when it was created, why it was created, and who created it. We look at history – globally and locally. We consider the economic conditions of the time. We make connections between documents in order to tell a complete story. We study historic laws so that we understand the context of legal documents. We are writers who strive to tell an ancestor’s story in a logical and meaningful way. We are academics who make sure our work contains relevant sources that cited appropriately. Genetic genealogy requires a whole different set of skills. So, yes. We need to continue educating ourselves.
I enjoy the structure and deep focus of the institutes. I am taking with SLIG courses in January-February 2024: Advanced Genealogical Methods, and The Art of Writing Client Reports. I will most likely attend GRIP in 2024, and have picked out my top three choices of courses.
Otherwise, my focus will be on honing my DNA skills. They probably aren’t as bad as I think they are. . .it’s probably more like my family tree is a muddled mess.
Beyond that, I haven’t ruled out the Mac in Genealogical, Paleographical and Heraldic Studies at the University of Strathclyde. I mean – who would love doing Scottish genealogy research, especially when one’s husband is half Scottish?!