Lisa A. Alzo, "How to Overcome Brick Walls in Eastern European Research"If I have one mantra I suggest for beginning researchers it's, "exhaust all records in the immigration country before heading overseas to explore one's ancestors." Too often new Jewish genealogy researchers want to jump to Europe - or whatever the country of origin - before learning their immigrants' original names and communities of origin.
I think Lisa Alzo would concur. The same principles apply, really, to all brick wall issues, regardless of geography: exhaustively search for sources and information; read provided descriptions for online databases so one will know what is and isn't included; use original records, not just indexes; seek out records that may not yet be online; understand the context of one's ancestors' lives; concentrate on one family line at a time.
Additional suggestions include: creating timelines for one's ancestors; broaden one's research to include collateral relatives; network with others through, perhaps, social media such as blogs and message forums; and utilize mind maps.
Alzo also included a nice list of suggested resources.
Drew Smith, "Using Evernote as Your Primary Tool for Capturing Notes and Ideas"I've heard presentations on Evernote before and I keep on considering, but not adopting it as a tool for my research. I've heard Drew Smith talk about his Evernote presentations on the Genealogy Guys podcast, so I thought this 90 minute presentation might be the swift kick I needed to get me started.
Smith virtually walked us through establishing an account, entering notes and managing them. He suggested several uses of Evernote for genealogy research. The program is flexible enough that one may organize one's notes consistent with one's comfort and style into notebooks, tags or both.
Smith included some nice ideas for integrating Evernote with one's email program. He also laid out some things to consider if thinking about upgrading from the free version to Evernote Premium.
I heard somewhere from someone several months ago that a good strategy for adopting a tool like Evernote is to decide to use it for a week. After the week is up one should be comfortable with the program, have a notion of its utility and created good habits in using it. I think I'm just about ready to take the plunge.
Anita Rochelle Paul, "Who What When Where? Using Journalism Techniques to Write Your Story"Paul, apparently, is known as the "Author's Midwife." One only has to have produced a journal article or tried to write a book to appreciate the thought that producing such as work is something akin to childbirth. Paul is a writer's coach.
Genealogists are pretty good at addressing the journalistic questions who, what, when, and where. Why and how are often much more difficult, although those last two are the questions that are the basis of creative story-telling.
Paul sees the journalist as the intersection of the sleuth and the story-teller and suggests we develop our story-telling skills for producing a book by: having a purpose/goal and theme; connecting with readers through a good story to which readers may relate; and defining and keeping the reader in mind. Think about what you would like the reader to think, feel, or do after closing the book.
Michael D. Lacopo, "Incorporating Social History into Your Genealogical Research"Michael Lacopo's talk was a good follow-up to Anita Paul's presentation. He talked about the resources one may use to add human interest to our dry who, what, when and where.
The social history one may tap includes information on the lives of ordinary people in the context of the places and times of your ancestors. Even if one doesn't know the exact why and how for those on one's family tree, one may better understand the information one has by learning about demographics of the time period (racial, ethnic, labor, gender, familial, urban/rural, etc.).
He suggests, if one does not have personal accounts in one's family records, to find and read accounts of those who took the same or similar immigrant voyages or lived their lives in similar contexts.
Actually, I think context is key not only for good story-telling, but also for good (and exhaustive) genealogy research.