Over the past twelve years we have met many genealogists who ask, “What does it take to become a professional genealogist?”
Some say, “I wish I could just pour your brain into mine.” Everyone wants to be an expert. There is nothing wrong with that, the only problem is they want to be an expert overnight. It takes work and effort to become an expert.
In the Harvard Business Review there is an article entitled The Making of an Expert by K. Anders Ericsson, Michael J. Prietula, and Edward T. Cokely. It is an interesting article and in part gives an example of how two Hungarian educators, Laszlo and Klara Polgar, decided to challenge the popular assumption that women don’t succeed in areas requiring spatial thinking, such as chess. The Polgar’s started playing chess with their three daughters at a very young age. Their systematic training and daily practice paid off. By the year 2000 all three of their daughters had been ranked among the top ten female players in the world. One daughter, Judit, become grand master at age 15 and broke the previous record for the youngest person to earn that title and first female to earn it. She has gone on to become one of the world’s top players and has defeated almost every best male player to date. The article explodes other myths and folklore about genius being required for expertise.
The fascinating thing about being an expert is that it takes daily practice and constant effort. You are either growing or sliding backwards.
At Family History Expos we have seen experts come and go. We have seen technology change right before our eyes. We have actually taught classes when the website we were demonstrating changed right before our eyes. At the beginning of the class we were the expert when suddenly we found ourselves in need of effort to become an expert again.
Expertise is achievable, it is not reserved for a select few who are “gifted” and not available for others. Everyone can be an expert! Yes, even you. You can be an expert of your personal family history only if you’re willing to take the steps that are necessary.
Step 1: Have a desire or passion about what it is you are doing, it drives the process.
Step 2: Study and learn the fundamental principles and strategies of genealogical research.
Step 3: Familiarize yourself with the basic sources and record types for successful genealogical research.
Step 4: Dedicate time to learning every day. Read case studies of known experts in the field. Get a coach (an expert genealogist) to assist you in the process of learning and understanding the records. Network with other researchers working on similar projects.
Step 5: Don’t quit, keep doing it!
The process for sound genealogical research has not changed. Technology has changed, access to records has increased, and our responsibility to use these tools wisely is greater than ever before.
Compiled genealogies are easier to find. But, you must beware that good research as well as research rife with errors have multiplied with the advent of the computer and shared databases. Now, more than at any time in the history of family history research, there is a need for more expert genealogists to come forth and assist in clearing up and correctly using the worlds records.
Family History Expos is dedicated to developing expert genealogists. One way you can increase your expertise is to attend a Family History Retreat. Retreats offer intense learning opportunity where the focus is on Genealogical Fundamentals, Basic Sources, Technology and the records used to correctly document and prove your research. We guide you with using online sources, both free and fee websites, microform and digital records available through FamilySearch, and onsite on the ground research.
We know that becoming an expert genealogist is not for the faint of heart nor for the impatient. We are dedicated to assisting you. When the going gets tough the tough keep doing it more, experts don’t quit. Keep working at it. Attend a focused Retreat where you have the opportunity to learn and apply the information.
Our next scheduled Family History Retreat is:
Sign up today for an opportunity to increase your knowledge and expertise in family history research. Let us know if you’d like us to bring a Retreat to your area. Ask for details, click here.
Thank you and we look forward to working with you at our next Retreat.