Thursday, September 13, 2012

Why I Love Genealogy Institutes

The following is a guest blog post by Angela Packer McGhie, co-coordinator of the "Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum" and instructor in "Researching in Washington D.C. without Leaving Home."


Getting to know Angela Packer McGhie
Co-coordinator, Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum (SLIG course 10)
Instructor, Researching in Washington D.C. Without Leaving Home (SLIG course 5)

When did you first start researching your family history?

I became interested in family history when I was a teenager. My grandmother's parents had both immigrated to the U.S. when they were children and she had researched their families in Sweden and Denmark. My mother was also interested in genealogy and would tell me stories about my ancestors. I did not start out doing good research, but I was smart enough to interview and record my grandparents as well as collect family photographs and stories.

Once I decided I really wanted to become a genealogist and do quality research I began focusing on genealogical education. I took several courses, attended national conferences, and completed the ProGen Study Program, but my favorite educational option has been the genealogical institutes! I have attended the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR), the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) twice, and the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University three times!

As you can see I believe strongly in education and write a blog on the topic at

What is the most rewarding thing about being a genealogical educator?

I appreciate all that I have learned from the excellent genealogists who have taught me and so I like to pay it forward.

Why would you recommend a student attend SLIG in general?

I love genealogy institutes because we get to study one topic in-depth for the whole week. The focus allows us to concentrate our learning and work to master the subject. I also love to spend a week getting to know my classmates as they usually turn out to be long-time genealogy friends and colleagues. And of course, the advantage of SLIG over other genealogy institutes is the Family History Library two block away!

What makes your SLIG course unique among genealogical education offerings?

The Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum course is different because rather than lecture format it is hands-on problem solving. The students are giving a real genealogical case with starting point information and then they have one day to work to solve it. For some cases they conduct research online and at the Family History Library, and for other cases they are given all the documents to analyze and see if they can correctly solve the problem. There are five excellent instructors who have hand picked cases for the students to work on which will give experience with various methodologies, time periods and localities.

Do you have a favorite ancestor? Can you tell us what makes this person so special to you as a researcher?

William Dalton was my "brick wall" ancestor for years. From family records I knew he was born in "England" about 1798 and died in Rochester, New York in July 1836. He did not leave behind much evidence of his life in public records, but I like to say he taught me my craft. You do not learn near as much from ancestors that are easy to find as you do from the ones that are difficult. I finally identified his parents by locating cousins who had family letters that identified a brother in Canada. Records of the brother led me to William's birthplace and parents in England!

Will you share something with us that students may not know about you?

The students who attended SLIG in 2012 know that I was pregnant at the time and now I have a beautiful baby girl who is five months old. My older son and daughter just love her!

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