Showing posts with label learning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label learning. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Still learning seven years later

Seven years ago, I began this blog - the title of the first posting was entitled "Let the blogging begin & Life-long learning". I was already retired but I was asked if I would like to participate in the Library 2.0 learning adventure with my former colleagues (I was still at that time still filling in when someone was going to be absent for awhile). I still believe in life-long learning. I think that is one reason I love genealogy so much.

Learning related to genealogy happens in a few ways.
1. Learning about methodology and resources through workshops, conferences, genealogical society meetings, reading articles online and in print
2. Learning about methodology and resources as I venture into new areas with new resources
2. Learning about my own family and my ancestors during the research process
3. Learning about the families of others as I do research for clients or I write blog articles for my two personal blogs.

Thank you to all who read what I write and a special thank you  to those who leave thoughtful comments.

© 2013 Janet Iles Print

Monday, April 11, 2011

Advanced Genealogical Skills: A Seminar with Elizabeth Shown Mills - the pledge

Already a week has past since I attended Advanced Genealogical Skills: A Seminar with Elizabeth Shown Mills on April 2 at the North York Central Library in Toronto. The day was wonderful. I am so happy that I was able to attend. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina prevented Elizabeth Shown Mills (ESM) from attending the FGS Conference in Salt Lake City and I had hoped to hear her at that conference.

I am thankful that I have the handouts and the recording of the presentations to review as she packed so much information into the day that it is good to be able to review regularly what we learned. The challenge is of course, to put it into practice.

Near the end of the afternoon, ESM told us "Raise your right hand and repeat after me."  So up went the hands. She spotted someone who hadn't raised their hand. "Come on now _______. "

So here is the pledge we repeated
"I am determined to solve my problems; therefore, I do hereby promise Elizabeth, in front of all these witnesses, that every time I write down a source, I will add an appraisal of that source."

I have printed out these words to post in my office as a reminder.

I know I need to slow down to take the time to look at the first frames of the microfilm that contain the title, author, etc. or to look at the description of a database on an online source or to get all the necessary details from other types of sources, and to write down all the important information and as promised an appraisal of the source.

More in an upcoming post.

© 2011 Janet Iles Print

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Advanced Genealogical Skills: A Seminar with Elizabeth Shown Mills - 1 week and counting

 I am excited. One week from now at this time, Elizabeth Shown Mills will be presenting her first lecture at the Advanced Genealogical Skills: A Seminar with Elizabeth Shown Mills. The first lecture is "Genealogical Problem Solving: Professional Techniques for Everyday Success".

The Ontario Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists' website provides all the details. You do not have to be a member to attend.

I know I am going to learn so much that I can apply to my own research.

© 2011 Janet Iles

Saturday, March 5, 2011

You learn something new everyday -- It pays to read the description of the database

One thing I like about doing genealogical research, is that I'm always learning something new or that I am reminded about something that I already knew but had forgotten. Today, while I was working on my soldiers' project, I was reminded that it is important to read the description of the database that you are using.

After the death of Clarence Russell Porter's father, his mother had married a widower with children. Her stepson, William Edward Dunn was also killed in the First World War. Today I was looking at the burial records for William Edward Dunn on   I read the descriptions of the two different databases concerning burial records of Canadians. Now, I understood the difference between the two.

Using William Edward Dunn, here are his two records.

War Graves Registry: Cause of Death
Source Citation: Library and Archives Canada (LAC). War Graves Registry: Circumstances of Death. RG150, 1992-1993/314, Box 145-238. Box: 174, entry for William Edward Dunn; digital image viewed at

Source Citation: Library and Archives Canada (LAC). War Graves Registry: Circumstances of Death. RG150, 1992-1993/314, Box 145-238. Box: 174, verso of entry for William Edward Dunn; digital image viewed at 

This database contains records from the Burial Registers for service personnel of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) who died during the First World War in Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom. The registers, also known as the 'Brown Binders', were created by the Ministry of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada, the department of the Canadian government set up in London to oversee the war effort. . . .

The registers contain the initial burial location for Canadian war dead. After the war, many graves were consolidated in the cemeteries of the Imperial War Graves Commission, later renamed as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. To determine the final burial location, you may consult the Canada, Commonwealth War Graves Registers, 1914-1919 database, which contains records for many of the same soldiers.

The following explains why I have not found some of the soldiers that I have been working on during the last few weeks as I started working from the end of the alphabet.

Additionally, soldiers with surnames Sims through Z are missing from the original Burial Registers collection, and hence are not available in this database. Records for those soldiers may be found in the Canada, Commonwealth War Graves Registers, 1914-1919 database.

War Graves Registry: Commonwealth War Graves

Source Citation: Library and Archives Canada (LAC). War Graves Registry: Commonwealth War Graves. RG150, 1992-1993/314, Box 39-244. Box: 65, entry for William Edward Dunn; digital image viewed at

Source Citation: Library and Archives Canada (LAC). War Graves Registry: Commonwealth War Graves. RG150, 1992-1993/314, Box 39-244. Box: 65, verso of entry for William Edward Dunn; digital image viewed at

Here is a part of the description.
This database contains records from the War Grave Registers for service personnel of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) who died during the First World War in Belgium, France and the United Kingdom. The registers, also known as the ‘Black Binders’, were created at the end of the war by the Department of Militia and Defence, the forerunner of the Canadian Department of National Defense. These registers were used to record the final resting place of the soldier, nurse or other individual, and to record the notification of the next of kin. If the body was never recovered, these records contain the official memorial on which the individual’s name would be found.
As I continue to work on this project, I will look at both databases and save copies of both sides of the document.
Knowing the details concerning the cause of death and not just "killed in action" makes each soldier's story more interesting.

Advanced Genealogical Skills: A Seminar with Elizabeth Shown Mills - 4 weeks and counting

It is just four weeks until Advanced Genealogical Skills: A Seminar with Elizabeth Shown Mills (2nd of April in Toronto, Ontario). I am excited!  Details can be found on the Ontario Chapter of Professional Genealogist's website.

Yes, Elizabeth Shown Mills is going to talk about citations but I am really interested in learning from her, techniques that will improve my problem solving skills. It is going to be a full day and I know that I am going to learn so much. I am sure my head will be swimming with all the information that she shares with those in attendance. I hear that she provides wonderful handouts so that will be helpful for reviewing after that day.

The Ontario Chapter Association of Professional Genealogists (OCAPG) still has spaces for the all-day Seminar with Elizabeth Shown Mills on Saturday, April 2nd. Ms Mills has been called "the person with the greatest impact on genealogy in the post-Roots era." She is a dynamic and entertaining speaker who is making a rare Canadian appearance.

What a bargain for $45.00! This includes detailed handouts. (lunch not included.) Details and registration are available online at, or you can pay by cheque by contacting Marg Meldrum, You can advance-order books by the speaker and other authors.

I hope to see some of you there.

© 2011 Janet Iles

Friday, April 3, 2009

Writing things out

I read an interesting article on Copyblogger by guest poster Dave Navarro that got me thinking. The topic had nothing to do with genealogy. -- "How To Get Great Copywriters to Mentor You For Free". In a nutshell, he promoted the idea of writing out by hand, preferably, writing styles etc. that you like.

When you read someone else’s copy, you might say to yourself “I need to use that style,” or “I’d never write like that,” but you’re only doing a superficial analysis (and you’re prone to distraction, to boot). But when you write by hand, you slow down. You engage the part of your brain that creates, not just the part that takes in the sights, and it changes your perspective.

He goes on to describe how writing it out will "challenge your muscle memory".

Now how does that apply to genealogy?

I thought of a couple of ways.

Transcribing a document - When you take the time to write it out (or type out if you don't have readable handwriting) you are
  • concentrating on each word
  • learning the standard wording of typical documents of that type

Learning how to write family histories or case studies. The point is not to copy someone's work in your articles/books etc. but to improve your writing as outlined above

As you hand write (print) names on a family tree (in pencil of course as you will likely make changes), you are concentrating on the names, dates and places.

The 5th standard in the genealogical proof standard is "a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion." When we write things out, we are thinking things through.

We learn by different ways. We may favour one over the other but generally it is helpful to learn by multiple means. Writing by hand is tactile/physical/kinesthetic learning. As I prepare to teach a night school course on genealogy at the end of April, I want to keep in mind all the various ways people learn so that we have variety and to give the students time to write things out.

Do you think it helps to write things out?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

More Goals for 2008

Research Goals as a professional researcher

To produce quality research for my clients.

To assist my clients with creating a family history that will be cherished by them and their family.

In order to reach my goals that I have outlined in recent postings, I must constantly improve my skills as a researcher.

Learning Goals

There are four courses left for me to complete my second Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies through the National Institute for Genealogical Studies - English research. I want to get back at them after having taken a break. More methodology and Canadian courses are being offered in the near future that look appealing and helpful, these may bump the English courses aside.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Will the snow stop people from coming?

Just a short post. Sometimes when I look out the window this afternoon, the snow is coming down heavily and the snow is swirling around.

Tonight is the meeting of the Bruce Grey Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. For I don't know how many years, I have been the guest speaker at the November meeting. The last couple of years, it has snowed and the wind has blown wildly on the day of the meeting. What will it be like tonight?

Usually the meeting has been at the public library but tonight it will be at the Family History Centre. Tonight's topic - land records - an introduction. Perhaps not the most exciting topic if your people of interest did not own land or if you can only find a few straight forward bargain and sales. But look closely at the records, what clues can you find? Perhaps this will be source will be the one that will help solve a break wall in your genealogical research. Even if your person did not own land, are they mentioned in a land transaction as a witness, or as a trustee of a church?

As I prepared for this talk, I looked back over some of my own research. After copying some abstract index listings from some property in Markham Township a few years ago, I put the sheets of paper in a file. I hadn't done anything with them. As I looked at the listing of the various instruments, I found one that puzzled me. What was a cert. v.o.? It was obviously something related to a court case about a property as there were a list of names and the mention of the High Court of Justice. I couldn't find anything in my notes so I asked my colleagues in the Ontario Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists in our mailing list for help.

Remember back in my earlier blogs I talked about life long learning? One of the 7 1/2 habits of life-long learners was to have a toolbox. The toolbox included people resources to ask for help. Well, I was not disappointed. I received two replies with the explanation - certificate of vested orders. It was not limited to the basic explanation but I received great suggestions for further research. This research project will take some time as it will required finding the appropriate land records from about 1850 to 1920 for this land, checking court records and newspaper records. - Land records don't need to be boring.

Tonight, I will be teaching others. I find I learn so much from the preparation for the talk. I also look forward to learning from those who can get there and will share their success stories. I hope the snow does not discourage people from coming.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Build your vocabulary - Feed the hungry

I saw this on another blog, so I thought I would share it with anyone who would like to participate.

FreeRice - vocabulary quiz - choose the correct meaning. Lots of fun and you may learn some new words too while helping to feed the hungry in this world!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Literature and Maps go hand in hand

This morning my ResearchBuzz feed led me to a discovery of a Web 2.0 application that would be of interest to students and adults - GoogleLit Trips Google maps are used to highlight places in a work of literature. Although this site is in its infancy, it shows the possibilities of making a story come to life with maps and photos, etc. Only a few books have been done so far - Candide, Macbeth, By the Great Horn Spoon

1. You need to have Google Earth installed. It is free.

When I first tried to get connected to Google Earth, I couldn't. Why? Everyone else must have been trying it out. Anyway, I waited a half hour and went back. I downloaded several of the stories on the GoogleLit Trips site and had fun exploring the maps.

There are suggestions on the site for class participation in creating a Google Lit Trip.

An excellent example of a Mashup.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

7 1/2 habits revisited

Back in July when I began blogging, I talked about the 7 1/2 habits of highly successful lifelong learners. Last night, I decided to watch the tutorial again. The original creator of the list was very succint. Those habits could be applied to most situations such as business, relationships, etc.

I finished reading Jack Canfield's The Success Principles. He gives many good concrete examples but basically, his principles could be summed up with the 7 1/2 habits. I found many of his ideas helpful and I liked his use of quotes and cartoons to illustrate some of the points.

I am going to post in my home office a list of these 7 1/2 habits as a reminder to myself.

Having successfully completed the 23 activities, it is time to set some new goals. Although not headed back to school, I do find September to be a good time for planning and looking ahead. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

This Is a Wiki On Your Mind. Or As Your Mind.

This Is a Wiki On Your Mind. Or As Your Mind.

This morning when I was checking my blogline feeds, I read the above article on ResearchBuzz. Out of curiosity (necessary for a researcher), I decided to check out Wikimindmap Be sure that when you do the search to change the search to if you are English speaking.

A search of Pierre Trudeau produced a "mindmap" with links to wikipedia. - gives you a variety topics concerning him. The wikipedia article (Although we are never sure of the authority of these articles) may give you leads to areas to research. Then I tried Ipod. Click on Ipod to bring it to Center. If you see a plus it will expand further. Some of the links will take you to other websites.

Some articles on Wikipedia have good citations of where the information has come from so that you can follow through yourself. An example is the article about mindmaps.

Similar to mindmaps or mind maps are concept maps and idea maps. About a year ago, a library patron asked to see a concept map for a topic that she had to prepare for a college assignment. At that time, I was not familiar with the idea. I suggested she would have to create her own but I gave her suggestions that I hope helped her to develop one for her topic.

When I look at some of the examples, it looks like the rough diagrams a person might sketch out when working on a problem - very important for a visual learner. There are software programs designed specifically for this purpose.

Try it. It may help you with a research project or with problem solving.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

10 affirmations that I received by participating in this learning adventure

It has affirmed that
  1. I am a life long learner
  2. I like some form of structure (weekly tasks) with some flexibility allowed in the process for working at your own pace.
  3. I like being creative.
  4. I don't always like change. I want to see/understand the benefits.
  5. I like shared learning experiences but I am able to work alone.
  6. I like to share what I know.
  7. I am primarily a visual learner but I want learning experiences to use more than one of the senses.
  8. I like having a reward at the end of the process.
  9. I like projects that can be broken down into segments.
  10. I need affirmation and feedback from others.

Do you share some of these affirmations? Do you have others?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Library 2.0 - final week of this current learning adventure

On July 17, I began this learning adventure with library and adult learning centre staff. Now it is the time to reflect on this learning adventure.

I have enjoyed the experience -- especially because it has been a shared experience - through:

  • talking with other participants
  • reading the blogs and discovering what they have accomplished during the week's activities and celebrating with them their successes
  • wondering - how did they do that especially when I was unsuccessful
  • knowing that there was help available when it was needed
  • learning more about the interests of other staff members

This learning experience has given me the opportunity to explore some of the features of Web 2.0 that I likely would not have tried without this more formal structure. It gave me the impetus to start a blog. Trying different things with the blog has given me the confidence to make changes with the three web sites that I design, administer, update etc. After embedding a Google map on my blog article, I added maps to two of the web sites.

I was not aware of many web 2.0 features. I will now go back an read two articles in Internet Genealogy magazine with better understanding

Marian Press, "In search of the Web 2.0" May 2007, p. 46-48
Marian Press, "In search of the Web 2.0: Part Two" July 2007, p. 51-54.

Internet Genealogy site A companion site is Family Chronicle

Having experienced creating and authoring a blog, it has lead me to wonder if a blog would be a useful tool for communication for organizations to which I belong.

I found that it is fun and easy to share photographs with others using both Flickr and the blog. I will continue to do this.

Now that staff members have had the opportunity to participate in Library 2.0, I believe it is important we follow through. We need to determine what have we learned through this experience that we could apply to our own library or adult learning centre. Changes do not have to be done quickly but through thoughtful considerations there may be initiatives that may benefit our current and future clientele.

What could be done differently, if this type of learning experience would be offered again? Perhaps a different time of year? I found the private wiki worked well for getting assignments and messages concerning winners, advice on passwords, etc.

I have enjoyed being able to participate in this activity. Thanks for asking me. When I began this, I didn't know I would be back filling in some shifts at the reference desk. If I was given the opportunity to join staff on future learning experiences, I am sure I would say yes.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Net Library - expanding your library's resources

I had previously set up my Net Library account at the Reference Desk at OSNGUPL but I had only checked it out so that I could help people at the reference desk. I did not realize that audio e-books were available for download. I enjoy mysteries and there were many to choose from. I wanted to download a Spanish learning audio e-book but it indicated that it was already checked out. Instead I downloaded an audio German language learning e-book. It took about 5 minutes to download the radio quality book as I would be listening to it at the computer. It gives you a license to use it for 7 days. After it is downloaded you have to have the licenced verified and to permit Active X to run.

The speakers were clear. As a visual learner, I would like to see what I am hearing, although for learning languages you do have to develop your ear. It has been awhile since I have studied German or spoken the language so my ear needs to be retrained. If I had a MP3 player, I could listen to the e-book while I was walking or doing other work.

Now, I will have to remind myself that I have some German to learn. I may go back and ask to be notified when the Spanish learning audio e-book is available.

There are a number of e-books that I might consult if the book was not available in the library. I took a look at Soaring on your strengths. OSNGUPL does not have this book in its collection. I may want to read more on-line or borrow the book on interlibrary loan. This book would tie into the book I am currently reading -- The success principles : how to get from where you are to where you want to be by Jack Canfield (author of Chicken Soup for the Soul books)

SirsiDynix Institute

I thought I'd talk a little more about the SirsiDynix Institute. If you work in a library and are not familiar with this Institute, I suggest you visit their site. It provides a great "free" learning opportunity for library staff. In addition to the podcasts, you can attend the events live. To participate in the live "conferences" or web seminars you need to pre-register.

You can also go to see the archived video presentation that that gives you the visual along with the audio information. One past topic was RSS feeds. The video starts quickly and it is smooth listening & viewing.

The August 14, 2007 session was on creating a 2.0 Library. (link to the video version). What I found interesting about this session was in the first half, the speaker talked about a project in their library that was not a technology based application. They created a "Travel neighbourhood" where resources relating to travel were put in a separate section. You could still find a specific title via the catalog but it was great for browsing too. Circulation improved. The second half dealt with the library's web site.

For your information OSNGUPL is a SirsiDynix customer with our Unicorn library management software.

Podcasts - learning method great for auditory learners

Podcasts are another learning vehicle. Each of us learn in different ways -- seeing (visual learners) hearing (auditory learners) and by doing (tactile learners). Generally, we have a favourite learning style. This web site outlines more learning styles.

If you learn well by listening, podcasts are made for you. There are a number of ways to find podcasts. There are directories for this specific purpose. I was amazed at the number of podcasts that are available on a wide range of topics. I like to know the background of the podcaster - what are their qualifications?

A wiki article entitled Podcasting 101 includes LIS friendly podcasts as well as an explanation of podcasts.

Through a search relating to Library 2.0 at , I found the SirsiDynix Insitute podcasts. These are learning podcasts for those working in libraries. The challenge to downloading is the time that it takes to do so. I tried a 28 MB file and it took 15 minutes to download. Most of the files are over 50 MB. Using this means, it appears you can only download and listen on your computer but not to save them to listen to later. This is a link to the SirsiDynix Institute website.

I added a Bloglines feed for Family Roots Radio. I had heard about this through a mailing list. Last season they did 13 sessions. What I like about this set is that there are different options. They maintain a website where you can find the Internet links they are talking about and follow the instructions as you listen to the podcast. I only listened to one of the programs live last year as I always seemed to be busy when they were on at 4 p.m. EST on Thursdays. The host of the radio program is noted professional genealogist Kory Meyerink. Profiles of the guest speakers are outlined on the web site. When I was in Salt Lake City for a research academy course through the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, he was one of my instructors.

I have downloaded several to my hard drive (this is one of the options) and I want to download the rest. While I download the files, I just go about my household chores. By having the web site available. several learning styles are accommodated at the same time. - auditory, visual and tactile (if you visit the web sites as they talk about them.).

I hope that they will continue the series. Genealogists and reference librarians serving genealogists will find this series helpful.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

You Tube - more comments

You Tube - I found it to be an interesting site although I don't know if I would be a regular visitor. I viewed the Web 2.0 clip and the Library 2.0 clip that were suggested in this week's learning activities. Both were well done and both showed how things have changed and are changing. It got me to thinking about how our library could use the best features of Library 2.0.

The You Tube has lots on each page but it is fairly easy to navigate. Time goes by too quickly when you are exploring. - Many videos come under "play" but there are some that are learning tools. In searching, I found tags are given but there be many variations given by different posters as there has been on many of the sites we have used during this learning experience.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Blogs - Learning Goals

I have been reading a number of blogs since we began this learning experience with Library 2.0 and Web 2.0. I keep adding to the list. I will likely refine this from time to time and delete some depending on my learning goals.

Several that relate to my current learning goals are:

Stephen Abram - Vice-President of Innovation at SirsisDynix Stephen's Lighthouse

ME Strauss Sucessful and Outstanding Blog(gers)

David Airey Graphic Design

What blogs do you read that support your learning goals?

Friday, July 20, 2007


Well, I think I am like many people when I think that technology can be a mixed blessing. I could not live without a microwave to re-heat previously cooked food or to "bake" a potato. I do not understand how a television, radio, telephone and the Internet work, but I am thankful to have them to use on a daily basis.

Computers and software can be annoying at times. They can be time wasters. They don't always behave the way you want them to behave or the way they should behave, but we have got so used to having them that we feel lost when we don't have electricity or we have lost our telephone connection during a storm.

When I was working on putting the material for my book, Churches of Grey Presbytery of the United Church of Canada: Historical Highlights, in to the software used by the printer for publishing, I had some trying moments. I was cutting and pasting from one program to another. All went reasonably well until I needed to insert information about a Church between two others and there was not enough space. Some ended into what I began to call la-la land. When I discovered "design check" and put it to work it indicated information in "overflow". Some times my mouse would accidently drag pages out of order. [Okay, it was me that was controlling the mouse.] If I realized it immediately, Ctr-Z righted the wrong. Thankfully, I did work things out in the end and everything appeared in the correct order for the finished project. All previous experience with the program had been with documents less than 8 pages. In the end it was 130 pages long with illustrations and maps inserted. I used the Internet, e-mail, photoediting software, two different word processors, an indexing program and the publishing program to complete the book. I can not imagine doing the book without the technology I have readily available in my office.

When I research, in addition to print resources, I use a variety of technologies from microfilm and microfiche to various resources provided by the World Wide Web, but I will leave that topic for another day.