Thursday, January 21, 2010

Part 3 of The Genealogy Reference Desk Institute

For Part 1 and Part 2 of the series:-)

The third session was titled "My Family is Boring, May I Borrow Yours?: Integrating Historical Research into Historical Inquiry" by Christine Baron.  Christine discussed her work in searching for a way to make the famous Old North Church of Boston into a cite for learning by visitors.

This was one of the most fascinating and useful parts of the day, as Christine and her staff are not genealogists, do not want to be genealogists, but see the value in genealogical interpretations.  Their goal was to "put the people back in the pews," and genealogists at the NEHGS helped them get beyond names and dates, connecting families while using primary and secondary sources.

Although many people have preconceptions about historians versus genealogists, Gex Xers (and Y as well) just want expertise.  These are the people genealogists can reach to expand their users.  What kind of projct would benefit from a genealogist?  Questions about social inter-relationships within a communitty, research involving individuals with common names and technocratic teams without deep idealogical divides.

With the help of genealogists, Christine came up with and the online program Tories, Timid or True Blue?  This shows students why history is fun, namely the spirit of inquiry and intellectual risk - which is also why genealogy is fun!  Students get to look at primary documents to solve mysteries and learn important things such as "you can't trust everything you see."  I highly recommend looking at the program and using it as a way to get children interested in history and genealogy.

Programs such as these are the future of digitizing information and documents.  The field of digital humanities is fast growing, as people no longer want to know what is being put online, but what one is going to do with it once it's there.

After this session came a presentation by lunch sponsor by ProQuest, which I will discuss tomorrow!

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