I arrived at the La Roche College campus Sunday afternoon for the inaugural Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburg where I am taking the German Genealogical Research track with John T. Humphrey.
After registration (where we received our course notebook and GRIP polo shirt) and unloading my car, we had a simple buffet dinner and a welcome to the institute. Then it was back to the room to begin reading Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff, followed by an early bedtime.
Monday began with an early breakfast and then off to class. We began with participant introductions and it was interesting to hear the variety of reasons people were taking the course. We were then given an introduction of the course and a background of Germans in the US. My biggest takeaways from the morning sessions was that genealogy is local, both in the US and in Germany and to find a document that your ancestor has signed, as it will give you their German surname. This is a tactic that I imagine would work for any immigrant ancestor.
After lunch we were taught German language skills for genealogist and a primer on German history. The language skills were similar to what I had learned in my German course in Hamburg. The German history was interesting, particularly since it made me look at Germany differently, as Germany didn’t exist as a country in 1871. He also said that jobs can be as important as surnames for German research, as they tended to be the same through the generations, even in the US.
After class ended, we had some downtime, then dinner and browsing through the books brought by Maia’s Books. At 7:30, there was a public lecture by Pam Stone Eagleson on Telling the Tales: Writing the Family Narrative. This was the type of lecture that you wish lasted longer than the one hour provided. Pam showed her writing process, particularly how to add historical to your research to create a story. After her workshop, I want to write, write, write (hence this blog post).
Tomorrow will be church records and handwriting skills, which is rather daunting and one of the main reasons I took this course.