I’m slowly working my way through the online “Family History Skills” course offered by the National Genealogical Society. I just finished Lesson Two: Family and Published Sources and I really learned a lot. This lessson covers Published Sources, Finding Published Sources, and Source Citations.
The second section: Finding Published Sources was the most valuable to me. Some of the resources covered were already familiar to me, but this was a good reminder to utilize them. Other resources were new to me. The course encourages you to try out Google Books, Brigham Young University (BYU) Family History Archive, The Making of America at the University of Michigan, WorldCat, LibDex: The Library Index, Library of Congress, DAR Library, Family History Library, and the NGS Book Loan Collection.
It’s been awhile since I looked at the BYU Family History Archive. I did a quick search on “Hemphill family,” which brought up four books, two of which looked promising for my research, and both of which had online images.
The Making of America at the University of Michigan is a digital library that I was not familiar with. It includes historical books and journals. I did a search on “Hemphill,” and got 623 matches in 172 records. I browsed over the titles, but nothing looked promising.
The NGS Book Loan Collection is another resource that was new to me. This collection is available for inter-library loan through the St. Louis County Library in Missouri. It includes over 6,000 family histories, plus state, county, and local histories, and more. This is definitely on my bookmark list for future reference.
This lesson also includes information on source citations and discussed proper citation style for many of the records covered in the lesson. I tend to get obsessive about citations, so my favorite part was the “Ten Commandments for Intimidated Souls,” by none other than Elizabeth Shown Mills. I won’t repeat all ten commandments here, but my favorite one was:
Thou shalt not get bent out of shape over punctuation marks. A comma here or a semicolon there matters little in the grand scheme of things.
The Lesson Review includes 20 questions, many of which require one to search and compare results within and between the various resources discussed. This is when I really learned how to get around on the different sites and how to find the results I wanted.
The Family History Skills course is free to NGS members.