NGS Home Study Course: Lesson One

The first lesson of the National Genealogical Society’s Home Study Course was an introduction to genealogy and focused on organization.  The information was pretty basic, but was a good introduction for those new to genealogy.

The assignments for this lesson were to create a pedigree chart and a family group sheet from one’s own family tree.  The family group sheet was to be exported to a word-processing program, so that source citations could be added, if one’s genealogy software did not add endnotes.

When I first read the assignments, I thought “piece of cake.”  I have one deceased grandparent, so I decided to use him for the pedigree chart and his parents for the family group sheet (to avoid privacy issues).  I have a lot of information on these folks, so I really thought I could just make sure my citations were up to snuff, export the reports to Word, and be good to go.

Well, when I printed the family group sheet to review the citations, I realized two things.  First, RootsMagic (and I’m sure all genealogy software programs) includes all the “facts” one has for a person, whereas the NGS examples only included basic birth, marriage, and death events; hence the report was seven pages, five of which were endnotes.  I decided to strip the family group sheet down to the basic events, so that I didn’t have to double-check citations for all the other events.

Second, when I stripped out all the extra events, I realized that I lacked many basic events for most of grandfather’s siblings and spouses; all the other “stuff” had clouded my vision.  Furthermore, many of the basic facts I had were not sourced, because I had entered them from “personal knowledge” when I first started doing genealogy.  The assignment instructions said we didn’t have to spend a lot of time researching to fill in holes in the family group sheet, but I just couldn’t send it in the way it was, so I decided to gather as much as I could online or at little cost during my self-imposed one-month time frame for this lesson.  I was able to fill in a lot of holes using Ancestry and FamilySearch databases (yes, I need to get the original records; but that will have to come later).  I also made a visit to the local courthouse and picked up marriage licenses for four of my grandfather’s siblings.

My final report ended up being five pages, three of which were endnotes.  There are still a few holes to fill, but they are mostly on spouses.

My challenge to you, gentle readers, is to pick a set of great-grandparents and look at their family group sheet.  Do you have the basic birth-marriage-death facts for everyone?  Are they sourced?  If not, then spend a little time this month filling in the holes.  I’ll be doing the same thing with another set of my great-grandparents.

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    • Tonia Kendrick says

      Oh, I know what you mean, Greta. I decided to see what I could find sources for and not stress about the rest.

  1. says

    That’s a good challenge! I have my husband’s great-grandparents completed and sourced with the exception of one child who removed from NC to GA and then moved back to another region of NC. There were nine children in that family.

    In my family, there’s one set of immigrants on each side of the family. I just started finding info on the Welsh family last year, but the Jewish/Russian family I will not be able to get any more info on till I either learn Yiddish, or hire a professional. Even that, however, is questionable since that area of Russia/now Lithuania had much destruction during WWII. For the English ancestors on my Dad’s side, original documents from NY State are very difficult to obtain…costly, and higher level of privacy than most states. My Mom’s English ancestors in RI are the ONLY ones completed, but I can’t take credit for that…I have Mom’s cousin to thank for that…he was top rate genealogist and left me a genealogy legacy in his will.

    I will have to set a goal to work on these to completion! Thanks Tonia for getting me out of the 19th Century! :-)
    Debra Newton-Carter´s last blog post ..The Plight of The Intuitive Genealogist

  2. says

    It really is a good idea to use a closer relative. I can see how they could be some of the least sourced because we get our information so easy with them. The farther back you go, the more you rely on sources. Good luck with your class. I probably need to do that, too!

    • Tonia Kendrick says

      Thanks for the comment, Shari! Yes, this lesson has inspired me to review my sources for all my closer relatives. It’s amazing how much information is missing the closer one comes in on the pedigree chart. : )

  3. says

    Hi Tonia, I am working on the NGS course as well – just getting started on the second CD. I ran into exactly the same problem when I tried to do the family group sheet for lesson 1, and it did take me quite awhile to get it straight. The lessons on the first CD really helped me approach genealogy in a more structured way. Already I can see that my organization is better, and my work has a more polished, professional look to it. I’m really enjoying the course. Good luck with it!


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