Tuesday, February 16, 2010

NGSQ Article Discussion Group Today

Hey all, as usual I've got a lot on my plate but in came the monthly NGSQ article discussion for a nice change of pace. The article for this month's chat was "Life and Death on the Frontier: The Robert and Loana McFarland Family of Boulder Valley, Colorado" by Birdie Monk Holsclaw. If you haven't read it yet, it was the 2003 Winner of the NGS Family History Writing Contest and is a definite must read. Those of you who are NGS members can access the article online through their article archives section. Those who are not members, it's just another reason to go join right now.

As I said above, this is a definite read. There are several reasons really but the top two, in my opinion anyway, are
1-it's a fast read; fast, easy, interesting, pulls you in, not confusing/requiring the reader to make charts in order to follow what's going on
2-it includes all of the key elements of a classic case study; it's the kind of thing you would want your BCG certification portfolio to exemplify (there was even some discussion in our group today about this being part of the author's CG application)

When I say that it includes all of the key elements required of a good, strong case study one of the points I'm referring to is the use of tons of sources of all kinds showing an "exhaustive" search of records. Another is the the placement of the subject within the larger historical context of the time and place. In this case, the subject was Robert McFarland and his family through his second wife. Robert began his life in Vermont later moving to IL and ultimately CO while his children went back to VT and even ID and for all of these places, we see historical selections taken from the time and place and placing each of the subjects within that framework. This article represents what appears to me to have been a pretty big undertaking of research and study of New England, newly formed territories in what would become known as the Midwest, and the frontier at a very early time in its history. I do not have any known ancestors (at least not that I know of yet) who ventured out to the Western frontier, at least none that settled there permanently and remained there so this article was not necessarily something that I would have chosen to read on my own (despite my knowledge that case studies, no matter what their content have value in guiding others on proper methodology) but it turned out to be one of the greatest examples of a case study that I've read up to this point, right up there with the article by Rachel Mills Lennon that we read back in October (here's the post on the subject http://genealogist-in-training.blogspot.com/2009/10/im-motivatedbut-distracted.html ).

My point here is read this article! Actually, either get a membership to NGS so you can read all fo the articles, award-winning or not, or head to the nearest library and start checking out as many NGSQs as you possibly can. They serve not only as models, but as motivators for yourself. They're a great way to see in tangible terms where you want your work to be, where you want your skills to be.

No comments:

Post a Comment