December Reading List: The page turners I can’t put down this month.

I read constantly. The news, old records, books, even the back of a cereal box if that is all that is handy. I’m like a sponge that is always trying to soak up information from anywhere I can. Most of my reading choices relate to history or genealogy, and I’m always looking for new great reads.

This month I am reading 3 interesting books.

**Using the links in this post to purchase books will take you to Amazon. If you use these links to purchase these items I may receive compensation from Amazon. Beyond being an affiliate for Amazon I receive no compensation for recommending these books and my opinions are my own.**

32D Infantry Division World War II by Maj. Gen. H.W. Blakeley

The first book I am reading is by Major General H.W. Blakeley. I am using it as one of my source documents for the blog series about Fred Jacobs during World War II. The printed version is pricey. Thankfully, a digital version of the entire book is available on the Internet Archive.

Pacific Street by Amy Cohen.

I started this book a few days ago. It is nice to take a break from research and class studies to read a book purely for enjoyment. This is a fact-based fictional novel with a heavy dose of genealogical influence from Amy’s research of her own ancestors. For more from Amy Cohen be sure to check out her genealogy blog at Brotmanblog: A Family Journey.

The Asylum by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

This is another read I picked up purely for enjoyment. This is a short novel about a forensic genealogist. I was hooked from the moment I read the description. I have this one saved for reading later in the month and I can’t wait to dig into this tale. Crime mystery meets forensic genealogy! This is sure to be a winner. For more from Nathan Dylan Goodwin be sure to check out his site.

What are you reading?

I am always looking for great reading suggestions. Is there a book you cannot live without in your research? What genealogy or historical inspired novel hooked you like no other?

Free online genealogy courses. Worth the time?

Once upon a time, there was a woman who questioned the value of free online courses. The woman was me. The time was nearly six weeks ago. That was when I signed up for the Future Learn genealogy course by the University of Strathclyde Glasgow. I am rapidly approaching the final week of the course, and I wanted to share my thoughts on the program.

Genealogy: Researching your family tree.

The course instructors are Tahitia McCabe and Graham Holton. Both Tahitia and Graham instruct other courses at the University of Strathclyde at Glasgow. Tahitia is the course leader and Graham is the head tutor in the MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies program at the school.

books
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

Things to love about this course.

There were several things about this course that won me over. The first thing I really enjoyed about the program was the structure. Each week, the instructors release a new module. Students can work through the material as their schedule allows. I found personally that I enjoyed breaking the weekly course material into two study sessions each week.
You perform exercises suggested throughout the course and converse with classmates in a comments section on each page or you can attend the study group in the tab at the top of the page. Tahitia and Graham also interact with students through the course to answer questions, adding a very beneficial element to the course.

Sprinkled through the course are small quizzes. They are 5 questions, optional to complete, and your score doesn’t affect your ability to complete the course. I found these to be a great self-test as I moved through the course.

During week 5, there was probably my favorite part of the entire genealogy course. There was a strong focus on DNA, which I found very enjoyable and they host 2 livestreams with Tahitia and Graham. In the livestreams you get to meet virtually with the instructors and ask questions that remain unanswered. They went to great lengths to answer every question and even ran over their scheduled time answering questions.

A couple finer details.

Don’t let yourself get sucked down too many rabbit holes. The instructors loaded the course with great resources and the comments section reveals a great deal many more gems. Save the links and investigate them later to focus only on the lessons given or you might spend hours just looking at great new research resources.

The school that offers the course is in Scotland and many of their topics are heavy in records for that region. As someone who focuses on North American genealogy, I found that part of the course is exceptionally helpful. It gave me a greater understanding of what sort of records I should search for when I research genealogy in Scotland.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who learned she was wrong.

My takeaway from my experience with the genealogy course on Future Learn is that there can be great value in a free online course. This course has something to offer new genealogy researchers or experienced genealogy researchers alike. I am glad that I took the time to test my theory on free online classes with this one. For those interested, you can pay for either an individual course certificate or subscription to Future Learn and get a certificate of completion for the course. The next Genealogy: Researching your family tree course begins in March 2020.

Future Learn also offers several other classes that can be helpful to genealogy researchers. I recommend going to the site and doing a quick search for either history or DNA.

My rating for this course?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Have you taken any free online courses that you enjoyed? I’d love to hear about your learning experiences in the comments!

Do you need great images? Here is the solution!

FTC Technicalities: I did receive compensation to promote this product. iClipart was generous enough to provide me with opportunity to review their product and share it with you but the opinions and thoughts here are my own.

I am a genealogist.

I wear many hats in life but at my core I am a genealogist and I would rather be alone somewhere doing research than most other activities. My family understands this and they tolerate and even indulge my quirks. I often apologize to my family because I’d rather be researching. With a half hearted explanation, I inform them I will like them better when they are dead too…

Blogging has given me a great way to share my genealogy research and the tricks and tips I learn along the way. I can focus on writing my blogs because it is just another step in my genealogy research. There a million minor details that go into writing any blog post and those get me. I’d rather slam my finger in the door than study Google Analytics, spend hours crafting the perfect headline, or pour over millions of graphics looking for that perfect image to make a blog post pop. All these things are sadly details that shape a great blog. The devil is in the details and I am not a fan of some of those details.

Graphics made easy with iCLIPART.com

Anytime I can find something that makes those more mundane tasks easier to slog through, I am a fan. Enter iCLIPART.com. A lot of times in genealogy blog posts, a related image just doesn’t exist. Blogging 101 tells everyone that a great blog post includes at least one image. Humans are visual creatures. If you poke around long enough, you can find images in the public commons, but finding quality images in some of those platforms can be a chore. ICLIPART.com is a budget friendly option that can put millions of useful quality images at your fingertips.

I typed in a few keywords relevant to genealogy and the site left me amazed and excited. Suddenly, I don’t search for a suitable image for hours. I am now trying to decide between a group of great options. The site has so many great options that I am saving some of them just so I can write a blog post to use the great image!

Great Vintage Photos

This is the first image I had to grab. The instant I spotted this one I just knew it had to be on my blog. I am not sure what blog title it conjures just yet but I love this image.

Victorian era girl covering mouth
Great image from iCLIPART.com

I am a genealogist at my core. I am a writer by default. I am not a photographer or graphics designer. I will admit my limitations so I can focus on my strengths. I love that iCLIPART.com takes most of that need out of the equation.

Family Tree Templates

Here are two of their family tree images. I can see these being a great addition to any family research project.

tree image
iCLIPART.com Graphic
tree image
iCLIPART.com Graphic

The folks at iCLIPART.com also shared an exclusive deal for readers of Dusty Roots and Forgotten Treasures.

BABYDOLLSPLAYGROUNDY5CZ Promo Code 20% off all one year subscriptions

Look for the latest deals at Dealspotr

I wish I had found this site sooner! If you need great images to give your blog or project a finished look check out iCLIPART.com.

Free Courses for Genealogy Research Success

Frugal Finds

I have raised 3 kids. Well 2 and a half… one is still floating around the nest for a few more years. One thing raising kids taught me was how to be frugal. I’m annoyingly cheap. That carries over into my genealogy. I splurge on my ancestry account, but mostly I spend my genealogy dollars carefully.

I take advantage of a lot of free research resources. I have a list of sites I rely on to provide me with research information that might be harder to find on bigger sites. I also take advantage of a lot of free courses. The Internet is full of free genealogy courses, webinars, videos, and how to articles. Sometimes the trick is knowing where to look to find the best resources among the vast noise out there.

books and glasses
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Future Learn

Recently I took the Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree course on Future Learn. The course is 6 weeks long, taught by instructors at the University of Strathclyde Glasgow, and offered free on the Future Learn open course platform. I cannot say how much I enjoyed the course. It is great for beginners, but even experienced researchers will get great information. There are quite a few other courses on Future Learn that could interest researchers.

Evidence Explained

The National Genealogical Society offers a certificate in American Genealogical Studies. The certificate course comprises 4 classes that teach different aspects of genealogical research. The classes are a great value but out of my budget, so I looked at what I could find about the course that might be helpful. The required materials for the second two classes of the program include a book called Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

Elizabeth Shown Mills is a fellow of the American Society of Genealogists. She is an expert in the field and her book is an irreplaceable resource. She has brought some of her knowledge to a series of quick lessons on her site Evidence Explained.  On her site, she provides 26 quick lessons that provide in-depth explanations of evidence and how to understand what it means.

There is a wealth of free learning resources on the Internet. What are some of your favorite free learning finds?

**No plugs just honest opinions. I receive no compensation for this post.**

November Reading List

The following is a list of books that I have on my reading list for the month.

Scots in Canada by Jenni Calder

This book caught my interest because I have a family line, Spence, which came to the United States from Scotland via Ireland and then Canada. This book provides a great overview of the circumstances which led to the migration of Scottish clans from their homeland and the life they created in Canada.

Mayflower: A History From Beginning to End

Thanksgiving is coming soon. This time of year I like to spend a little extra time learning about my pilgrim roots.

One of my early ancestors was George Soule. He was a passenger on the Mayflower and his signature is on the Mayflower Compact.

Victory in Papua by Samuel Milner

This book has been my primary source for the blog series on Fred L. Jacobs.

Samuel Milner did an extraordinary job of giving detailed troop movements which allows a glimpse into daily life of the soldiers who had boots on the ground.

This book can also be found in PDF form from the U.S. Army for free.

What are you reading?

Are you reading anything great this month? I am always looking for something new to read. Take a moment to share your recommendations in the comments.

A New Leaf

Genealogy is one of the most popular hobbies in the United States. It is second only to adult content searches regarding internet search terms. As family history interest passes from just being about family lore and delves further into the science realm with DNA the field is only going to continue to grow in popularity.

As interest in family history continues to grow the resources dedicated to the industry are becoming more visible. NBC has premiered a new show “A New Leaf” hosted by Daisy Fuentes and presented by Ancesty.com. The show airs on Saturday morning and is available free on demand on the network’s website.

I took a moment to review the premier episode and thought I would provide my thoughts on this show. The show is only 30 minutes in run time and that is with commercials. Actual airtime is closer to 20 minutes. I found the program enjoyable.

This episode is about a young woman, Nadia, and her mother Stephanie. Nadia is trying to learn more about her mother’s unknown father so she can learn more about that unknown side of her family. One thing that is unfortunate about the show is they skip over the process of how they identified the identity of Stephanie’s father. This was a good opportunity for the program to delve into the process of genetic genealogy but honestly in a 30-minute time slot, for an early morning weekend audience, this was probably the wisest choice.

Most of the show is about the reaction of Nadia and Stephanie as they learn about this unknown branch of their family tree. The researchers were able to locate records and photos of several of their ancestors including a very interesting interview from Stephanie’s great-great-grandmother, Martha Patton, who was 91 years old when interviewed for the Slave Narrative project 1936-1938.

Compared to a more research detailed show such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” this show is more of a feel-good show for the person with casual interest in family history. There is a lot of general history education dotted in through the program that relates to the story being researched but not as much on the actual research process.

Overall, I loved the show

I think it is a great concept that can help the average person understand the things genealogical research can reveal without getting bogged down in the detail of how it is done. I would recommend this program for anyone looking for a lighthearted program that can provide interesting educational tidbits without being too technical to appeal to a wide audience.

Have you had a chance to check out this show? Take a moment to let me know what you thought of the premier in the comments!