21 November 2011

Help for Beginning Genealogy Researchers: genealogybeginner.com

Don't you love when a perfect piece of fruit tastes as good as it looks? So it is with the new website, Genealogy Beginner. On the surface, it is a slick website; professional, clean, appealing and easy to navigate. It offers articles, classes, tips for getting started, help from experts (Ask a Genealogist) and a community forum, Coffee Shop, for genealogy beginners. The website looks almost too good to be true so I contacted the founder, Chris Clegg to request an interview. We met today via Skype and I am very excited to share this new genealogy education resource with you.

How Chris Clegg Got Started in Genealogy

Chris has a background in the market research business. As a consultant in market and consumer research he found genealogy to be a logical extension of his work. He is fascinated by the individual as researcher and the process of discovery.

In his personal life, his big genealogy challenge is his own adoption at two days old. He has not yet made the ancestral connections that he sees others making, although recently DNA research has allowed him to make some advances. The process of personal discovery and research in general are what motivates him. 

About Genealogy Beginner
Chris explained that they have had a website offering genealogy materials; charts, training guides, e-books, etc., for about nine years. They relaunched Genealogy Beginner a few weeks ago to assist beginners, who are just getting involved in genealogy or who have done some research, but have hit a dead end at the second or third generation back.

Curriculum and Lessons

During the registration process for the previous site, Genealogy Beginner gathered information about the challenges and difficulties members members faced in their genealogical research. This information drove the building of the new curriculum, which is being developed by Ramona Hartley and Tara Anderson, both experienced writers and genealogists. 

The curriculum will have seven units with seven to nine lessons each. To date they have completely written Unit 1: Introduction to Genealogy and Unit 2: Introduction to Research Resources. Unit 1 is available on the website now. More advance courses will delve into more specialized resources such as Irish diocese records or crypt records.

Lessons are available individually or you can purchase a very reasonable subscription. Lessons are delivered weekly via email. There is online access to the lesson in PDF format. Each lesson includes its own message forum where users can ask questions if they have issues or need assistance. Experienced genealogists are constantly monitoring the boards.

What About That One Time Payment?

It's just what it says. If you take a class or two and decide that you really like the service, you can pay the One Time Payment fee and never pay anything else. Genealogy Beginner plans to be here for the long haul. They have no intention of shutting down or ending their service. The one time payment is for those who really want to be part of the community.
What Does Genealogy Beginner Want You to Know?
Their heart is in helping you get to the next step. Through the Coffee Shop and Ask a Genealogist you will have unlimited access to their genealogists. It is a brand new service and this is a rare opportunity for you to get unlimited (at least for now) assistance.

There is no obligation or requirement on signup. In other words, you sign up for their free two week trial and it is just that, free. They will not take your credit card and charge it when you forget to cancel.

Genealogy Beginner wants you to ask questions and let them know how they are doing. If they don't have something that you need or if they don't know the answer to your question, they will find it. They are excited to help you and want to create a back and forth, a real community.

What's Next?

Genealogy Beginner is developing member webinars for small groups of a dozen or fewer people. Webinars will present on a topic, common area, challenge or tool for fifteen minutes and be followed by a fifteen minute group question and answer session. The format will be small so that members will feel comfortable to ask questions and feel that they are part of the group.

Chris' Tips for Newbies

Start with a six generation tree chart to get a sense of what information you know. Start the tree with you, then add parents, then grandparents and reach back from there.

Have a focused conversation with your grandparents (if you are lucky to be starting early enough) or your parents about what they know about their family history and what they have for records. Ask about your great grandparents.

Chris believes that your fastest path is through your living ancestors. Many people begin genealogy after losing a loved one and realizing that their stories have died with them.

His big tip: put everything you hear down in pencil. "You can make assumptions in pencil till the cows come home."

Is Genealogy Beginner for You?

If you are new to genealogy, even if you have an Ancestry or comparable membership, my advice is try it. They are going to help you make use of what you have already learned and go farther with the resources you can access. You can't lose with the free two week trial. Make sure you try out the whole thing while you are there. Take advantage of Ask the Genealogist and the Coffee Shop. I might even give it a whirl myself so I can tell you how I like it as a user too. Plus, they offer an affiliate program, so that is additional incentive do so.

Chris was extremely knowledgeable and what he shared made sense to me. That said, there is no replacement for actual experience. If you have tried the Genealogy Beginner, let us know what you think in the comments below.

You can also find Genealogy Beginner on Facebook.

Happy Tuesday!

Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the great article Jennifer. I also enjoyed the conversation and look forward to fielding any of your readers' questions.


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