I’m nearly finished with a six-week course, the All-DNA Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum, one of the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy’s offerings. Each Saturday we get a new puzzle and have six days to come up with the solution. (I have a stack of Sunday crosswords sorely in need of my attention. It seems I’m too excited about the real-life DNA puzzles I’ve been working on.) On the following Saturday, the instructor walks us through their solution in a guided discussion. And then a new instructor comes to the mound and pitches the next mystery.
I like this class on so many levels. We’re getting case studies and solutions from some of the top DNA instructors in the country. My fellow students aren’t too shabby either. Some have been willing to share their solutions, which gives me a peek into another genealogist’s mind about how they went about tackling the problem. In their reports I learn different ways to set up tables and present data, as well as verbiage to try to succinctly explain some challenging concepts. We;re learning about new tools to use to solve our problems.
One of my favorite reasons, however, has to do with record sets. Studying groups of people sharing DNA with one another is only part of the solution. Documentary sources in which our ancestors and those of our matches appear must also be studied to determine which people were in the correct location to create the exact chromosomal combination in our mystery person.
I think I’ve looked at records from close to 20 different states and a few countries to solve the five cases in the practicum. Some locations appear in my own family’s history. Some record types are part of my regular playlist. But in working through these problems I’ve been exposed to record sets I’ve never used.
One recent case used a particular record set in a particular county of Pennsylvania I hadn’t ever used. I have several family lines of my own (and ones I’ve researched with my dear friend, Barb, the person who sucked me into the fascinating world of genealogy). As researched the DNA case I made a mental note to see which other Pennsylvania counties had records in that same set. As it turns out, A LOT! I’ve now got a whole list of Pennsylvania township assessment records from a whole list of Pennsylvania counties to follow-up on. Maybe, just maybe, I can make some headway on Barb’s brick wall ancestor.
I think you should expect to learn something in every class you take. And if you’re lucky you might learn something – a new record set, for instance – that you never expected to learn.
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Disclaimer – The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy has provided me a discount on my SLIG 2020 tuition for my participation as a SLIG ambassador.. The opinions expressed are my own.
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.