Monday, July 29, 2013

GRIP Overview - What a Week!

Ok, so my plan was to blog every couple of days, but it was such a full and overwhelming week that it never happened! So here are some of my thoughts on the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh.

There were six courses offered last week and I attended Intermediate Genealogy: Tools for Digging Deeper. Paula Stuart-Warren was the coordinator and taught most of the classes. There was a range of "intermediate" students in the course, from somewhat new to genealogy, to professional genealogists. I felt that I was somewhere in the middle, so it was a great course for me!

Some of the most helpful and/or enlightening "classes" that Paula taught were about the records created during the WPA Era, military records, state archives, and federal government records. There were so many resources presented during each of these classes! I also enjoyed the classes that covered civil and criminal records, newspapers, and institutional records. There were many fun examples of what we could possibly find!

We all enjoyed the classes that were taught by Josh Taylor. I learned so much about JSTOR, which is an online database of scholarly journals. Later in the week, he taught us about using 19th and 20th compiled genealogies. His last class with us was titled "Doing Digital" and had all of our minds spinning with ideas and possibilities for digitally preserving and organizing our research. The most memorable moment was when a classmate looked at one of Josh's examples on the screen and realized that they had the same ancestors! It turned out that they were third cousins!

Our course also included two classes taught by Debra Mieszala on transcription and citing sources. I was looking forward to these topic areas, as I know that I need to working on both my transcription skills and citation "discipline". Both classes were very helpful!

Evening Lectures
There were three evening lectures during the week. On Monday evening I attended a lecture by Michael Hait on "What is a Reasonable Exhaustive Search?" He presented a great case study as an example. Tuesday night included Angela Packer McGhie's lectures, "Preparing to Research in Washington, DC" and "Read All About Your Ancestors by Locating Historic Newspapers." Both were excellent! Afterwards, we all watched the first episode of "Who Do You Think You Are." It was fun to watch with 100 genealogy nuts like myself! The final lecture on Thursday night was a last minute fill-in by Michael Hait, since the original presenter could not be there. "Of Sound Mind and Body: Using Probate Records in Your Research" was another great presentation.

People & Pittsburgh
It was wonderful to meet so many people in the genealogy community throughout the week! All of the instructors and lecturers were incredible. I met so many wonderful people, from beginners to professionals, in my course and during meals. At the end of each day in our course, we discussed a research issue or brick-wall for a classmate. There were so many ideas generated and we saw the value of collaboration. There are several of us who are hoping to stay connected!

One of the reasons I attended was because GRIP was being held in Pittsburgh. Many of my ancestors spent some time in the Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, so I have been there before and love the city! There wasn't an evening lecture on Wednesday, so I went to the Carnegie Library in Oakland with a few new friends (thanks for driving Tracy!!). We only had a couple of hours there, but I was able to check a few books with local cemetery and church listings to look for some Sarvers and Cubbages. Afterwards, we grabbed some dinner in Oakland before heading back for the night. It was a great break from the course and campus, and a chance to apply what I learned (I transcribed my notes the next morning!).

College Life
GRIP was held at LaRoche College and most of the students stayed in the dorm, which was right next to the classroom building and dining hall. It was nice being able to walk everywhere or to run back t the room during breaks if I needed something. The food in the dining hall was good and they had a wonderful salad bar at lunch and dinner. LaRoche is a small school and there was a beautiful prayer garden next to the dorm plus wonderful labyrinth nearby. The people at LaRoche were all so nice, and the conveniences of the close proximity far outweighed the minor discomfort of the dorm beds!

So if you have considered attending GRIP, I highly recommend it! They announced the fabulous listing of courses for next year (including one on DNA and another on the law and genealogy) and I hope to attend again. For more details, check out the GRIP website.

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