Thursday, January 17, 2019

Giving a Listen

The other day, J. Mark Lowe, our Southern Research instructor at SLIG, introduced us to the phrase, "Listen to the Mule."

If that were not enough work for one researcher, today, he advised: listen to the testimony of the people living around your ancestor. They will tell you the stories you want to hear about your people.

True, the only way we can accomplish that "listening" is through the documents that recorded the minutiae of their lives—agricultural schedules, tax records, mortgage records, business transactions. Like a mosaic, those slips of paper can piece together a picture of just what life was like for a specific relative, long before we ever came on the scene to become eye-witnesses.

Just like that mosaic which we build to allow ourselves to see the reality of our ancestors' lives, we can glean a mosaic of what it's like to attend class at the annual Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. Since I'm in the company of a few fellow genea-bloggers, I've noticed that they, too, are telling what's important to them this week. Here's a little overview of what others are saying.

When Ginger LaRue Mary Stuart—"My red hair gives me super powers"—of Ginger Doodles mentioned that her family refers to Salt Lake City as "Genealogy Disneyland," I could see why her trek from Georgia was so joyfully in relation to the research reason she was here. Attending D. Joshua Taylor's course, Bridging the Gap: New England to the Midwest, she stalked proof of the Kentucky land grant of her fifth great-grandfather with ear candy of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" playing in her head.

Fellow California resident—and recently board-certified genealogist—Lisa Gorrell shared her take on the same class I'm enrolled in, Advanced Southern Research, in a recent post on her blog, My Trails Into the Past. Lisa's maternal line is all southern, similar to mine. She took the opportunity last night at the specially-arranged SLIG night at the Family History Library to try her hand at the practical aspect of locating the resources we're learning about in class. Then, too, Lisa and I grabbed the chance yesterday to enjoy lunch together and chat about our research interests. Sometimes, it takes going to a conference seven hundred miles from home to spend time with the genea-friends we hardly ever get to see when we're back home.

Those are not the only courses being offered at SLIG. There are, in fact, fifteen classes running concurrently this week, with more to come next week.

One of the courses this week is a crash course on reading Gothic Script and Fraktur. The intrepid Nancy Loe of Sassy Jane Genealogy, having never even attempted a high school German class, has launched herself into F. Warren Bittner's course at SLIG. Her fun pop quiz, hinting at what she's learned so far, just goes to show that we go to these in-depth educational programs precisely so they will teach us how much we don't know. And we're okay with that. In fact, many of us keep coming back, year after year.

After all, who wouldn't want to come back to "Genealogy Disneyland"?   


  1. I love the idea of Salt Lake City being Genealogy Disneyland. This is one of my favorite places on earth! And being with other like-minded people is icing on top!

    1. Agreed, Lisa. And, unlike the many (though admittedly fun) Disney locations, this is more like the world capitol for genealogists.


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