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“Thanks, I don’t need any help; I’ve got this.”
I used to say that a lot when I was first getting started in genealogy. It wasn’t because I really did know everything – goodness, I certainly didn’t (still don’t)! It was because I was embarrassed to admit what I didn’t know.
I didn’t know that I could access records from my family’s native Germany (no one told me I could), so I thought such an attempt would be useless. I didn’t know that probate files for my ancestors could be viewed, so I never checked into that. I didn’t know that land records might help me sort out relationships among family members, so I didn’t ask anyone about how to find and/or read them. And so much more!
Remember being in school and the teacher asking, “Are there any questions?” How many hands went up? If your classes were anything like mine, very few. Yet, afterwards, the teacher was often (privately) besieged by students asking the questions about which they did not want to admit (publicly) ignorance. Do you feel that way still? I know I do!
I have attended genealogy lectures, certain that everyone around me had complete understanding of the concept being taught, language used, or resources mentioned. When the speaker asked, “Questions?” I, like so many others present, kept my hand down. I didn’t want others to know that I was unfamiliar with a particular repository, acronym, or website; especially since I am a professional genealogist (news flash: professional genealogists do NOT know everything about the subject, any more than an English teacher knows about every novel ever written).
If some of this sounds familiar, then the Research Assistance room in the Tech Hallway at Jamboree may be just the place for you. People who have knowledge of specific areas of the genealogical world will be available to answer questions, help guide your research, vault brick walls, or maybe just get you started. You do not need to worry about anyone looking at you strangely for not knowing what PERSI is, where Family History Centers are located, which website specializes in what types of records, etc. If the person you ask doesn’t have the answer, he/she can direct you to those who do or help you find the requested resource on the Internet.
Just think: a safe haven for all those family history queries! Sign up for a pre-arranged research consultation (as a “client”) or just drop by during the Jamboree hours. And if you can help be an advisor, the same invitation applies – we need folks who are willing to share some of their knowledge (without shaming those who ask questions that experienced genealogists thought were “common knowledge” – there is no such thing).
See you at RESEARCH ASSISTANCE sponsored by the Southern Calif. Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists!
Jean Wilcox Hibben; PhD, CG
SCCAPG past President