My blog has been changed to make it more appealing for those who have New England ancestors and want to see the area through photos. Things I’ll include are typical white New England churches, libraries showing their genealogical collection, historical societies, cemeteries, war memorials, in general, anything to do with history.

For four years I’ve blogged mostly about my personal genealogy in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire), New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. I still will, can’t forget my own roots.

Please check out the labels on the right side for articles. The header tabs at the top are a work in progress.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Being a Beginner Again

A Bridge To The Past
I have always enjoyed reading the article, "Being a Beginner Again" by Amy Johnson Crow, CG, written in 2003 for the National Genealogical Society's magazine. She has give me permission to use this topic for my blog. In all the beginner classes I gave in genealogy (as a volunteer), I always discussed this topic, and it seemed to make the beginning researchers feel good, because they felt they fit in with the other students in the intermediate and advanced student levels. She wrote, "A Colleague once passed along a very wise observation: 'No matter how long you've been researching, every time that you move your research to a new area, you're a beginner again.'"

After reading this, I would explain that statement to the students. At every new generation we tackle, we are all beginners. I am a beginner now try to trace one of my ggg grandmother's roots, just as another person who is working on their grandfather---we are all in the same boat.

I tell them that on February 18, 2003 had one of their Instant survey's, there was a simple question and a choice of a few answers to choose from. On that day, it was "Do you consider yourself a beginner, intermediate or expert when it comes to family history?" Once I plugged in my answer, I was then able to see the results. For this survey, 79% replied Beginner, 17% replied Intermediate and 4% replied Expert. I think this survey ties into the article, "Being a Beginner Again," it is true, we are all beginners with the line we are working on.

Your new search may continue in the same location as your previous generation. You will already be somewhat familiar with the resources. If the family moved, all the more fun in playing detective. To learn about the new location, read The Red Book to find out basic information, check out Google Maps (to see what towns and cities are nearby), Wikipedia for more background, contact (perhaps by internet) the local library and town hall in that area to see what records they have available. My Bishop line was in Connecticut from the 1650s until 1981 -- no real challenge there. But other lines out of Massachusetts migrated to Illinois, New York or Michigan forced me to learn much more and research harder. I loved it. Don't think of it so much as a hard challenge but as an adventure.

Have confidence that you will be successful either way, whether familiar or unknown locations, the research is basically the same. I have had my eyes opened to many new areas in the United States, can't beat that for an education.


Sheri said...

Each and every time I read your articles, I am so "Yeah, what she said!" I am working at my writing but it is a daily struggle. You make it seem so effortless and never seem to be at a loss for just the right words.

Thomas MacEntee said...

Great post Barbara - and I like the idea of "being a beginner again." Sometimes I stumble upon sites and blogs which cast newbies in a disdainful light - I think more people need to keep this "beginner" concept in mind.

Gini said...

You are so right Barbara, we are always learning - there is nothing wrong with "Being a Beginner" again and again, I know I am! Thank you Barbara.

Barbara Poole said...

Sheri, Tom and Gini, already I feel like I am writing to old friends. Thank you very much for wonderful comments. And Sheri, I can assure you, I don't talk like I write, but I do like to chatter on paper! Again thank you all.

Jana Last said...

Wonderful post Barbara! I'm finding myself in "beginner mode" as I tackle my Scandinavian family lines now. My Dad was researching those lines before he passed away and I was researching my Mom's family lines. Now I'm trying to research both sides of my family tree.

Barbara Poole said...

Thank you, Jana. I thought of this old post (done a month after I began blogging and when I had so few followers). Of course I had to correct old typos and put in a picture!

Jana Last said...


I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

Have a wonderful weekend!

Barbara Poole said...

Thank you, thank you. You too, have a great weekend.

Barbara Poole said...
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