Friday, June 21, 2013

“Writing and Publishing for Genealogists” - Review of IGHR Course 5

This post is part of my continuing series by guest authors sharing their experience with courses offered at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University. Here is the experience of Karen Stansbury in course 5.

Overheard at NGS 2013:

“You cannot achieve genealogical proof until you have a written conclusion.”
“Writing might help you realize you have already solved your own brick wall and didn’t know it.”
“Write as you go.”
“Did you know Tom Jones uses Microsoft Word as his genealogy software program of choice?”

If you listen carefully in the halls of any professional genealogical gathering, the mantras bounce off the walls. You try to avoid the painful truth. But, your carefully constructed wall of denial is crumbling.


I confess ---writing intimidates me. My daughter affectionately refers to me as the “Queen of Passive Voice.” This year I decided the time had come to take a deep breath and plunge into the murky depths of modifiers, pronouns, voices, clauses, and that hated villain, passive voice.


IGHR Course 5: Dr. Thomas W. Jones’ “Writing and Publishing for Genealogists”


The carefully organized curriculum builds on each previous lecture. Dr. Jones delivers the material within an intense but manageable structure. Each lecture builds on the one before. He punctuates the lectures with just the right dose of humor.

  • You discover the “Dreaded Footnote” is no longer your enemy: it actually will aid you in the careful analysis of your evidence.
  • You realize there are many more uses for a dictionary than spelling.
  • You suddenly have an uncontrollable urge to own the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style.
  • You look at him in disbelief when he assigns you to trim your own fat; then twenty four hours later, you realize lean and mean equals clarity ---AND THAT YOU CAN DO IT!
  • You begin to imagine the feeling of having one of your own articles accepted for publication.
  • You create child lists and generational superscript numbers as if you had been doing it since fifth grade. And you finally understand the difference between Register and NGSQ style.
  • You will never look at verbs the same way again.
  • You appreciate the value of writing, and re-writing, and re-writing, and re-writing.
  • You begin to conquer your fear and you plan (dare I say, anticipate with excitement?) drafting a proof argument.
Take this course. You will not regret it. You will improve your writing. You will become a better genealogist.

And by the way, I am asking peers to review, edit and vet this piece before I submit it for publication.

Karen Stanbary is a genealogical researcher, specializing research in the Midwest, Chicago and Mexico.  She lives in Chicago.  She will be completing the ProGen Study Program with ProGen 15 in August. 

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