Sunday, June 10, 2012

Dear Genealogical Educators - This is What We Need!

I just watched a talk by Warren Bittner that was streamed live over the internet from SoCal Jamboree thanks to the Southern California Genealogical Society. His talk was called "Complex Evidence: What is it? How does it work? Why does it matter?"

The talked walked through the basics of complex evidence analysis using the genealogical proof standard and evidence evaluation standards. At the start of his talk, Bittner proposed a question or research objective. Then he went step by step through each record group he searched, applying evidence evaluation along the way, demonstrating the process for the audience.

The talk was incredible as a learning tool for the amount of information he was able to share in one hour in such a clear, concise, visual way.

Dear genealogical educators - this is what we need! We need to see videos or webinars on case studies of complex evidence or conflicting evidence that also demonstrate use of the genealogical proof standard and evidence analysis.

Yes, audio tapes from conferences are nice and helpful too. But this is the 21st century! We really need this information in video or webinar format.  Being able to see Bittner's documents and anaylsis visually was critical in allowing the audience to quickly grasp the concepts that he was presenting. A conference audio tape loses all that.

I would like to throw down the gauntlet and challenge genealogical educators to dig through their 10, 20, 30 or 40 years or project case studies and pick out ones to transform into 21st century educational tools.

Perhaps a webinar will never replace the printed NGS Quarterly but it can work hand in hand with it to further genealogical education and research. Organizations such as NGS, NEHGS and NYGBS should be actively be making the creation of visual or video learning tools a part of their short and long term goals.

Warren Bittner's talk was magic. I have been studying these topics for awhile now in my ProGen class and in other arenas.  Let's spread the magic, through videos and webinars, so that we help all genealogists get up to standard more quickly.


  1. Marian, I enjoyed this talk as well. I felt the same way after the last "major" conference I attended, things were too basic. That got me wondering...are the speakers not presenting these type of sessions to the conference boards? Or are the conference boards not accepting these type of sessions?

  2. I have watching all of them and this was the best one so far. Yes we need more on line of this type of basic instructions.

  3. I have trouble following a case study in a journal, and I struggle with evidence analysis daily. Warren Bittner's talk opened up a world of ways I can do a better job of getting to real answers. I'll be on the lookout for webinars and videos that use the same technique.

    P.S. I bet it was really difficult and tedious to design this lecture and the slides. Thanks a million to Mr. Bittner for taking the trouble.

  4. Yes! Being in Australia, I would love for some of these lectures to be available on line. This is a great idea and I'm sure would encourage many more genealogists to engage in
    on going education.

  5. Yes it was great in person too. Many good presentations and a pretty good mix of levels.

  6. Marian,

    Very complicated topic, so clearly presented.

    I totally agree with you for more of this type of presentation. This presentation, to me, wasn't for a beginner, but someone with some experience, who has run into the types of data that were presented by Mr. Bittner.

    Thank you for your comments on this presentation.


  7. A comment from the other side of the fence. Sometimes onsite at conferences, case studies are not as well-attended as some of the more basic lectures. These topics do seem to lend themselves to online venues where reaching interested parties is somewhat easier.


  8. As a presenter, you have certainly given me something to think about. I may 'start small' and incorporate a short case study into one of my talks and see how well it is received.

  9. I so desperately wanted to see this webinar, but when I signed on, I kept getting a series of "stills" and no sound. Drat! It sounds wonderful. I do hope that this will be one that they preserve in the archives so that it can be accessed in the future. I live in hope of getting to hear it someday. I'm glad it was so inspiring!

  10. I'd also add: RECORD and make available online -- Yes, I'll pay -- so those of us reading about such sessions a month and more later can still go watch/listen!