Institutions Revisited

A couple of weeks ago I spoke of my strong belief in the educational value of genealogical institutes. Because of its unique format, the British Institute (BI), in Salt Lake City, is one of my favorites. All of the courses combine instruction in a classroom setting in the morning, followed by consultations and led research in the afternoons in the Family History Library (FHL). I have personally benefited greatly from the incredible instruction I have received here.

I have attended the Genealogical Research in Ireland­–Advanced Methodology course at the 2012 BI taught by David Rencher AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA. I learned so much from his classes that not only helped me find my Melody family in Ireland but gave me tools that I have used to find ancestors all over Europe. This was my first exposure to advanced method of using statistical to identify places to begin one’s search. Truly an incredibly powerful method when all else has failed.

I was also extremely fortunate to attend the last class of Course 4 Advanced Methodology & Evidence Analysis taught by Elizabeth Shown Mills CG, CGL, FASG at the 2013 Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University, Birmingham Alabama. The massive amount of information, best practices, and methods that I took away from her will help me for a lifetime. Elizabeth’s ability to coax evidence out of items, passed over by other researchers as useless or incomplete, is unparalleled. She inspired me to view all artifacts, documents, and information from completely different angles. Now, my belief is the process of drawing evidence out of information is only limited by the imagination and ingenuity of the researcher.


This year I have the great honor of being a course coordinator and instructor at the BI. I will be teaching the course Crossing the Pond: Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor in Their Homeland along with some of the best and brightest professional genealogists and genealogical instructors that I know. David Ouimette CG, Cari Taplin CG, and Luana Darby MILS will be assisting me by teaching some great classes in this course. All have had incredible success finding ancestors abroad for themselves, students, and clients.

The design of the class has one goal in mind, helping the student succeed in finding the nativity of their immigrant ancestors. All students will be asked to supply up to five of their personal immigration brick wall problems. The students will spend the mornings receiving some of the best instruction on records, processes, strategies, and methods used to track down those elusive forbearers. In the afternoons, the instructors will be in the FHL. They will be assisting the students with implementing what they had learned earlier. All of the instructors are well versed in using the resources of the FHL, in fact, two are or have been genealogical experts that volunteer at the FHL.

The course is not limited to British Isles researchers. Everything taught in this course will translate easily into other research. Many of the examples in the classes may be British in nature, but there will also be examples from other countries. A combination of beginning, intermediate, and advanced presentations will explain some of the best and innovative strategies used to find a person abroad.

To keep abreast of the current announcements about the British Institute or the International Association for British Genealogy and Family History please like their Facebook page, or visit their website at, .

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