Sunday, November 13, 2011

What I Learned From Curt Witcher this Weekend

On Saturday, I had the distinct honor and pleasure of attending the Arizona Genealogical Advisory Board's workshop with Curt Witcher, Genealogy Center Manager at the Allen County Public Library. This was my first time hearing him speak live and he is as inspiring, entertaining, and educating as the recorded talks I have heard him give.

Here are take aways from each of the four talks he gave:

  1. Roll Call - New Sites and Sources for Military Records and Research. This talk was jam packed with information and sites. One thing that I wasn't aware of is how powerful is. Did you know that you can sign up for your own free account? WorldCat can literally be your research assistant. You can set up bibliographies and to do lists for a particular repository.
  2. Using Government Documents for Genealogical Research. Local communities may have "yearbooks" of people who held positions in that community. This can be anything from mayor down to constables and town clerks. State and counties have Blue Books and Red Books which are like yearbooks. Have you sought these resources when researching your ancestors?
  3. Pain in the Access: Getting More from the Internet for Your Genealogy. This was my favorite presentation. Mr. Witcher gave us  a step by step surfing strategy which I won't outline here because I would be giving away the heart of his talk! Suffice it to say that I now have another checklist to use when researching online. I will share some links that I was not familiar with.
  4. SOS! SOS! Saving Our Societies: Answering Our Distress Beacons. There were many great points in this talk but two things stood out in my mind:
    • People want to have fun and be successful doing genealogy. Is this happening for your society members?
    • Them vs. US - There are more of "them" (meaning genealogists who were "born digital") than there are of "us" (genealogists who have been researching since before the digital age). What is your society doing to attract and engage "them"?
          It's important for societies to keep these and other points in mind in order to keep our societies alive and vibrant.

If you have the opportunity to listen to a presentation by Curt Witcher, I highly recommend taking advantage of it. In the meantime, I hope you picked up something useful from this brief summary.

© 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum


  1. You know, ACPL is my library and I always feel like I'm in the presence of a celebrity when I see him working. He's the best! I wonder what he'd think if I asked for an autograph! LOL!

  2. I know what you mean. I felt like I spent the day with a celebrity. It would be a kick to ask for his autograph! LOL!!