Sunday, June 26, 2016

Virtual Culture and Folkways With Jean

Today, in the 21st Century, we live in 2 worlds: the terra firma (well, so we hope – sometimes not so “firma” in So. California) and the virtual one. Try as we might to ignore this fact, the “virtual reality” is in our lives, even for those who do not personally use the Internet. This is because so many others do (like it or not, when you do your banking, electronic communication is employed; if you do anything with genealogy, somewhere along the line there is someone who is using virtual tools to accomplish a task, even if you hand-write a letter with the famous SASE for a reply or vital record; etc.). While some are fighting it (and I was a fighter for a long period of time, back before about 1995), those of us interested in family history are embracing it on different levels.

You can be like Gena and utilize most of the social media tools out there to hunt down living and dead relatives; like me, who acknowledges that it all exists but just doesn’t take the time to learn all the ins and outs (yes, I use Evernote® and enjoy it, but I know I am not using it to full advantage); or just use it minimally to look for ancestors on a website or attend webinars. It is that last one that I want to take a moment to discuss here.

Back in the time, BC (Before Computers), if you wanted to learn about genealogy you attended society meetings, learned from Family History Seminars at local Family History Centers, went to conferences, or accessed written materials (journals, magazines, books, etc.). And there could be a long time between learning one methodology and the next. Today, however, you can have a learning experience every day (and nearly every hour of every day, if you have the equipment and memberships) by tuning into webinars (live streamed or archived by various societies, most requiring that you merely be a member of the society to access their library – and a one-year membership usually would cost less than the value in a single video), going to the Family Search Help Center and then choosing the  Learning Center for videos on almost every imaginable genealogy topic, or take online classes in specific concentrations (some equivalent to a set of courses one would take for a major in, say, Social History).

On August 20 and 27 (Saturdays), in the morning (90 minutes) and afternoon (90 minutes) – times dependent on where you live (in So. Calif., those will both be in the morning) – I will be presenting 6 hours of instruction on “Learning About Your Ancestor Through Culture and Folkways” with an additional (optional) “Plus” discussion session on Wednesday evening, August 24. The 6-hour course costs $69.99 (for all 6 hours!!) and the plus session is an additional $30 (so $99.99 . . . OK, let’s say “just under $100” . . . for the whole experience). You will receive extensive syllabus material, one “assignment” that is a self-governed exercise to apply the material to your own family history, and one “exercise” (if you take the Plus session) that is turned in and evaluated by me with feedback received as quickly as practical. There is limited “seating” for the live-streamed program, so register soon, if you are interested in “attending.”

If you have appreciated the information provided by this blog and/or the accompanying podcast(s), then this course may be just what you need to pull it all together for application to your own family’s history. It is hoped that those taking the course will also get a better sense of the lifestyles of their ancestors, allowing them to know them better.

If this sounds like something you would be interested in, but those dates don’t work for you, the course will be archived and you can “take it” at a later date and at your own time schedule (spread over a longer or shorter period of time). The only exception to that is that the “Plus” session is not offered in the archived version, since it is a live discussion experience.

To register for the course, or any of the others offered by the newly formed Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research, go to or read more about the Institute by checking out their home page.

Personally, I’m excited about being a part of this and here are the classes that will be included:
1)      “Culture and Folkways: definitions and roles”
2)      “Using genealogical resources to understand the lives of our ancestors”
3)      “Folkways and traditions”
4)      “Where they lived and what they did”

The Plus session will be a discussion on “Culture assimilation and breaking away”
Full explanations of what is covered in each of these can be found at .

Being able to have the genealogy instruction brought right to you is one of the best aspects of our virtual world. We are no longer subject to the high cost of parking fees, sitting in traffic, spending money on gas, giving up a week’s pay for a hotel room for one night, then fighting to find a seat in an auditorium or classroom . . . it’s an amazing world. I wonder what our forebears would say about it!

--Jean Wilcox Hibben, PhD, MA, CG®


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