On August 11th I had the privilege of presenting two classes at the Ohio History Connection in Columbus. This is the state archive. In other words, it was no small gig!
There were about 150 in attendance. My topics were were “Getting Your Irish Ancestors Over the Water” and “Beginning Irish Research.” From my perspective, I was impressed at how professional the staff at the archives was and how they did everything possible to take care of my needs. So from the speaker’s relationship with the hosts, I rate them very highly. The group in attendance was comprised of all levels of family historians. They ranged from novices to professional genealogists. That makes any speaker squirm a bit as a balance has to be struck between not being too technical or insulting.
This group was a bit complicated because in addition in the audience were a number of staff from the Genealogy Department of the Columbus Metropolitan Library and the Franklin County Genealogical & Historical Society, both of whose members spent their time to help advertise my classes. On top of that were some of the movers and shakers of the annual Dublin Irish Festival, held in Dublin, Ohio, outside of Columbus – also family historians.
So how does any speaker evaluate the needs of such a diverse class of participants? Not easy. My first task was to try and balance a little bit of everything in the two hours allotted. If I had to venture an educated guess, a typical Ohio class would consist of up to 50% to 75% Scots-Irish Protestant needs verses the rest Irish Catholic needs. So 1700s Scots-Irish research had to be considered along with 1840s and 1850s Potato Famine immigrants.
My observation was that the class was very well prepared. What I did notice was many came expecting me to give them that one magic answer to solve their research problems. That was not necessarily going to happen as Irish and Scots-Irish research can be very complicated. From my teaching experience, I have learned sometimes by just listening to the questions asked and the answers given, the smoking gun may actually present itself.
All that being said and done, it was a marvelous experience and the class was very top notch. The diversity in the class actually brought the discussion up a level. My hope is I struck a balance and ignited some new strategies in the minds of the researchers to help them address their particular issue. As I remind classes, I can feed them sources all day long, but unless they know strategies on what to do with those sources, their research may just remained blocked. While at times Irish research can be as simple as “pushing a button” it is just as often just not that simple.
I hope you enjoy the pictures graciously sent to me by the Ohio History Connection.
If you would like help with your genealogy please call 385-214-0925.