Ardent library users are lifetime learners, whether pursuing the newest book in a series, researching a topic, planning a trip, or doing genealogy at Muskogee Public Library. Staff members will tell you that learning is the key to genealogy success.
Those with the most “luck” create it themselves through attending conferences, classes, reading periodicals and books, membership in organizations, and reading on the Internet. They keep up to date with changes, new developments and new offerings in the genealogy world.
Muskogee Public Library offers two regular classes at no charge to beginning genealogists. “Beginning Genealogy” is usually offered at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month. Because the library is closed on Jan. 1, this class will be taught on Jan. 8. Staff member Jere Harris provides a folder of forms essential to those pursuing their family history. Then she provides instructions on how to fill them out in the proper format and also gives information on how to find that information: whether from family members, documents, published sources, or on the internet.
“Beginning Internet Genealogy” will be offered Jan. 11, following the beginning class. It is usually offered on the first Thursday each month, but always follows the “Beginning Class” for those who wish to continue their education. What is covered changes and is even customized for the class attendees.
Participants can learn from both the programs and from other genealogists at meetings of the Muskogee County Genealogical Society. These are usually held on the fourth Thursday of the month, September through June, at the library. Programs vary with information provided by guest speakers and via the internet. Programs this year have included researching the Civil War in Oklahoma, research successes by society members, and Dr. Kenny Brown on orphans at Bacone School and Home.
Workshops are provided both locally and in the area. Oklahoma Genealogical Society offers an annual workshop (with fee) featuring nationally known speakers. This society also hosted an Ancestry Day last August, featuring speakers from this information source. It was attended by enthusiasts from surrounding states. This year’s program will be provided April 6 by Dr. David McDonald. Information is available on the OGS website. Oklahoma Daughters of the American Revolution will bring military expert Craig Scott in August for a special session in Oklahoma City. Tulsa City-County Library’s Genealogy Center provides a top national speaker at least twice a year, in addition to the ever popular Mark Lowe who comes annually to Oklahoma, usually in late July. Family History Expos brought their nationally known program to Oklahoma City last year.
Gregath Publishing hosts a genealogy retreat every other year. This year’s “Genealogy in the Woods” will be Oct. 26-27 at Sky Ranch. The event features a weekend packed with genealogy topics, goodies, food, and fun in a camp setting in scenic northeastern Oklahoma. Information is available on the company’s website.
Libraries in the area also host various events, including those served by EODLS. Grove, Eufaula, Checotah, and Tahlequah have all provided free genealogy programs. Muskogee Public Library has hosted “lock ins” where participants exchange information, take over the library’s computers for the evening, and share fun and food.
Other societies meet regularly in the area, including the Fort Gibson G.S. Some provide special genealogy events, such as the Cowskin Prairie United Daughters of the Confederacy in Grove.
Educational information is available online from legitimate sources. Family Search has a wealth of information. Family History Library’s website has educational information as part of its website. Cyndi’s List is an online portal to thousands of genealogy resources, including educational information.
Muskogee Public Library’s card holders can take many classes online through the Universal Class offerings. After enrolling, participants can pursue their learning experience in the comfort of their own home or at the library at no charge. These include a beginning genealogy class.
Numerous books on various topics are available in the genealogy collection of the Grant Foreman Collection at Muskogee Public Library. Get comfortable and read these and the latest genealogy periodicals in the department. Some books are even available to check out in the adult collection.
Memberships in local, state, family and ethnic organizations usually include access to their publications. They can provide the opportunity to communicate with others doing similar or the same research and provide special interest information and tips.
It’s a fact that those who use their brain keep it charged up. I am always amazed when I attend national genealogy conferences at the number of older researchers. They may have “snow on the roof” and may be rolling along in a motorized wheelchair, but they are often also equipped with the latest technology, know how to use it, and attend all the classes they can fit into a four day schedule.
One of the biggest mistakes in genealogy is thinking “you know it all.” Even after 40 years of genealogy, I can get information from a beginning class, even the same class taken for a second or third time. Don’t cheat yourself out of new finds with an “I already know that or I already have that” attitude. The only thing positive about a negative attitude is that person is cheating themselves out of an opportunity for success.
Put learning at the top of your New Year’s resolutions list as the key to genealogy success in 2013. Muskogee Public Library can lead the way.
Nancy Calhoun works in the Genealogy and Local History Department of the Muskogee Public Library. Reach her at (918) 682-6657, Ext. 3.