Column – Virtual

At the Famillement event last June, I noticed once more how nice it is to talk genealogy in person rather than online. To meet new people, and where you can feel the presence of a good speaker in the farthest corner of the room.

Like the Famillement, most genealogy educational opportunities in the Netherlands are on-site. We go to an archive for a palaeography course, or go to a meeting of a genealogical society to hear a presentation about a type of source. The topic is often selected to speak to a wide audience. Specialist topics for advanced genealogists are rarely taught. People who can’t come to the location because of health issues or work responsibilities, are left out in the cold.

In the United States, things are done differently. Organizations like Legacy Family Tree Webinars offer online lectures about a range of topics. My favorites are the ones organized by the Board for Certification of Genealogists, which often deal with methods to proof descent in the absence of direct evidence. Another supplier of online lectures is the Virtual Genealogical Association, founded earlier this year, which has a Benelux chapter. Membership of these organizations costs just a couple of dozen euros per year, after which the webinars can be attended for free.

More extensive online education is also possible. Later this year, I will be attending the Virtual Advanced Evidence Practicum at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy to improve my research strategies by comparing to others. The Virtual Institute of Genealogy Research offers online courses on a wide range of topics, such as the use of DNA for genealogical research.

Americans seem to have found a good mix of online and on-site education. Last May, I spoke at the National Genealogical Society Family History Conference in Michigan. Thousands of people attended the event. Network lunches organized by different organizations provided the opportunity of meeting each other. A dozen parallel tracks offered diverse presentations. Almost all the presentations were recorded and can be bought as audio file via PlayBackNGS. Some of the more popular lectures were available via live streaming.

I think there is a need for such online educational opportunities in the Netherlands as well. They can exist alongside the existing courses and live events. Because talking genealogy over coffee or tea remains more fun than meeting online.

TV presenter Dieuwertje Blok describes her experiences with “Verborgen Verleden,” the Dutch version of “Who Do You Think You Are,” at the Famillement even in June 2018. Photo by author.

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate diploma in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.

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