Thursday, March 25, 2010

Back To School: Day 72

An update on my participation in the Boston University Certificate in Genealogical Research online program which began on 13 January 2010.  You can read about Day 1 and Day 20 here.

I have been so immersed in my studies online at Boston University that I've neglected to give a recent update.  To say that the past two modules have been fantastic is an understatement.  Here are some details:
  • The Evidence Evaluation and Documentation module - lasting three weeks - was led by Dr. Thomas W. Jones and was probably the most difficult of all the modules so far.
  • An accurate description of the module would use phrases such as "exacting," "exasperating" and "enlightening."  How's that for alliteration?
  • Let's just say, if you thought you knew how to research and analyze evidence and apply the Genealogical Proof Standard, you don't know it until you work with Dr. Jones.  At times I was barely able to keep up with my classmates but Jones is an expert in this area of genealogy and he patiently guided me and others through concepts such as direct evidence vs. indirect evidence, primary and secondary sources and more.
  • Being able to take your research, analyze it and shape a coherent conclusion really is the "meat and potatoes" of what we do as genealogists.  There would be no field of genealogy without following the Genealogical Proof Standard.
  • The Forensic Genealogical Research module was fascinating and I found the assignments so intriguing that some nights I just wouldn't go to sleep!  Talk about CSI-type cases!
  • The module was led by Melinde Lutz Sanborn and all I can say is: this is the type of educator I want to be when I grow up.  Seriously.  From the minute the module started to the very end, she was attentive in tracking our progress, she held several online chats on Sunday afternoons to discuss case studies, and seemed to be ever-present.
  • Many of the assignments dealt with old photographs and with very little information, attempting to identify people in the photo.  Other exercises involved trying to find living descendants in probate cases.
Now I've just started the Genealogical Research Ethnic and Geographic Specialties module which last three weeks.  So far I am pulling an A as my grade - with about four more weeks left in the program.  I'll check back at the end of the current module.

Reminder!  The next session of Boston University online classes in this program starts on 10 May 2010 and the registration deadline is 23 April 2010.  I highly recommend this class whether you want to become a professional genealogist or you just want to improve your own research skills. Call 1-877-290-9005 or visit the website at

© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee


Kerry said...

This is really helpful. I'm considering taking the BU class, but for me it's a big investment (both time- and money-wise), so I'm glad to get some insight from someone who's taking it.

Thomas MacEntee said...


Keep in mind that a) there is a 10% discount if you have a membership with NEHGS or NGS and b) I was able to take a Lifelong Learning credit on my taxes - this amounted to about $500. Not everyone's tax situation is the same but it is worth looking into.

Michelle Goodrum said...

I remember you talking about this at the Mesa Family History Expo. I'm seriously considering it now. Just have to finish my coursework with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies first. And save up some $$$.

Keep us updated with your progress. It's really interesting!

Kathryn Lake said...

Greetings Thomas,
Your courses sound intense and exciting! Thanks for providing some feedback about Dr. Jones' teaching style. I'm attending his professional sessions at OGS in May. I'm looking forward to it. Do you get some kind of certificate when you complete the courses?

Thomas MacEntee said...


There will in fact be a certificate - that's what I like about the BU program - you get a certificate in 14 weeks.

But let me caution you that it really is up to 30 hours of work a week. Let's just say that this is Boston University online, not Phoenix University online.