Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Women's History Month 2016: Tip #14 Ask An Expert

Sure, you may need a professional genealogist but what about other specialties that can answer questions for you?
Hydrologist Job Meaning Hydraulics Expert And Words by Stuart Miles/Courtsy of Freedigitalphotos.net

When is the last time you consulted an expert about your genealogy? I'm not referring to just genealogy professionals but also experts from other disciplines.

Why would you do that?

One of my research projects involves a 19th century British woman who wrote a manuscript having to do with mineralogy. In the course of that research I have asked questions of :

  • geologists
  • collectors
  • rare book dealers
  • museums
  • archivists
  • professional genealogists
  • family historians
  • history researchers
  • geology librarians
  • librarians from public, academic, and state libraries
  • and others

My point? It has taken a few years of asking questions of many people worldwide  via face to face interactions, conferences, emails, and Tweets to get the answers I have found so far. Answers I would have never found by only using the Internet.

So why wouldn't you ask an expert?

Look at your research. What questions do you have? What do you need to know more about? What do you not know about the place they lived or the resources that are available? Who has done similar research with some success?

Where do you find experts? Social media helps but you can also use the Ask A Librarian feature found on library websites (particularly academic libraries). Consult with archivists, historians, membership organizations, even university professors.

What experts do you need to talk to?

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