Course #3: Exploring Broad Context!

Instructor: Jill Morelli, CG
Dates offered: 11, 18, 24 October and 1 November 2021 (Mondays, except as noted)
Time: 3:30 pm PT to 6:30 pm PT/6:30 pm ET to 9:30 pm ET
Cost: $300

The search for genealogical “broad context” is topical research conducted before the researching of individuals.  Such contextual research is necessary to understand and interpret documents more accurately. This course will investigate the term “broad context” as defined by Genealogy Standards and its importance to conducting “reasonably exhaustive research.” This is an advanced topic.

“Exploring Broad Context!” is not a “social history” course and differs by timing, focus and intent.

“Broad context” is defined in Genealogy Standards by example:

“When planning research genealogists consider historical boundaries and their changes, migration patterns and routes, and sources available for potentially relevant times and places. They also consider economic, ethnic, genetic, governmental, historical, legal, linguistic, military, paleographic, religious, social and other factors that could affect the research plan and scope.”

Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, Second Edition (Nashville, Tennessee: BCG, 2019) 12.

Notice the implied timing of the search and the range of topics. The need to understand the culture and mores before conducting person-focused searches is imperative.  The knowledge gained will shine a light on the actions of your ancestors, make your interpretation of the records more accurate and your future searches more efficient. In this session we expand the purpose of a broad context search from that which “affect[s] the research plan and scope” to include the increased ability to interpret our ancestor’s actions and records with greater clarity.

This four session course is taught over four weeks, with four assignments, including one that is accomplished by the students in advance of the first session. It is anticipated that the homework will take 5-10 hours for each practicum. Completion is not the goal. Your investment of time is imperative to having a successful experience in a practicum.

While the course is not oriented towards portfolio building, “Broad Context” is referred to in the Board for Certification rubrics for the Document Work, Research Report, Case Study and the Kinship-Determination Project.

Class Agenda

The pre-assignment is due 24 hours before class starts. Instructor will comment on the pre-assignment and all other submissions if submitted 48 hours before class starts. Class schedule is subject to change.

Session 1:

  • Overview of class objectives, introduction of class members
  • Discussion of pre-assignment
  • Lecture “Quick Guide: Broad Context”
  • Breakout groups for in class assignment, and report back
  • Introduction to Practicum #2

Session 2:

  • Class Discussion based on Practicum #2
  • Lecture: “Advanced Concepts”
  • Breakout groups for in-class assignment & report back
  • Introduction to Practicum #3

Session 3:

  • Class Discussion based on Practicum #3
  • Lecture: “DIY Context”
  • Breakout groups for in-class assignment & report back
  • Introduction to Practicum #4, personal project

Session 4:

  • Class Discussion based on Practicum #4
  • Lecture/Discussion: “Using Academic Libraries for Broad Context Research”
  • Lecture/Discussion: “Using and locating Finding Aids,” Lisa Oberg, Director, Special Collections, Suzzalo Library, University of Washignton and a genealogist

Required material. Please procure these before the class starts:

Discussion is key for this course. The small class size facilitates such interaction.