My review of the B.U. Certificate in Genealogical Education course

This past fall I took the Boston University Certificate Program in Genealogical Research.  This is a 15-week online course (for continuing ed credits only — NOT undergrad academic credit) taught by experts and professionals in the field of genealogy. 

The program was updated and modified with my class (Fall 2018).  It now has 4 modules:  (1) Genealogical Methods (5 weeks); — taught by Allison Ryall
(2) Evidence Evaluation & Documentation (4 weeks); — taught by Julie Michutka
(3) Forensic Genealogy (4 weeks);  — taught by Melinde Lutz Bryne, CG, FASG
(4) Genealogy as a Profession (2 weeks). — taught by Angela Packer McGhie, CG

Assignments were due each week, and were graded.   In addition, you are expected to log on regularly, and to participate regularly in discussions that are part of each module.  You need a grade of C or better in each module, and a B- overall to attain your certificate.  (Note: this is just a certificate.  It does NOT mean you are a Certified Genealogist through the Board for Certification of Genealogists.)

Getting on to what I thought of the course, I loved it!  It was well worth the cost (close to $2,700 — but I got 10% off, as I am a member of National Genealogical Society).  I did NOT take the 7-week Essentials course suggested by BU in advance of this course, deciding instead to just take the plunge.  I definitely needed a minimum of 20 hours per week to get through this course — but some weeks were more intense (citations!) and other weeks were “easier” (for me, that was the first module).

While I can’t make specific remarks as to the course content, my suggestion is that you are best off in the first module if you are familiar with a wide variety of records and have a high-level understanding of how DNA matches play into genealogical research.with DNA.    The module on evidence and citations has a new textbook — Thomas Jones’ Mastering Genealogical Documentation.  You are taught the art of citing your sources by understanding the source itself and the information within it — so you won’t have to just refer to templates.

The Forensic Genealogy module includes a focus on Ethics, since ethics play a significant role in dealing with living people, as far as DNA research and (financial) inheritances are concerned.  Finally, the module of Professional Genealogy covers the basics of what it takes to be a professional genealogist, using the brand-new Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice & Standards (published in 2018).

I found all the instructors (and their assistants) to be extremely responsive to my fellow students and myself.  I also thought the interaction between the students via discussion forums to be extremely helpful, learning as much from my classmates as from the coursework itself.  (The interaction between classmates is limited to the group you’re in, however; there were enough enrolled students for Fall 2018 that the students were divided into 2 sections, and further divided into 5 subsections of roughly 25 students each.)

All in all, if you want to ramp up your genealogical research skills very fast, this is a great course in which to do it.  Be prepared for a “grind” — you’ll likely need those 20+ hours a week to work on the readings and assignments.  There were about 4 or 5 in my own subsection of roughly 25 students that apparently dropped out before the end of the first module.  Afterwards, if you earn your certificate, you can choose to join the alumni mailing group (which includes alumni from all the past classes, back to 2009); a Facebook group exists as well.

 

Charles Holst: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #3

  My great-granddad Charles Holst was one of 3 great-grandparents who were alive when I was born, and one of 2 I can actually remember, although the memory is fuzzy.  Grandpa Charlie (so-called by my aunt and uncles to differentiate him from the other grandparents) was born in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California, on 18 October 1884, to Peter Holst, who was 37, and Caroline (Thomsen) Holst, who was 41.

Charlie had an older sister, Annie, born in 1875, an older sister Mary born in 1881.  Another son, named Peter, was stillborn a year before Charlie was born.  Reportedly, there was another brother, George, who was born in 1885, but I have found no records backing up his existence.

CharlieWithSpirit

Grandpa Charlie Holst with his horse named Spirit

The Holsts did not live in town, but instead on a ranch on Dry Creek Road, about 4 miles from Healdsburg proper, back in the hills.   Charlie’s father had a vineyard and a winery; the winery remained in production until Prohibition.

GrandpaCharlieandChasMoisan

Charlie Holst (left) with Charles Moisan, his wife’s brother-in-law

Grandpa Charlie’s parents were ethnically Danish, having both been born in the Duchy of Slesvig near Flensburg – an area which is now in Germany, and, in fact, became part of Bismarck’s Prussian Empire before they immigrated to the United States.

There is little I know about my great-grandfather.  I don’t know if he spoke Danish in addition to English.  I don’t know where he went to school, if he went to school at all – presumably there was a local school in the Healdsburg area.  I don’t know how he met the woman he would marry, Hazel Hannah Englehart, but possibly it was through her father, who reportedly built (or painted?) the Holst farm house, as he was a painter and carpenter. 

In any case, I had always been told that Charlie and Hazel married in January 1908, in Marin County, just south of Petaluma.  But when I ordered a copy of their marriage record, I discovered they married on 28 January 1909.  Their firstborn, a son named Charles (Junior) and called “Sonny”, was born just 6 months later on 2 August 1909. 

Their next child was my grandmother, Elizabeth, born in June 1914.  Another son, William, was born in 1921, and then a stillborn baby girl in 1928.

With Prohibition arriving in 1920, Charlie and his father ripped out all the vineyards they were cultivating, and starting growing plum trees.  Charlie’s father, a viticulturist, died before the repeal of Prohibition, as did his mother.  Charlie remained on the land, and made a living off the land until he died in 1968.

His children grew up and moved away, one serving in World War II and another having a family in Sonoma County, then divorcing his wife, and later moving to Oregon with his second wife.

HolstFamily1961

The Holsts in 1961.  L to R: Hazel (Englehart) Holst, Grace (Proden) Holst, Bill Holst (with dog), Charlie Holst, Charlie Holst Jr. (aka “Sonny”)

Their land off Dry Creek Road was where we visited when I was a four year old.  I remember the pink house they lived in, the sunshine, the hills which seemed to hug the house they were so close.  I remember going outside, and seeing my great-grandpa in the vegetable garden they had alongside the house, wearing denim overalls.   Although my mom tells me both my great-grandparents saw me as a baby, before we moved to Florida, that is my only memory of my great-granddad.  He died 2 years later in April 1968, and is buried in Oak Mound Cemetery in Healdsburg.