My goal with this post is to try to take some of the fear away by showing you that you have resources. You don't need to know all there is to know about every aspect of temple and family history work. After all, I suspect that even the most experienced researcher or helper has many areas where he or she lacks knowledge and experience. All you really need to know is where to turn for help when you need it.
Let's take an example. Suppose I contact a member and ask what she would like to do when we get together. And suppose she says she'd really like help to track down her Ukrainian ancestors. And let's suppose I have absolutely no idea even where to find Ukraine on a map, let alone how to go about finding family history records for the country. Do I throw up my hands and ask to be released? Do I say, "Yes, well, that's an interesting goal. Want to pick one we can actually do?" Or, do I say, "That will be an interesting challenge. Let's set a date to get together and I'll do some research to see what I can learn." (In case you didn't guess, the 3rd answer is the right one).
Now you've accepted the challenge. Where do you go from here?
First, of course, you add her to your consultant planner. You look at her tree to see what she has on her Ukrainian ancestors so far and what sources she has attached. You hope and pray that you can do some searching right there in FamilySearch records and find some more stuff that you can show her how to find so she can move forward. You get a feel for how experienced she is based on whether she is the person who added records to Family Tree and what you see about her activity level on the consultant planner. (Check out my table of contents for other posts about using the consultant planner if all this is Greek to you.)
What if you need to dive deeper? Here are some places to go for help.
- The FamilySearch wiki. Go to https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Main_Page. In the search box near the top of the screen, enter Ukraine. The page for this particular country is FANTASTIC. It has links for getting started; links for research tools; maps; countries that border present-day Ukraine (VERY important for these Eastern European countries whose borders and names have changed so much over the years). Every country page in the wiki has 2 valuable buttons:
The Online Records one takes you to a page full of links to online records. Ask the Community takes you to the wiki page about Facebook research groups where you can find the link for the country you need help with. Experienced researchers will help you move forward with your research.
You'll find maps and information about jurisdictions in the country as well as other FamilySearch resources. Don't overlook the value of the FamilySearch wiki.
2. The Family History Guide Countries/Ethnic projects. You won't find every country or ethnic group here, but you'll find a lot. Access it at http://www.thefhguide.com/project-9-countries.html. Scroll down to find the countries and ethnic group of interest and click. I went to Eastern Europe and was happy to see they have one on Ukraine. Click the country. As with all the projects on the Family History Guide, they break it down into goals and each goal into smaller sub-goals. This is a nice way to learn in small bites. Each sub-goal gives you information and links to places to learn as well as tasks to complete as you apply what you learn.These are my favorite 2 places to go when I need to learn how to help someone. You can also do google searches and I've done that sometimes with good results too. And there are undoubtedly other valuable resources out there I have not used, such as other family history sites that have research helps. As you learn, you can help the other person learn too. Remember to take things one step at a time. Don't dump all you learned on your poor unsuspecting student in your first meeting. Helping them explore these resources is a good option. Looking at resources together; learning together; praying about next steps together; deciding what to try next together--these are ways to help and empower the member.
So, don't let a lack of current knowledge stop you. Have an inquiring mind and go looking for answers. And, have fun!