Wednesday, March 02, 2016

March Madness and Genealogy?

It’s almost time again for March Madness. In case you did not know, March Madness refers to the NCAA single elimination basketball tournament played each year in March where college basketball fans watch game after game as the field is narrowed down to the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four, and to the Championship game. For college basketball fans, this is a tense time as the favorite team could be upset by a “Cinderella” team.

Nearly every year, I fill out a bracket and compete against my friends in hopes of achieving the perfect bracket. Although the exact odds of achieving a perfect bracket are unknown, predictions range from 1 in 128 billion to 1 in 9.2 quintillion. As the games proceed, there will be a flurry of text messages among my friends as bracket after bracket gets busted with upsets and those still left gloat about their victory. After my bracket goes down in flames, I usually print out a new one, and start another round of predictions based on who is still left in the tournament. At this point, you are probably wondering why the word genealogy was included in the title of this blog post. Every time, I see a pedigree chart in which you record the birth, death, and marriage dates of your ancestors. It reminds me of a March Madness bracket, or at least one side of the bracket. Compare for yourselves.

March Madness Bracket
March Madness Bracket

Pedigree Chart
Pedigree Chart

Believe it or not, filling out a March Madness and a pedigree chart have more things in common that you think.
  1. You start with the known (ancestors you know like your parents and grandparents or the teams matched up in the first round of the tournament). 
  2. You gather information piece by piece (you find a birth date here and marriage record over here, or in the case of basketball, you watch the games and record the final scores as each game ends). 
  3. There will be mistakes and revisions (you find out that someone really was not your ancestor or maybe you finally find an exact date of death instead of an estimate; likewise, in basketball, a defeat or an upset of your bracket pick busts your bracket and forces you to alter your bracket for the next round of play).
  4. The journey is worth it with its ups and downs (Tracing your family history; or surviving March Madness). No basketball team makes it to the tournament without preparation. Likewise, researching your family history requires effort and guidance in which the Southern History Department has ample genealogical resources and a staff to coach you along your journey. We even offer training sessions or as we call it classes to help you learn the skills needed to trace your family history. 

Genealogy Classes Offered in March 
Saturday, March 5, 2016 @10 am 
Nonpopulation Schedules: A Sensible Guide to the Rest of the Census 
Want to gather even more information from census records? This Beyond the Basics of Genealogy workshop will introduce you to nonpopulation schedules (agricultural census, mortality schedules, social schedules, and even state censuses) and allow you to create a more complete record of your ancestors and the times in which they lived. Workshops are free of charge, but registration is requested. To register, contact the Southern History Department of the Birmingham Public Library at 205-226-3665 or The class will be held in the Arrington Auditorium (4th floor) of the Linn-Henley building.

Sunday, March 6, 2016 @2:30-3:30 pm 
Tuesday, March 15, 2016@ 11:30 am-12:30 pm 
Introduction to Genealogy 
Want to learn how to do genealogical research? Come to this introductory class that will help get you started on your genealogical journey. No registration is required. The same content will be covered in each of the classes that are offered on one Tuesday morning and one Sunday afternoon each month. This class will be held in the Southern History Department of the first floor of the Linn-Henley building of the Central Library.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 @3:30-4:30 pm 
Databases for Genealogy 
Make use of all our resources in your game plan for family history research. Learn how to locate BPL's databases and discover the wealth of genealogical information they have to offer. This class will take place in the Computer Lab, 4th floor, of the Linn-Henley building. Space is limited, so please register by calling 205-226-3680.

Laura Gentry
Central Branch
Southern History Department
Birmingham Public Library

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