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Optical illusion tree with faces

How many faces do you see?

I’ve had a few days now to recover from GRIP. Attendees of genealogical institutes will know what I mean when I say that it takes a while to come down from the high of spending an intense week isolated with fellow genealogists, immersed in learning new genealogical research techniques.

On occasion I have joked that I could learn something from Dr. Tom Jones if he was reading a cereal box, and I bet it’s true. Many instructors teach about the records – what they are and where to find them. Tom Jones teaches you how to use them: analyze them, extract clues from them and correlate them with other records to see patterns. This was particularly true during out last class on Friday, which focused on correlating research findings.

Do you see a crone or maiden? Keep looking!

Do you see a crone or maiden? Keep looking.

Have you ever looked at optical illusion drawings? You know the ones I am talking about — those puzzles where it looks like craggy old crone until you squint at it long enough for a beautiful maiden to appear, or the tree where you can see about a dozen faces if you look long enough. That experience of seeing the hidden pictures appear feels a little bit like how I experienced some “ah-ha” moments in this class. Tom Jones can take what looks like a mess of disparate bits of information and arrange them so skillfully that ancestors appear. But unlike the illusionist, Tom invites us behind the black drape and guides us steb-by-step to perform the same feat and coax our own ancestors to pop out of the records.

I could spend an entire course practicing the techniques I learned in this last class. (Hint, hint, to the powers that create institute courses…here is an idea for another advanced class.) If you have a chance to take Dr. Tom Jones’s Advanced Research class, grab it. (Or GRIPitt? 🙂 )

Thank you Deb Lichtner Deal, Elissa Scalise Powell, Dr. Tom Jones, and all the other GRIP instructors for providing such a great learning opportunity.