Interview with Annette Burke Lyttle (NERGC speaker)

As an official NERGC blogger, I had the opportunity to interview Annette Burke Lyttle, who is a first-timer to NERGC and will be giving 2 talks. I have recently started working with her in a volunteer capacity for an association and she is wonderful! She is very excited to attend NERGC and spend some time in New England as she has a lot of New England ancestors. She will be staying an extra week to do research in the New England area.

Annette Burke Lyttle

Annette got her start in genealogy when she was 12 years old. She was assigned a school project having to do with family history and asked her mother how she was supposed to know who all these people are. Her mother provided some information, but suggested she write to her two great-grandmothers who were still living, as well as several great-aunts. They sent her a significant amount of wonderful information and her interest was sparked. The need to make a living intervened but both she and her mother took an adult education course at a local university where the instructor taught them how to do genealogy right. They learned to pencil in information on family group sheet and pedigree charts and put sources on the back. While Annette worked, her mother continued to work on the genealogy. Annette inherited all the work her mother had done. When she retired in 2012 she opened all the boxes and became a full time genealogist.

Annette’s first talk at NERGC is a part of the Professional Genealogist Day (on Wednesday). She will be speaking about “Your Educational Plan for Going Pro

Annette is working towards obtaining certification as a professional genealogist, so putting together a plan to go pro is very timely.

She realized she wanted to be a professional genealogist when she started doing research for a few friends and realized she enjoyed doing research as much for other people as she did for herself. She loves helping people uncover and share their family stories.

For Annette, the family story is the important part. Names, dates and places are an important framework, but what she enjoys the most is filling in that framework with details and stories. She has a gg-grandfather who was a blacksmith. His father was a blacksmith and his father probably was too (if she could find him). Her gg-grandfather was listed as a blacksmith in a tiny little town in Michigan in the 1880s, but in the 1900 census he is listed as saloon keeper. She knows it’s the same person and was curious as to why he would change careers mid-life. As she researched blacksmithing and economic conditions, she found that beginning around 1860 the things that blacksmiths made were beginning to be manufactured in factories. By 1900 many blacksmiths were out of business. All of a sudden, it made sense why he became a saloon keeper. She had an understanding of his life that she didn’t have before. That is what she is always trying to do—understand what life was like for her ancestors.

Annette’s second NERGC talk is on Saturday at 3:15 and is titled “Genealogical Proof for the Everyday Genealogist

Annette created this lecture because she discovered so many everyday genealogists who have great experience, skill, and talent in genealogical research become fearful when they think about the genealogical proof standard (GPS). It seems very formal and to some people it appears to be a test. It is a test: the genealogist is testing her research against standards. A lot of people are put off by the thought that the GPS can help them. She created the presentation to make the GPS more accessible to everyday genealogists and help them understand that the GPS is their friend and not a fearful foreign thing that only professional genealogists use. She provides many concrete examples to show how to put GPS into operation. Anyone that is interested in being a better researcher would benefit, including beginners.

I hope you come hear Annette’s talk. You can learn more at her website.

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