News and photos from the June 2016 session of GRIP, the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh are helping me revisit my own GRIP week as a sort of “instant replay” review. I was so busy as course coordinator for the first run of “Family Archiving: Heirlooms in the Digital Age” that I didn’t snap nearly enough photos or make nearly enough ice cream runs as I should have done. Instructors who manage to reserve a week to be student really have the right idea.
The 2016 GRIP season celebrated the institute’s 5-Year Anniversary under the direction of Elissa Scalise Powell and Deborah Lichtner Deal. I was among the first classes of GRIP graduates in 2011 and returning students in 2012, but I never imagined I’d be back again as a faculty member. This year, I found that the view from the instructor’s side of the lectern showed the same efficient and excellent program I’d enjoyed as a student. The facilities at La Roche College are convenient and economical, the institute program well-organized, and the cafeteria food pretty darn good!
The new course in Family Archiving was designed to be more workshop than formal lecture, with plenty of time for questions and discussion. Students sorted, analyzed and evaluated sample collections, and I enjoyed listening to their creative and mostly on-target conclusions.
The course balanced workshop sessions with lectures from instructors Shelley Ballenger Bishop, Pam Stone Eagleson CG, Sierra Green Detre Library Archivist, and Judy G. Russell JD, CG, CGL.
Some students worked with photos, some with old letters, some with big collections, some with a small set of items. Sessions on using family artifacts, photos, and documents to share family history seemed to be a big hit, and many students went home with plans for articles and photo books.
And because summer camp wouldn’t be camp without craft activities, we practiced our own archival tasks, including how to set up a dehumidification chamber so students could go home and confidently try out this easy conservation method on their own. Check out one student’s experiences with this process in Liz Ackerman’s post “Things I Learned in School: GRIP” at her blog Rooted in Elizabeth.
As a former high school teacher, I learned new things from my students every day. At GRIP, I learned about the challenges faced by students on all kinds of projects — from working with siblings to preserve and share a collection of family letters to recovering and digitizing memorabilia lost due to the World War II Japanese relocation programs.
Enthusiasm is contagious and by the end of week I was ready to tackle my own much-delayed family history project. Was GRIP a good experience? Absolutely! And I hope GRIP continues to offer two summer sessions because I can’t wait to be both teacher and student again.
Check the GRIP Website and Blog for course listing and schedule.