One important note: I have decided to change my specialization from German Records to U.S. Records. Why?
-For my personal research, specializing in U.S. records is ideal. While many of my ancestors immigrated here in the late 19th century, I want to start with the latest in my family history and work backwards, learning as much as possible about each generation. This means that I'll be working mostly with U.S. records for some time.
-As a professional genealogist, I will want to know as much as possible about the records available to me in order to serve my clients' needs. The records that are most accessible to me are U.S. records.
That said, I am still very interested in learning about German, as well as Italian, records. I will continue to take classes in these areas (as well as many others) after I obtain my certificate in U.S. Records, for professional development.
On another note, the latest class I've taken at NIGS is U.S. Census Records. While I've worked with census records a great deal before, I feel like I have a much better understanding of them now. This course was particularly helpful in identifying the questions that were asked on each census, and determining what unique and useful information can be obtained from each census year. I also learned about some sources I would not have thought to look for, specifically non-population schedules, such as tax lists and veterans schedules. I think the latter will be especially useful in my research, since I believe that many of my ancestors served in the military or would have been receiving a pension around the time these schedules were taken.