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Showing posts from April, 2016

The Journey From Hobbyist to Professional Genealogist

A friend recently asked me how I knew I had crossed the line between a hobbyist and a professional genealogist.  That was an interesting and thought provoking question! I began in genealogy like most, focusing solely on personal research.  That narrow view is fine initially but limits the level that one can reach, even as a hobbyist.  I didn’t gain a world view approach until I expanded out of my warm fuzzy world and broadened my experiences.  Reading journals was a big step in the journey.  At first, I only read articles that related to the geographical area and time period in which I was focused.  Then called the Chicago Historical Society, I loved the articles in their Chicago History Magazine.  I remember reading an article about Graceland Cemetery and thinking, I have people buried there, maybe they will be mentioned.  One day it just hit me that it doesn’t matter if the article is about an area I’m actively searching or not, it’s the TECHNIQUE, LOGIC, and PROCESS mentioned in the…

Three Thoughts About Genealogists' Recent Comments

Over the last 6 weeks I’ve spoken with several other professional genealogists and three conversations are continuing to resonate in my mind.  This is a matter of opinion and as I highly value these individuals knowledge, experience and practice, I want to share their views because I see the world a little differently.  “No tree containing over 2000 individuals can be accurate.”Hmm, accuracy in identity of the folks we include in our tree is paramount. If we don’t have the evidence to support that the “John Doe” we have is the father of our “Adam Doe” than we are barking up the wrong tree. The repercussions are serious – wasted time, the error keeps being repeated ad nauseam by others who don't check sources and we’re not adhering to the standards. That being said, I don’t believe there is a finite number that insures accuracy and when the number is reached, it’s over. Genealogy is not a game to win; it's not "I got more peeps than you do!"  Genealogy is quality.   …

The Importance of Recording Your History

As genealogists, we search high and low for records left from the past.  After recently reading an article from National Geographic about what is considered “historical” for the purpose of digging up someone’s grave, I began to think about what historical means to me.  I’m with the dictionary on this one – historical is belonging in the past.  The past is what happened, it’s done and over.  The past can be as recent as a few minutes ago when I began writing this blog or several millennium. 
I have a milestone birthday coming up and that probably further influenced these thoughts.  Coupled with the recent hurricane forecast from Colorado State University, I usually start thinking at this time of year about the “what ifs” regarding a severe storm coming my way.  I’m a tad paranoid having experienced several hurricanes and losing just about everything in one back in the 1980’s. 
Another layer regarding my thoughts is that I recently acquired a diary written by a woman in the late 1800’s …

My Cousin Will - 400 Years Later Questions Remain

My cousin Will’s death occurred 400 years ago this week.  Like many of my relatives, Will’s life has been controversial.  There are doubters that say Will was not capable of producing the work that he did in his lifetime.  He’s been called an imposter, a sham and a fraud.  There’s even a website, Doubts About Will, where one may sign a declaration that contests Will’s achievement. 
You may have guessed I’m talking about my cousin, William Shakespeare.  He's my 13th cousin 17 times removed.  His ability to write the works that are credited to him has been disputed for years.  I believe that Will was responsible for the work that bears his name today.  Here’s why:
Although there are some renowned individuals who are doubters I am not swayed by their views.  Just because someone is an outstanding writers, thinkers, actors, directors or statesmen does not mean they are correct.  Think of our Founding Fathers who viewed equality as not including women and people of color. 
One of my fav…

A Genealogist's Work Space - How Surroundings Effect Efficiency

I’ve written previously about the lack of efficient office space in our home office.  Last fall, hubby and I decided that the current arrangement wasn’t working.  After the kids moved out we had converted the larger bedroom to a guest room and the other to a home office.  It made sense at the time because the larger bedroom has a nice view, is bright and cheery and gives a guest a more relaxed environment.  Since it would mainly have been used by the kids when they came home for short visits, it was ideal.  Hubby liked the smaller room for his den as it was cozy and left him little space to clutter up.  It also had a built in bookcase crafted by the builder that took up most of a wall that could be used as document storage, if I ever could get around to parting with the books we have on the shelves.  The arrangement worked for a number of years because I preferred to use a laptop or tablet and hubby loved his desktop system.  When I began taking paying clients, however, I found I ne…

The Passionate Genealogist - Using Creativity to Climb Your Brickwalls!

Just back from a Learning and the Brain Conference in Orlando on imagination, curiosity and creativity.  As genealogists we have passion which is the basis for all three, the drive that’s needed for success.  After hearing the wonderful speakers from around the world I began to think that the application for genealogy can knock down our brick walls.  Here’s how- The beginning of imagination is dreaming.  Our dream may be to discover who our several times great grandpa married or the reason our family moved to an area.  It could be how our grandparents met or why we always have banana birthday cake.  These thought provoking questions for people with passion to learn more about their ancestors lead to pursuing and seeking ways to find the answer to the question.  The posed research question you act upon is how you demonstrate your curiosity.  One of the sessions had an interesting photo at the beginning – it showed square trees.  The research question presented was where could you fin…

Genealogical Software and Identifying Family Relationships

Last Friday I had the pleasure of attending an all day conference hosted by The Villages, Florida Genealogy Society for the New England Historic and Genealogical Society (NEHGS).   I’m a member of NEHGS and I was interested in the topics, especially migration patterns .  Although I found all the workshops fairly basic I always take something away from any workshop I attend so I did get some new info to use when I revisit my tree AFTER I submit my portfolio.  I want to mention two points that I think were most interesting.  The first was during the workshop titled “Choosing a Genealogical Software Program” by Rhonda McClure.  I enjoyed Rhonda’s talk even though I’m not shopping for a new software program.  What was interesting to me was the number of attendees that couldn’t understand why someone would want to have their tree information on their own program.  Maybe I’m just old and remember the first genealogical software program I used which was on a cassette that was inserted into a…

When Seeking Out Records - Suggestion for Reaching Colleagues Who Care

This is a story of extremes; the indifferent vs. the passionate.  Being almost done with my Kinship Determination Paper’s research I have encountered a full range of people personalities in my quest for obtaining information.  I’m trying to understand why some clerks, researchers, “professional” genealogists, historians, ministers and distant family members are so nonhelpful and others go above and beyond.  In the future, how do I insure that I contact those that care and avoid those that don’t? As a child, I loved Highlight’s Magazine for Children.  We couldn’t afford a subscription so I looked forward to having my mom read it to me when we visited the doctor or dentist.  The “Goofus and Gallant” feature always made me laugh.  Maybe it was how my mom read them but I really wanted to be like Gallant!  Then there was the “Do Bee or Don’t Bee” segment on Romper Room.  I identified with the Do Bee. In reflection of the past five months I think I’ve been in contact with half Do Bees and…