May 7, 2009

Genealogy Objective 7 – Capture Today’s Memories

Posted in Genealogy, Share at 6:09 am by hoosierroots

I am at the end of turning my list of seven genealogy objectives into actionable goals. Last, but not least…

Objective 7: Capture the family memories of today for they are the family history of tomorrow.

While our lives seem very ordinary to us, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will find mundane topics such as antique cell phones and how we did the laundry fascinating. After all, aren’t we thrilled when we find even a single letter from our ancestors taking about playing bridge at night or gathering and listening to the fiddle playing.

Goal 7a: Create a scrapbook page each week.  A page a week is not much. As I have been discussing in another series of posts I am returning to digital scrapbooking, with the goal of scrapping little pieces, or snippets, of our lives.

Goal 7b: Complete Introduction to Layout Design Class.Perhaps I should have listed this under education. In support of the goal above I have committed to a six week, on-line, layout design class. It will end in June.

Goal 7c: Assess KUWJ Status, making plans to revive. For 20 years my mother gathered, assembled, and distributed a family newsletter Keeping Up With the Joneses to her siblings and their descendants. I took it over a few years ago, but have not put out an issue in over a year. I want to get this restarted. Create a plan to restart by May 31, 2009.

OK – There we are, seven objectives with goals. As May is already marching quickly by I must hurry and organize these and get started.


May 6, 2009

Genealogy Objective 6 – Preserve the Heirlooms

Posted in Genealogy at 8:09 am by hoosierroots

I am nearing the end of turning my list of seven genealogy objectives into actionable goals.

Objective 6:  Collect and preserve the family heirlooms for the generations to come.

As the acknowledged family historian on both sides of my family, I have been fortunate to receive a closet full of old family photos. These photos stretch back to the late 1800’s with significant collections for every decade since. Some are labeled, some are not. While I will likely never identify every photo, I know more about many of the pictures than will my children or their children. In addition to photographs I have a smattering of old letters and documents, including my great-great-grandfather’s Civil War discharge papers. There are also a few audio tapes, movie reels, and even the now almost-antique VHS tapes.

If these items are to survive to continue to tell the story of our past they need to be labeled, digitized, preserved, and distributed. It makes me shudder to think what a loss it would be if our house were to burn – which is where the strategy of digitizing with an off-site backupand then distributing the originals among my cousins is imperative.

I desperately want to get back to scanning, but in my new wave of realism, I will delay that until the following are complete.

Goal 6a: Reorganize the photo closet by May 31, 2009.I have done a fairly decent job of  dividing the photos and documents into boxes by family, and sometimes by decade. Most of these boxes are labeled. Some are even in archival boxes – as the budget allows. But some flurry of activity over the past months have caused some back sliding here.

Goal 6b: Organize boxes recently brought from my father’s house into the photo closet.My father has moved from his house of almost 30 years. As I helped him go through the basement we set aside seven boxes of family history items for me. “Process” a box a week, completing by June 30, 2009.

May 5, 2009

Genealogy Objective 5 – Giving Back

Posted in Genealogy, Share at 11:54 am by hoosierroots

I am continuing turning my list of seven genealogy objectives into actionable goals.

Objective 5:  Give back to the genealogy community through meaningful volunteer activities and collaborative efforts.

As genealogists we all benefit from the research and knowledge of others that have gone before us. We build on their research. We learn from their articles. We save hundreds to thousands of hours form indexing and transcriptions they have done. I feel it is crucial to give back as well. Unfortunately I also have to be realistic about the time I have to devote.

For a little over a year I served as a County Coordinator for for USGenWeb. I reluctantly resigned after I realized I could not spend the time on providing new material that the site really needed. A good volunteer fit for me is to index batches for; while I plan on doing more indexing in the future, I am resisting setting it as a goal for now as I see that my list of goals is getting too long to be realistic.

Goal 5a: Restore HoosierRoots to active status. For several years I have maintained a family history website HoosierRoots. It is a site which summarizes my research with sources listed. I have also posted some of the photos I have scanned. The site helps me connect with cousins, and also helps other researchers who are looking for connections. Unfortunately just this last week my site died. I am still assessing the situation, but I believe I can restore it with a two prong approach. 1) By May 31, 2009 restore (excuse my techno-babble here) the IIS metadata for HoosierRoots. 2) By September 30, 2009 build a new, more robust server to house HoosierRoots.

Goal 5b: Launch the Snippet Society by May 31, 2009.  My passion to preserve family history has led to a renewed desire to create digital scrapbook pages. Deciding that I would create a page a week, has quickly blossomed into me leading a group of almost 20 interested scrapbookers into the digital world, and joining the weekly journey. While for some it may seem to be a goal unrelated to genealogy, I have included it here as I believe the capturing of today’s memories are an important part of family history, helping others get started is certainly a contribution to the greater community of family history, and I must acknowledge the impact this task has my time. The initial launch included getting the members identified, the framework created, mentoring members in selecting software, and setting up the web site where we will communicate.

May 4, 2009

Genealogy Objective 4 – Education

Posted in Genealogy at 12:32 pm by hoosierroots

Now that  I have listed my seven genealogy objectives, I am setting  actionable goals for each objective.

Objective 4:  Ccntinually expand knowledge of genealogy methods and records through both formal and informal education.

Continuing education in the field of genealogy is critical if the work that we produce is to stand the test of time. While I will very likely never become a professional genealogist, I believe I owe myself and my descendants the same care and expertise a professional genealogist would bring to my research.

Education comes in two flavors, each having its own important contribution to make. Formal education is available through classes, conferences, and lectures. Informal education can be gained by reading books, magazines, and journals as well as accessing well written web sites and blogs.

I, by nature, love to learn, which means I must make sure that I do not spend somuch time learning about genealogy that I leave myself no time to perform my research.

Goal 4a: Complete Disc 2 of the National Genealogy Home Study Course by April 2010. This excellent course has long been considered one of three premier “basic” educational opportunities. I completed the first CD of six lessons in 2008, then took a break to concentrate on my daughter’s wedding. It is time to order, and then complete  the second of the three disk course. A time line for this significant goal: May – Order disk; June/July – Lesson 7, August/September – Lesson 8, October/November – Lesson 9, January/February – Lesson 10, March/April – Lesson 11. (Notice how I cleverly skipped over the always hectic month of December.)

Goal 4b: Complete the 18-month Professional Genealogy 2 study.A group of roughly 36 professional, professional-wanna-be’s, and serious amateur genealogist are working together to methodically read, discuss, and learn from a collaborative work, Professional Genealogy, edited by Elizabeth Shawn Mills.  Each month one or more chapters are assigned for reading, with supplemental reading sometimes assigned as well. A homework assignment is given, which is to be turned into one’s peer group. The month’s topic concludes with a moderated online chat where members of the discussion group share thoughts on a series of predefined questions. May begins Lesson 8. The course will conclude in April 2010.

Goal 4c: Selectively read incoming and backlog of genealogy magazines and journals. Genealogy magazines contain a mixture of how-to articles, news on new online and paper resources, and suggestions of how to share what we learn. Journals, more scholarly in nature, usually have three to five articles detailing the research and anlysis  performed to solve a tricky problem. Just as I love to learn, I love to read – so I subscribe to several periodicals, but don’t get them read quickly enough. I am currently subscribing to Family Chronicle, Internet Genealogy, and Discovering Family History. As a member of NGS I also receive two publications. I also receive two publications form the Indiana Historical Society. I use to subscribe to other magazines and journals as well, but I am trying to cut back. (Really – I AM!) To make this goal manageable I am going to read one periodical a week, only allowing myslef to read no more than half of the articles. It is time for me to learn to be selective here.

Goal 4d: Read well-written genealogy blogs. This is probably written a little generically. Here too I need to learn to be selective. It isvaluable to keep up on current happenings and discussions in the genealogy community, so I am glad I have subscribed to several blogs. (Ironically even though I have written my blog for about 18 months – I have only recently begun to methodically subscribe to other blogs, using Google Reader to manage them.) I currently subscribe to 44 blogs (a reduction  from my peak of 60), which has brought 1300 messages to my door in the last 30 days. That is 43 messages a day. Even if it only took 1 minute to read each posting, that is almost 22 HOURS each month to read. Egad!!!! While I work full time I don’t think I can devote almost an hour a day to blog reading. SO – for May I will spend 30 minutes each evening reading blogs (this is a good night time, low energy activity for me.)  I will “Star” the post I find useful (easy to do in Google Reader.)  At the end of May I will cut my blog subscription list down to 30. (I probably need to pare it further – but at least this is a good start.)

Goal 4e: Register and attend May lecture on using DNA to research genealogy.Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak (no, that is not a typo) will be in Indiana giving an all day DNA seminar. This is a exploding sub-area in genealogy and Megan is one of the most dynamic lecturers I have heard. It is just too good of an opportunity to pass up, even if this Education Objective is much too full already.

May 3, 2009

Genealogy Objective 3 – Creatively Share Our Family History

Posted in Genealogy, Share at 7:13 pm by hoosierroots

A few  days ago I listed my seven genealogy objectives. Now I am turning  these rather objectives into actionable goals.

Objective 3: Creatively share the information and stories of the family of yesteryear with the extended family of today in a way that sparks the interest of those less passionate about family history.

I am well aware that while I am passionate about my family history, most of my family do not share my intense enthusiasm. (Or maybe I should say noneof my family…) However, I am pleased that several of my cousins have commented that they would never do all the research, but they are truly glad I do. And I believe they are sincere.

And then there is the next generation which has grown up on video games and sound bytes, the generation already bored by emails of two paragraphs, choosing to communicate in 160 character “tweets” on twitter instead.

So if all the  family history I unearth is to havea life beyond me, I must package it in a way that will capture the interest and imagination of my less interested family. I have completed a few projects over the past years which I will share in future posts. Right now I need to plan the next project.

Goal 3a: Select project to distribute at Jones Jamboree to be held Labor Day weekend.My Jones cousins, the descendant of my maternal grandparents,  gather every two years. I would like to have a creative project ready to distribute at the gathering. Breaking this down a little farther, brainstorm a list of possible projects by May 31, 2009. Select project by June 30, 2009.