Monthly Archives: January 2012

Who Will Be The Next Genealogy Idol?


If you haven’t heard yet, Legacy Family Tree is sponsoring the first ever Genealogy Idol Competition at RootsTech on February 2, 2012.  The four contestants – two at RootsTech and two that will be using the webinar technology to present from their homes – will be competing in three rounds of topics.  The 1 hour competition will also be live-streamed using webinar technology and the winner will be decided by YOU!  Everyone will have a chance to vote for their favorite contestant using the webinar’s poll technology.  Read more about it here.

The four contestants include Elizabeth Clark, Michael Hait, and Marian Pierre-Louis, and ME!  (That high-pitched squeal of excitement you just heard?  That was me!)  When I got the email from Geoff Rasmussen saying that I had been accepted as a contestant for the competition, I literally started squealing in excitement and jumping up and down.  I then started pinching myself just to be sure I wasn’t dreaming.  My poor boyfriend… he stared at me in shock and confusion during this whole ordeal.

This is going to be such a fun experience and I couldn’t be any more excited for it.  I was made for competitions like this: Every December, the Doerflingers holds a fake Miss Universe competition.  We have a fake handmade microphone to speak into (and if the host forgets to speak into the microphone, the crowd gets a bit unruly and starts yelling things like, “We can’t hear you!”), the final 15 and final 10 contestants prance around the house to music as they do their best parade wave to the losers crowd, and the final 5 enter the interview round where questions like, “What words of comfort and advice would you offer starlet Kim Kardashian after the failure of her 72 day marriage?”.  The winner gets a cape, a homemade septor and crown.  We do this for fun.  I’m the youngest one of the family and yet I’ve won that competition 4 times… the family members who have yet to win don’t necessarily like that.  My Harney relatives in Seattle hold a ping-pong tournament every July.

Competition is in my blood.  A genealogy competition is so my thing.

The competition isn’t going to be easy since I’ll be up against 3 amazing contestants.  It is a serious honor to even compete and I can’t thank Legacy Family Tree enough for choosing me as a contestant.  I keep pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

So what are you waiting for?  Go register, get your thinking caps on, and get ready to vote!


Preparing for RootsTech 2012

RootsTech 2012 is about 3 weeks away and I am so excited!  This will be my first time at RootsTech and the first time I’ve ever been to Salt Lake City.  It is also my first “big girl” trip that I am planning, executing, and paying for all by myself.    It will also be my first time working at the WikiTree booth in the exhibit hall (come say hi!).  Lots of firsts – and I couldn’t be more excited.  I’ve got RootsTech on the brain.

Last year, I was stuck at home to watch the RootsTech fun from afar, reading every Facebook update, Tweet, and blog post I could find.  Every single thing I read reaffirmed my belief that RootsTech is the conference of my tribe: People who view technology as a powerful tool to discover, record, and share genealogical and family history information.  This conferences brings together the best genealogy speakers and software developers the industry has to offer.  And the conference takes place right next door to the Family History Library.  Could it get much better?

I’ll be flying into Salt Lake City on February 1st and will arrive around lunch time.  I plan on quickly eating, putting my suitcases in my room at the Radisson, and then running (not walking!) to the Family History Library.  I’ve dreamed of the day I would go to the Family History Library since I learned about it’s existence when I was 12 – I’m just hoping I don’t find the rows and rows of microfilm and books and computers too beautiful that I faint.

I’m currently creating my list of books and microfilm to look at while at the library.  I’m going with the books first approach because books can’t be loaned out like microfilm can.  I’m also developing a long list, even though I probably won’t get much time at the library to research.  At the same time, I’m trying to prioritize which lines and ancestors to research and seek advice on while at the library.  Lots to do – but it is better to have too much to do than too little.

What are you doing to prepare for RootsTech?


Why Bother With Genealogy?

The genealogy world has been alive with controversy and debate over citations on blog posts – this blog post isn’t about that.  I have purposely been avoiding the latest controversy, drama, and debate.  Then I read, “Eliminating the Hobby from Genealogy” on The Geneabrarian Reference Desk blog and I started thinking about what word I would use to define my own genealogy research.  It isn’t really a hobby – it is so much deeper than a hobby.  It isn’t a religious or spiritual calling.  It isn’t my profession.  So what is it?

Why Bother With Genealogy?

In other words: Why do all of this research on dead people?  Why spend hours searching internet websites and databases?  Why dig your nose into dusty old books?  Why give yourself a migraine as you scroll through microfilm looking for a name?  Why spend money ordering records from archives and repositories?  Why go through all the work?

My answers won’t be the same as yours.  That’s OK.  My answers today probably won’t be the same in a year.  That’s OK too.

I research my ancestors because learning about these people who came before me helps to center me.  Learning about every hardship, every struggle, every accomplishment, every name and date gives me guidance – a reminder of how I got to where I am and a direction I want my future to go in.  Research provides an escape from my head.  Research helps me feel connected to the people who came before me.

Preserving my findings is something I do for me.  I have a whole closet with boxes full of pictures, old letters and other mementos.  The boxes belonged to my mom and became mine after she died.   The stuff in the boxes is mostly pictures from when my grandparents were starting their lives together as a newly wed couple.  The boxes chronicle their lives and the families they created.  The boxes show the growth of their children, the eventual additions of grandchildren and the expansion of the family.  The contents of the boxes have a strong pull on me, providing me a strong, very real connection to the grandparents I never knew.  The contents of the boxes show my mom in various stages of her life.  It all reminds me of how I got to this place in my life and the path I want my life to take.

Your personal reasons for doing genealogy might be totally different.  They might be similar.  That’s OK.

Let Your Reasons Fuel How You Do Research

In the past, I considered pursuing a path of professional genealogy but I’ve since decided that it isn’t a direction I want to go in.  I’ve known since I was five that I wanted to be a teacher.  Being a teacher is who I am and while genealogy will always have a special place in my life, it isn’t where I’m meant to be.

With that said, I don’t always cite my sources according to Elizabeth Shown Mills’ standards.  I strive to have correct citations but I won’t be losing sleep over where to put the comma or what words to italicize.  My reasons for recording citations are simple: so I can find the source in the future.  I know my citations aren’t perfect and I consider that A-OK.  I’m not striving for perfection here.

I have the utmost respect for those of you who are striving for a professional level of work – you are strong, determined, and hardworking people.

Noticing The Theme Here?  

In my opinion, whatever genealogy path you are on is perfectly OK.  This huge community and all of its various branches would be so incredibly boring if everyone was on the same path.  Having this melting pot of people with different levels of ability, different goals, different opinions, different reasons for why we are here makes us more interesting.  It makes the sand box more fun to play in.

In Conclusion…

I’m no closer to having a word that defines my own genealogy work.  But I am closer to why I do genealogy research and what that research means to me – I just haven’t given it a word yet.

Update: As one of my dedicated Harry Potter friends pointed out to me, the reasons why I do genealogy are nearly exactly the same as why I am obsessed with the Harry Potter series.  Wonder what other things I do in my life that have similar motivations and reasons?  Interesting…


Genealogy Goals for 2012

As everyone welcomes in another year, most of us are in a state of reflection and contemplation as we try to figure out what we want to carry out in 2012.  The big trend at I’ve noticed in the genealogy community is to find a buddy to help keep your genealogy goals or resolutions on track – having a friend to lean on for support is always helpful and aids in accountability.  Being the Type-A, ambitious, planner obsessed person that I am, I have found a genealogy buddy and I’m creating a plan.

My mantra in my life for 2012 is “Live. Let Go. Discover. Breathe. Smile.”  My genealogy goals for the year need to be in line with this mantra.

Here are my 2012 Genealogy Goals:

1.) Attend RootsTech in February and SCGS’s Jamboree in June.  Going to conferences is always an experience because of the energy – everyone is excited, happy, bright-eyed and ready to learn.  It is a chance to see old friends and meet new ones.  A chance to meet the genea-celebs (I’m going to meet Joshua Taylor at RootsTech – let’s just hope I don’t faint or ask for his autograph or stutter or make a complete fool out of myself) and realize that they are totally down to earth, amazing people.  My goal is to soak in the energy, learn as much as I can in and out of classes, and most of all, enjoy the company of my amazing genealogy family.

But for me personally, conferences also represent an opportunity for me to branch out on my own and discover more about myself as a person.  Although I used to travel a lot as a kid (especially trips between Seattle to Los Angeles in the summers to visit my Dad), I don’t really travel much and I’ve never really traveled without my parents.  Going to Salt Lake City to attend RootsTech will be the first trip that I’ve planned and executed all by myself.  I’ll be flying by myself – and unlike the days of my childhood where I would fly by myself, there will be no flight attendant to watch over me, tell me jokes, and even let me into the cockpit to meet the pilot (those were pre-9/11 days).  I’ll be staying in a hotel all by myself.  As my dad likes to put it, I’ll be taking my first “Big Girl Trip”.  Although I’m nervous about the trip and trying to plan for every possible occurrence (Seriously – I’m a ridiculously Type-A, plan obsessed person), I also couldn’t be any more excited.

If you’ll be at RootsTech, come visit me at the WikiTree booth in the exhibit hall – I’d love to meet up for a bite to eat, drinks, or for a class.  Or even just to hang out.

2.) Write About Each of my Brick Wall Ancestors.  The only way I can tackle my brick walls without barking up the wrong tree or wasting time doing work that I’ve already done is to organize the information I already have and write out my next steps.  This helps me visualize the holes in my research, create a plan, and tackle the brick wall.

I will write a blog post (or series of posts) for each of my following brick wall ancestors:

  • My paternal great grandfather, George Rogers.
  • My paternal 3x great grandfather, John Asher.
  • My paternal 3x great grandfather, James L. Clawson Sr.  There is so much misinformation out there on this guy and I really want to be able to separate fact from fiction.
  • My paternal 2x great grandmother, Josephine Frank.
  • My maternal 2x great grandfather, Adolph Carl Doerflinger – especially his life in Germany.
  • My maternal 2x great grandparents, Antone Keppler and Rosalie Endres – especially their lives in Germany.
  • My maternal 2x great grandfather, Frederick Harney – yet another man from Germany.
  • My maternal 3x great grandparents, Stephen Weston and Mary Morgan in Wales.
  • My maternal 3x great grandparents, John Coombe and Esther ? in Wales.

With 9 ancestors to cover, I will have to write about an ancestor about every month.  Having only 9 ancestors to write about gives me some wiggle room for the holidays and extra busy months.  Hopefully by writing about these brick walls, I will discover more about these ancestors and about research strategies.

3.) Move Away From Paper to Digital.  I hate to admit it, but I just don’t touch my genealogy binders.  I’ve worked so hard to make the notebooks well organized and easy to read – but I almost never use them.  Being the busy, always-on-the-go kind of girl, I want my research to be available to me at a moment’s notice and the way to do that is to keep my research on my computer.  My laptop goes nearly everywhere with me and I have most of my research on there.  My RootsMagic file and all genealogy-related image files are saved in Drop Box, so I also have them available from any computer with an internet connection.  My binders sit on the bottom shelf of my living room bookshelf untouched because I can’t access them as spontaneously as my digital files.

The majority of my research happens when I don’t plan it: during a lunch break on my college campus, in between study sessions, and any other times I have inspiration.  My college backpack already weighs a ton due to my textbooks, school binder, food, giant jug of caffeine and laptop that I carry around on a daily basis – I don’t have the space or physical ability to carry around my 6 genealogy binders just in case I get the urge to do some research.  The binders just don’t fit my lifestyle any more.

But I haven’t sworn off paper all together.  Paper is often the best tool to help me sort through my thoughts and ideas.  Paper helps me slow down and avoid the mistakes I often make when I am rushing.  Paper gives me something tangible to hold.  But those used pieces of paper will probably not be useful to me in the long-term.  I forget about paper and thus, I rarely ever refer to a piece of paper twice.  However, if I scan that page and link it to my RootsMagic file for the ancestor in question, I will see it and use it.

The plan is to scan every piece of paper in my New England Ancestors binder (where I have the most papers with my brainstorming and thought sorting sessions) and then link it to the appropriate people in my RootsMagic database.


Having a genealogy buddy to support me and keep me accountable will definitely be key to successfully fulfilling these goals.  My genea-buddy is Miriam Robbins of Ancestories.  I had the pleasure to meet Miriam in 2010 and I really felt like we connected.  We both have crazy schedules as we struggle to survive and make things work.  We have both faced hardships and struggles but came out as stronger people.  And we both love researching our ancestors, blogging about it, and teaching others about.

I’ve tried to keep my goals realistic while also giving me a bit of a challenge to push myself.  I often work best when I have a little bit of a challenge and I can become obsessed determined to accomplish the goal.  (Example: I wanted a 4.0 GPA last semester.  I studied like crazy, developed an addiction to coffee, and achieved a 3.9 GPA).

2011 was a year of new beginnings for me: Figuring out who I am without my Mom in my life, moving out on my own, teaching preschoolers for the first time (so much fun and so my thing!) and trying to figure out what kind of teacher I hope to be.  All in all, it was a good year.

May 2012 be yet another year of discovery, letting go, smiles, breaths of fresh air, and living life to the fullest!  There may be growing pains involved and definitely a lot of trial and error, but in the last three years of my life, I’ve learned that I can survive just about anything.  For those of you who have been reading my blog during 2011: THANK YOU for being on this journey with me!  Here is to 2012!