Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Genealogy Generational Disconnect

Recently, there was a post on the Transitional Genealogists Forum from a young twenty-something genealogist that has sparked a lot of great conversation.  If you haven’t read the post yet, you should read it here.

Reading about Eva’s experiences as a young genealogist, especially her experience while at NGS this year, I realized how much I can relate to her.  Her experiences sounded eerily similar to my own and I could definitely feel for her.

I was very lucky with my first conference.  Going to SCGS Jamboree in 2009 was a wonderful experience and nearly everyone I met was kind, funny, knowledgeable.  People were certainly surprised that I was there but no one made me feel as if I was not knowledgeable about genealogy simply because of my age.  People remarked how shocked they were that someone my age was here and many people wanted to know why I was so interested in genealogy.  Many people wanted to quiz me on how to get their own children, grandchildren, or other young family members into genealogy.  Only one person choose to question my knowledge and practically treat me like someone with a complete lack of basic US history knowledge – and while I was polite, I quickly got away from him.  But perhaps the positive conference experience was based on the fact that this conference was practically in my own backyard.  Or maybe it was the fact that this was the first time I met so many bloggers in person – therefore, I already had a group of people behind me and cheering me on.  Or maybe it was just that all of that didn’t phase me because the conference was just so much fun.

However, at other genealogy events, I have not been so lucky.  My local society held a genealogy meeting one month that I decided to attend.  From the moment I walked in the door, people treated me like a complete newbie.  It wasn’t that it bothered me that people assumed I was a total newcomer to the genealogy world – but it bothered me that after I showed my pedigree charts and my notebooks and had a few discussions and yet, still, they treated me like a total newbie.  The whole event was honestly embarrassing and made me never want to come back.

But fortunately, most people haven’t been that way with me.  In fact, I’ve been fortunate and blessed enough to be welcomed into the community with open arms of love and acceptance.  I don’t feel that anyone looks down on me or questions my skills.  People have loved me for the crazy, loud, Energizer Bunny kind of person I am.  I’m out there in left field a bit and wearing a tiara for most genealogy events.  And yet, everyone accepts me for exactly who I am and my knowledge.

The reason why?  I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I “knew” a lot of these people before I went to conferences or went to genealogy events.  Thanks to my blog and social media, I already have a bit of a social media family.  I knew so many genealogists before I had even met them in person.  There were no awkward meetings – in fact, meeting everyone for the first time felt like I had known these people forever.  We instantly connected, instantly had stuff in common and to talk about.  We knew each other’s research interests and could relate to one another.  It was wonderful and I’m so grateful for the technology that made it possible.

So my fellow genealogists – how do we help bring out these young kids into the world of genealogy?  The young research set exists, hiding away from the crowds and just lurking on the web.  What can we do as a community to get more people like Eva out in the open and comfortable?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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June Equals One Busy Month

June is going to be one super crazy awesomely busy month for me.  Why, you ask?  Well, let me give you the low down.

  1. First, my little (well, she isn’t really little anymore) is coming down for a week at the start of June.  We are celebrating the end of another semester and she turned 21 this year.  Plus, we are both graduating from college in December.  Lots of things to celebrate.  But why does this matter to genealogy?  Well, it is simple: When my cousin comes down, the whole family will congregate together.  When the family comes together, I get great family stories and a chance to get more information.  Now that I have my Android phone, I can even pull up photos and documents from my DropBox app to show people.  It is a great way to get conversation going and serve as an inspiration for further researcher.
  2. Secondly, on June 8th – 10th is the Southern California Genealogy Society’s Annual Jamboree in Burbank, California (practically in my backyard – if the 405 Freeway didn’t exist).  Jamboree is one amazing weekend of learning, fun, and total socializing.  This year, the ante seems to have been upped: top speakers, amazing events (like the Genealogy Idol Breakfast and the Hollywood Gala – fancy dresses, tiaras, and feather boas, oh my!), and a great exhibitor hall.  Not only will I be debuting my presentation Conquering the Digital Monster on Saturday morning at 8:30 am and be on the Bloggers Summit Panel #2 at 2 pm, but I will also be working at the WikiTree booth in the exhibit hall (table 106).  You should come to both of the lectures, stop by the booth, and overall track me down.  Why?  Because I love meeting other bloggers and I’ll be wearing both my fancy orange WikiTree shirt and a tiara.  And possibly one of my prom dresses on Saturday.  So yeah, you want to find me.  I’m pretty easy to spot because I have the energy of an energizer bunny and I’m one of the youngest ones there.
  3. On June 17th, I’ll be speaking at Questing Heirs Genealogy Society in Long Beach, California at 2pm.  The topic? Conquering the Paper Monster.
  4. On June 19th, I’ll be speaking at the Los Angeles Westside Genealogy Society in West Los Angeles, California at 7pm.  Conquering the Paper Monster will once against be presented.
  5. Sorting through, scanning, and identifying all of the family history stuff I’ve inherited.

June is going to be one crazy awesome busy month.  What do you have planned for June?

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I’m Back

I’ve been away from blogging for a few months now.  Life has gotten a bit crazy and gotten in the way of my genealogy addiction.  But I’m back.

2012 has been one interesting year for me and it has come with lots of new experiences and many changes.  I don’t want it to sound like I’m complaining – because honestly, I’m not –  but this year has been one that requires a bit of adjustment.

And I’ve put this blog on the back burner.  So for that, I’m sorry, Dear Readers.  For those of you who are sticking with me, let me just say that I love you more than words can say.

So what magnificent things have happened since I’ve disappeared?

I hit the genealogy jackpot:

This is a bookshelf my Grandpa Max welded. Since the wood was in such bad shape, my cousin added new wooden shelves. But the frame is just gorgeous isn't it? And all that stuff on it was stuff I also got in the jackpot.

My grandmother's rocking chair and my baby blanket. The rocking chair was given to my mom in 1989 after my grandmother's passing and I have many fond memories sitting in that chair. And the baby blanket - adorable, isn't it? (But how in the world do I wash it? Seriously... my dad has no idea. So I'm open to ideas.)

 

Many dishes. I have more baking dishes than I now know what to do with. For a college student, this is worthy of a celebration.

My favorite jackpot winnings? A wooden box full of photos: everything from my childhood, my mom's childhood, and older.

How did this jackpot come about you ask?  Well, in short, my amazing cousin brought down all the things my mom and I left in Seattle, Washington about 10 years ago.  While we had every intention of going back for the stuff after we got settled in to our new California place, we never went back for it.  The stuff ended up sitting in my aunt’s house for ten years.

And now it is back in my posession.  Some of the stuff is familiar and I remember it while some of it is like looking at it for the first time.  It is so cool and neat and I’ll tell you all about it in upcoming blog posts.

On to other news… The Southern California Genealogy Society’s Annual Jamboree is coming up in less than a month!  My favorite conference of the year, Jamboree is sure to be a blast.  I’ll be there in all my usual tiara-wearing glory as a participant, blogger, speaker, and exhibitor!  Yes, I will be quite the busy bee that weekend.  It will be a blast to be around my genea-family again.

I have my final exams this coming week.  I’ll begin writing after that… I’ve missed blogging so much!

 

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How to Recover from a Genealogy Slump

Sad man holding pillow

Photo Credit: "Sad Man Holding Pillow" by Hang_In_There on Flickr.

I have a confession to make:  I’ve been in a major genealogy slump for the last two months.

Generally, when my non-genealogy life becomes too crazy and stressful, my genealogy life suffers.  The more stressful my non-genealogy life is, the more cloudy my brain becomes and it isn’t long before I can’t focus or get easily distracted.  It isn’t long before my genealogy begins to suffer.

Once you are in that place of “blah”, it can be so hard to get out of it.  I started watching all my genealogy friends and feeling envious – popping out blog posts left and right, making new discoveries, and enjoying new tech toys while I was stuck in “blah-land”.

But I’m here to say there is light at the end of the tunnel.  There is hope.  There is a way out of “blah-land”.  So what is the secret?

Find Inspiration

How do you find inspiration?  Different things work for different people, but here is a list to get you started:

  • Watch Who Do You Think You Are
  • Watch The Generations Project
  • Attend a genealogy society meeting
  • Attend a genealogy lecture
  • Attend a genealogy conference/seminar/event-of-some-kind
  • Read a genealogy blog you love
  • Find a new genealogy blog to read
  • Read any genealogy blog
  • Listen to The Genealogy Gems Podcast (How can you NOT feel inspired by Lisa Louise Cooke – she is just so bubbly and happy!  It is like listening to your own personal cheerleader)
  • Listen to The Genealogy Guys Podcast (George G. Morgan and Drew Smith and sometimes, a cat sidekick.  Need I say more?)
  • Listen to The Family Tree Magazine Podcast (Hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke).
  • Watch genealogy videos on Youtube
  • Try a new library or archive
  • Listen to Geneabloggers Radio (Good hosts + Good Guests + Crazy Chatroom = one fun night)
  • Try a new genealogy website
  • Chat with a genealogy friend
  • Buy a new tech toy
  • And the list goes on…

What got me inspired?  Last week’s Who Do You Think You Are episode with Reba.  I already love her and add the fact that her journey included the story of her ancestor coming to American Colonies as a child and I am hooked (again).

Add a dash of Caroline Pointer’s post, Problems with Evernote and Genealogy?, a conversation with my dad about the 1940 census that didn’t end in eye rolls, and a pinch of Ben & Jerry’s binges while blasting Adele music and I’m feeling back to my usual genealogy enthusiastic self.

Have you ever had a genealogy slump before?  How did you get out of it?  What inspires you?

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Lessons From My Mother: Part 2

Dear Mama,

Over the last six months or so, I’ve made it a priority to go to bed in my room and fall asleep without the television.  The goal isn’t too hard to focus on since I only have one television and I keep it in the living room.  So far, it works pretty well and I’m able to fall asleep without it – a task I never would have thought possible a few years ago when I used to need the television on just to sleep.

While I’ve mostly gotten over that habit, there are still some nights when I just need the TV on.  On these nights, I walk with my blanket and pillow to the futon in the living room and turn the television on.  The simple act always reminds me of you and your insomnia.  I flip through the channels and try to avoid your shows – always the crime shows – in an attempt to not think about you.  But try as I might to avoid the latest episode of Law & Order (and the 20,000 variations of it), my thoughts still go back to you.  It isn’t long before I settle into my makeshift bed and put on The Daily Show – of course, it reminds me of you.

We used to watch that show all the time.  It was our way of bonding over politics, a starting place for our debates and discussions.  Arguments over President Bush’s policies, the Wars in the Middle East, healthcare, education, just about anything.  While it was all about the politics, it was never really about the politics.  It was all about developing an opinion, seeing things from another perspective, and learning to speak my mind.

I remember one such occasion during the summer of 2001.  We had just moved from Seattle down to San Marcos, California and our condo didn’t have much furniture in it yet.  It was morning and we were reading the newspaper while we ate toast.  I always loved the opinion section and you always loved the news.  Something in the “Letters to the Editor” section caught my eye and I was suddenly furious.  I started to rant about how incredibly wrong this person was and how my opinion was better.

“Why don’t you tell them that then?”

“Tell who what?” I was confused.

“Why don’t you write to the newspaper and tell them your opinion?  Give them your take on things?”

“I’m 12.” I said flatly.

“So?”

“So… why would they listen to me?”

“You won’t know if you don’t try.  Worst they can do is not publish it.  But at least you will have gotten your opinion out there.”  You shrugged the whole thing off as if this was the most obvious idea in the world.  I was in shock because you actually thought a newspaper editor would listen to me.

“You just want me to stop ranting, don’t you?” I asked.

“I’m just saying that if you feel so strongly about the subject, then you should write in.”  The smile on your face gave you away.

But I followed your advice anyway and wrote in.  And then not-so-slyly attacked the newspaper every morning for the next two weeks, flipping like a mad woman to the editorial section.  And each morning I tried to hide my disappointment when it wasn’t printed.

Until one day, it was printed.  And as soon as I saw it, I screamed.  And jumped.  And screamed some more.  You worriedly looked at me.  I pointed down at the newspaper, way too excited to form a coherent sentence, and continued screaming.

“ME!  MINE!  LOOK!  AHHHH!”  The excitement was overwhelming and you only smiled.

I quickly grew to love speaking my mind and debating.  By the 10th grade, I had joined the debate team – which is saying something since we met at 7:00am every morning and often had competitions early on Saturday mornings.

You were the one that taught me to speak my mind and express my opinions.  You were the one that taught me to “back it up” with facts and sources.  You were the one that taught me to speak up, even when I feel like no one would listen to me.  And it was because of you that I inherited a determined stubbornness that always seems to play out in arguments.  I guess my craving to be right comes from you too. (But how boring would I be without it?)

We were good at arguing and I think we spent nearly every moment of my teenage years perfecting those skills.  I pushed your buttons.  You pushed my buttons.  You screamed.  I screamed.  It was our version of normal.  And yet, as much as we screamed (and we screamed a lot), we seemed to always be able to forgive and go back to being our typical laughing selves.  I still feel sorry for our poor neighbors though.

During my teenage years, I was really good at speaking my mind but not so good at knowing when to bite my tongue.  While I’ve certainly improved my diplomacy and wording skills, my big ole mouth still gets me in trouble once in a while.  But then again, if I didn’t get in trouble for running my mouth once in a while, I wouldn’t be able to call myself your daughter, would I?

It still feels unreal that it has been two years since you have passed and two years since I’ve had a great argument.  Oh the things I would do to be able to argue with you again…

In Loving Memory ~ Sharon Doerflinger

June 20, 1959 – February 28, 2010

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Lessons From My Mother

Dear Mama,

Why is it that I always get the best ideas while I’m doing the dishes?

And why is it that I always call you “Mama” when I am not feeling well?

I hate doing the dishes.  But you’re well aware of that fact because you spent nearly every moment of my teenage years practically pulling teeth to get me to do the dishes.  I don’t know why I hate that chore so much, but I would do practically anything to avoid the dishes.  But now that I live on my own, I’m forced to do the dishes.  Maybe my mind drifts to you as I do the dishes because I’m trying to distract myself from how much I hate doing the dishes.  Or maybe it is because I’m trying to ignore the fact that it has been almost two years since you’ve left this world.  I don’t know.  It doesn’t matter much anyway.

While I was doing the dishes this morning, I started to think of you.  My life seems to be rapidly changing and moving these days, so much so that I wonder if you would even recognize it.  My future teaching career feels closer than ever, no longer feeling like some distant dream, but much more like a reality.  It is exciting and terrifying all at the same time.  I can’t place my finger on exactly when I crossed the platform from childhood to adulthood, but it is abundantly clear somewhere along the way, I’ve done it.  You’d be so proud of me and I only wish you were here to see it in person.

You’re probably the only one that would understand my need to teach.  It isn’t a choice for me and never has been.  Teaching is a part of who I am, so ingrained in my DNA and very being that it would be impossible for me not to teach.  Since the age of five, I’ve known that I had two possible paths in life to follow: Either I could be a princess or a teacher.  Since I don’t have any princes knocking on my door, I’ve settled on just wearing a tiara once in a while and focusing on being a teacher.

Even when I tried to avoid a career in teaching, you stayed patient and let me discover it on my own.  I made every excuse for why I didn’t want to be a teacher: the pay is horrible, too much gossip between colleagues, parents never seem to appreciate you, those kids that don’t listen, the fact that I’ll be spending my own money on supplies for my classroom, the fact that the system is so broken and far too many children fall between the cracks…  The list seemed endless

“I could be a journalist.  Travel the world.  Interview important and interesting people.  Write articles.  That would be cool.”  We were eating breakfast at a local diner, both of us reading the newspaper.

“Journalist?  Yeah, I suppose.”

“What kind of salary do you think they make?”  I took a long sip of my iced tea.

“No idea.  But I don’t think the average journalist makes much more than a teacher would.”

“Who said anything about being an average journalist?  Average journalists don’t get to travel or interview super important people or-”

“If you think being a journalist would make you happy, then go for it.”  Your voice was dripping with frustration.

“What does that mean?” I asked, raising an eye brow and using a tone that I knew you wouldn’t like.  I was pushing your buttons, feeling offended and hormonal.

“All I’m saying is that at some point in your life, Elyse, you’re going to have to decide what is more important to you: being happy or being rich.  Since you’ve suggested just about half a dozen career choices in the last week, I’m assuming that you are trying really hard to convince yourself, and everyone else in the process, that you would be perfectly happy as long as you had lots of money.  I’m not contradicting that.  I’m just saying that the choice is up to you and you have to figure out what matters more to you.  Teaching may not be a glamorous job that pays great, but you know you love it and you’d be an amazing teacher.  You might not have a giant bank account balance, but you know that you would change lives.  And at some point, you have to decide what will make you happy.”

I sat across the table, trying to hide the shock on my face from your bluntness.  We ate the rest of our breakfast in silence – and if I remember correctly, I gave you the silent treatment for the rest of the day.

I also remember 4th of July of 2006.  I had a horrible fight with my then-boyfriend and spent the day moping around the house.  After a few hours of this, you had had enough.

“Get up.”

“Excuse me?” I asked, sitting in front of my computer.

“Get up.”

“I don’t get it…”

“Get up and get out of this house.  You have moped long enough and it is time for you to go do something.  It is 4th of July and you’re telling me that suddenly you have no plans?  Don’t let some boy ruin you’re night.”

“He isn’t just some boy.  He is my boyfriend.”

“Yes… I remember,” you said with a grumble.  You never did like him, always insisting that he was a jerk – but of course, I didn’t see that until much later.

“I don’t want to go out.”  I said flatly.  Turning back to my computer screen.

“Go call someone.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Get up.  Go call someone.  Get out of the house.  Go cause some trouble and don’t come back until you have a smile on your face.”

I vaguely remember rolling my eyes at this and flashing an ever so fake smile in your direction.

“Don’t make me be the one to call your friends.  You know I’ll only embarrass you to no end.”

“You wouldn’t.” I said confidently, turning my back to her in an obvious sign of avoidance.

“Is that a dare?  Oh Elyse, you know how I just can’t resist a dare.”

I sent my strongest teenage stare in your direction.  You returned the stare and didn’t break it – not even for a second.

“Fine.” I said angrily, admitting defeat.

“Oh good.  I knew you’d see it my way.”

“Funny.”

“Life is too short and you are too damn young to be this hung up on a boy.”

“He isn’t just any boy!”  I said again angrily.  But rather than engage me into what surely would have escalated into one of our shouting matches, you walked away.   I got out of the house that night, choosing to go with a friend to the beach and watch the fireworks.  At the time, I refused to admit that you had been right: life is far too short and I am far too young to be hung up on a boy.  So once that boyfriend and I had broken up for good, I took your advice to heart and refused to sit at home moping.  I left the house.  I hung out with friends.  I tried new things.  Because life is too short and I’m far too young not to.

When I do the dishes and your memory creeps into my mind again, I avoid the sadness of your absence and choose to let your adventurous spirit fill my thoughts.  I think about all the possibilities the future could hold: the places I’ll visit, the people I’ll meet, the new things I’ll try.  As I place the last dish on the drying rack, I think of the lessons you taught me.

Life is too short and I’m far too young to be anything but happy.

Mom and I

In Loving Memory ~ Sharon Doeflinger

June 20, 1959 – February 28, 2010

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Salt Lake City: Day 1

I arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah this morning at about 10:30am local time and thus far, every moment has been a blast!  There is so much to talk about… where do I begin?

Being a southern California girl, I’m not generally used to cold weather.  Luckily, I came prepared with my sweaters, jackets, gloves, and scarfs.  It certainly looks like it will be a cold few days.  I’ve read weather reports that it is expected to snow tonight and tomorrow.

I went to the Family History library for the very first time today and it is probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.  Floor after floor of books, microfilm, and happy people to assist you.  It is definitely overwhelming the first time, but totally worth it.  I didn’t stay long today because I’m still recovering from the food poisoning I had two days ago, but I plan on going back before I leave.

I stopped and had lunch at the Nauvoo Cafe – most delicious roast beef sandwich I’ve ever eaten.  I wish I had more of an appetite because I would have eaten a lot more.

I had dinner with a bunch of fun geneabloggers at P.F. Changs – delicious food and even better conversation.

But now… it is time for me to get ready for bed.  I’ll be up bright and early tomorrow morning to set up the WikiTree booth in the exhibit hall.  If you are here at RootsTech, please make sure to see Chris Whitten’s class on WikiTree tomorrow morning.

Also, don’t forget that tomorrow is the Genealogy Idol Competition and yours truly will be competing.

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Who Will Be The Next Genealogy Idol?

Tiara

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!

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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?

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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…

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