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Every family has traditions that are practiced every holiday season. Things like baking, spending time with family, the food that is eaten, the decorations that are up – all of these things are time honored traditions.
One of the traditions that I have is getting sick.
That’s right. You read that right. Every single Christmas from the time I was 2 until I was about 8 was spent with me being sick. Since then, I’ve traded off, sometimes being sick during Christmas and sometimes I am sick the week before or after. But it just wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t get sick.
So I leave you with this photo of myself taken on Christmas morning of 1992 – taken shortly after I woke up to find Santa had visited and left me lots of presents. My parents tried desperately to get me excited, but all I wanted to do was curl up with my blanket on the couch with my new doll and go to sleep. In fact, I only opened this one present and left the rest until that evening.
As the year comes to an end and many of us celebrate various holidays, I wish you all a wonderful season full of love, good company, and good food. Happy Ancestor hunting!
A few days ago I wrote a Some Thoughts for the Genealogy Societies in the World. I’ve given genealogy societies some words of advice, but I think it is time to discuss why you should join a genealogy society. These are my reasons for joining a genealogy society:
- Social Networking: While I love keeping up to date with all of my genealogy buddies on Facebook and Twitter, it isn’t the same as in-person socializing. I crave social time with people that get the whole, “I search for dead people” thing. I don’t just want someone to have a conversation with (although those are nice) but I want someone I an truly call a friend. Someone who I can take field trips to libraries and archives with. Someone to share a hotel room with during conferences. And someone to get together with and talk about our latest research struggles. I want a genealogy social life and a genealogy society is the best way to create the social life.
- Education: I am always looking to learn about other resources, methodologies, and technologies to help me research my ancestors. Genealogy societies not only have members with knowledge, but also bring in speakers or conduct classes. Sometimes they release newsletters with lots of good educational information or articles to learn from. Some societies even host webinars to bring in speakers from all over the country (and the world).
- Access to Stuff: Lots of societies have a library that sometimes requires a small fee for nonmembers to research. Being a member of that society can give you free access to the library. Some societies also offer at-home access to subscription sites so you can do research at home in your pajamas.
- Support History: Sometimes, it makes sense to join a society because you want to financially support the cause of the society. Many societies are doing projects to preserve and record the local history – without these societies (and your financial support), the local history could be lost forever.
Those are my 4 reasons for joining a genealogy society. Why do you join genealogy societies?
Here is a bit of a confession: I’m not the only 20-something genealogist out there. Surprisingly, there are a bunch of “younger” genealogists and family historians out there – I get comments and emails from them on a regular basis. But the one thing I’ve noticed we all have in common? We’re all pretty darn shy when it comes to actually going to a genealogy society or conference. So how do you pull us out of our shells?
Here are my words of advice based on my own experiences and thoughts:
1.) Please don’t look at me like I’m a lost child that wandered into the wrong room. No, I’m not lost. Yes, I mean to be in here. No, I was not dragged here against my will. Yes, I actually want to be here.
2.) Don’t assume my grandparents (or other older relatives) are alive. Some people my age are fortunate enough to have their grandparents still around. However, I’m not one of them. My mom was the youngest child in her family and was the last of her siblings to have children. My maternal grandmother died before I was born and my grandfather died shortly after. My dad is also the youngest child of his family. However, both of my paternal grandparents were alive when I was born. Around my toddler years, my grandmother developed dementia and died in 2002. My grandfather lived across the country and although it was his refusal to tell me anything about my family that got me interested in genealogy, he died in 2003. So no, I’m not so lucky in that department.
3.) Please don’t assume I’m a beginner. Often times when I walk into a new genealogy society or library, people assume I’m an absolute beginner. I’m not saying I’m Elizabeth Shown Mills or anything, but I know my way around a pedigree chart. Instead, ask me how my research is going. Ask me where I’m stuck. Ask me about what kind of ancestors I have. Then offer me help or just let me enjoy the company. We got something in common – let’s chat!
4.) Have a website, blog, and Facebook account. I want to keep up with the happenings of your society and these are all easy ways for me to do it. Keep me updated and informed, and I’m more likely to be there.
5.) Have an open mind. I don’t expect every person in your society to be the most tech-savvy person on the planet. All I ask if that when I mention a technological something (like DropBox or Facebook) and look at me like I’ve just spoken in Chinese or something. Instead, ask me about it. I swear, I won’t bite. I won’t get mad. I won’t think you’re stupid. I want to share. I want to tell you about it.
6.) Have a Decent Tech Set-Up: I understand that technology costs money and right now, the last thing any society has is money. But, having a decent tech set up makes a speaker’s life so much easier. And when you have great speakers who can easily show off their lovely presentations, then you have happy attendees.
7.) Don’t let my age define me. When I went to SCGS’s Jamboree for the first time, I kind of became a legend to attendees. On the last day of the conference, a woman walked up to me and excitedly introduced herself. She added that, “It really is true! There really is a young person here at this conference! There’s been rumors going on about you the entire time but I just didn’t believe it!” At the time, it was cute and flattering and kind of embarrassing – I was just happy that people were accepting me. But now, I want to be judged and valued based on my knowledge, on my personality, on who I am and not hold old I am. I get it – it’s so exciting to see a 20-something at a genealogy society or library. I know that I’m young enough to be your daughter/granddaughter and how much you wish one of your family members would catch the bug like I have. But once that excitement settles down, would you mind actually getting to know me and judging me based on that? Cause I want to get to know you too. I want more genealogy friends – people that get that I would rather go to a cemetery or spend an entire day in a library than go to a bar on a Friday night. We already go so much in common – so let’s be friends!
So that’s my list of advice for genealogy societies hoping to attract a bit of a younger crowd. Got anything to add to the list? Pop it in the comments section.
In the last month or so, I’ve been so fortunate to find about 3 new cousins from 3 different lines. And all of these cousins have amazing research to share and lots of stuff that I’ve never seen before. I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot in the lottery.
One of my wonderful new cousins has shared with me a picture of my great grandmother, Matilda Clawson. I’ve never seen a photo of her before.Having this photo of Matilda Clawson is even better because she has been such a source of mystery for me. Ten years ago, while visiting my grandfather in Tennessee, I asked him to tell me about his mother – Matilda Clawson. He instantly tensed up and didn’t want to talk about it. At the time, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t want to talk about her.
As I started to fill in the family tree, I learned that Matilda died on 8 August, 1935 when my grandfather was only seven years old. Losing a mother at such a young age is hard enough – but the wound only because bigger when his father quickly remarried. The remainder of his childhood was difficult – he became a rebel and as soon as he was able, he joined the US Navy and left home.
Matilda Clawson was born on 21 March 1886 in Tennessee (probably Carter county) to James L. Clawson Jr and Edna Jane Vines. She married Monroe Dugger around 1908 and she died on 8 August 1935 in Carter county, Tennessee.
I am just so overjoyed to have found this picture and finally put a face to my great grandmother, Matilda Clawson.
[Photo sent to me by email by Lincoln Clawson]
Here is my latest video and it is all about how to get the next generation involved in genealogy societies.
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!
June is going to be one super crazy awesomely busy month for me. Why, you ask? Well, let me give you the low down.
- 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.
- 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.
- On June 17th, I’ll be speaking at Questing Heirs Genealogy Society in Long Beach, California at 2pm. The topic? Conquering the Paper Monster.
- 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.
- 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?
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:
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!
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?
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?