Why Join a Genealogy Society?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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?

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Some Thoughts for the Genealogy Societies in the World

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.

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Cousins Bring Treasure: Finding a Photo of Matilda Clawson

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.

Left to Right, Standing to Sitting: Fate Clawson [Male], Matilda Clawson, Walter Clawson [young boy], Polly May Clawson, Robert Dayton Clawson (baby), James Clayton Clawson (baby). 

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]

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Getting the Next Generation Involved in Genealogy Societies

Here is my latest video and it is all about how to get the next generation involved in genealogy societies.

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Analyzing DNA: My First DNA Test (Part 2)

This is the second post in a series about my getting my DNA tested through 23andMe.  Read Part 1 here.

I got the first part of my DNA results earlier this week.  As soon as the email of “Your Results Are Ready” popped into my inbox, I started screaming with excitement!  I rushed over to 23andMe, logged in, and began exploring.

I decided to go through the menu on the left one-by-one.  I started with the health section. My overview showed a preview of each of the four subsections of health: Disease Risks, Carrier Status, Traits, and Drug Response.  I was surprised to learn that I have an elevated risk of four different diseases.  One of those diseases was lung cancer – which is interesting because no one that I know of has ever gotten lung cancer in my family.  But then again, since my mom was adopted by her biological aunt and I have no clue who the biological father is, perhaps the lung cancer risk is something I got from his side?  Hmm.  The good news is that my risk for coronary heart disease is decreased – by about 10% than the average risk.

Looking at the Carrier Status section, I was pleased to learn that I am not a carrier for all 47 diseases and disorders that they test for.  Whew!

The traits section was really cool.  Little things like my earwax type (wet – in case you were wondering) and my hair curl (curlier than usual) were things that I already knew.  One thing that really caught my eye was Smoking Behavior – the result was that if I was a smoker, I’d be more likely to smoke.  [On a side note, when I shared this particular result with my dad, he chuckled a bit and then, in his most serious tone, told me he'd kick my butt all the way to China if I ever touch a cigarette.]  Other cool listings in this section include things like Photic Sneeze Reflex (which I have a higher odds of having), Resistance for HIV/AIDS, Tooth Development, Odor Detection, and Asparagus Metabolite Detection (I have a higher odds of detecting).

Finally, I started to explore the drug response section.  This section shows various prescription drugs and the status of your sensitivity to those drugs.  For example, it shows that I have a reduced risk to responding to Hepatitis C treatment [note to self: don't get Hepatitis C].  It also showed that I have a higher sensitivity to the blood thinner Warafin.  I also learned that I have a higher risk of heroin dependence. [Side note: When I shared that information with my dad, he started going off about how if I even *think* about using heroin, he'll kick my butt much farther than China.]

When I went to explore the Relative Finder section, I was disappointed to find that those results were not yet ready but would be ready in about a week.  This was a huge disappointment because the email that indicated my results were ready did not mention that only half of my results were there.  As a genealogist, this was what I was looking forward to most.  I know that 23andMe isn’t a company that works exclusively with genealogists, but it should be a bit more clear in the email that only half of the results are in.

In the next post, I will discuss my Maternal Haplogroup (which is visible in this first batch of results) and what I find in the Relative Finder.  Stay tuned for Part 3!

[Disclosure: I received a complimentary 23andMe DNA test in exchange for a review of my experiences on my blog.  My opinions, however, are truthful and not swayed at all by the fact that the test was complimentary.]

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Analyzing DNA: My First DNA Test (Part 1)

Super excited!  I got my very first DNA test from 23andMe.  After years of wanting to do a DNA test and doing some research into the science behind DNA.  (I even had breakfast one morning with Steve Morse during Jamboree 2011!).

So what made me go with 23andMe?  I’ve been watching the company for a while and I’ve love the fact it also presents a health side to their results.  But what really cinched the whole thing for me?  The new beta features that will soon be released.  Plus, everyone at the booth at Jamboree was super welcoming and willing to answer questions.  And they had hilarious t-shirts… I like a company with great customer service and a sense of humor.

So I ordered a Personal Genome Service from 23andMe.  The kit is $299.  Surprisingly, I received my kit in the mail the next day.  I was so excited to get the package that I practically attacked the poor delivery guy and then proceeded to rip open the box.

Before I could provide a saliva sample, I had to avoid eating and drinking for 30 minutes.  Assembling the spit tube was easy but coming up with enough saliva was harder than I thought it would be – but I got it done.

Once the spitting was complete and everything was packed back up, I stuck it in my mailbox, impatiently waiting for the mailman to come pick it up.

In the meantime, I went to the 23andMe website to register my test.  It was super easy to  enter the barcode from the spit tube onto the website.  The whole user interface for 23andMe is really intuitive and easy to follow.  And there are tons of cool features to explore.

While a lot of the features are unavailable til my results come in (in about 2-3 weeks), I have taken advantage of the surveys that are offered.  The surveys provide information that could lead to a better understanding of how genetics influences health.  Thus far, I’ve taken 8 surveys (they are super addicting!).

So now… I wait for my results.  These 2-3 weeks are going to feel like they are taking forever because I’m just so excited for these results.  I keep reminding myself that patience is a virtue and that it takes time for all of this science stuff to happen – but I’m too excited to be patient!  Wonder what my results will say?

Have you ever gotten a DNA test?  Was it through 23andMe or another company? What new things did you learn?

[Disclosure: I received a complimentary 23andMe DNA test in exchange for a review of my experiences on my blog.  My opinions, however, are truthful and not swayed at all by the fact that the test was complimentary.]

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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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