Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Beginning the Journey: What I wish I had known

I recently had a cousin call me up and ask me to help them get started with their genealogy. Well, as a genealogist, there is pretty much nothing better than that! Instead of giving him a list of links and tips in an e-mail, I thought I'd post a few things here so that others can send THEIR anxious genealogical beginners here, too!

In genealogy we always start with what we know and work backwards through time. The best way to do this is with old fashioned paper pedigree charts and family group sheets. There are many other fun and helpful worksheets for doing genealogy, and you can find most of them here at Cyndi's List.

Here are the Top 5 Things I Wish I had Known Before I Started:
1.)Not everything exists online. In fact some records don't exist at all. You may think they should be there, want them to be there. Maybe at one time they even were there, but the fact is many records were destroyed and some, even if it was legally required, simply were never created.

2.)DO NOT merge your tree with an online tree. EVER! Feel free to cite that tree as a source of possible information. But only use these as hints and never in bulk. Just don't do it.

3.)Cite EVERY source! I will probably be flogged for saying this, but even if you don't cite them "correctly" just jot down enough info that if in 3 years you need to find it again you can. (Example: familysearch.org 1940 federal census for Avoyelles Parish, LA "Robert Chenevert" [web address]) Is that a correct citation? Not even close. There's no punctuation, and I'm missing some information, like when I found it or when it was published. BUT if I needed to find it again I could probably do that without much trouble. THIS IS INVALUABLE to both you AND people you share your information with!!! Here is a great beginners article on citing your sources.

4.)Interview living relatives. Genealogists are known for being a bit morbid, but seriously, you never know how long you will have to ask your loved ones important questions about themselves and your family. I bet if you ask any genealogist who's been doing this for more than a few years, every one of them has a story of regret for what they didn't ask a loved one who is no longer with them. Don't neglect your living relatives for dead ones.

5.)Publish and back up your findings. This point is two-fold. Backing up your information, whether digital or physical, is crucial to any number of fields. It's no less important in genealogy. If you don't have your info in at least 3 places then rethink your system. Secondly, your work will never be "finished" so share your stories NOW. You don't have to publish and donate your work to a library, although companies like Blurb are making that much easier to do. Memorial pages on sites like fold3.com, personal blogs, printing out a few charts and a short written summary to mail to cousins, or even syncing your tree with an online searchable tree like Family Search or Ancestry will get your information out there where it can be helping other people and working for you by fishing for new cousins!

For a little extra info, or for people who are audio/visual learners, check out these FREE webinars! (Also, many subscription sites and paid software programs offer free how-to videos, usually centered around their products.)FamilySearch Beginning Genealogy and If I’d Only Known! Beginner Genealogy Mistakes Videos

Well there you have it! A quick and dirty beginner's guide to starting your own genealogy journey! Happy hunting!

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Book of Me

So... Did you miss me? Lol!

I've been out of commission since May due to my 2-, 3-, and 6-year-olds being at home full time over the summer. We've been incredibly busy, although I can't actually put my finger on what made us so busy. I'm sure other parents out there can relate. Anyway, now that we're back into the swing of school I have a little bit of time while my youngest is in mothers day out to hopefully get back into the swing of genealogy research!

Today on Mondays with Myrt, they discussed blogger Julie Goucher (of Anglers Rest) and her new 15-month-long series called the "Book of Me" Project. Weekly prompts will guide you to blogging, or privately writing, a "Book of Me." This is so valuable in our genealogy exploits and is so often neglected. Obviously 15 months is quite a commitment, but it can easily be done at your own pace. Even doing only a few of the prompts will leave such an important record for our children and grandchildren, as well as future genealogists. My hope is that I can talk my husband into doing it with me and we can publish a joint Blurb book in time for our 10th anniversary in about 21 months! Wish me luck on twisting his arm ; )

For the purposes of this blog and knowing more about William, I am hoping that some of you will join with me in journeying through this project. After all the quest to study our ancestors and the quest to know ourselves have always been inextricably tied! Some of the McGrath descendants of William are even talking about compiling a "cousins" book! What a wonderful gift to future generations and to each other! I will try to keep up with posting the prompts here, but you can also follow along on Julie's blog, the "Book of Me" facebook group, and geneabloggers.com.

For week 1 the prompt was a commonly used psychology test. Ask yourself "Who am I?" 20 times.

Just to get us started, here is mine...

Who am I?

-I am a child of the One True King. Jesus is my savior and my life.
-I am the wife of an incredible man, David.
-I am the mother of 3 beautiful and very different children who challenge, bless, and amaze me everyday.
-I am a genealogist.
-I am a photographer, personally and sometimes professionally.
-I am a lover of books and learning.
-I am a total nerd.
-I am addicted to my iPhone.
-I am a proud owner of a brand new Toyota Sienna, the coolest vehicle ever, mini-van or otherwise.
-I am a procrastinator.
-I am a memory keeper.
-I am NOT Emily Post, June Cleaver, or Martha Stewart, housekeeping, cooking, thank you notes... not my strong suit.
-I am a recovering Kraft Mac-n-cheese addict (yeah, I had some yesterday).
-I am a singer, personally and sometimes professionally.
-I am a HUGE fan of Walt Disney World, the most magical place on earth.
-I am an imperfect perfectionist. Combined with procrastination, this can really be a problem.
-I am a blogger, facebooker, and pinterest pinner.
-I am chronically late.
-I am a lover of travel.
-I am a talker.

There you have it! Not sure it's supposed to be that wordy, but hey, I said I was a talker. : )

Until next time!