Category Archives: Genealogical Goals

Goals and plans for my genealogical career.

My Lineage Society Goals

I know you’ve probably heard about DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) (I’ve joined under my ancestor Samuel Dimmick #A032219) and the Mayflower Society (General Society of Mayflower Descendants) (as far as I can tell, I didn’t have any ancestors on the Mayflower, but I’m still looking).

There are a wide variety of lineage societies, however. You probably qualify for several. Many are state or regional such as the many “First Families of _____ ” (insert a state) or “Descendants of _____” (insert a military action or special group). Regardless of which society, they all have something in common: “A lineage society is an organization created to honor a specific heritage or event. Members of lineage societies must prove their descent of that heritage or event through industry approved genealogical proof standards.”1 We like to honor our ancestors and our heritage in many ways.

I recently mailed in an application to the National Society Descendants of American Farmers (NSDOAF). This is a relatively new society, who is at the time of this writing, still accepting charter lifetime members (through 30 November 2019). The qualifications:

Membership is open to Men and Women 18 years of age or older who are lineal descendants of a “farmer” living within the present boundaries of the United States between July 4, 1776 – December 31, 1900.

Miller_William and Carrie
William and Carrie (Limmer) Miller, date unknown.

I am applying under my great-grandfather, William John Miller. I am named after his wife Carrie Ann (though mine is spelled differently). They helped raise my grandpa after his mother died shortly after his younger brother was born. I never had the chance to meet them but my grandpa always spoke very highly of them. He wanted to be a farmer and when he could afford it, bought 80 acres near his grandparents in Perrysburg Township, Wood County, Ohio.

So many times as a genealogical speaker, I hear people say something along the lines of “my ancestors were just farmers, they didn’t do much.” To that I say “baloney.”2 They worked to feed their community and their nation. They deserve as much recognition as anyone and I hope if you have farmers in your family tree (most of us do), that you consider honoring their unsung service to America by joining NSDOAF. The qualifications are pretty easy!

If you want an interactive group while you are preparing your application, they have a Facebook group where you can ask questions, get the forms, and generally be supported. (I received word via the group that my application was received and approved!)

(Now to finish my Daughters of 1812 application…)


1. From “Quick List of Lineage Societies” on Lineage Society of America (viewed 10 July 2019).

2. Or is that “bologna”?

Giving Back – Part 5 – Give Money

Maybe you just don’t have time to do any of the options I’ve described in this series of blog posts. If so, then maybe you can work a little charitable giving into your budget. There are three distinct ways that come to mind if giving money is your preferred method of giving back to the genealogical community:

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of genealogical societies across the United States, not to mention around the world. Perhaps you are a member of one or maybe you know of one in your area. Maybe you need to look one up. I know many genealogists are members of more than one society. I am a member of some in my local area as well as in areas in places where I research. Many of these societies are 501c3 organizations meaning they are non-profits and your contribution is tax-deductible. At the very least, you could consider becoming a member of one or two (or more) of these societies. Your membership fees help societies offer free programs and genealogical education to the public. To find a genealogical society, use the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ database or do a Google Search for your area.

There are a number of genealogical scholarships available. They are not all always well publicized but there is a good list of some on Cyndi’s List. You could also decide to set one up yourself for a specific reason, in memory of someone, to send someone to a specific conference or institute each year, and so on. Or you could donate to a society or other body that already has a scholarship fund. This promotes mentorship and genealogical education at a higher level.

PreservePensions

My current favorite, one that will have a lasting effect on the genealogical community at large, is to donate to the Preserve the Pensions campaign. This project is seeking funding to digitize and make freely available through Fold3.com, the pensions of soldiers who served in the War of 1812. As of this post, the project is 50% funded. Ancestry.com has generously agreed to match funds, so your dollar goes twice as far!

So, if you can spare some money, there are plenty of genealogical needs that could benefit from your generous donation. Consider one of the above if cash is your preferred method of “giving back.”

Giving Back – Part 4 – Host and Edit a Website

htmlLet me just start by saying this one may not be for everyone. This option may take a little more technical skill than some are capable of or interested in. It requires you to be able to edit and maintain a website. This blog post is not going to go into the technical aspects of how to do this. If you already know how, great. If you are interested in doing it but don’t know how, there are plenty of online tutorials you can locate and maybe even some local classes to get you going. I will be highlighting a couple of projects that could use you. (Also, this is another one of those volunteering projects that can be done in your jammies!)

Actually … you can still help out if you don’t have the technical skills necessary; keep reading.

Many researchers know about the GenWeb project. There are two GenWeb options:

The US GenWeb covers all 50 states, at the state level and then with sites specific to most counties. The World GenWeb is similar in that it is broken down by region, country and then county, providence or other civil district type. Another website that is similar in structure is called Genealogy Trails and is dedicated to “keeping genealogy free.” It too is broken down by state and county. Both of these are run completely by volunteers and they are all constantly in need of people willing to maintain them.

These sites are only as good as those who contribute to and maintain them. You can elicit contributions from users as well as develop your own content. This doesn’t have to be a project where you provide all of the information posted on the site. The idea of these sites is that the information that is gathered is free for all to use. With that in mind, you have to be aware of copyright and don’t post things that aren’t in the public domain or of your own making (or that of another volunteer.)

Perhaps you don’t have the technical skills to be the website editor, YOU CAN STILL HELP! If you can type, you can contribute by transcribing records such as those found in a local courthouse, church, cemetery, library, etc. Things that are helpful are obituaries, death records, birth records, marriage announcements, baptisms, and so on. You can contact the manager of a county site and discuss project specifics such as what format to submit your transcriptions in and so forth.

Many of us started by searching some of these free sites, hosted by volunteers who have contributed countless hours for our benefit. If you have the skill, consider giving back by hosting, editing, maintaining or contributing to a genealogy website.

Giving Back – Part 3 – Monitor Message Boards

messageboard
The message board catalog at Ancestry.com.

Genealogy is a very collaborative activity. Think about every book you’ve accessed, every online site you’ve used, every lecture you’ve attended on genealogy. All of these were prepared by, indexed by or written by someone: a genealogist who wants to help you. (Ok, we could argue that big corporate sites like Ancestry.com and others are interested in their shareholders and the bottom line, but even those sites started somewhere with one person’s idea and a common goal of sharing genealogical research with others.) Generous genealogists spend hours in front of microfilm readers, in local archives, in cemeteries and elsewhere to put together many of the indexes we use everyday to move along our research.

Another way you can assist other researchers from the comfort of your own home, or through visiting local repositories on occasion, is by monitoring an online message board such as the combined boards at Ancestry.com and Rootsweb.com. These boards are organized by topic, surname or location. By watching the boards that interest you and sharing your expertise and/or offering to do look-ups (if you are willing to do that) you can answer researchers very specific questions or help them think of other avenues to research.

When I lived in Boulder County, Colorado, I monitored the list and volunteered to do look-ups, usually obituaries, to assist other researchers. (Since I moved, I am in the process of learning how I can do this in my local area.) I also watch surname boards for names I have in my own research to try to connect with other researchers working on the same line and to potentially answer questions I had perhaps already solved.

This option does not take up very much time, depending on the geographic locality or how many message boards you decide to help out. In Boulder, I may have had months with no questions or requests and then some months might have had 3 or 4. Plus you can choose not to answer them if the month is busy for you. This volunteering option is probably one of the least restrictive.

So, think about this as an option for helping fellow researchers. In our age of the Internet and fast communication, it is so much easier to collaborate and share information than it ever has been. Continuing in the collaborative and cooperative tradition of our genealogical forebears keeps the field of genealogy one of mentorship, and upon that friendships are built and cousins are found.

Giving Back – Part 2 – Indexing in Your Jammies

These are my "genealogy pants."
These are my “genealogy pants.”

I work from home. My commute is the 60-90 seconds it takes me to fill my coffee cup and head to my office. I am not too proud to admit that I sometimes trade my jammies for sweatpants. Sometimes, on particularly chilly, rainy days when I have no plans on leaving the house, I have been known, on occasion, to stay in my jammies. It’s one of the perks of working from home.

Another way to “give back” to the genealogical community, AND STAY IN YOUR JAMMIES, is through online indexing projects. Sometimes these might be sponsored by a local or state genealogical society. However, the largest online project is through FamilySearch Indexing. Since 2006, FamilySearch Indexing has been hosting indexing projects of thousands (millions?) of digitized records. (Their wiki page says they began this in 2006 but I recall that I was in attendance in 2005 at the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Salt Lake City when they unrolled this to the public at a conference and I was among the first round of public volunteers to sign up.)

I am not going to describe the technical requirements to get started. Those can be found here. Let me just say that the process is very simple and can be done on either a Mac or PC. Once you sign up to be an indexer, you download a program that will allow you to choose from a variety of projects and then will download your batch of records to be indexed. Each and every project comes with its own set of instructions and help files, so don’t worry. If you are thinking, I don’t think I know how to do that, I encourage you to at least read about it and try it to see if you like it.

A few things that I have learned from doing this since 2005:

  • It takes a while to get more proficient at using the software, understanding the instructions, understanding how to download a batch, and so on. So the first few batches you do might take longer than you would like them to. Give it some time before you decide if you’d like to participate or not.
  • Since I have been doing the indexing with FamilySearch, I have become a lot better at reading old handwriting. If you find that you read a lot of old documents, there is nothing like transcribing and indexing to really make you see and understand that old script.
  • Working on a project like this can be a great way to challenge yourself. The program has a feature that allows you to set goals and keep track of how many names/records you’ve indexed. Setting a weekly, monthly or yearly goal is a lot of fun, if you are that kind of person. I enjoy seeing my numbers.
  • When you are using the FamilySearch Records (the portion of the site where you can actually see the digitized records) and you see that camera icon (meaning there are actual pictures of the documents) and then you see “Browse Images” or a number of records available, that tells you if the project has been handled by the indexing program. Often, I find the records I’d like to use have not been indexed yet. By giving up 5, 10, 20, 30 minutes of my day, I can advance a project that will eventually get posted to the Records section and this makes me feel like I’ve helped out other researchers. Goodness knows they’ve helped me!

    Dang, those records haven't been indexed yet!
    Dang, those records haven’t been indexed yet!

FamilySearch is not the only project out there. Some other projects to examine are:

If you are like me and sometimes like to stay in your jammies, AND you like helping out other researchers. Give an online volunteer project a try!

Giving Back to the Genealogical Community

gencat1
My cat Piper, just because.

If you’re a follower of me or my blog you know that I recently moved from Colorado to Texas. It has had its ups and downs.

Upside: no snow in winter. They keep telling me it gets “cold” and “icy” here but seriously. Until you’ve actually spent winter in someplace north (like Colorado, Ohio, Minnesota, North Dakota, New England…) I am going to snort at your definition of “cold.” No offense intended, I really understand that it is all a matter of perspective. However, I start to melt when it stays above 85 degrees for too long, so they’re going to snort at me when March or April rolls around and I’m complaining about the heat.

Downside: we have had two, yes 2, car accidents in about 3 months time, neither were our fault, both totaled the car. (It’s a longer story but I am trying to make a point here.)

Upside: new repositories, new cemeteries, new genealogical societies, new opportunities.

Downside: between unpacking, being out-of-town, having no car, and having a cold, I haven’t had time to go to any local society meetings yet.

Being at home more than I’m used to got me thinking about how we in the genealogical community can give back even if we aren’t attending a society or if we are unfamiliar with an area or even if we are stuck in our house due to weather, no wheels, or having a cold. The next few posts are going to examine, illustrate, discuss or review various ways to do this.

Plus, I’d love to hear your ideas and/or ways you do this already. I’m always looking for new learning or serving opportunities. Please leave a comment below.

Looking ahead to 2015

Austin_NewYearAnother year gone… How did that happen? They say time flies when you are having fun. I find it flies when you are busy. And 2014 sure was busy for me, many life changes and major projects happened for me. Now, looking forward to 2015 here is what I have planned:

  • Since I just recently moved to Texas, a state I know very little about and have almost no genealogical connections with, I plan on adopting a Texas ancestor or two and working on their family histories just so I can see first hand how Texas genealogy works. For fun, my husband and I walk cemeteries along with the Find A Grave app on our phones and photograph tombstones. We did this recently and I found some precious, hand-carved stones in a not very well-kept cemetery and I plan on looking those folks up, just to see who they were. Perhaps they will have their stories written. (Watch for blog posts on this one, I expect it to be fun!)
  • In line with the previous goal, I plan on finding and exploring the repositories here in the Austin area that are unfamiliar to me. I know of several but have only visited them virtually. For example, the actual Perry Castaneda Map Collection is only 29 minutes from my new home. I have visited the map collection many times online, but imagine visiting in person!
  • Make new genealogical friends. I plan on doing this by joining some new local societies. Some of my best friends are genealogists. And I’m sad I had to leave some of them when we moved, and I miss the opportunity to meet them for coffee and chat about our research.
  • Begin speaking locally be the end of 2015. I imagine I will make connections by joining societies and will likely be able to garner a few speaking “gigs” in the area.
  • Continue my genealogical education. I already have several opportunities in line for this. More and more online opportunities are happening every year making it much easier for those of use who can only travel so much per year, to still have contact with the wider genealogical community.
  • Write articles. I let this one “slide” last year. Well, maybe it got put on the back burner because of my portfolio. But I love to write and I want to get back to writing articles.

While working on my list of goals, an excellent post was published on the Evernote Blog by Michael Hyatt detailing an amazingly simple way to use Evernote to create your list of goals, detail why you want to achieve them, and track them. You can read the blog post here.

I think I’ll keep my goals “light” for this year and see what happens in my new surroundings. I am finding it difficult to make too many plans in this new location. I’m not entirely sure what is available, what needs there are in the community, who is “out there” already doing genealogical “things” and whether they want help or a different perspective. I am going to take this year to get used to my new location and make new connections. Then I can probably make better plans.

Perhaps I will do a six-month renewal of goals. Who knows?

2014 In Review

whirlwind
2014 was a whirlwind, drawn by author

At the start of 2014 I posted my goals for the year. They were pretty simple:

1. Get my BCG portfolio turned in (My deadline is December 15, 2014!)
2. Write at least 3 major articles (These are aside from those that may appear in my home society’s quarterly.)
3. Gain 1 new client per month
4. Speak/teach at least 12 times this year

I only fully accomplished one of those goals: the first one, turn in my portfolio. And in hindsight, I think that’s ok. The portfolio process is huge. I am not sure that anyone can quite describe how big it truly is. It is like when we got pregnant with our first child. People said “Oh your life will never be the same.” Or “you will never really have time to yourself for the next 18 years.” (Really helpful, by the way.) We quickly found out that they were right, but I truly think there’s no way to know just how right they were BEFORE we had babies. There are just no words to describe the enormity of it. I feel that same way about the portfolio, well almost. People told me it would be a challenge, but I didn’t understand really, just how much of a challenge, until I did it. Just like babies.

As for the other goals. Here is what I actually did:

  • I did not write any articles for major publications, but I did write a new guide: Legacy QuickGuide™ “Obituaries in Genealogy: A Research Tool,” June 2014. I also wrote a new course for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies which is slated for release in 2015.
  • I gained 2 new clients, for small projects, which is ok because of goal number one.
  • I gave 7 lectures in 2014. I had at least 5 more scheduled but since we ended up moving to Texas in September, I had to cancel those.

I also moved my entire household (well the movers did most of it), husband, children, pets, belongings, and so on, from Colorado to Texas. And just to give you a little context, I had only been to Texas a total of 2 times before we decided to move! That alone has “challenge” written all over it. Just getting to the grocery store was a “challenge” for the first few weeks. Not to mention finding new doctors, dentists, boy and girl scout troops, school, favorite coffee shops (still haven’t found it), favorite breakfast spot (still working on that one too), and of course a new genealogical society to call home.

Even though on “paper” it looks like I didn’t do much this year, believe me, it has been a whirlwind!

New Goals for 2014

HappyNewYearAs we look ahead to the new year, we tend to plan for new adventures, things we’d like to improve, goals we’d like to reach and a year better than the last. While we can’t plan for what we can’t control, we can make goals for what we can.

This is my 2014 “wish list” for myself, genealogically speaking:

  1. Get my BCG portfolio turned in (My deadline is December 15, 2014!)
  2. Write at least 3 major articles (These are aside from those that may appear in my home society’s quarterly.)
  3. Gain 1 new client per month
  4. Speak/teach at least 12 times this year

Ok, that list feels short to me. But look at number 1! I’m going to keep the list short because that first one is a doozy! I really should just make that one item the only goal I expect from myself this year, but I am an overachiever so of course I put more items on my list.

Good luck to you and I hope you take some time to make a few goals for yourself this year.

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

 

Year End Recap – Unplanned Goals

My Gold-Star Certificate
My Gold-Star Certificate

We can plan and plan, but life always has a plan of its own. Sometimes things come up that take you off course of your own goals, and sometimes that is for the better. When you look back at the things you accomplish, you may notice that sometimes things happen that you hadn’t planned on, opportunities “knocked” and you opened the door.

Here are some things that I accomplished this year that I hadn’t planned on:

Continuing Education Program – I had the opportunity to develop and teach a 4-week beginning genealogy class through my local community college.

FGS committee – I was asked to participate on a committee with FGS. It was a lot of fun and great to meet and work with some genealogists that I really admire and respect.

Gold Star – I had the surprise and pleasure of earning a gold star from Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Advanced Methods course at IGHR.

Legacy Quick Guides – I had the opportunity to write five legacy quick guides, which was an amazing experience. They are:

Sometimes the goals you don’t plan turn out to be some of the best accomplishments you didn’t plan for. Take a look back over your year and see what you’ve done you didn’t plan on. You might be pleasantly surprised.