Tag Archives: Genealogy

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!!!


Genealogy Gratitude – The Genealogy Husband

mensethI will finish this series off with a sincere gratitude for my spouse, Seth. He’s the ultimate in being supportive of my genealogy obsession. He supports me, not only financially, but with helping out with the kids when I want to take off on a genealogy adventure. Sometimes, when he gets to come along on those adventures, he’ll be my microfilm fetcher, reader or scanner, or my tombstone spotter. He’s always accommodating when it comes to taking a side trip to visit a far flung cemetery or repository. He also helped build the aforementioned home office (and didn’t once demand a “man cave”), moved many books, shelves, desks, filing cabinets and office supplies to and fro. He also let me pick the bright colors we painted on the walls.

Overall, he is the best genealogy husband a girl could ask for! I love you honey!


Genealogy Gratitude – Volunteers

Thank You!
Thank You!

You’ve seen them. Maybe you’ve been one. But you’ve definitely benefited from them. Genealogy volunteers! They tirelessly index records, sit at a library help desk, do look-ups, teach classes, mentor, lead genealogy societies, plan events, write articles, edit quarterlies and newsletters, send emails … they do it all. I know that I personally have benefited from many hours of volunteer time. This is my shout out to all volunteers who are, ever was or ever will be giving of their time freely for the benefit of others! It is another aspect of how awesome the genealogical community is!  THANK YOU!

Genealogical Gratitude – My New Home Office

My home office
My home office

It was only 10 years in the making. We moved into our house in 2003. It had an unfinished basement and we had a young family. My husband and his father got to work finishing the basement. On one side it has a creative studio space, TV/Family room, several closets and a bathroom. On the other … the new home office! It has two U-shaped desks that sit next to each other so my husband and I can work together. We also, finally, got 3 bookshelves for our books that have been in boxes since we moved in, 10 years ago. All of my Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, poetry, Shakespeare and other literature books and his sci-fi/fantasy collections finally see the light again.

All of my genealogy books and files have a home! Genealogy ShelvesMy dog has a little nest and I have a heater to take the chill off of the basement environment. We have two big windows that do let in a lot of light for a basement, so it is not a dark and gloomy as some basements.

I have plenty of room to spread my projects out (I usually have several going at the same time) and my husband has his own section that can be as messy as he likes and it’s not in our living room any longer!

So thank you hubby and father-in-law for all of the work over the years!


Genealogical Gratitude – Educational Opportunities

Pamela teaching her children (1743–45)I am continually grateful for the education opportunities that are available to me on the state level, national level and online. I am also thankful for the teachers, educators, lecturers and mentors who give their time to bring those opportunities to me (and everyone else who benefits, too). I know I wouldn’t be where I am today in the field if it hadn’t been for some really excellent examples who have stood at a podium and unleashed their wisdom upon a group of eager students or those who take time to talk to me (and others) personally about genealogy-related topics.

Those who have “gone before” taking the time to teach those of us coming next is one of the best parts of the genealogical community. A big thank you to all of those who have gone before and are “up there” at the podium (or writing books and articles, or teaching webinars, or leading small study groups). You’ve been a great influence on me!

Genealogical Gratitude – Coffee!

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia, Share Share Alike)

I don’t know about you, but I am in love with coffee. I am so grateful for coffee and how it impacts my genealogical research. I come from a long line of coffee drinkers so I am sure it runs in the gene pool! I am especially grateful for peppermint mochas. Plain coffee (with cream and sugar) is an excellent treat for next to the computer in the chilly Colorado winters. Also because it keeps me awake at night when I get on a research roll or get me going in the morning after a long night of working. Coffee is a fun way to meet up with friends and fellow genealogists! Coffee is a treat beyond the cup, it brings people together and helps create memories!

Wanna meet for coffee sometime? I’m up for it!

Genealogical Gratitude – Technology

Assorted_smartphonesIn my last post I expressed by gratitude for the Internet, however, I am also thankful for technology in a more broad sense. In ten seconds, I can scan an aging photograph, have a copy on my computer and in another 10 seconds, I can send it to a distant cousin who may have never seen the photo. I am grateful for technologies like my scanner, computer, large monitor, smartphone with camera, iPad (with Kindle app), as well as software such as Reunion, Evernote, Google, WordPress, Photoshop, iChat, Skype, and so on.

The speed with which I can research, collect and manipulate data and share with others is astounding. Stop and look around your office, look at the apps on your smartphone, look at the Applications folder on your computer and just try to fathom how cool it all is, how utterly life-changing technology has been over the last 20 years!

I am super-grateful for my technology! How about you?

Genealogical Gratitude – The Internet

arrowI don’t know how we ever got along before the Internet. (Well, I do, but it was a slow process!) I am so grateful at the speed with which I can communicate with my family, friends, colleagues and clients. I am grateful that I can attend a Webinar and brush up on a topic without having to drive a long distance or paying a large fee. I am grateful that I can research late into the night in my bunny slippers and jim-jams. I am especially grateful for the wonderful “cousins” and friends I’ve made almost exclusively because of the Internet. I mean I know that Josh Taylor’s dog is a dachshund named Twix and that Dear Myrtle has adorable grand kids, that Footnote Maven writes incredibly entertaining stories about her cat (Monkey Kitty) and dog (Bullet). I have since been able to connect with many of my Internet friends and various conferences and institutes. I am also grateful that the Internet allows me to close the distance between me and my ancestors, not only through research but with sharing and collaborating with other researchers.

In short, the Internet has closed the time and space gap between me and the rest of the world, and I am grateful!

Genealogical Gratitute – November, Remember

2013-11-07 02.11.00 pmNovember being the month of Thanksgiving, I thought I would share some of my genealogy-related gratitude, things I’m thankful for in terms of my genealogical life. We all have things we are grateful for in all facets of our lives and it’s a good idea to recount those once in a while. I know I tend to get bogged down by the what’s-going-wrong that I forget what-went-right. Every once in a while it is a good idea to take an inventory.

Gratitude is the practice of being grateful, of making yourself (and others) aware of just how good you have it. Research has shown (and Buddhists have known for centuries) that practicing gratitude daily is one surefire way to eliminate the blahs, to find happiness. By focusing on what we have (genealogically speaking – photographs, diaries, bibles, original records of any kind) instead of what we don’t have (birth dates, marriage records, identities of the next generation), we can be happy with what we’ve accomplished.

I know that I have become frustrated with my research results from time to time and have sunken into a pit of “I’m a terrible researcher. Maybe I should go flip burgers.” We all have research that does not give us the answers we want. We all have brick walls, burned courthouses, missing records, relatives with tight lips and grips who don’t want to share and unsatisfied clients.

Every once in a while I have to stop myself and look back at what I have done, what I have found, where I have been to appreciate what I have going forward. Sometimes a trip down “memory lane” is all that’s needed to refresh, revitalize our genealogical attitude! So this month, get ready to see some of my gratitudes, maybe they are similar to some of your own!


Census Hurdles – Searching Tips and Tricks

2013-10-07 03.46.42 pmAfter our tour through some of my favorite census hurdles, let me sum up with some of my corresponding tricks for dealing with them.

Language Barriers
Think in terms of thick accents and how the names may have sounded.

SOLUTION: Create a list of all possible spellings of your name to use when searching.

While you may know exactly how your ancestor’s name was spelled, the census takers and indexers did not. They did the best they could.

SOLUTION: Keep an open mind about how names were spelled in both the census and the census index.

Indexing Errors
Hard-to-read handwriting & typos

SOLUTION:  Learn about old handwriting. Read a lot of old handwriting. Look at tutorials, articles and examples on old handwriting. Be sure to make “corrections” at Ancestry.com using the “add alternate information” link.

Quality of Information Given
How do we know who gave the information and how accurate it is? We don’t.

SOLUTION:  Take every bit of information from the census as a clue, not the truth. Always, always, always corroborate census data with other research. Back up your findings with birth, marriage, death, land records and other research.

Microfilming Errors
Did all of the pages get microfilmed?

SOLUTION:  Pay attention to the page numbers in the upper corners of the census records. If there are missing pages, you can write to the National Archives for missing pages.

Are the images readable?

SOLUTION:  Not much can be done here. You may have some luck with putting the image into a photo editing software and adjusting the brightness and contrast. Also looking at the images in the negative can be helpful.

Some other things you can do to make your census research more successful:

  • Use indexes but do not rely solely on them, as we’ve seen, there are errors.
  • Make a list of spelling variations. Write down every way you can think of that the surname could be written. Write down every way you find it indexed.
  • Read the census line by line for a given district if you are sure they should be there and you can’t find them in the index.
  • Learn about old-style handwriting. You can learn a lot about this by volunteering your time as an indexer through FamilySearch Indexing.
  • Corroborate census info with other research.
  • Don’t give up. Just because you don’t find them in an index doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Get creative with your searches.

I hope this series has given some ideas of what our ancestors, census takers, indexers, microfilmers, and researchers have to deal with during each step of the process. Between when the census taker stepped foot on our ancestors’ doors to these census indexes and images displaying on our computer screens many potential mistakes could have been made. Keep in mind the reasons, try to imagine the situation, and be creative in searching and you will have more success using census records.