Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Where Do You Get Your Stories?

When I first started blogging, I was blogging just to record my Hero's stories about his early years that he had shared for many years, but had never written down. As time has gone on, I had most of his stories written down, his siblings have added a few, and I turned to other members of the family for stories.
I have been blogging for 9 years now and have found I haven't stopped learning. The other day I was repeating something my son told me to a friend, and had to take a mental pause when I realized I had a story that bore writing down and sharing with future progeny.
I will share, for it is a funny...
My son was visiting with my 88 year old mother. She has dementia that is somewhat controlled by medication (meaning she still remembers things, but can't stay in the positive world long enough to act on what she remembers). The son likes to banter with her, so he asked her if she was going to live to be 90.  She looked at him quite manner of fact and said "of course".  He pushed it... "well will you live to be 100?"  She looked at him incredulously and said "why would anyone want to do that?" The laughter the response brought brightened the whole visit and those who were nearby in the common room of the assisted living my mom lives at. He came home chuckling and sharing what she said. This is a great story for recording.
My mom with my grandson and myself.
When this understanding sunk in, I realized I am missing many things I should be recording other than my personal  journal and the scouring for ancestor's stories. Okay, I hear you now... Duh, Fran you are the family historian. You should be recording even funnies. I know, I know, I need to keep my mind open to all possibilities. This has become so very important to me. I really don't want someone sitting and looking at my picture and saying I wish she could tell me about herself, like I have done over my grandmothers.

You might wonder why I would spend a blog post on my own ponderings. I suppose I have a feeling of grandeur that maybe my thoughts just might reach out to at least one person and they too will begin to write down even the small daily actions and funnies that might give a feeling of closeness and fun to those that follow. Joy in the ordinary.
See ya'all next month from your Texas genealogist. 😊

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Genie Trips

The Advantages of Visiting

Guild of One Name Studies Conference 2016

I have divide this post into 4 types of trips undertaken by genealogists. There may be some overlap but I will discuss the subtle differences between them.

  • Visits to Relatives 

The first rule of genealogy is to talk to the older relatives whilst you can, as they often know things that cannot be found in the official documents.
They also may have photographs that you have never seen or be able to identify people in any photographs you have inherited.
My latest visit uncovered unseen photographs and letters in the collections of an aunt and uncle and discovered by my sister when clearing my parents house. So even when you think you may have exhausted the family collections it pays to revisit.

  • Visits to Archives

We will never be short of records in our local archive our main challenge here will be access to them. The popular collections like parish registers are gradually being digitized by the big companies but there are many more records being preserved that may never make it to the internet.
During my latest visit to Hampshire I was fortunate to be able to view some Poor Law records. They did not answer my research question but do contain interesting information.
Catholic records have been difficult to access as, in the main, they have not been deposited with local archives. Find My Past have added some records to their collections but only a limited number. When I perused the shelves in the Hampshire Record Office whilst awaiting some documents I had ordered I came across 3 books of particular interest to me. These books contained transcriptions of Catholic registers for Southampton. These books had only been published in 2015. They have helped me with one of my research conflicts and helped to confirm an uncertain birthplace.
If you can possibly get to the archive, do visit, prepare well before you go, especially if you may not get back for another visit. Consider what to prioritise and make full use of catalogues and the staff knowledge so that you can maximise your research time. Check out what devices they allow for copying records as this can vary.

  • Genealogy Conferences

I will clarify what I would class as a conference as I wish to discuss different ways of imparting information.
In the UK we may have a day conference sometimes called a seminar where the participants attend for a single day of classes. The recent Guild of One Name Studies conference I attended was over a weekend starting on the Friday afternoon and finishing late afternoon on the Sunday. At this weekend conference most attendees were staying over although a few were day attendees as they lived nearby. 
Conferences are a way to educate oneself about particular topics which may be of interest but they are also a great way to network with individuals who share your interest. Face to face discussions outside of the formal classes can be as important as the classes themselves.
Tackling a new research challenge can be made easier by discussion with others who may have encountered a similar challenge.
I would say that, personally, I wonder if some of the local family history societies would attract new members, if they could organise an annual conference, for their members, with topics of local and general interest. Those living further afield might be attracted to visit the area for such an event and if interest was poor it could be opened up to the public. 
A cheaper alternative would be a video conference.This was discussed today in this Dear Myrtle Hangout.if you want to see all the comments view it by logging on to this page and go to the Hosting Virtual Meetings tutorials. 

  • Genealogy Shows

In the UK Who Do You Think You Are Live is held in April. It is billed as the world’s largest family history show. This show started life as the Society of Genealogists event and was rebranded when the television programme hit our screens. Many long term genealogists will tell you it has changed format over the years. Some of the changes may be due to the venue which moved from London to Birmingham a few years ago. 
However the audience for these events has also changed.  
The main thing to distinguish a show from a conference is that, at least here in the UK, much of the venue is occupied by vendors and genealogy related societies. There is also a section of related stands to assist with understanding records that we use such as military or photo or artefact dating. There also appears to have been a move to include other charities within the hall (some attendees have queried why they are there).
Like the US Rootstech event there are also educational talks on offer both free (usually sponsored) and paid for (mostly in advance). However the events in the US tend to span several days and attendees will stay over the same as conferences in the UK whereas shows attract, in the main, day visitors.
Vendors offers will attract visitors to shows and/or conferences as will educational talks.
However I get the impression that the family history societies are struggling to attract new members and the work that volunteers have put in to creating indexes over the years is now being superseded by the appearance of records in online datasets. Some are updating websites but many do not have the resources or expertise to do this.  
What can our local societies do to continue being relevant to both existing and new members? 
Is attendance at a national event worthwhile?
I enjoy catching up with friends at these events but why do others attend and are the costs involved worth it?

Who Do You Think You Are Live 2917 Celebrity 

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Watching April and Other Distractions

April the Giraffe
Youtube Live Feed

All over the world people are watching a giraffe named April as we wait for her to give birth to her 4th calf.
It was supposed to be in March they said, don't tune out you will miss it they it is the beginning of April and we (read that ME) are still watching!
I have her next to me as I research, well, as I try to research.
Then something catches my eye...oh, what's she doing now? Is that a contraction? Why is someone in her pen?
Oh, look, they are feeding her carrots!

 We all get distracted and go down rabbit holes or chase after that darn squirrel every once in a while!
It happens when we get an email with a new DNA match or a message from a cousin who has information we need to take a brick out of a wall.
 It can be a Bright Shiney Object (BSO) in the form of a new DNA tool, an update to your genealogy computer program with new features to play with, or a new app to learn.
Some days things just don't get done as we fall in those holes, chase those clues and are blinded by the sparkly.
Our to-do lists don't get to-done.

There are a few things that have helped me stay focused and on track.

First, I set up a schedule for the day. What and when I am going to work on certain tasks. It is a flexible plan that can be tweaked as the day moves forward. The schedule may show two hours to work on a particular project, but sometimes, ideas flow, and there's a need to extend a little instead of stopping to work on something else.

Second,  I looked for tools that help me stay on track with my day and my projects. I use Evernote, Trello and Google Calendar.
These hold my schedules, notes and to- do lists and checklists. They each can be used on my computer and on my tablet and smartphone to be consulted where ever I am.
Trello boards are a great project management tool and help me to plan step by step in order to complete assignments and tasks.
I review them before getting to work to help me know what to do with my allotted time.

Have you ever decided to use a time management program or app, put all your info in it and then never open it?
A system and a routine for when I check my tools and what action to take helps me to use them to get the full benefit and be productive throughout the day.
In the morning my Google calendar events and Evernote to do lists and help me remember what I have to do.
In the evenings, it's nice to go over my schedule for the day and see the things that I have worked on and perhaps completed before planning the next day.

To all of this, I have added a Bullet Journal. Writing down my daily, weekly and monthly tasks has helped to process what I need to do and the best way to get it done. These items are then placed on my web based tools for easy access everywhere.

I have been trying harder to not go off the path after those BSOs and slide down deep rabbit holes. The goal is to add them to my to-do lists and project schedules.

I said I have been TRYING-but some days, you get this

April Saying Hello!

and it's so hard to look away! "Giraffe, Giraffe"!!

What helps you stay on track and focus on finding your family?

Helping you climb your family tree,