Thursday, February 23, 2017

Family tree or family landfill?

The genealogy do-over has showed me how I need to go back and take another look at my research. How much garbage have I allowed to be dumped into my family landfill (as opposed to my family tree)? I have spent a few days trying to figure out how this happened. My conclusion: lack of a research plan.

We have all done it. You are sitting at your computer after paying all of your bills when you think "ancestry"! So you throw yourself into search mode and flit from one thing to another. Be honest. We have all done this. If you never been guilty of doing this, I applaud you, but I doubt my hands will be sore from clapping.

I found so many little pieces of paper with notes. And then lets not forget the duplicate records. I have to admit that I did find a few things I had over looked. I have a new clue for my maternal great grandmother that needs my attention and I am so tempted right now to just start a search on Ancestry. But I am not going to fall into that rabbit hole. I have resolved to create a research plan! 

(Oh, by the way, you have probably figured out by now that I love actual paper filing systems. It is just me. I shop at Office Max like most people shop at Dillard's.

All of my individual family files are now purged, but in cleaning out my office I discovered another problem -- that doggy bag of genealogy conference leftovers. You know, all of that stuff that you bring home from a conference. It is worse than my family files. I have picked up a lot of it in the exhibit halls. Some of it was included in my conference packets. Maps. Restaurants. Area attractions. Lineage societies. Local societies. Handouts for everything you can possibly imagine. It needs to go, so I will be back in a couple of days to let you know how that worked for me. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Where Have All The Genealogists Gone?

During 2016 I noticed that genealogy just wasn't there for me anymore. At first I attributed it to burnout from being involved in to many activities. So I slowly cut back on everything I was doing, but it still just wasn't restoring my motivation. So I thought well eventually after 60 years of research you just reach your limit and it is time to stop. That was when I decided that this is the reason so many genealogy groups are losing members. They just wear out!!

And then Thomas MacEntee appeared with the solution. A Genealogy Do-Over. I am not sure where I first learned about this idea but it really got my attention. And apparently it got the attention of many others too. My Facebook page is now filled with more genealogy posts than political rants. (A rather unexpected benefit.)

The concept of this year long project is to completely purge your files and start from scratch. Now you don't throw all those notes away. No. You pack them up in boxes and totally clean up your research. Then you put them in the back of the closet and stack other boxes on top of them so it will be way too labor intensive to get to them. I chose Christmas boxes that I will not need until December.

What a great feeling! Have you ever downsized. I did; when my husband died. Mainly because there was only one person living in my house now and I really didn't need a lot of stuff. I mean how many coffee cups can I use in a week. How many frying pans? Huge bowls? I don't think so.

As I went thru my files (by the way I love paper, so they were real files with folders) I found so much garbage and duplicates. Plus I found stuff I had no idea where it came from. I am sure this came from the advent of genealogy by computer. I began to realize what was bogging me down. All this paper had become overwhelming and pretty much zapped my genealogy motivation. I had been trying to prove to several lineage societies but I was working with a disorganized mess. 

I am now beginning to wonder if this is something that is happening to most genealogists and that is why they are disappearing. They are losing interest in this exciting hobby. We have been on overload because of all the information out there. It is hard to focus and you just bounce from one thing to another. 

If you want to reboot your research I would highly recommend that you check out this website

It will tell you how to get started, buy the workbook and connect with others who are enjoying this year long adventure. Don't worry if you are a couple of months behind. I started in January and in a few days was hit with the tragic loss of a newborn grandson. That pretty much knocked me out for over a month. But I am back at it now and making adjustments in the program in order to catch up with everyone.

In my next post I will talk about a fun idea I am going to do with Who Do You Think You Are. The new season starts on March 5 and I have decided to approach it with the mindset of a beginning genealogist.

Oh! I Would Love to Live in That Old House. Really?

We've all done it. Bought a ticket to that Historic Home Tour and traveled back in time. We step onto the floor of that beautiful porch and imagine ourselves sitting in that magnificent wicker rocker with a cup of tea, contemplating the day before us. 

As we drift back in time we imagine how romantic our lives would be. We each see ourselves as we float up the stairs, don our beautiful Victorian gowns, arrange our hair in a typically perfect pouf with flowers expertly placed in all the right places. Then we carefully place a charming bonnet on our perfectly charming hair, tie the ribbon in a perfectly charming bow and pose on our perfectly charming front porch as we wait for Mr. Right. 

POOF. Mr. Wright appears as our host for the home tour. He is the owner of the home and he is very proud of his restoration projects.  He is not what we expected. He does not look like Christopher Reeves, but then, we don't look like Jane Seymour and unfortunately we are not Somewhere in Time. We are back in 2017. In a house that has been lovingly restored.

We are in a home that was built around 100 -175 years ago. It was created as a place where a family could comfortably live. More than likely a large family. It needed a few parlors, a kitchen, a summer kitchen, bedrooms and unless you had indoor plumbing, an outhouse somewhere in the back yard. It served a purpose; it was not a museum. It was a home where families were born and died. Where ownership exchanged hands. 

That home on the river that was always known as the Carter home became the Perkins home. And later on, the Brown's home and then the house on the hill that became an eyesore and everyone complained about. But then one day Mr. Wright came along and fell in love with the house. He wanted to restore it to its original beauty.

And now we are waiting patiently to  admire Mr. Wright's home. He shows us all the ways he and his wife have restored this home. Authentic this, that and the next thing. If he had his way there would be no electricity. Seriously? And how does your wife feel about that? No electricity, you say? The first thing that comes to my mind is washer, dryer, stove, refrigerator, air conditioning, TV, hair dryer, computer, microwave. Ouch! 

But the next thing that comes to mind is ---this was at one time someone's home. It was a place where the bride was carried across the threshold. Children were born and loved and hugged and made to feel so special. Mothers gave birth and cried for children that died. Fathers were strong and held the family together.

The circle of life continued. Modern improvements were made. Indoor plumbing! Electricity. Telephones, remember those party lines. Radio was so awesome. Soap operas. Measles. Polio. Cable TV. Computers. Cell phones.

On June 17, 2017, in Waterville, Ohio, you will have a chance to go back in time and dream. See how your ancestors might have lived. Enjoy the beauty of a beautifully restored Victorian home. Maybe see a ghost or two peeking at you from behind a door. Use your imagination!

Waterville, Ohio, is located on the Maumee River south of Toledo. The Historic Homes of Waterville tour will be from 10am - 4pm on Saturday, 17 June 2017. More information will be published on the Waterville Historical Society website during the next few months 

Hope to see you there.