Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Do Genealogists Need to be More Like Curators?

I've seen the word curator tossed around a few times recently.

Thomas MacEntee mentioned it in his post "It's Not Easy Being Abundant" where he says,

"...a hoarder gathers somewhat indiscriminately with little purpose besides gathering and possessing. A curator gathers that which adds value."

After that I found a follow-up post by Randall Dickerson called Hoarder or Curator?  Randall further defines the difference between hoarder and curator, "To me, the definition of curator implies a person who gathers and keeps items of intrinsic value, both to themselves and others. A hoarder gathers anything they think “may” have value, regardless of what others think (i.e. no peer review)."

These two posts really got me thinking about all the items that I have collected over the years as the family historian. I have my mother's genealogy research, as well as newspapers clippings and other paper documents. In addition I have been given many books, heirlooms, photo albums and ephemera.

I have collected all these items but never cataloged them. As genealogists we are focused on finding the paper trail of documents that lead us from one generation to the next. We do a good job, or try to, of organizing, storing and documenting the papers.

Some items I have, such as family Bibles, have been documented because they contain specific information related to family history. Outside of that the individual Bibles are not cataloged or organized in any specific way. In fact, they are boxed and just sort of squeezed into any spare space possible.

My mother, in addition to being a genealogist, collected antiques. She numbered her collection and maintained a paper list of the items with their description, number and value. I presume she cataloged as she went. I'm not sure why her cataloging efficiency didn't rub off on me.

How is it that after years of indiscriminately accepting and collecting family-related items that I have never thought to catalog them? Wouldn't it be great if I had a list of each item, what type of item it is, how old it is, where it came from and where it is currently located?

I'm not going to add this to my already long to-do list for 2012 but I am going to start thinking about how to organize what I have and search for systems that I can use to keep track of it.

Tell me I'm not the only one who has randomly collected family-related items and never thought to organize them! Someone else must be in the same boat as me, right?!

Get Easy Access to Your Blogging Comments

Bloggers love to get comments. It lets them know they're not speaking in a void and that someone else is reading their blog. But not all bloggers are seeing their comments as quickly as they arrive. The trick is to get your blogging comments emailed to you.

Here's how you set it up on Blogger:

After you log in to your Blogger Dashboard, click on the tab for Settings.

Then Click beneath that where you see the hyperlink for Comments.

Now scroll down almost to the bottom of the page where you find the option for comment moderation. Comment moderation allows you to review comments before you publish them on your blog. Most people select "always" and review every comment before publishing. I like to make things easy for my readers so I have opted to turn on moderation only for posts that are 7 days or older. I've read that spam usually occurs on those older posts.

Regardless of which you pick, you can receive email notifications to let you know a comment is waiting and needs to be reviewed.  Type the email address you want to use in the box for comment moderation. (Notice, if you choose never for comment moderation there is no need to include an email address because all your comments will be published automatically.)

Also, note the option for word verification. This is the little box that makes you type the squigly word to make sure real people are leaving comments. I have mine turned off. Again, I do that to make it easier for my audience to leave comments.http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=691016683378293851

Next, scroll down a bit more to the Comment Notification Email option.  Enter your email address here. This will let you know that a comment has been published on your blog.

If you use Comment Moderation for all your blog comments you might not want to use this option. If you do, you will receive an email to notify you that a comment needs to be moderated and again after it gets published.  You have to decide which works better for you.

How My Settings are Organized

I actually use two different email addresses for moderated and published comments. Most of my blog comments (95%) get published automatically so I have notifications sent to one email address just for that and I have a directory set up in Outlook to receive those blog comments.

Because I get very few comments more than 7 days after a new post I send those moderated comment notifications to a different email address. You can see two different email address in the images above to see exactly how I've set it up.  I do this so that I don't get confused between newly published comments and moderated comments that need a closer look. If they were all together in one directory I might get confused about which comments are new and which need moderation.

Get Notified Quickly

Add an email address to receive notifications so that you can be alerted to new comments quickly. Your readers will love you because you can respond to their comments quicker. And you will love it because you will know right away that people are reading your blog.

Let me know if you have any questions about getting set up or receiving notifications.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Not Going to RootsTech? You Don't Have to Miss Out!

I don't normally post Press Releases but this is an important one for everybody. Last year RootsTech live-streamed a number of talks for viewers to watch over the internet from home. It was an amazing experience.

They are doing it again this year. If you can't make it to RootsTech, you can still participate by watching these live-streamed talks. This is the wave of the future for conferences and I'm so glad that we can participate virtually. ** Please Note: The times below are Mountain Standard Time (MST) so be sure to recalculate for your local time zone.

RootsTech Conference Will Broadcast Select Sessions Free Online

SALT LAKE CITY—RootsTech, a leading family history and technology conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 2-4, 2012, announced today that fourteen of its popular sessions will be broadcasted live and complimentary over the Internet. The live broadcasts will give those unable to attend worldwide a sample of this year’s conference content. Interested viewers can watch the live presentations at RootsTech.org. The second-year conference has attracted over 3,000 registered attendees.

The free online sessions include the keynote speakers and a sampling of technology and family history presentations. Following are the fourteen broadcasted sessions and speakers. All times are in Mountain Standard Time (MST):

Thursday, February 2
  • 8:30-10:00 am, Inventing the Future, as a Community (Keynote Address) by Jay L. Verkler
  • 11:00 am-12:00 pm, Do I Trust the Cloud? by D. Joshua Taylor
  • 1:45-2:45 pm, Effective Database Search Tactics by Kory Meyerink
  • 3:00-4:00 pm, Twitter – It’s Not Just “What I Had for Breakfast” Anymore by Thomas MacEntee
  • 4:15-5:15 pm, Eleven Layers of Online Searches by Barbara Renick

Friday, February 3
  • 8:30-9:30 am, Exabyte Social Clouds and Other Monstrosities (Keynote Address) by Josh Coates
  • 9:45-10:45 am, Publish Your Genealogy Online by Laura G. Prescott
  • 11:00 am-12:00 pm, Optimize Your Site for Search Engines by Robert Gardner
  • 1:45-2:45 pm, Genealogists “Go Mobile” by Sandra Crowly
  • 3:00-4:00 pm, Google’s Toolbar and Genealogy by Dave Barney

Saturday, February 4
  • 8:30-9:30 am, Making the Most of Technology to Further the Family History Industry (Keynote Address) by Tim Sullivan and Ancestry.com Panel
  • 9:45-10:45 am Genealogy Podcasts and Blogs 101 by Lisa Louise Cooke
  • 11:00 am-12:00 pm, Future of FamilySearch Family Tree by Ron Tanner
  • 1:45-2:45 pm, Privacy in a Collaborative Environment by Noah Tatuk

About RootsTech

RootsTech is a new conference designed to bring technologists together with genealogists to learn from each other and find solutions to the challenges faced in family history research today. The conference’s activities and offerings are focused on content that will help genealogists and family historians discover exciting new research tools while enabling technology creators to learn the latest development techniques from industry leaders and pioneers.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Two Important Things Our Ancestors Knew About Community

I try not to get too serious on my blog or to take myself too seriously. On occasion I'll make an exception. This time is one of them.

Our ancestors knew a thing or two about life and community.  They knew what it took to raise up kids, get through life and enter into the twilight with dignity.

My sense is that people these days are losing their understanding of why doing certain things is important.

Over the past year I have lost five friends and family members. The most recent being my mother earlier this month. Quite a banner year for someone who has never really had to deal with death.

The experience has taught me two important lessons that our ancestors knew about services and community gatherings. I hope you'll consider these points when the time comes for you to handle major life events.

1) Shared Community Events are Important

After my mother's service, my cousin told me something along the lines of "Coming together like this makes me realize how important it is for family to be together and stay connected." She is so right. I had the same reaction. In this frantic world that we live in it is so easy to get wrapped up in our own worlds and push our greater community of family, friends and neighbors aside.

Our ancestors knew that community events were important. They knew that community events created a bond that gave support to all the members involved. Marriages before the community publicly announced to the couple that they were not alone. Their family and friends and community would be there to help them get through the rough patches. Smaller events like baby showers, birthdays and anniversaries likewise further strengthened the ties of support and witness to life events. And so it is with funerals, that a community, no matter how large or small, comes together to provide support to those left behind. Our ancestors knew that with this support we could together make it through this journey of life.

Maybe there is something that we've forgotten as a society that we should revisit. Maybe we need to put more effort into creating ties and building the bridges that will strengthen and enrich our lives and encourage us in hard times.

2) Saying Goodbye as a Family or Community is Important

My mother died from complications due to Alzheimer's disease. When that happens, the one who passes has lost a connection with a social community often for many years except for select immediate family. Sometimes we are tempted not to hold a public service as a result. No matter what the situation at the end of life it is important to hold a service and allow family and friends and those who want to support us to attend.

Saying goodbye is really important. That one brief act will provide the closure you need to grieve and allow you to move on with the rest of your life. Those who opt not to attend a service, or not to have a service, are preventing the much needed chance to release those emotions no matter how complicated those emotions might be.  A one hour service gives you the freedom of the rest of your life. Denying the need to say goodbye will hold you captive for a long, long time.

I say this because I didn't think I needed to attend my Mom's service. That I was fine on my own.  I was wrong. Our ancestors knew how critical is was to say goodbye and to allow yourself to receive the support of others.

So the next time you pass on the chance to say goodbye to someone because the kids are sick, or you're busy at work or you don't like to fly, think again.  Work will understand, bring the kids along and make it a road trip if you have to. Your life will be strengthened by the decision.

Check Out Megan Smolenyak's New Look

....and her new book.

In celebration of her new book, Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing (Kensington, 2012), internationally-known Megan Smolenyak has developed a new website giving her a whole new look.

The website, MeganSmolenyak.com, is fresh, clean and inviting, giving a new crop of genealogists an approachable way to get to know Megan and her love of genealogy.

After checking out the new website I gave Megan a call to get her take on the site and what's going on in her life.

Megan tells me that it was her new book that sparked the idea for the new website. She wanted to provide a site that wasn't overwhelming for a more mainstream audience.

The main page of the website features a photo of travel trunks taken by Megan at Ellis Island.  Megan says it's the first thing you see when entering the immigration building at Ellis Island and really gives a sense of our ancestors journey to America.

A fun, whimsical feature on Megan site is the appearance of floating, glowing circles on the individual trunks. Viewers need to hover over the circles to see what they reveal, creating a click and see what's behind this curtain effect that leads the viewer to more in-depth content.

One of the things Megan likes the best about her new website is that it is easy to navigate. "It's straight forward and easy for people to find the information they are looking for."

On the very front of the home page is a short 3 1/2 minute video. Megan says, "“I hope people watch the video. It’s a fun introduction.”

What About the Old Website?

Have no fear, the old website isn't going away. Her Honoring Our Ancestors site will remain firmly in place and act as a repository for the in-depth and historical content that already exists on the site.

What's Happening Next?

In the coming months Megan will be doing book signings at a number of Barnes & Noble bookstores in the NJ/Philadelphia/DC area promoting Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing which is being released Tuesday, January 31, 2011.

Be on the lookout for book signings coming to your area.

Congratulations Megan, on the new website and the new book!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I've Been Ignoring Some of My Ancestors

Caroline Nunge and Frank Walleck with their children
It's true. I've been ignoring some of my ancestors.  My whole maternal line, in fact. Well, that's not quite true. It's mostly my Mom's paternal line. I know it seems blasphemous. They were more recent immigrants. And, well, with having so many ancestors on my Dad's side that go back to the 1700s and even 1600s it was pretty easy to avert my eyes.

This line is a family called Walleck. Growing up I always believed they were Ellis Island immigrants. One of my ancestors who married a Walleck was an Ellis Island immigrant and that was fun to find. No, these Wallecks came from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and they arrived probably in the 1860s.  As an adult I traced as much of them online as I could through census records, city directories and what not. Early census records showed them coming from "Bohemia."

My mother always talked about this family speaking German. I grew up believing that they were of German heritage. I heard the word Czech thrown around but I thought that was mostly in reference to my uncle was definitely Czech.

Well, this past weekend I got to spend some time with the Walleck side of my family. My uncle happens to be a family historian and has put much more effort into tracing these Wallecks than I have. In addition, he grew up in Pittsburgh with these family members and was exposed to the family history.

My uncle took out a paper napkin and started drawing the old time neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. He explained all the family groups, which neighborhood they were from and what their ethnic background was. There were three surnames that he discussed - Wallecks, Roemers and Nunges. Surprisingly, my uncle explained to me that the Wallecks were Czech. They lived up on the hill with the other Czechs (don't ask me which neighborhood that was at the moment). The Roemers were German. And the Nunges (my Ellis Island immigrants) came from Alsace-Lorraine.

The ethnic groups and the neighborhoods they lived in were critical for understanding their history and where they came from. Listening to my uncle, I realized, was also pretty critical for me to understand where they came from.

If I hadn't taken the time to listen to my uncle at that moment, I may have been left with erroneous ideas about my Pittsburgh ancestors.

I think the time has come for me to stop ignoring my difficult, ethnic ancestors and start getting some of this down on paper. If I collect as much as possible now from my uncle, perhaps I will slowly be able to work through verifying the information and learning the particular local history behind Pittsburgh and Allegheny City. Maybe I'll even become brave enough to try to track them back across the sea to Europe.

Thank goodness I made this realization before it was too late. While oral history is not the whole story of any family history, the information passed down from your family members can be critical to understanding your ancestry. The stories could mean the difference between having the right information to get started versus no information at all.

If you have any older family members that you can talk to about your family history, get started now. Don't wait for when it's too late.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Where Do You Turn For Research Guidance?

Inevitably at some point in your genealogy research you will encounter a new ancestor in a new location. This makes you stop dead in your tracks in order to figure out what to do. A new geographic location can mean learning new geography, new ethnic groups, new names for records and a whole different set of rules about record availability. Encountering a new ancestor in a new location can be both a wonderful adventure and a real headache.

First Line of Help

When I am trying to understand a new location I typically turn to Ancestry's Red Book: American State , County & Town Sources (Ancestry, 2004) . Red Book is organized geographically by state with further information about counties and towns. Within each state is an overview of all the major record groups and where to find them. While I tend to reach for my book which sits next to my desk, Red Book is also available online for free on the Ancestry.com Wiki.

Another resource I am starting to turn to more frequently is the FamilySearch Wiki. Not so long ago FamilySearch used to offer research guidance on numerous locations in the form of printed guides or online pdfs. Those have been replaced with a sleek new wiki which allows users to find everything online. The FamilySearch Wiki is volunteer driven, though, so you might not find complete information on every location you are researching.  The advantage to this compared to Red Book is that it is international. For more information, read a guest post about FamilySearch Wiki which I wrote for Legacy.

Some of you may still be holding on to a copy of Everton's Handy Book. I don't believe it is being published anymore but you can still find copies around. It is very similar to Ancestry's Red Book in that it provides information about American genealogical records in a geographic based format.

Where Do You Turn for Information?

What I want to know, and the real reason I wrote this post, is where do you get your information when first encountering an unfamiliar geographic area? Do you use sources that I haven't listed here? I'm am wondering if I have overlooked some good reference books or sites.

Also, I really want to know about Canada, the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Do they have anything comparable to Ancestry's Red Book?  Where do genealogists outside the United States turn for information?  I look forward to hearing your responses.

Photo Credit: Photo by CCAC North Library in Pittsburgh, PA and is used on the creative commons license.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Genealogists, Genealogists, Everywhere!

My AAA TripTik
This past weekend I drove down to Chapel Hill, North Carolina for a family gathering. Getting together with family is always a wonderful occasion. It's kind of like a weekend-long group hug from your favorite people.

But I have some other favorite people too. My friends and colleagues in the genealogical community.  As I was driving from Boston to North Carolina I passed by the states of many colleagues, some whom I've met and some I haven't.

When I wasn't doing the driving, I pulled out the AAA maps and scanned the towns and places along my route. I thought about many of my colleagues as I passed by each state.

As I drove first through Connecticut I thought about so many friends I have there - Noreen Manzella, Dick and Pam Roberts, Jennifer Zink, Nora Galvin, Michael Spellmon and Dan Lynch.

I gave a pass to New York City and instead chose to take the Tappan Zee Bridge. Talk about a state full of genealogists! I wish I could have detoured to meet Laura DeGrazia, Lisa Alzo, Karen Mauer Green, Jane Wilcox and Joy Rich. I would have loved to stop and share a cup of coffee and great conversation with Mel Wolfgang.

New Jersey always makes me think of Megan Smolenyak! I chuckled a bit when I realized I was passing close by Megan's town. I sent along a virtual wave. If I had the time I would have stopped by to visit Russ Worthington so that we could go on some historic cemetery and house adventures. Or I would have gotten the scoop on historical legal cases with Judy Russell.

Crossing the river into Delaware I thought of Michael Hait and wondered where on earth he might live in this little tiny state.

Moving through Maryland I thought about some wonderful genealogists - Angela Packer McGhie, Rebecca Koford, Missy Corley, Deb Ruth, Felicia Mathis and Jillaine Smith. And I hoped that I would bump into the knowledgeable yet fun Sandy Clunies again at the next New England Regional Genealogical Conference where she has been, thankfully, a perennial speaker.

Genealogists, Genealogists Everywhere! 
Our community is large and vast!

I left Maryland and gritted my teeth for the usual gridlock traffic surrounding Washington DC.  What a great surprise to pass through without so much as a single delay. Instead I could think about more interesting things like the APG National Capital Area Chapter. It would be fun to attend meetings there sometime. Not to mention stopping by NARA and the DAR.

You know Virginia is one large state! It takes a long time to drive through it. Luckily it was a traffic-free enjoyable time. I was able to think about one of Virginia's greatest gifts to genealogy - Dr. Thomas W. Jones. I've been inspired by the few lectures of his that I've been able to attend.  Virginia also gave me the time to think about one of my personal favorites, Pamela Boyer Sayre.

And lastly on into the realm of North Carolina and the land of another genealogy giant, Helen F. M. Leary. North Carolina is just chock full of genealogists! I would have loved to stop for coffee with Tami Glatz, Jeff Haines, Ginger Smith, Diane Richard, Melanie Holtz, Mavis Jones, Lauren Richardson, Jordan Jones and Craig Scott. And I could have spent some time getting homework done with my ProGen 14 group member, Tanya Marsh. Hopefully my next trip will allow me more time to do that.

Twelve hours later I had reached my destination.  I wish I had had the time stop and network and laugh and debate with all those I thought about along the way. And I'm sure I missed remembering many friends and colleagues that should have been included on my list.

Throughout my travels I couldn't help but reflect on what a lucky bunch of people we genealogists are. We have friends and colleagues and heroes everywhere in the country, and indeed, the world. All we are lacking is the time to meet and visit them all. I guess that's what conferences are for. Someday I will make it to a national conference. Someday.

Genealogists, Genealogists Everywhere! 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Latest Hand-Me-Down Treasure

This weekend was full of ancestral surprises for me.  My father passed down a number of items from our family.  There was one special item that particularly thrilled me. My own copy of Black's Law Dictionary, 4th edition. And this one saw lifetime use by a family lawyer.

I could use a couple snow storms this winter to give me the time to sit down and enjoy this new treasure. It's so heavy I think I'll need to get a book stand so that I will be able to use it and flip through it easily.

I'm in genealogy heaven!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Participate in the 1st Genealogy Idol Competition

You can participate in something that has never been done before! And you can do it from the comfort of your home.

At the RootsTech Conference this year, Legacy Family Tree is hosting a Genealogy Idol Competition. Four genealogists - two at RootsTech and two appearing virtually - will compete live to be the Genealogy Idol.  There will be three categories and the contestants will compete in each one.

You, as the audience, will get to vote to select who the winner is.  But you have to sign up for this because it is being done in the form of a webinar.  You can register for this February 2, 2012 webinar by CLICKING HERE!

Need another good reason to attend? Yours truly will be a contestant along with three other great participants - Elyse Doerflinger, Michael Hait and Elizabeth Clark.

Some come along, cheer us on and participate in the fun!

I hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 2, 2012.

3:45 PM Eastern (U.S.)
2:45 PM Central
1:45 PM Mountain
12:45 PM Pacific
8:45 PM GMT

NEHGS to Host FREE African American History and Genealogy Day

I was very excited to read in the latest "Weekly Genealogist" newsletter that the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) in Boston, Massachusetts will be hosting a FREE African American History and Genealogy Day in February.

The newsletter had this to say:

African American History and Genealogy Day
Wednesday, February 8
9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Join us for a free day of research and learn about African American family history. NEHGS Online Genealogist David Allen Lambert will help you learn how to trace African American ancestors, author and historian Alex R. Goldfeld will present stories of Boston’s earliest African American community, and former Executive Director of the Springfield Museums and author Joseph Carvalho III will share his revised edition of Black Families in Hampden County, Massachusetts 1650-1865, recently published by NEHGS. The lecture will be followed by a book signing and reception. All participants will receive free access to the NEHGS research library for the day, with ample time for research.
Free; registration required. Call 617-226-1226 to register.

More details are available from the NEHGS website. Also, you can read my review of Joseph Carvalho's book Black Families in Hampden County, Massachusetts 1650-1865.

Monday, January 16, 2012

APG Membership Becomes More Valuable

Membership in the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) has always been valuable for members who attend national conferences. Recent changes have made the membership cost more worthwhile for distance members like myself.

I have felt that membership was worthwhile based on the APG Quarterly magazine alone which is full of relevant business information for both the up-and-coming and seasoned professional genealogist alike. In fact, I've suggested that those who want to transition into becoming a professional genealogist would benefit from reading the magazine before they hang out their shingle.

Recent changes, however, have made APG membership even more worthwhile. Here's a rundown on some of the great changes.

1) APG Webinars

Last week APG offered the first in a series of webinars that provide advice and information relevant to professional genealogists.  Webinars are educational learning opportunities that are available through the internet regardless of your physical location. The first webinar was "Tax Considerations for Your Genealogy Business" by James M. Beidler. The webinar was offered live not only to APG Members but also to the general public. I'm not sure at this point if the webinar was recorded or whether it will available in the members only section of the website in the future. There will be more upcoming webinars so be on the lookout for them.

2) Archived Issues of the APG Quarterly on the website

A tremendous benefit just added this week is member access to archived issues of the APG Quarterly. The issues are found in the members-only area of the website and are available as pdf downloads.  They cover the years 2004-2011.

3) Professional Management Conference (PMC) Videos 

This is not new but it's worth reminding folks of this rich archived resource.  About two years ago APG started filming talks from the PMC and making them available for free from their website. The videos offer a varied assortment of business topics relevant to professional genealogy. If you haven't viewed them yet, be sure to check out this great resource.

4) International Reach and Coverage

This has been a slow going effort that has picked up steam recently.  APG is starting to reach out more and provide more benefits to its non-American members.  APG has been heading to London to participate in the Who Do You Think You Are? Live event in order to get more international exposure as well as to connect with European members. In addition, we are seeing more features and coverage of international membership in the APGQ. This is a good trend and I look forward to seeing
more treatment of international members as full-fledged participants of APG.

Valuable Benefits

The new benefit offerings by APG should make any genealogist consider giving the organization a second look. Current membership costs $65 annually for US members, $70 for those in Canada and $85 for the rest of the world.

Get Ready for Another Great Webinar!

This Wednesday, January 18, 2011 I have the honor of presenting another webinar for Legacy Family Tree. The title of this webinar is "Pilgrims and Patriots: Discovering Your Massachusetts Ancestors."

While this webinar is Massachusetts focused it would be beneficial for anyone researching New England because many of the record groups and record types are similar.

What you can expect

This webinar will take a broad look at nearly 400 years of Massachusetts history and records created during that time frame. The resources will be geared toward distance researchers who need to rely more heavily on the internet with a nod toward the incredible off-line resources available. There will also be an African American component touching on their rich and lengthy history in Massachusetts.

This webinar will provide a good overview for researchers who have had to dive in Massachusetts records during any time period in Massachusetts history.

Come give a listen and learn something new!

Date: Wednesday, January 18, 2011

2:00 PM Eastern (U.S.)
1:00 PM Central
12:00 PM Mountain
11:00 AM Pacific
7:00 PM GMT

Cost: FREE!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Top 2 Free Resources for Genealogists

Genealogists are always looking for the best FREE resources. I see it mentioned every time I go to message boards where genealogists are exchanging information. The underlying, unspoken understanding is that they are looking for free INTERNET resources. They are looking for websites that will easily serve up information about their ancestors.

These are hands down the TOP 2 FREE Resources for genealogists. They might not be what you were expecting.

1) Your Public Library

You can't beat this. It's the best possible information source for genealogists. In terms of internet resources, many public libraries in the United States provide FREE access to paid subscription databases like Ancestry.com. (Please let me know if this is the case too in Canada, Europe and Down Under.) They also typically offer other online historical and genealogical databases. And most libraries have historical newspaper databases, at least for local newspapers. Some of the databases can even be accessed from the comfort of your home.

Most people forget about all the other free resources available in the library such as books, magazines, DVDs, audio CDs, a helpful staff and interlibrary loan.  You can read about all the resources in your local library in a post I wrote called "Have You Visited Your Local Library Lately?"

Most libraries are within a reasonable distance of your home. And people with disabilities can often get free transportation from a town-provided service. After you've exhausted all the online databases make your way to the building and make use of all the other great resources available located there.

2) Your Local FamilySearch Center

While it's true that your local FamilySearch Center may not be located as close as your local library, it is still worth seeking it out. A quick check online will give you the location of the nearest center to your home.

FamilySearch Centers provide premium databases that you may not find in your local library.  In addition to Ancestry.com they also have Fold3, historic map databases, the Godfrey Memorial Library and many others. If you don't have the money to buy these databases or don't use them enough to warrant the cost, then the FamilySearch Center is the perfect solution.

Not only will the FamilySearch Center give you access to free online databases but the world of microfilm will be within your reach.  You can rent microfilm from the Family History Library and view it at your local center. These two resources put the world of genealogy at your fingertips.

In addition, FamilySearch Centers also have books, research guides and other supportive materials to help you in your search. And let's not forget the volunteer staff. An important resource new genealogists need is guidance from more experienced genealogists. Lean on the volunteer staff to help guide you through the bumps in your research and the tangle of websites that can be so confusing.

Give it a Try!

Your local library and local FamilySearch Center combine to provide you with the most powerful resources to propel your genealogy research forward. Schedule an afternoon to explore these two important yet under-utilized resources.

Photo Credit: photo by CCAC North Library and used under the creative commons license. Photo shows the Reference Area on the first floor of the CCAC North Campus Library (Pittsburgh, PA).

Friday, January 13, 2012

Choosing a Name for Your Blog

A friend contacted me recently with some questions about starting a blog. One of the questions was about choosing a name for the blog.  This is something I have thought about a lot so I wanted to share my answer here.

There are certain factors for everyone to consider when starting a blog. Professionals, regardless of their field, need to take into consideration how much integration their blog will have with their business.  That decision will impact the choices that they make.

Even people who are blogging casually or for family need to keep a few things in mind.  Some blogs, even when started just for fun, can become wildly popular on the internet.  That may not be your intention but you never know how much you will enjoy blogging or where it will take you so keep these thoughts in mind.

Choose a Unique Name

When I started blogging I had no idea what I was doing. I couldn't even think of a name. I asked my Facebook friends to help me come up with one and that's how I pulled together Roots & Rambles.

Fast forward a year or so to the Family Tree Magazine 2011 Top 40 Genealogy blogs contest. Someone nominated Roots & Rambles.  The ballot list contained the names of blogs but not the blog authors. Many of the blogs had genealogy-themed names such as Roots & Rambles, Roots & Branches, Climbing My Family Tree etc.  It was mind numbingly impossible to tell who wrote which blog without the name of the author listed.  I decided right there and then to at least modify the name of my blog to make it more unique. That was when I made the small change to Marian's Roots & Rambles. At least people would be able to tell who wrote my blog.

Interestingly enough, and perhaps not surprisingly, many of the winners (I was not one) had blogs with unique names.  When choosing a name for your blog try to come up with one that will stand on its own.  If your title can also evoke a sense of what the blog is about that is even better. Two successful blogs names are the We Tree Genealogy Blog by Amy Coffin which succeeds because of its unusual combination of words and the Clue Wagon blog by Kerry Scott with its successfully evocative name. In Kerry's case the blog title also lead to a very iconic red wagon logo for her blog.

Check out the list of all 40 Family Tree blog winners to see if you can spot any blogs with successful names that could act as an inspiration for you.

Getting Published

You may have no intention of publishing (other than on your blog) or getting published. But funny things can happen along the way in the blog world so best to be prepared now while you are choosing your name.

>Book Reviews

If you decide to review books on your blog there is a strong chance that your review will be quoted by the publisher or the author.  I have had quotes from my reviews appear in the NEHGS book catalog and on author websites.  I think I cringed the first time I saw Marian Pierre-Louis of Marian's Roots and Rambles. It's not that I don't like the name of my blog it's just that I never expected to see it in print like that. And it looks so silly next to quotes from prestigious authors or esteemed colleagues. Keep in mind that your blog may take you to places that you never imagined and choose your name accordingly.

>Newspapers and Magazines

I'm not sure if my blog has ever been mentioned in a newspaper before. More and more bloggers of all genres are being interviewed and featured in articles. How are you going to feel when you see your blog name in print? Will it provide the sense of dignity and pride that you had hoped for? Will it become a source of future jokes when you visit home and catch up with you high school or college friends? When you consider the name for your blog, think about how everyone in your life, not just your genealogy friends and colleagues, will respond to it.

Safety in Names

Personal names can be a safe bet when choosing a blog title. Take for instance Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter. The name is simple but it works. If you choose to use a surname you will need to include some other word that lets people know what the blog is about. In this case the word Genealogy acts to provide clarity. 

My suggestion would be to stick with last names rather than choosing first names. There are exceptions to that rule but first names evoke a sense of casualness that you might later regret.

Marian's Roots and Rambles

I chose my blog name in the wrong way, never imagining where blogging would lead me. I feel that the title of my blog is too casual and yes, hokey, for what I would like. But I have reached a saturation point where it would be difficult for me to change the name of my blog.

Sometimes blogs become bigger than their names and then the name of the blog is less important.  If I'm lucky some day that will happen to my blog and I can be less embarrassed about having such a goofy name.

Final Thoughts

Choose a blog name:
  • that you are comfortable with
  • that you can grow with
  • that will appeal to a broad group of people
  • that looks good in print
  • that reinforces your business goals (if you are blogging for business)

Good luck! I hope these suggestions help! As for blogging, just get started.  Coming up with a good name is the hardest part.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Two New Webinar Providers

It's very exciting that more organizations are getting involved with providing webinars.  Two new providers have recently come to my attention.  Both of these organizations are offering free webinars available to the general public (no membership required).

1) Illinois State Genealogical Society

Their website has this to say about the webinars:

"Each month ISGS will offer an educational webinar with topics focusing on Illinois research, methodology, and beginning research. All ISGS webinars are FREE and open to the public when they are presented live. After the live broadcast, an archived on-demand copy of the webinar will be available to ISGS members via the Members Section."

Their next webinar is this evening, Tuesday, January 10, 2011. The topic is "10 Ways To Jump Start Your Genealogy presented by Thomas MacEntee."  You can register here.

2) The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG)

APG issued the following information in a press release:

"With the increased demand for professional development options for genealogists, the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) announces a new webinar series for 2012. APG webinars will cover topics of interest to professional genealogists with a focus on tools and best practices for running a genealogy business.

Tax Considerations for Your Genealogy Business (U.S.) Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The first offering in the APG webinar series, Tax Considerations for Your Genealogy Business, will be presented by nationally-known genealogist, educator, and writer, James M. Beidler, on Wednesday evening, 11 January 2012, at 8:30 P.M. Eastern time.

Whether you earn your income from research, teaching, writing, or another form of genealogical activity, there are many tax decisions which affect your genealogy business. Should you form a sole proprietorship or an LLC? Take a deduction for your home office? File a 1099 for subcontractors? Jim Beidler, a Senior Tax Advisor for H&R Block and owner of his own genealogy business, will share his strategies for maximizing the deductions on your 2011 tax bill while planning ahead for 2012.

To kick off our webinar series, this first APG webinar is FREE to the public as well as to members of APG. Those wanting to attend are encouraged to register at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/385781994 since space is limited."

These webinars sound very informative.  Be on the lookout for more offerings from these organizations on the GeneaWebinars website calendar.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Family Memoirs: The Moments We Never Forget

I was just reading a wonderful, thought provoking post called "Do You Remember John F. Kennedy?" on the blog Barbara's Kitchen Table. Barbara talks about the various reactions to this question in a diversity training class and recalls her own memory of when JFK was shot.

Certain memories are tremendously powerful and often contribute universally to the memory of a nation. These are the memories that when we think back, we know exactly where we were and what we were doing at that exact moment.

I have two such memories (maybe I'll think of more later?)

John Lennon's Death

When John Lennon died perhaps it didn't impact the world quite as much as when John F. Kennedy died but it was one of those unforgettable moments in my life. I remember exactly what I was doing clear as if it were happening right now. I was in 7th grade and I was the first one downstairs reading the newspaper. Lennon's death was the headline in the paper.  My older brother, who worshiped John Lennon, strolled downstairs and I told him the news. At first he didn't believe me. Then I remember watching his shocked look as he sat down and it sunk in.  That evening we watched on tv as hundreds of people left flowers outside the Dakota building.


This event of course impacted not just the United States but also the world. I don't think I will ever forget this day. It was so surreal. I was nine months pregnant with my second child at the time. I remember the powerful emotions I felt when watching the news programs. I made a conscious choice that day not to watch the tv coverage.  I felt the emotions were too strong and the grief could impact my unborn baby.  So I chose to acknowledge it but not get trapped into watching endless coverage of the event. 

An interesting part of Barbara's post discussed the "memory" of people who witnessed events live and those who learned about them later. Both groups can have strong emotions about an event but only one group actually witnessed it.

Thanks Barbara for the great food for thought.

I would be interested to hear what some of the momentous events in your life were that you will never forget.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Marking the Day

The night in the early '80s when we went to see Baryshnikov
This morning my Mom was reunited with her ancestors.  She passed away after a 5+ year battle with Alzheimer's disease. A parent dying tears at the heart.  When they die of Alzheimer's much more conflicted feelings are felt. Sadness on the one hand and relief on the other that they will no longer suffer.

I wanted to take a moment to honor my mother on this day by remembering her.

My mother was a lifelong genealogist. She greatly enjoyed researching her own family history as well as my father's lines. While she was not a professional, her research was very good.  She left behind good records and photocopies of her sources.

Sometime in the past year my brother commented to me that he thought my Mom would be really proud of what I have done with genealogy. My mother's Alzheimer's kicked in just as I was becoming a professional genealogist and house historian.  My mother never knew that I gave genealogy presentations and webinars or that I wrote genealogy blogs.

My brother thought that my mother would have been quite proud that I had assumed the mantle of family historian and taken it to a new level. I think he's right. I think Mom would have been quite tickled to see what an active genealogist I've become.

I'm sure my mom is already chasing down the ancestors and demanding the answers that she didn't get in this life. I just hope that she will think to whisper them to me so I'll be able to break down some more brick walls.

Photo credit: photo taken by George D. Edwards Jr.

Friday, January 6, 2012

USGenWeb is Alive and Well

This afternoon I'm featuring a post by guest blogger, Lisa Frank.  I met Lisa on Twitter and she currently lives in my home state. Lisa is here to dispel the misconceptions about USGenWeb.  I hope your enjoy her post and visit her blog afterward.

USGenWeb is alive and well!!! Why the excitement, you ask? Recently I read a blog post in which a commenter was lamenting that the USGenWeb volunteers are extinct. WHAT?!!! I realized at that moment that there must be researchers who are unaware that USGenWeb is still going strong.

USGenWeb is a set of genealogy websites provided by a group of volunteers. The idea originated in 1996 with the Kentucky Comprehensive Genealogy Database Project which later became the Kentucky GenWeb Project. The idea is to provide free, non-commercial genealogical and historical content for everyone. Today the USGenWeb Project includes sites for every state and county. Family Tree Magazine recently named the USGenWeb Project to its 101 Best Websites for 2011.

The USGenWeb sites are organized by county and state, with each site coordinated by one or more volunteers. The main website is the USGenWeb Project.  From here you can navigate to a specific state and from the state page to a specific county. State sites contain information related to state histories, family reunions, maps of the counties, and resources for posting queries in which the county is unknown. Some of the state sites offer blogs and e-newsletters that you can sign up to receive.

County sites may offer county histories, transcriptions, links to county resources, photographs, marriages, and other genealogical data. Each site offers different types of information, depending on the coordinator's research, or what items other volunteers have offered. For example, on the Mecklenburg County site that I maintain, I am in the process of adding a list of Vietnam War Casualties, all of which were provided by a volunteer. Many of the sites now offer the ability to follow new additions via RSS such as google reader.

The USGenWeb Project maintains a number of special projects that are sponsored at the national level, such as the USGenWeb Kidz Project and The USGenWeb African American Griots Project. The main USGenWeb Project site also provides help for genealogy researchers, found by clicking on the "Researchers" tab at the top of the main page.

Since USGenWeb is completely volunteer based, the websites are sometimes on different platforms, but that makes it all the more interesting to peruse. Another result of this volunteer effort is that many of the state and county coordinators are seeking out additional materials to add to their site. The County Coordinators do add what they can to the site from their own research, however the efforts of one person are necessarily limited. If you have anything you can offer to the USGenWeb volunteers, first determine which state or county, then contact the coordinator. Examples of items contributed to the USGenWeb sites include transcriptions (deeds, wills, probates, diaries), photographs, personal genealogies, maps, county histories, church listings, marriages… any data that falls into the realm of public domain. Volunteers may also include their contact information on a look-ups index.

What if you want to volunteer? I thought you'd never ask! Here is a page at the USGenWeb Project main site that explains the many ways volunteers can help, including coordinating a state or county website, participating in The Archives Project, and any of several Special Projects.

If you wish to coordinate a USGenWeb site, first select the state you are interested in then look for a link to 'volunteer opportunities,' or 'adoption,' or go to the list of counties to see which counties are not currently managed. Since every site is a little different you may have to search around for the adoptable counties, or just contact the state coordinator and request more information. Both state sites and county sites can be adopted. In some cases there is also a wish list if the county you are interested in is not currently adoptable. Guidelines for State Coordinators (SC) and County Coordinators (CC) are available on the main USGenWeb site on the Volunteer page, under Project Business to the right of the page.

If you were previously unaware of the USGenWeb project, or have not visited lately, I encourage you to take some time to look around!

Lisa Frank is a finance professor, genealogist, and mom to an amazing 4 year old. In her oodles of spare time outside of her primary vocation she trains for marathons, volunteers for The USGenWeb Project, and is Secretary/Treasurer of the Second Life chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists. She writes the genealogy blog “1 Ancestry 2 Little Time,” among other non-genealogy blogs, and is on Twitter.  

Everyone Needs a Niche, Right?

Whether an amateur genealogist, a professional or a blogger, at some point we all seem to find a niche or area of specialty. Often our niches are a geographic location or an ethnic group.

We tend to fall into them based on our family research or where we live. My niche is southern New England, which is where I live, not where most of my ancestors come from.

This morning I was directed via Twitter to the blog of The Two Nerdy History Girls by my friend, Deb Ruth. The blog post, "Modern Women of the 1890s", featured a youtube video of two elderly British women speaking about their days as young women in London in the 1890s. According to the youtube profile it originally came from the BBC.

The video was fun and interesting and informative to the point of discussing what the girls did for fun, work and even the slang they used. I couldn't help thinking this could be tremendously helpful for genealogists.

As I thought about it more I couldn't think of one genealogist who specializes in videos or documentaries for the genealogical community.  I know of people like Dick Eastman and Megan Smolenyak who have created videos. I was at a loss to think of anyone who had expertise in finding documentary videos with historical content who advised or shared them with the genealogical community.

Reputations are often made on filling voids. People end up writing books because a book didn't exist on the topic that they were researching. I would love it if a video or documentary buff would pick up the mantle and become an expert on locating videos for the genealogical community. I can see a blog, a website and a book in their future! Maybe you're the one we've been waiting for?!!

Along the same lines, I would like to see a music buff pick up the niche of historical music.  So much music is available online now. Where is it? How do we find it? And how do we tie it to the various generations of our ancestors?

If these topics get you going I hope you'll consider sharing your knowledge with our community.

Photo Credit: the image above is a screen shot of the Library of Congress webpage, America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures from 1894-1915.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

All This Nonsense About Blogging

[Warning - this is a highly opinionated piece!]

What you are reading right now is a blog.  You may not know that and in all honesty, it doesn't matter. You used a search engine such as Google and based on the words you entered you may end up here. As far as you are concerned it could be a website or just that place on the internet where you found the information you needed. For most people, little thought is given beyond that.

Lately, there has been talk around the blogging community about the quality of blogs and whether genealogical bloggers should work harder to produce good quality content.  The conversation, in my opinion, didn't do all that much except frighten a number of up and coming genealogists and family historians from blogging.

But I digress.

The real point, as far as I'm concerned, is that the discussion about blogging and the quality of blogs doesn't matter. It's irrelevant.

The real point is that quality blogging, quality writing and quality published genealogy (yes, even online) will shine.

Case in point. The brand new blog called The Legal Genealogist by Judy G. Russell.  This blog shines. Judy has only written a few posts so far yet each post is brilliant. They are interesting, well-written, well-cited, act as a great role model for up and coming genealogists and (in my opinion) further the profession of genealogy.

What will put an end to bad content? Good content!

This is what I have been talking about in my previous posts about a mature blogging community.

Let's spend our time focused on developing good content and supporting those who create it and not on knocking down, policing or fussing about what everyone else is writing.  Readers will naturally flock toward good content anyway.

And let's leave room at the table for everyone.  Someone who is a newer genealogist might not write such polished blog posts.  But let's encourage them anyway. And let's share with them the work of quality genealogists who are willing to take the time (unpaid like the rest of us!) to write a blog.

Here I go dreaming, but I can even see a mentoring system develop in the future where more experienced bloggers pair up and help along less experienced bloggers.

Anyway, that's my two cents for what it's worth.

Webinars: An Important Internet Tool for Genealogists

I've had questions from a few folks on Google+ about webinars so I thought I would take a moment to explain what they are and how they help genealogists.

What is a webinar?

I believe the term webinar comes from web + seminar. A webinar is a live presentation delivered over the internet. Typically the viewer can see a PowerPoint presentation and hear the presenter's voice. Sometimes they can see the presenter as well.

Where do I find a webinar?

Anyone with an internet connection can access a webinar.  This is what makes it a powerful learning tool. No longer do genealogists have to limit their learning to live in-person conferences that can be miles from home.

Typically, an organization such as Legacy Family Tree or the Friends of NARA Southeast Region will sponsor the webinar. They will issue an announcement about the webinar and ask people to register.

Registration involves, at a minimum, providing your name and email address. After you submit your registration you will be sent an email confirmation. You will receive another email close to the time of the webinar with a link that connects you to the webinar.  When you attend your first webinar you will need to download the software, most likely GoToWebinar, in order to view the program.

What can I expect from a webinar?

Webinars are presented live, typically one hour in length with a half hour for questions and answers.  You will likely see a PowerPoint presentation on the screen just like you would see in a live presentation. The only difference is you won't see the presenter while they are presenting. But you will hear their voice as they give the live presentation. The advantage of a webinar is that you will be able to easily see the presentation slides on your monitor compared to the difficulty people sometimes have in a large conference room.

Can I talk to the presenter?

The audience can ask the presenter questions just like in a live presentation. In a webinar questions may be asked via voice over a microphone at the end of the presentation or by typing the question and submitting to the presenter via a chat box. If there is a moderator, you can submit questions throughout the presentation which will be answered by the presenter at the end. This allows the audience to interact directly (or nearly directly) with the speaker.

How much do webinars costs?

Webinars like the ones offered by Legacy Family Tree are free to watch live. The advantage to watching live is that the audience can win door prizes and ask questions of the speaker. Some webinars, like the ones offered by Michael John Neill, are offered for a minimal cost.

What if I miss the live presentation?

It's not always easy to see the webinars when they are presented live.  Our daily activities are bound to conflict with the scheduled times at some point. And some sponsoring organizations are in a different time zone.

Luckily webinars are often recorded which means a much larger audience can view them afterwards. Some organizations like Legacy make their webinars available for free for a limited time afterwards. The recorded or archived webinars can be viewed at your convenience 24/7.  Other organizations such as the Friends of NARA Southeast Region and the Southern California Genealogical Society provide the recorded webinars as a member benefit. If you don't view their webinars live you will need to become a member in order to access them.

Read more about webinars in my previous article "The Top 5 Reasons I Listen to Webinars."

View a universal calendar of all genealogy webinars at the GeneaWebinars site.

Never watched a webinar? Make my next webinar on Massachusetts your first one! I will also be presenting another one on Brick Walls in February.

Still confused about webinars?  Leave me your questions and I'll do my best to answer them.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Discovering Irish Origins

I've heard two things over and over again about Irish research:
  1. You must determine the County or Parish from US records before you can cross the sea to search in the old country
  2. Gravestones are a great source for finding Irish origins
In fact, my friend R. Andrew Pierce wrote a book about it called The Stones Speak: Irish Place Names from Inscriptions in Boston's Mount Calvary Cemetery (NEHGS, 2000).

I don't do a lot of Irish research so this was a thought that I tucked into the back of my mind. I relegated it to the spot "stuff you might find in Boston."

Well, on New Year's Day I found myself in need of some fresh air and exercise.  I ended up in the local Catholic cemetery for a stroll.  This is a place I usually never go unless I am looking for someone specific.  This cemetery was begun in the late 19th century and is "too new" compared to most of the historic cemeteries that I visit.

In the late 1800s many Irish immigrants settled in my town after finding jobs in the local shoe and boot industry. Discovering gravestones for the Irish was no surprise. But finding their place of origin on their gravestones really caught me off guard.  This far out from Boston, how could it be?  I learned a thing or two on New Year's Day.

I can't say that I will find my way in to "modern" cemeteries very often in the future but if I do I will be on the lookout for the gravestones of the Irish immigrants. What a treasure finding the location of their birthplaces in Ireland!

Here are some of the stones that I found.


[Ann Keaney]
native of the Parish of
Cloonclare, Co. Leitrim, Ireland
died Feb. 14, 1864
aged 73 yrs.
Erected by her son James Keaney

JUNE 26, 1823
DIED MAR. 15, 1887

DIED JULY 17, 1903

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year, A New Endeavor

The New Year brings a number of new projects for me. The first endeavor that I'll be introducing is a newsletter that will debut on Friday, January 27th.

The newsletter will be sent via email and will cover all the topics of my various blogs - from Marian's Roots & Rambles to the New England House Historian and The Symbolic Past. The difference is the newsletter will contain original content not found on my blogs.

I'll also be adding a Question & Answer section so be sure to email me your questions.

In addition, I'll give updates about my upcoming talks and webinars.

I'm really looking forward to creating this newsletter because it will allow me to create bonus content that explores different aspects of historical research.

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

You can sign up below or on the front page of each of my blogs.

Sign Up for My Newsletter


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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Buddy Up for 2012

With the start of the New Year, many genealogists are thinking about setting goals for 2012. Recently, I heard about some genealogists who took it a bit further in 2011 to ensure their success.

How did they do it? They connected with a genealogy buddy to hold them accountable for reaching their goals. As far as I know, the idea started with Amy Coffin of the We Tree Blog and Denise Levenick of The Family Curator Blog.

Not only did Amy and Denise encourage each other to achieve their goals, they also blogged about it.

From Denise came "Blogging Buddies and Genealogy Resolutions, report from the West Coast Partner" and from Amy, "Blogging Buddies and Genealogy Resolutions."

Finding a Genealogy Buddy

If you're a genealogy blogger then finding a buddy might be as easy as asking another blogger. Geographic proximity is not a requirement for genealogy buddies. You can support each other's goal publicly or privately via blogs, email, Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

If you're not a blogger, don't feel left out.  The buddy system could work great whether you are online or offline.  I think this could be a great activity for genealogy societies to get involved with.  They could encourage their members to find buddies amongst the membership to help them with their goals and research.

And don't forget to think locally.  Are there any genealogists in your town or region? You could meet your buddy monthly at a local coffee shop. Don't know of any genealogists locally? Perhaps your local library or archive could help you connect with one.

Make It Happen

At the start of 2012 don't just write down your goals.  Make achieving your goals more fun by connecting with another genealogist.  You'll have a better chance at achieving your goals and have lots of adventures along the way.