Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 Achievements & 2010 Resolutions

It’s that time of the year again.  The time we reflect on the past and plan for the future.  Rightfully so, the topic for the 87th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is New Year’s Resolutions.

This year is almost over and a new decade is knocking on the door. This is the perfect time to make your New Year resolutions, goals, aims, declarations, intentions, aspirations, objectives, plans, targets, schemes, wishes, or whatever you want to call them! Figure out how you're going to approach your family history research next year, write it up, and share it with us in the COG.

Before I dive into 2010 resolutions, I want to take a look at what I’ve accomplished based on my 2009 resolutions.  Back in June, I posted an update, which you are welcome to take a look at.  Following is my year-end report.

2009 Achievements

Accept that try as I might, I cannot always find the answer.

This is something I will always struggle with, however, I continue learning as I go and hope that my increased knowledge will lead me to the answers, someday.

Learn more about the lives of my ancestors, focusing more on the how and why, not just the who, what, when, and where.

My discoveries over the past year have led to more of the how and why, but not necessarily to the degree that I would have liked.  This is an ongoing process and as I continue to put the pieces together, it will inevitably lead to more hows and whys.

Blog more, by sharing my ancestors' stories and helping fellow family historians.

Definitely accomplished this.  I’ve posted how-to articles to help others, as well as research '”reports” that help not only me, but others as well.  Some of those articles include:

Transcribe more records than I did in 2008.

I’ve done a little this year for FamilySearch, but probably not as much as 2008.  My focus has been on the indexing project that the DAR is working on.  They are working on providing an every-name index for all of the DAR genealogy books.  I’ve indexed one book, and am just about finished with a second (about 30 pages left, which will be done by the end of the year).  I also work on the DAR descendants projects, where the goal is the enter all DAR applications information into a database.  You can read more about the projects, and view the databases, which were just recently made public.

Make a decision as to what level I want to take genealogy to (the family historian? a professional? another direction?) and make a plan for how to get there.

I’m not sure I have the answer as of yet, but I am making some progress here.  First, I joined the ProGen Study Group this year.  The exercises we’ve done so far are helping me focus on what I know, what I need to learn, where I want to go, and how to get there.  These discoveries will be part of my 2010 resolutions.  The decision I made is to focus on the writing aspect of genealogy as a profession, as opposed to research.  It may expand to research some day, but there is still so much I need to learn, it’s not something I will be ready for in the immediate future.  But in the meantime, I can help others write their family histories or articles for publication.  I’m also leaning toward completing the American Records Certificate offered through the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.  And lastly, I became a board member of the Illinois State Genealogical Society.

2010 Resolutions

The following are my general goals for genealogy.  Most are long-range, but making them resolutions helps me start somewhere.

Become more familiar with genealogy research methods and resources overall. 

Essentially, the goal here is to continue learning.  I want to learn more about various record types so I can start using them in my research.  Already, I’ve read Courthouse Research for Family Historians, by Christine Rose, which has opened my eyes to many different records available, where to find them, and how to use them.  Additionally, my Christmas wish list included several genealogy books, which I can’t wait to get my hands on.  And, I subscribed to Casefile Clues, a weekly newsletter produced by Michael John Neill.  I read it faithfully every week.  It’s nice to see research problems in action, as it helps you to see how others approach a problem, interpret information, and eventually (hopefully) solve the problem.  This newsletter is a great learning tool.

Learn about various land records and maps. 

This is one area I’ve avoided in my research, simply because I didn’t know enough to use these valuable resources.  I attended a lecture on maps at the 2009 Illinois State Genealogical Society conference and was fascinated with the array of maps and what potential clues they hold.  So I finally dug out the book Walking With Your Ancestors: A Genealogist’s Guide to Using Maps and Geography, by Melinda Kashuba, and read it cover to cover.  The information in this book, and Rose’s book (mentioned above) has been invaluable.  I even started dabbling in land records and maps last week (see blog post Diving Into Land Records, With a Splash of Webster & Parks).  With the information I collected, my next step is to acquire courthouse records (land and estate/probate) to further explore these folks.  Fortunately the Family History Library has deeds and probate files on microfilm for these Oakland County, Michigan folks, so my journey will start there.  A trip to Oakland County may be in the works for 2010 for further courthouse research.

Learn the standards for writing family histories and genealogies.

Since I am leaning toward writing in the field of genealogy as a profession, I need to learn more about the standards associated with genealogical writing.  I plan to join the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors this year.  I will continue to read current and past issues of NGS Quarterly and The New England Historical and Genealogical Register as part of the learning process.

There you have it, my 2010 resolutions!



J.M. said...

Three very nice goals, that seem so simple. I'll bet they'll eat up lots more time than can be imagined but I hope you have lots of fun fullfilling them!

Have a happy and productive 2010!

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

Enjoy the work on land records - they are very useful and can be very enjoyable to use.

Keep these ancestor stories coming!

Bill ;-)

Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"

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