December 31, 2012
While many are reflecting on the past year, I want to take a moment to encourage you to think about the upcoming one.
Every day, one of my first actions is to read the activity of my favorite blogs. I have learned a great deal about a wide variety of subjects by doing this, particularly in genealogy. If you’re not reading blogs, you should be. These are one of the easiest and best ways to stay on top of happenings in the genealogy world, to meet new researchers, including family, and to grow as a researcher. I use Google Reader to access nearly every blog I read, but I’m sure there are other options available.
Before recommending specific blogs, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge two men whom I consider to be blog masters, Thomas MacEntee and Randy Seaver.
December 29, 2012
Well, folks, it’s that time of year again, time to dust off the New Year’s Resolutions and plan for the coming year’s work.
This year, I’ve resolved not to make any more resolutions. My to-do list is already quite full, thanks to my conversion to David Allen’s organizational system. If you’re wondering, I use OneNote as my base note-keeping device, but I’m having a problem finding a good calendaring system. In 2012, I used my standard annual pocketbook-sized calendar (a day planner) and experimented with coupling it with Google’s online calendar. It didn’t really work out as well as I had hoped, so for the coming year I’m trying something different. I’m keeping my day planner but moving up to the notebook size. I’m also using an office-oriented (i.e. no pictures) wall calendar with one month per page so that I can see everything that’s going on each month and plan my days accordingly.
I put a lot of things on my calendars, from the standard family birthdays to mileage to all of the genealogy institutes and society meetings that are important to me, even if I don’t plan to attend. Deadlines go in a different color and are underlined if they can’t be revised or missed. All events go in my day planner in one to three places, depending upon the event. Institutes, for instance, are entered under Important Dates, the pertinent month-at-a-glance, and then on each day they’re scheduled to be held. Finally, they’re written onto the wall calendar. Again, I do this even if I’m not planning to attend a given institute, if for no other reason than so that I can keep up with some of the major comings and goings in the genealogy world.
Hopefully, this system will help me stay on track in 2013. I’m not a super organized person, but the older I get, the more things I have going on. All these calendars may seem like overkill, but if they keep me from missing something important, then that’s good enough in my book.
December 28, 2012
It may seem like an odd thing to do, but at the end of a project I often suggest specific resources for clients to study, on the (perhaps misguided) belief that an educated client is a happy client. This homework, so to speak, often takes the form of reading material, especially research articles that highlight a problem similar to the one the client is trying to solve or that cover families in the same geographic area.
These suggestions are drawn from material that I’ve found particularly helpful, and I’m constantly looking for new articles or studying ones with which I’m already familiar in the hopes of refining my own understanding of research techniques and strategies.
December 23, 2012
The past couple of weeks have brought some interesting and informative articles and posts.
Elizabeth Shown Mills has released three new QuickLessons on Evidence Explained, the companion web site to her book by the same name: QuickLesson 12: Chasing an Online Document into Its Rabbit Hole, QuickLesson 13: Classes of Evidence–Direct, Indirect & Negative, and QuickLesson 14: Petitions–What Can We Do with a List of Names?. If you’re not studying these QuickLessons, you’re losing out on an excellent (and free!) educational opportunity, presented by one of genealogy’s leading minds.
Michael Hait has posted on two important topics this past week, The most important thing you can ever prove, about discovering, sorting out, and proving identity, and Genealogical fallacies in logic. Both are excellent tutorials on how to avoid pitfalls in our analyses.
Harold Henderson, one of genealogy’s best writers, has a new article available on Archives called Why We Don’t Write, and How We Can, in which he reminds us that researching is only part of the battle.
December 19, 2012
One of my favorite resources for genealogical research is historical newspapers. At one time, old newspapers were difficult to find and scattered between various courts, archives, libraries, and historical societies, or even held privately. The U. S. Newspaper Program, with branches in all fifty states and some territories, sought to gather these disparate collections together so that various issues could be preserved, first through microfilm and eventually through digitization.
December 13, 2012
I promise I won’t post too many promotional items on this blog, but I thought it might be nice to extend an offer for anyone who’s been sitting on the fence about buying a copy of Rabun County, Georgia, Newspapers, 1894 – 1899.
So, from now until the end of this year, I’m offering free shipping to anyone who wants to order a copy. Just send a letter to me at my postal address mentioning this offer, along with a check or money order for $30. Your letter must be postmarked before 31 December 2012. I generally ship books back out via media mail within two or three days (holidays and weekends excepted) of the receipt of an order.
Any questions? Leave a comment or e-mail me.
December 3, 2012
Google Reader is perhaps one of my favorite tools. I have several blogs I follow religiously, and Google Reader makes it incredibly easy for me to keep track of all of them. One blog I particularly like is Craig Scott’s As Craig Sees It, where he recently posted The Angels, the Donkeys, and the Prodigal Son.
I’m fortunate enough to know a lot of genealogy angels, but I’ve also had the misfortune to run into a donkey or two. One memorable experience occurred a few years back, not long after I began researching professionally. I made the mistake of posting to a mailing list in search of guidance. I was writing an article about a family of mine, hoping to correct a genealogist who had incorrectly linked a family together in a publication. But I was stuck and needed a bit of help.
December 2, 2012
Late autumn is undoubtedly the best time to visit out of the way cemeteries here, when the days are still warm(ish), the critters have (mostly) taken to their winter beds, and poison ivy is easy to spot due to its bright red leaves.
Our trip this time was to the Holden Cemetery, located near the Pine Mountain community of Rabun County, Georgia, close to the North Carolina and South Carolina state lines. The cemetery isn’t difficult to get to, really, but it’s a long way out. It took over an hour to get there from Clayton, a trip of less than 20 miles.