Thursday, March 24, 2011

Aren't We Cute!

We thought you all might enjoy seeing our new trading card!  Sheri Beffort Fenley over at her Face Book page, who is also The Educated Genealogist, created this fun page for genealogists to post their own trading cards or you can go and make one at Big Huge Labs. There are already a bunch of fun cards that have been created and uploaded on the FB group page.

If you haven't been there yet, stop over and check out the group Genealogy Blogger Trading Cards. Thanks Sheri, this is fun project for all of us and something we can print out and share if we choose to. I stayed up until the early morning hours a couple nights ago, just playing around with card designs and looking at the others that have been added on the site. Some are serious, some will bring a smile. Join in for some fun...!

Thanks again to all our great readers and for the kind awards they have recently bestowed on us. Thanks to all these ladies and we urge you to check out their  great genealogy blogs!

One Lovely Blog award  from:
Cindy Harriss, Generations of Germans
Shelly Bishop, A Sense of Family
Mary Hellman,  Mary Jane's Genes

You Go Genealogy Girl #2--Cheri
I see that I am still #2, can't I be #1 just for a day?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Are You a Genealogist?

For some time now I have pondered the use of the word or title of "genealogist." The dictionary gives the meaning as someone who studies, traces or records the descent of a person or family from an ancestor generation by generation. Does that term apply to all of us who spend our time looking for our ancestors and studying that family history?

Surely in this profession there are those who consider many of us only to be amateurs, not yet worthy to wear the title of genealogist and indeed many of us are just that...amateurs, but calling oneself a genealogist does not come lightly to most of us who seek those family connections of the past. It is my personal belief that anyone who strives to pursue his goals or trade can carry the title of that trade. Being an apprentice shoemaker or a young chemist in the lab still makes that person deserved of his title of cobbler or scientist. A "rock-hound" can hold his title whether he seeks that precious gemstone once a week or digs in the dirt for it everyday. Of course there are exceptions i.e. the medical Doctor and many other titles reserved for those who have attained a degree of higher learning and those of professional standing.

I recently had an older gentleman in my circle of friends from our fledgling genealogy society ask if I was a genealogist. My answer to that question was "yes...while I am not a professional genealogist, I am one just the same and so are you. You are here every week, working hard to bring your family history to light so don't be afraid to call yourself a genealogist."He was excited at the aspect of being part of the family of genealogists. If you love family history and care enough to find and honor your ancestors--you too are a genealogist!

No matter if you are a newbie to the group, wear your title proudly as you strive to ascend the ladder to perfection with your research goals. Two great people in my life also wear the title of Genealogist. One is the You Go Genealogy Girl #1, Ruby...she is an official Professional Genealogist; the other is my mother-in-law, Kathleen, while not a professional in title she has been doing genealogy research for over 50 years and I value equally the knowledge and help that both have given me.  You can learn from those around you, both the professionals and those who are not. Value all the genealogists that you become acquainted with as new and different ideas are what keeps us all moving forward. Stuck in a rut? I bet that asking anyone you know who is a "genealogist" will help to get the answer. I've never met a more caring and sharing group of people than those who  proudly admit that they are a genealogist whether they are just beginners or seasoned veterans in the field.

One of the best speeches that I have heard in a long time was given recently by Curt Witcher at the RootsTech Conference. Most of us did not get to attend but his wonderful presentation is offered online and should not be missed by any "genealogist." You can find his video here and I highly recommend that if you have not seen it, take an hour, grab a refreshing drink and listen in. One important area (among several others) was when he eluded to the fact that the often overlooked aspects of the genealogy profession  today is to have fun while  finding your family roots. The operable idea here is to have fun and ultimately to be able to leave a legacy for our own family to share and enjoy.

That brings us back to the title of "genealogist" proud of adding that title to your own name. Don't worry about getting everything just perfect when it comes to researching and record keeping. Perfection usually only comes along to a select few in real life, no matter the profession, but that should not keep anyone from trying. Research your family history, strive to do it correctly, but most of all you should love the hunt and the rewards that come along the way. If we show our children and grandchildren what fun it can be to search for our ancestors, even if it isn't the perceived perfect way then maybe they too will want to take up where we leave off and become the next generation, the next genealogist in our family.

You Go Genealogy Girl #2--Cheri 

Lady and boy element in the scrap page is from the designs of  "Idgie's Heartsong" of Heritage Scrap

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Trying to Remember

I am not sure that I remember when the "I can't remember" phase hit. Maybe it was between 50 and 60, but I think it was more like between 63 and 67. However, YGGG #2, Cheri, has the same problem and she is still in her 50s. I think ... can't remember for sure. However, I can tell you that my Great, Great Grandmother Jennie was born 1 April 1847 and died 2 March 1920. She was married on 20 February 1868. I can remember my social security number, home address, but sometimes revert to my old phone number I had from 1976 to 1996. I get a little mixed up with my cell phone number and still have not totally mastered the art of texting.

Sometimes I find the cereal in the refrigerator and the milk in the pantry. Ever done that? Yesterday I lost my cleaning supplies which in a way pleased me. It was becoming a good excuse not to clean house, when I discovered them on a box of tissues in the hallway closet. It was actually YGGG #2's idea to look there.

In anticipation of having my income tax filed, I began looking for last year's income tax papers. After two hours of combing the house, even the garage, I gave up. Somewhere in the recesses of my brain there was a spark and I realized I was looking for 2009 and not 2010 which is what I'm preparing this year. Blondes may have more fun, but they also have some challenges along the way.

YGGG #2 has a sign that says "You Put It Where Stupid?" She leaves herself messages taped to the doors, the windows, the counter tops, the cupboards, the computers, the chairs, tables and mirrors. Her monthly bill for tape is excessive. I am not sure what works or why I remember the ancients and all their vital information and can't remember where I left my cell phone.

I have applications on my computer to help me remember and then I forget to use them. I use Evernote for making notes and to-do lists. Their banner is "Remember Everything." I have a list on there to remind me of what to pack for our annual two-week trip to Salt Lake City. That's okay if I don't forget that I put it on Evernote. If you haven't used Evernote, give it a try. You may remember where you put it on your computer. YGGG #2 and I use Dropbox personally and together to exchange information. If you are limited in attachment size on e-mails, this is a great way to exchange information. However, sometimes I have to call to remind her that information is in the Dropbox.

Brushing my teeth I remember the need to check out an elusive ancestor on Internet. If I wait until the teeth are clean, I will forget. I hurry to the computer with a mouth drooling of toothpaste and spit and quickly get on Internet. An hour later, I still haven't brushed my hair or put on my socks. Then I have to remember to put myself together for the day ... maybe in another five minutes.

Hobbling around for the second year with another knee failure, I have sometimes discovered my cane in one of the closets. I have notes around the house that Wednesday is knee replacement surgery day. I don't want to forget and hope the surgeon remembers. Of course, he hasn't hit that remarkable age of "I'm entitled to forget." With me it's like wearing red and purple, saying what I want and forgetting what I want to forget. The later comes easy.

YGGG #2 says she will blog while I'm moaning and groaning, gritting my teeth and wondering why I had another knee replaced. I hope she doesn't forget. Add to my list ... remind YGGG #2 to blog!

YGGG #1 --- Ruby

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Getting Musty and Dirty

Do you have brickwalls in your research? I don't. If I had brickwalls, I would need a sledge hammer, maybe dynamite and a lot of muscle just to get a hole in that wall. Sorry, but I'm not up to that. However, I do have RESEARCH PROBLEMS. I can tackle those with wisdom, time and patience.

You have those so-called brickwalls because you keep banging your head against the bricks. Och! That hurts! On the other hand I can use my head (aka brain) on the research problem with minimal agony. First I need to analyze why I am having problems with the RESEARCH PROBLEM. Take out "problem" and I might have better luck. Ah ... research!

To get further with your research you need to understand the people in the "problem." Does the information you have make sense? Look at the locations and dates. As far as location, our forbearers did not stand still, so think about migrations. Think about others in the family and include friends and people outside their circle. Where did everybody go? Did your ancestor follow or lead?

Now let's see what else we need to learn. How about history? When I was a child I was disappointed when I didn't see my ancestor's name in a school history book. I penned his name in it ... not with pencil, but with ink. It was there for the life of the book. Are you in a rut of picking up a genealogy book, flipping to the index, frowning, then muttering "nothing there?"
Don't do that. Study, study and study just like you were back in school. Do you buy genealogy books that gather dust on the shelf? Pull them out and start reading and learning. Those wonderful books, such as Red Book and The Handy Book for Genealogists have information on state research, county formations, where to locate records and more. How can you possibly do research wearing blindfolds?

Have you gotten musty and dirty lately? I know it is difficult when you set at the computer day and night typing in surnames, searching for everything that might allow you to break through that confounded brickwall. Oops ... research problem. If you haven't had dirt on your hands, you haven't done research. Internet is wonderful and has spoiled all of us. Don't fret, I'm not advocating that you unplug the computer.

My granddaughter told me that cemeteries are the most peaceful place on earth. She's right. Have you ever done research in a cemetery and taken time to be still and listen? If peace has a sound, it is there. Now that's a place you can get dirty and not make mud pies.

Even if the record is on microfilm at the Family History Library or abstracted in a book, you need to look at it for yourself. I will never forget opening a large probate file in a courthouse to find personal letters among the papers. One was the last letter the testator received from a son. That was not found in the abstract or on microfilm. If I had written to the courthouse asking for information from the file, they most likely would not have photocopied all those letters. It would have been just the pertinent stuff with no frills.

Maybe you can't get to every courthouse, library or cemetery. There's always a volunteer or genealogist to help out. While many genealogy societies are diminishing in size, there are most likely people in that area who will give you some advise or maybe even look thoroughly through records for you. Just ask! They will be ones with dirt on their hands.

You need to develop a research plan. Notice I did not say brickwall plan. Have a goal. It is easier to have a simple goal. Like any true goal it should be a challenge, with an end. If it never ends, you will be prone to procrastination. I bet you have never procrastinated! Write out the goal and look at the holes in your pedigree or family group sheet. What is missing? How are you going to proceed to research to the end of your goal? What types of records will most likely contain the information you need? Will they be in a courthouse or on microfilm or in a cemetery? Can you get musty and dirty?

In genealogy (at least mine), there are no negative results ... only positive. I can hear you saying "in your dreams." Turn those negative results into something positive. You now know that by all indications an ancestor was not in a certain state or county at a given time, or did not leave a will in that county. Smile. It's positive because you have researched and don't need to check those records again. However, you need to keep a record of those results and where you looked for the information. Keep in mind, through the generosity of genealogists just like you, some long lost box of records may be found in a dirty courthouse basement a few years from now and your ancestor's records may be in it. That's why you need to keep an open and check and recheck. It's never ending!

You must enjoy what you are doing. Can you laugh at your own mistakes? Can you talk to your ancestors? Can you walk a mile or two in their shoes? Then you are enjoying genealogy. Research is starting over and not because you ran into a brickwall, but because you are in a learning process to solve your research problem.

Ruby -- You Go Genealogy Girl #1 --- who has no brickwalls!


Find a Grave

Search 31.6 million cemetery records at by entering a surname and clicking search: