Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The 21 Day Genealogy Challenge - Day 21: Recommitting to Your Genealogy Goals

Welcome to day 21 of the 21 Day Genealogy Challenge!  You made it!  The purpose of this challenge was to give you an opportunity to review and recommit to your genealogy goals.  Let’s take a peek at what we covered in those challenge days.

Day One:  Prepare!  This was our preparation day.  We chose an ancestor we wanted to be the primary focus of our research.  We discussed the importance of choosing a program that best suited our needs.  And, we also talked about keeping a Genealogy Journal.  I have had readers reach out to me since this posting to tell me that keeping a Genealogy Journal has allowed them the freedom of not having to remember where they left off in their note taking and research. I know it has been a lifesaver for me to have one on hand when I am traveling to various libraries and interviews.

Day Two: It Begins With YOU!  As we enter our personal information, we cannot overlook our parents and grandparents.  While we may not know everything there is to learn about them, we should enter all that we do know.  Do not forget to add aunts and uncles, as well!  They are also an important part of our family.

Day Three: Gather. Identify. Sort.   The focus of day three was the gathering of photos.  So many times we receive old pictures that have no identifying marks on them.  It is best to sort these pictures from the ones we can identify and then ask family members if they recognize the people and places depicted in the photos.  Remember to sort out the photos you no longer want or need, and share them with other family members.  Scan the photos you decide to keep and upload them in your family tree.  Keep a copy of the scanned pictures on a removable hard drive or thumb drive for safe keeping.

Day Four: Interviewing Family Members.   When we are lucky enough to be able to interview a family member, we should always arrive on time and prepared.  Provide your relative with a list of questions prior to the interview.  Bring along old photos as prompts, should the conversation lag.  Always test your recording devices before going to the interview, and test again prior to beginning the interview.  You don’t want to find out when you get home that your system was not working properly. It is wise to bring a backup recording system with you.

Day Five: Consistency and Standards  If we have more than one family tree we are working with, it is important that any changes we make to one program, we make the same changes to the others.  Our research standards should be high.  If we want other family researchers to take us seriously, we should always source our research and include those source links in our family history.  Think of the trees that you have seen that list information but doesn’t show where that information came from.  It’s frustrating isn’t it?  Always cite your sources!

Day Six: A Week in Review.  It is always good to stop and take a look at what we are working on and see if there are any areas that need particular attention.

Day Seven: Giving Back  Giving back to the Genealogy world is good Karma.  There are several ways we can help other genealogists in their quest for answers while we wait for sources to appear to help us tear down our own brick walls.  FamilySearch and BillionGraves are two wonderful volunteer sites.

Day Eight: Federal Census Records, City Directories and WWI/WWII Draft Cards. Records such as these provide a lot of personal information on our ancestors.  We can learn addresses, names of close family members, occupation, as well as height, weight and colour of eyes and hair.  Don’t assume the document facing you on the screen is the entire record.  Very often there is a second page. Always scroll to the opposing pages to see if there is more information on your ancestor.

Day Nine: Google Maps.    Take those addresses you found on the Census records, City Directories and military draft cards and enter them in Google Maps.  If you are lucky, you just might be able to get a glimpse of the house your ancestors lived in.  At the very least, you will get an opportunity to take a look around their neighbourhood or town.  It is a wonderful way of using modern technology to see what our ancestors saw – only just a slight more modern version!

Day Ten: Newspapers and our Ancestors.  Articles such as these provide a plethora of information that may be useful in our research.  Names and places are given which may help break through a genealogical brick wall you are struggling with.  Not to mention, you get a glimpse into the everyday life of your ancestor.  How cool is that?  Check out  the newspaper section on Ancestry or sites dedicated to newspapers such as Newspapers.com or GenealogyBank.

Day Eleven: Photographs.  Sorting, scanning and sharing photographs.  Be sure to safe those scanned photos on a removable hard drive or thumb drive for safe keeping!

Day Twelve: What to do with old family letters.  There is so much to be gleaned from not only the old letters we have inherited, but on the envelopes, as well!  Read each item carefully and take notes.  Don't forget to digitize those letters and share with your relatives.

Day Thirteen: A Week In Review.  A review of the top entries of the week.

Day Fourteen: Giving back to the Genealogy Community.  Spotlight on BillionGraves and Family Search.

Day Fifteen: Interviewing Family Members:Skill development. Attention to detail in conducting and transcribing a family interview.

Day Sixteen:  Passport Applications.  It is amazing the amount of information we can obtain from our ancestor’s passport applications.  Like the Census records and Military Draft cards, we can learn the names of close family members, as well as location of birth and current residence.

Day Seventeen: Ship Manifests.  Like the passport application, a ship’s manifest will often give clues to the names of family members.  Even if your ancestor is traveling alone, it is likely he/she listed the name of a relative they just left, as well as the name of relatives they are traveling to see. 
Day Eighteen:  Conflicting Evidence  No doubt in your research you have come across documents that conflict with each other.  It is important to review these documents carefully and find the common pieces of evidence between them.

Day Nineteen: Wills and Probate  Evidence found in a will or probate record can lead you to further information not only regarding family members, but land owned by your ancestors, as well.

DayTwenty: Family History Narratives  You don't have to be a professional writer to share your ancestor's story.  Consider writing a blog or journal.  These outlets are wonderful formats to share your knowledge of your ancestors with your relatives.  

Congratulations!  You have completed the 21 Day Genealogy Challenge!  I hope that there were some things you learned along the way.  The purpose of the challenge was to give us a moment to review and evaluate work we may have begun but set aside for awhile.  It is often hard to get back in the groove of things, but I hope this challenge motivated you to do so!

I hope you will follow my blog in the future as I continue my search for abandoned Civil War era cemeteries.  I am attempting to tear down my own genealogical brick walls, and will posting about those efforts as well.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them in the Blog Comment section below.  Please take a moment to share this blog on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.  The share icons are just below this blog entry. 

Thank you for joining this challenge and remember…..

History not shared is History forgotten!