Well, it seems like once again I blinked and Christmas came and went. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly that long awaited day comes and goes each year. We did have a very nice holiday though and after the â€œinterestingâ€ preceding weeks which included a dog with pneumonia, a week-long stint at my daughterâ€™s schoolâ€™s Santa Shop, and a lot of last minute shopping, I am looking forward to a little down time.
As I walked back into my office, it struck me that I would be preparing the first newsletter of the year, with the delivery date conveniently falling on New Yearâ€™s Day. Looking around the office, it was clear that several of my New Yearâ€™s resolutions this year would involve a much needed clean up and organization stint. (Yes, the filing got away from me again.)
With plenty of tasks calling for my attention, I decided that this would be the perfect time to put my family history resolutions down on paper. With a couple hundred thousand of you out there to witness them, maybe Iâ€™ll be able to follow through this year! And perhaps, there are one or two that youâ€™d like to add to your list of resolutions.
Resolve to Overhaul the Office Space
Take a look around. Is there an aspect of your office space that is not working for you? Are your files too full and is the overflow contributing to growing piles in your workspace? Look at the problem areas and get to the root of the problem. If your files are too full, split them off into smaller ones. If one family binder is too full, break it into several binders organized by generation or individual family. If your space is limited, look for storage solutions that will best utilize the space you have.
Resolve to Back Up Your Family History Regularly
This week, my computer started acting up and it gave me a brief scare as I realized it had been months since I last backed up my family history files. That was enough to get me going, but I may not get that chance if I wait again. Viruses, computer crashes, and other disasters happen without warning. This year I resolve to stick to my back up schedule, no matter how busy I get.
Resolve to Review Recent Generations.
As we progress back in time with our research to our second and third great-grandparents and beyond, we may tend to overlook more recent ancestors, despite the fact that new resources have become more readily available. For example, the other day a reader commented that she was having trouble accessing the WWI Draft Registration records at Ancestry. To check and see if there was a problem with that database, I entered my maiden name of Szucs to see if I could see results. As I did, it occurred to me that I had never looked for my great-grandfather in this database. I had assumed he was too old, but once I did the math, I realized he would likely be included in the third registration.
My grandfather had been born in Jefferson County, Ohio in 1906, and I knew that John Sr. ran the company store for a mining company and that several family members worked in the mines. I had found the family in both the 1910 and 1920 census in Cleveland though and assumed that they had moved there between 1906 and 1910. The 1918 WWI Registration held a surprise in that John had reported his residence as Barton, Belmont County, Ohio. Clearly, he had gone back to the mining business sometime after 1910 and then moved back to Ohio before 1920. Iâ€™ve double checked and am certain that both census entries are his, and the information on the WWI registration matches up, right down to his birth date. Now I have a new location to search and Iâ€™m hoping to find other family members in the area, that I had been previously unable to locate.
Resolve to Keep Contact with Family
When I found the above mentioned record, instead of filing it away, I immediately sent it on to my dad and my aunt. Although they have some interest in family history, Iâ€™ve found it sometimes takes something like this to get them talking about it. Iâ€™m hoping that it will open up some correspondence on the subject and possibly stir up a memory that holds a clue for me. If you have family members that you have a tough time getting information from, send them a record or two and then follow up with a phone call. Not only is it a great way to keep in touch and generate conversation about family history, but youâ€™ll also be helping to ensure its preservation by dissemination.
Resolve to Schedule in Time for Family History
We schedule in time for work obligations, school, chores, family fun, and so many other aspects of our lives, why not do the same for family history? Pick a time thatâ€™s typically convenient for you and set aside an hour a week, or if possible several times a week. Even a half hour, several times a week can add up. If you can manage to get in three hours a week, youâ€™ll have logged over 150 hours of research time by next year, and that could represent substantial progress.
Resolve to Journal
At Christmas, my mother started a game where we were supposed to jot down a memory and share it with the family. I drew a blank. So much has happened this year, but it was tough to pin down one memory. How hard will it be years from now? If you donâ€™t already journal your familyâ€™s current events, make your start now. Years from now, you and future generations will be glad you did.
Resolve to Follow Up on Resolutions
Write out your list of resolutions and remind yourself of them periodically. Challenge yourself to renew them periodically throughout 2007 by setting reminders on your computer calendar that include your list. As they pop up, if youâ€™ve been sticking to them, youâ€™ll feel a great sense of accomplishment. If you donâ€™t do too well, when the reminder comes up, donâ€™t be discouraged. Review them and make adjustments if necessary to ensure success before the next reminder pops up.
Resolve to Be Thankful
As the old year comes to a close and the New Year begins, itâ€™s also a time to reflect on our many blessings. I am thankful for my ancestors for the brave decisions and the sacrifices they made that made my life possible. I am thankful for my parents for the inspiration, guidance, and love they have given me throughout my life. I am thankful for my husband and daughter for the love and joy they bring me, the patience they have for my genealogical pursuits–and the late dinners that are often as a result of those pursuits!
Iâ€™m also thankful for you, my Ancestry Weekly Journal family, all of the contributing columnists, the Ancestry editorial team, and everyone at Ancestry who has helped keep this newsletter going for the past eight years. Itâ€™s been a long year–at times frustrating and at times filled with â€œhappy dances.â€ Through it all, Iâ€™ve heard from many of you and continue to learn from your comments, Quick Tips, experiences, and suggestions. Thanks to all of you and I wish you and yours a very happy and healthy 2007!
Juliana Smith has been an editor of Ancestry.com newsletters for more than eight years and is author of “The Ancestry Family Historian’s Address Book.” She has written for “Ancestry” Magazine and wrote the Computers and Technology chapter in “The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy,” rev. 3rd edition. Juliana can be reached by e- mail at Juliana@Ancestry.com, but she regrets that her schedule does not allow her to assist with personal research.
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