The first week of the new year is now behind us. I know it took me a few extra days to recover from the holiday. In fact, my mom just flew home yesterday. We had a wonderful December full of family and food and fun. I hope you did, too.
Now life is now back to a more regular routine so I’ve spent the day focusing on the upcoming year a little more clearly. I’m not much for New Years Resolutions but I am a big fan of goals. So, in the spirit of the New Year I would like to share my 2012 genealogy goals with you. I hope you will do the same.
1. Backup, Backup, Backup
If you are using Family Tree Maker (or some other desktop software program) you probably notice each time you shut down that it takes a moment to create a backup file. This is great but what happens if your computer crashes or (heaven forbid) there is some kind of disaster that affects you or your home. Today I took the time to set a reminder on my calendar for the 1st and the 15th of every month to backup my genealogy files to a remote location. I also made a note to send a copy of the file to my parents every three months. AND, I have put my passwords for both my online backup service and my Ancestry.com account into my “Final Papers” notebook. That way if anything happens to me my family has access to all my hard work.
2. Get More Family Members Involved
That brings me to my second goal. If something ever did happen to me I hope my family would appreciate all of the hard work and the time and money (and love) that went into building our family tree. But, how can they appreciate it if I don’t ever give them an opportunity to participate? How can they recognize what went into this or even care if I haven’t allowed them to be part of the process? Over the holidays my mother and sister and I spent ten hours or so sorting through old family slides. Stories were told. Memories were made and relived. And, a plan was crafted to share these memories at my grandmother’s 90th birthday later this year. My goal this month is to create a list of other ways to help more family members be more involved in OUR family history. (Maybe I’ll share it with you in another blog post once it’s finished.)
3. Digitize, Digitize, Digitize
Those slides I was just talking about, there were over 2000 of them. They date from the early 1950s through the mid-1980s. We pulled out about 1500 of them that we are going to have digitized. We then sorted them into clean, new boxes that we got from the company that is going to do that for us. They’re still sitting on my dining room table. The goal is to get them digitized as soon as possible. Then I need to make sure they are all tagged and labeled with the right dates and the names of all the people. Then I need to make sure copies of these pictures are shared with as many family members as possible. This is not a small job in terms of time or money. But, I have help (see #2 above) and I have some time. It’s a 2012 goal not a January goal.
4. Make Sure Everything Has A Source
I got started in family history much the same way many of you did. I was interested in learning more about who I am and where I come from. I didn’t have a lot of skill or education as to how to do it “right.” I eagerly went about collecting as much information as I could from whatever source I could to grow my family tree as big as I could as quickly as I could. What that means is that I have a whole lot of unsourced, and potentially inaccurate, information in my tree. My goal this year is to make sure that everything in my tree is sourced with all the appropriate records I can find. If I can’t find a source for the information it’s getting pruned – or at least set aside until I can prove it or disprove it. I want to know that what I am putting out there for the world to see is as close to the truth as I can get it. This isn’t a small job. But, I am certain that if I pace myself and do a little each month, I will have a stellar tree by the end of the year.
5. Respond to Messages
Hopefully, you are all aware of the ability you have to contact other Ancestry.com members who are researching the same family lines as you. Over the years I have contacted lots of members. Sometimes those efforts yield genealogy gold and long-term relationships with cousins I didn’t know I had. Other times I get very frustrated when I send out query after query and no one responds. Well, late last year I realized that I had a dozen or more messages from other members sitting in my Ancestry inbox that I hadn’t responded to. I was appropriately chastened. So, I have set a goal (and a reminder on my calendar) to spend some time every Friday going through my inbox and responding to other members who have emailed me. Even if it turns out they aren’t really related to me, I owe them the courtesy of a response.
There you have it – my top five genealogy goals for 2012. I have a feeling it’s going to be a great year! And, I want to know. What are YOUR genealogy goals for this year?
Until next time – Have fun climbing your family tree…