January is a time to take stock of the past year and make plans for the new one ahead. In addition to resolutions about food and exercise, it’s the perfect time to set some goals related to family history. Not sure where to start? Two Ancestry professional genealogists recently shared the pet projects they plan to tackle in 2018. We hope they will inspire beginner and experienced family historians alike.
For the Professional: Get Credentials
With relatively few academic degrees in the field of genealogy, professionals often seek accreditation to show colleagues and potential clients that they are skilled and adhere to a code of ethics. Danielle Johnson already works for AncestryProGenealogists, but her personal resolution for 2018 is to boost her career by getting accredited. “You are more likely to get hired and promoted with certification or accreditation,” Danielle said. “And it can help you find clients.”
There are two primary organizations that offer a credential in the genealogy world: The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen), and the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). The process for each organization is different, and each offers its own benefits. In 2018, Danielle plans to complete a four-generation research project for the first of three levels in the ICAPGen accreditation process.
For the Hobbyist: Tackle a Brick Wall
Of course, not everyone who enjoys genealogy needs such rigorous credentials. If family history is more of a hobby, Danielle suggests making a commitment to break down one brick wall on your family tree in 2018. “Pick something challenging that you have been avoiding,” Danielle said. “I know in my family tree, there are areas where I have picked the low-hanging fruit.”
While hints and public trees can be a great way to get started, focusing only on those aids is not a good long-term strategy, and it’s not going to answer the more difficult questions in a family tree. To do that, Danielle suggests looking for every possible record that’s available for that specific genealogical problem. Classes can be an excellent way to learn more, either for an introduction to general methods of research or instruction in a specific topic. The National Genealogical Society has a comprehensive survey of institutions that offer classes, many of which are fast, online, and free. From the link above, scroll down to the section titled “Improving Your Genealogical Skills.”
For Children: Teach them the Names of their Great-Grandparents
Many parents, aunts, and uncles struggle to get children interested in family history, but it’s not impossible. Make it a resolution in 2018 to help them memorize the names of their great-grandparents. That’s the goal of Sherry Lindsay, a Certified Genealogist who recently started working on this goal with her 7-year-old son.
To prepare, Sherry made sure all the profiles in her Ancestry tree had pictures attached, even the people her son already knows. “That way the pattern makes sense,” Sherry said. “He understands that this is where the dads go in the tree, and this is where the moms go. He understands the physicality of it.” She also made him the center of the tree, so he could visualize his place in the family line.
“Now, when my parents tell stories of their family and ancestors, he will know which person they are talking about,” Sherry said. She has found that it is perfect to practice while driving in the car, asking him questions and giving him clues when he gets stuck. As a bonus, his younger brother has learned along with him.
Genealogy is a lifelong endeavor with new repositories and avenues of research opening all the time. What are your family history resolutions for 2018? Please share in the comments below.