Showing posts with label Cousin Bait blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cousin Bait blog. Show all posts

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Open Thread Thursday: The Genealogy Experience

Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers poses this question today:

When you “do genealogy” – be it research, heritage travel, publishing a family history book – what do you want to come away with? Is the concept of an experience even important? Should we be concerned with what genealogists and family historians experience when they interact with the genealogy industry? What do you see as the components of a meaningful genealogy experience? Education? Product creation? Research? Travel?

One part of the experience, for me, is the goal of preparing a family tree so future generations know where they came from (location and people) and get a sense of what our ancestors were like. I'm delighted I have such a wide range of products available for this purpose (software for generating trees, Web sites for publishing books, etc).

Research is vital, and I really value sources that are clear and accessible. It's great to be able to use both HeritageQuest and Ancestry, for instance, to look at old Census records, because images on one are sometimes more readable than the images on another. Of course  something scanned 10 years ago might look much better if scanned with today's technology, but there are so many sources to digitize. However do sites in the genealogy industry prioritize?

Another, more urgent part of the experience is my hope of connecting with cousins. Just this month I uncovered a previously unknown cousin of my husband, only to immediately learn that she had died 10 months ago. We've written her daughter (no answer yet, but it's only 2 weeks since the letter was sent). If only we had found the cousin earlier, maybe we could have shared family stories and even photos. That's why I think, on balance, that it's good for sites to push ahead with digitizing materials never before available or searchable online.

So many ancestors and relatives, so little time. My blog successfully served as cousin bait when my 2d cousin Lois found me one year ago. We've really enjoyed getting to know each other's families and sharing long-forgotten family stories.

Maybe other relatives will go looking for my family or my husband's family and, in doing an online search, will land on this blog and make the connection. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Blogiversary and Cousin Bait

How time flies--just three years ago, I began writing this genealogy blog. My first entry was about great-grandpa Meyer Mahler.

One of the most exciting genealogical events of the past three years has been meeting my 2d cousin Lois and her family. Lois found me through this blog! I'd hoped the blog would serve as cousin bait, and getting to know Lois (who also introduced me to cousin Lil) has been delightful. Lois, Lil, and I are all descended from Meyer Mahler--no wonder I'm thankful.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wisdom Wednesday: 5 Things to Do Before I Become an Ancestor (Update)

Last year I wrote about the 5 genealogy things I have to do before I (gulp) become an ancestor. Now it's time to update the list with a slightly different take on the 5 "must do" genealogy tasks:
  1. Document the most important things (and don't count on technology). The genealogist(s) of the next generation may not be able to figure out who's who and what's what, even with the Census photocopies and other notes in my files. Whoever comes after me may not know (or care) how to use my genealogy software and they sure won't be able to access my Mozy backups. That's why I'm creating and printing pedigree charts and family info NOW, this week. Each major family has a file folder in my cabinet and some major figures in each family have their own folders within folders. But if there are no pedigree charts, a system that makes sense to me may not make sense to the next genealogist. So I'm putting the basics into print and sending a copy to interested family members, with extra copies in my files.
  2. Keep putting labels on photos. I've made a good start. Nearly all my photos are in archival plastic sleeves. But I feel strongly about telling the stories that go with the photos (see #3 below) and that's slowing me down. I've been scanning each photo and writing up a couple of paragraphs about it. After all, that's the only way that the little girl who was 18 months old in a family photo will know that we were gathered for a certain holiday, that her dress was hand-made by her mother, that great-uncle Joe had just died, and her grandmother was too ill to be present. Small details, I know, but they bring family history alive and they put the basic facts into a context. And, because others may not know how to use my Picasa photo software, where I've carefully named each scanned photo, I need to print out the photo with the story and file it where it can be found.
  3. Tell the stories. What did my ancestors value? What did they aspire to? What made them cry or laugh? Why did they leave their hometowns and move across the state or around the world? What else was happening around them that affected their lives? I know some (not all) of the answers...and I'm compelled to tell the stories. Maybe my nieces have a vague understanding of WWII, but they don't know much about what their grandpa did in the war and why he was busted to private more than once. The stories show what kind of guy grandpa was! And when I tell a story to a family member, it's possible that that relative may know another part of the story or have a different take on the situation. So keep telling the stories.
  4. Reopen the search for key ancestors. Three years ago, I conducted an intensive search to determine whether William Madison McClure and his father Benjamin McClure are definitely my husband's ancestors. With the help of a genealogy angel who had some key local history books, I concluded that they were "very probably" family members. It's time to reopen the search, write away for more info if necessary and available, and either put them on the pedigree charts or find out who belongs there. The McClures are high on my "to do" list for 2011. And I have other holes in the family tree to plug, of course.
  5. Stay in touch. It was on my previous list and it's still on my list this time around. Last fall, my 2d cousin Lois found me through this blog and we've met and corresponded. Plus she introduced me to our 2d cousin Lil! The joy of genealogy is in meeting cousins and widening the family circle, IMHO. Blogging is wonderful cousin bait--and I mean that in the best way possible. If a cousin I haven't found does an online search for our family name and lands on my blog, I'll be thrilled, and I'll stay in touch.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - "Cousin Bait" Blog

Over on "West in New England," Bill West posted a message he called "What is the worth of a genealogy blog?" Some of the people who commented on Bill's post mentioned genealogy blogs they called "Cousin Bait."

That's my theme for Treasure Chest Thursday--Cousin Bait.

I'm not a professional genealogist nor is my blog intended as a scholarly recitation of my family history. The real reason to maintain my blog is, as my masthead says, "Ongoing adventures in genealogy...finding out who my ancestors were and connecting with cousins today!"

In other words, the true treasure (for me) is in connecting with cousins. Thankfully, I've been blessed with quite a treasure trove of cousins to connect with. Most recently my 2nd cousin Lois "found" me when she Googled her grandfather's name and up popped a blog post I'd written about hoping to find out his story. Her grandfather, Louis Volk, was my great-uncle by marriage to my great-aunt, Ida Mahler, and in trying to learn about them, I've now connected with her.

Cuz Lois has lots of stories to tell about this line of our family! And she's delighted to share her stories with me. Just as important, she's introducing me to my other 2nd cousins--cousins that, thanks to Lois, I'll be meeting in person in just a few months.

So I like the idea of a Cousin Bait blog because it brings me closer to my treasured family connections. Yay for Cousin Bait blogs! And here's hoping that 2011 will bring more cousins together, in your family and in mine.