Friday, December 23, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy: Advice (Can't Do It All!)

This is the final week of the 2011 Personal Genealogy Challenge. It's been my most active--and successful--year of genealogy research ever, because so many brick walls came tumbling down. Of course, now I have more leads to follow and more ancestors to discover, which means 2012 will be another interesting and eventful year of family history detective work!

Based on my experiences, here's some advice to myself and those who follow me:

  1. You can't do it all. There will never be enough time to follow every ancestor back through the decades and across the miles, and also document their connections and movements. I just have to prioritize: My Ancestry family trees will be at the top of the list because I want everything to be in one place for relatives and descendants to see.
  2. You don't have to do it all yourself. Finding new cousins has been very exciting, and new cousins also means new info and more help with the family tree. More relatives are getting the genealogy bug and will do some lookups or look for family photos. Posting on surname and place message boards has put me in touch with genealogy angels who enjoy doing small acts of kindness, such as looking up one of my hubby's ancestors in the UK census. Thank you, one and all, for making this a fun group effort!
  3. You don't have to do it all at once. Genealogy is a journey, and a memorable one at that. Remember the saying "Life by the yard is hard, life by the inch is a cinch"? Genealogy progresses inch by inch, and I'm enjoying the unfolding of each new wrinkle. Every day or two, I try to add to the family trees I'm building on Ancestry or write a note about a family photo. Eventually the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place, if I work on it steadily.
  4. You have to take the long view. This is related to #3. Genealogy is a long-term proposition, not an instant message. One Canadian source I contacted for info about a great-uncle told me that he'd get back to me in 6 months, once the organization's archives have been moved into their new offices and unpacked. Even if I wanted to go there in person, I couldn't see anything until the records are unpacked, so patience is a virtue. Meanwhile, I'll pursue another line of inquiry, as they say in the BBC mysteries.
Happy holidays to my relatives and Geneablogger friends!

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