Showing posts with label FamilyTreeLive. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FamilyTreeLive. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Looking Back on 2019 and Ahead to 2020

It's time for a look back at this year's genealogical progress and a look ahead at my genealogical FUTURE (#52Ancestors style).

At the start of 2019, my genealogy goals were to connect with more cousins, network with other family-history researchers, continue my genealogy education, develop additional presentations, follow up on DNA clues to ancestors, and write new family-history booklets.

So how much genealogical progress have I made this year? A lot, even as I look ahead to the FUTURE:
  • Through a DNA match, I connected with a paternal 2d cousin in Canada and shared 1940s photos of his grandfather! At least eight other solid DNA matches haven't responded to my outreach efforts, but I'll try again soon (FUTURE). I've also asked several more cousins to consider testing...and I hope they will agree. It's not an easy sell these days, with people concerned about privacy and what happens to their DNA results. 
  • Presenting lectures at the inaugural Family Tree Live in London gave me a chance to meet really lovely genealogy folks I previously knew only through social media. I came home with great tips about UK genealogy research, wonderful memories of a rewarding conference, and new genie friends. 
  • Participating in Twitter chats like #AncestryHour (2 pm EST on Tuesdays) and #GenChat (10 pm EST on alternate Fridays) has been fun as well as highly educational. I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve as a "guest expert" during a #GenChat in 2020 (FUTURE)! 
  • "Attending" the virtual conference of the Virtual Genealogical Association in November triggered lots of new ideas. I've also found their webinars both practical and informative (with great handouts). I'm excited about presenting a webinar for the VGA in November, 2020 (FUTURE)!
  • I created or heavily revised several presentations, including a new "intermediate" talk on cousin bait, a revised "all levels" talk on curating family-history materials, and a new "beginners" talk on US/state censuses (with a 1950 preview). In addition, I'm starting to develop a talk about Northeastern ancestors catching Ohio Fever (FUTURE) and a full talk about prepping for the 1950 Census. My 2020 speaking schedule has several programs booked, with return dates held for other groups (FUTURE).
  • Through more than 135 blog posts, I wrote about ancestors and discussed new-to-me resources and methodologies. Again in 2019, I participated in Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors genealogy prompt challenge, and was truly honored that she highlighted several of my posts in her recap emails. Blogging is fun, a first draft of family history, and excellent cousin bait. More blogging is in my FUTURE!
Not originally planned but done! I completed a booklet about three of my husband's ancestors (Denning, Larimer, McClure) who, caught up in Ohio Fever, became pioneers on the frontier along the Ohio River. This booklet began as a series of blog posts--a rough draft of family history that I  enhanced with more historical context and personal specifics of each ancestor's life.

Not originally planned but done! I also finished an 11-page illustrated booklet about the musical life of my late Dad-in-law, Edgar James Wood. It's going to descendants, along with his "fake book" of musical standards. I wrote the story behind his learning to play piano, playing with college jazz bands in the Roaring Twenties, and playing nights and weekends as a professional musician when his day job was insurance adjustor.

Planned but not done! For the past year, I've been slowly gathering photos, documents, and info to write a booklet about my Mom (Daisy Schwartz Burk) and her twin sister (Dorothy Helen Schwartz). My Sis says she will do this with me in 2020. Thanks, Sis, I really appreciate the help in the FUTURE.

FUTURE: I plan to update and revise my genealogy book, the Kindle best-selling Planning a Future for Your Family's Past. Lots to look forward to in 2020!

Now there's only one more prompt to go in Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors series for 2019.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Am I Making Genealogical Progress?

Panelist at Family Tree Live! "Crash Course in Writing Your Family's Story"
Summer's here. With half a year gone and half a year to go, am I making progress toward my genealogical goals? Yes and no.


  • Continuing my genealogy education. I've been to Family Tree Live, learned from speakers at local genealogy meetings, and watched top-notch  webinars hosted by the Virtual Genealogical Association. Also, I've watched videos by Ancestry, Family Search, and MyHeritage, learning to use those sites more effectively for family-history research. Not to mention the many books I've read for historical background to put ancestors into context, and books I've read to learn more about genealogy in general. 
  • Connecting with other family history researchers. I'm now following 2300 Twitter accounts that focus on genealogy, history, archives, and related topics (compared with 1700 in January, 2018). Learning lots from participating in #AncestryHour and #GenChat also! Happy that this genealogy blog rose to #10 in the Feedspot list of family tree websites earlier this year. In August I'll celebrate my 11th blogiversary.
  • Building my portfolio of presentations. I spoke twice (and was on the family history writing panel shown at top) at the big new Family Tree Live conference in London. Also, I have scheduled many presentations at genealogy clubs and libraries throughout this year. Topics include social media for genealogy, writing family history, Genealogy 101, using Heritage Quest, and planning a genealogical "will." 
  • Connecting with cousins. I completed the big Farkas family indexing project and sent a flash drive to cousins with family letters and meeting minutes covering decades. A real accomplishment, in that it keeps family history alive for future generations. In addition, this blog continues to be cousin bait, as do my public trees on Ancestry and MyHeritage. DNA matches on these and other sites have enabled me to identify other definite and prospective cousins. "Almost" cousins (in-law relations) have also been in touch, and we've exchanged info about people we are both researching, which means more progress.


  • Do more with DNA. On back burner for first half of the year. Just this month, new DNA matches gave me enough info to finally begin color-coding for specific parts of the family tree. In the second half of 2019, I plan to proactively use tools on Ancestry, DNA Painter, MyHeritage, Gedmatch to get more insights as I organize my DNA matches.
  • Delayed new family history booklets. I started collecting photos and document images for a booklet on my Mom and Auntie, Daisy and Dorothy Schwartz, but haven't organized or written anything. With my Sis, I donated Dorothy's WAC memorabilia to the U.S. Army Women's Museum early in 2019, so that's progress. Haven't yet begun organizing and writing the long-promised photo book of Edgar James Wood and his wife, Marian McClure Wood. I've written shorter booklets but the family is interested in something longer and filled with lots of photos. Keeping this on my 2019 to-do list.
  • Following fewer genealogy blogs. The number of active genealogy blogs I'm following has fallen to only 66. It was 104 at the start of 2018, which means 38 have gone inactive since then. It's time to search out blogs to follow by checking Geneabloggers Tribe and other sources.
And of course, I'm still promoting my best-selling genealogy book/ebook, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, with ideas for organizing, analyzing, preserving, and passing family history to next generation.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Preview of My Year in Genealogy - 2019


I'm looking forward to a busy and rewarding year of #genealogy challenges, fun, breakthroughs, and connections in 2019.

As mentioned in my previous post, I went happily down the rabbit hole of unexpected family history developments in 2018 (including the very welcome surprise of receiving Farkas Family Tree documents, related to my mother's family, to scan, index, and share with cousins).

That's why I didn't accomplish all I'd planned to do when I previewed my 2018 agenda at the end of last December, so these two items are carried over to 2019.
  • I have two new family memory booklets in the planning stages. One will be about my mother (Daisy Schwartz Burk, 1919-1981) and her twin sister (Dorothy Helen Schwartz, 1919-2001). The other will be about my husband's parents (Marian McClure Wood, 1909-1983 and Edgar James Wood, 1903-1986).
  • I was planning more intensive investigations of my DNA matches, beginning with color-coding matches to see who fits where in the family tree. Then I heard about DNA Painter at RootsTech2018. Still, this went to the back burner in 2018. Not sure whether DNA will be a front-burner activity in 2019, but I will follow up the most promising of my DNA matches.
Another "resolution" for 2019 is to continue my genealogy education through attendance at Family Tree Live (London) and the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference (Washington, D.C.). It will be wonderful to meet other genealogy buffs, chat with speakers, and connect with blogging/tweeting friends in person at these conferences. 

Most of all, I am excited about staying in touch with my cousins--perhaps even making contact with cousins I didn't know about. The family tree is alive with leaves representing cousins of all ages, all over the world, connected by our #familyhistory. I am so grateful for you, cousins, sharing what you know about our ancestors and forging new bonds that we hope will endure into the next generation.


This "resolutions" post is the final #52Ancestors challenge for 2018. As always, thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for a year of thought-provoking prompts. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

My Year in Genealogy - 2018

Time to look back at 2018, an exciting and also a satisfying year for genealogy.

One of the high points was attending RootsTech 2018 and meeting so many of my genealogy blogging friends in person! (I'm in the center of the front row in this photo, wearing a white sweater.) It was a joy to say hello and chat with you, genea-folks. Also I attended the New York State Family History Conference, learning from experts and enjoying the company of genealogy friends from around the northeast.

I came away from both conferences with new ideas and new techniques to add to my momentum. Leaving RootsTech, I crammed into my suitcase specially-priced DNA kits, a new genealogy T-shirt and socks, and several of Nathan Dylan Goodwin's genealogy mysteries. Joining VGA, I learned a lot from watching webinars and lurking in VGA discussions.

Alas, not a single family history breakthrough during a day's research at the fabulous Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Still, ruling things out counts as some progress in the Wood, Steiner, Rinehart, and Burk/Birk trees.

Another high point was hearing from a second cousin who had a set of "missing" monthly minutes and letters related to my mother's Farkas Family Tree. These were all from the WWII period, and were long thought to be gone. Receiving these to scan and index was a gift beyond measure.

Now my Farkas cousins and I have documents spanning the entire life of the family tree association, 1933-1964. I'm still integrating the index from the 1940s into the index for the complete set of minutes, with completion scheduled for very early 2019. Work on the Farkas family tree (including collaborating with cousins who helped identify all ancestors/relatives in large family portraits) was a very satisfying way to end the year.

During 2018, a sad discovery: the early death of a boy born into my Mahler family, a child who was previously not known to me or any of my cousins. And a happy gift: the full anniversary booklet of the Kossuth Society, a group in which my Farkas and Schwartz ancestors were active. Their photos are in the booklet!

In my husband's family, I finally learned the truth about the long-standing mystery surrounding his grandfather Wood's divorce from wife #2. Also I gained a deeper understanding of the poverty endured by his Slatter and Shehen ancestors, using the Charles Booth maps of poor areas in London. Through contact with a Gershwin expert, I received a detailed news clipping that explained the background behind a prize-winning song written by my late father-in-law Wood.

Another exciting moment was when my book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Pastwent to number one on the Kindle genealogy best-seller list in the middle of June!

This year, I made 15 genealogy presentations and led two hands-on workshops, with my husband, about writing family history.

Next year, I'm thrilled to be leading two sessions and participating in a panel discussion at Family Tree Live in London, April 26-27.

Quite a year in genealogy. Yet I didn't actually accomplish all I planned to do when 2018 began. More in my next post!