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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Do you have a genealogy hero?

Earlier this week my good friend Jennifer Alford published a post that really spoke to me.   She said it better than I ever could so make sure you go over and read it.  In a nut shell though she talked about how it takes many hands to make this community go and in our community ther are many, many unsung heroes who may get overlooked by the genealogy masses.

I am taking up the torch to name the people who pop into my head when I think to myself “jeesh, xyz would not be here without that person!”  To keep it fresh, I will not rename the ones Jen did (and she stole some of mine!) but I will name 5 people who I admire within our community and, well, have taught me a thing or two.

So, in no particular order, a few of my heroes whom I am lucky enough to also consider friends and at times mentors.

When I was the Family tree First Blogger Midge was the instructor of the cemetery class I took through Family Tree University.  I LOVED it!!  Really, I am a bit of a teacher’s pet but the course was amazing.  We started to talk more and more through email.  I followed her blogs.  We became Facebook friends.  While we still have never met in person, yet, she was one of the first people to help guide me through those first timid steps into the genealogy deep end.  She is quick witted and full of so much great information.  While she is retired now I enjoy reading up on what she is doing with her family tree and the new projects that she is taking on.  Her blogs and other writing on everything to do with cemeteries and technology is extensive and an amazing asset to this community.

Jim scared me.  He seemed so intimidating and serious.  For those of you who know him, stop laughing.  When you are new to something and then suddenly all the people you read about, listen to, and idolize are all in one room together and acting like, well, normal people it is a bit overwhelming.  If you are like me the shiny wears off in about 5 minutes as you say something extremely off the wall and realize that everyone in the room puts their pants on the same way as they laugh at with you.  I have confusing German roots so I read and admired Jim’s work.  Then I got to know him through a couple different encounters.  His “Roots and Branches” column is amazing work (and celebrating its 900th story!) as well as all he does with the German community.  A real asset to the field.

Gena and I have worked together now for 2 years (wow, it has been that long!) on the blog for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.  I am their American Certificate student blogger and you should totally check it out if you have not already.  Poor Gena gets to deal with me on Skype complaining asking for clarification about things in each course.  What many of may not know is how much she does.  Not only is there an amazing amount of work for The Institute but also with her own endeavors.  She writes several blogs, is a published author, did a YouTube series, and will literally give you the shirt off of her back to help you.  Recently she merged the fields of genealogy and geology into an amazing lecture (you should ask her about it).

This will sound odd, but I can’t remember exactly how I first met Lisa.  She has just always, well, been there.  I did take 2 courses from her while I was the Family Tree Firsts blogger.  Amazing courses on researching overseas.  We talked over social media and finally met in person at NGS in Richmond.  A talented writer and lecturer with spunk and a beautiful personality.  Her work on Eastern European research makes her one of the go-to people in the field.  She will also take the time to really talk to you and answer questions.  There has been more than one time I turned to her for advice or mentoring, and I have never been let down by her guidance. 

Next to my children, she is the reason I am here today.  Not only is her Clue Wagon blog hysterical but she is always on point and never afraid to say what a majority of us are thinking.  She just typically says it first and in her charming snarky way that leaves me with tears rolling down my face.  Kerry was an editor at Family Tree when I began my genealogy journey.  She put up with a lot of bad writing those first few months.  Trust me, it took me a while to get comfortable with my voice (the grammar I am still working on) but she was passionate and encouraging to this fledgling genealogist.  Her encouragement, that awesome passion, and ability to cut through the BS shines through still in all she does.  I am so grateful to her for that.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

RootsTech 2016 Pass Giveaway

So… who wants to go to RootsTech?  Last year was my first year and since it debuted I told myself I would eventually make it out to Salt Lake City.  I had never been before so this sounded like the perfect opportunity, and it was. 

Well, as a RootsTech Ambassador I get to give out a RootsTech 2016 Pass to one lucky person!  Which of you wonderful readers will it be?

To enter is easy.  My friends over at the In-Depth Genealogist are helping me run the contest.  All you need to do is go to their blog, follow the directions, and enter the contest.  You can enter up to 1 time a day if you have a Twitter account!  (if you do have one I hope you follow me @tntfamhist)

The contest starts today, October 6th, and closes at 11:59 on October 21st.  I will draw a name from the entries the morning of the 22nd with the help of raffle copter and publish that name here during the afternoon.  Like I said, it is easy!

Hope to see you in Salt Lake City this February!  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

5 Tips for lineage society applications

In the last few years I have applied to several lineage societies.  I started on this odd passion to verify my research through organizations because I wanted to prove to the rest of my family that my grandmother was correct.  We did have ancestors on the Mayflower.  We did have Revolutionary War patriots.  We did have family who helped shape and form our country.  She was not, as many people thought, crazy and making it all up.

By putting my own research to the test I realized how much fun it was to prove to a society that my information was correctly sourced, documented, and thought out.  It is such a thrill!  Now I am helping others with their applications through my business.  It seems I get the same great feeling helping others as I do by completing my own work.

Which lead me to this post.  My 5 tips to help you get ready to submit an application to the society of your choice.  I hope they help!

1.       Find a society that means something to you
I don’t know about you, but if I don’t have a vested interest (or well, any interest) in something I am not going to participate as often or really want to do things with the group.  While it is cool to wear the ribbons, sashes, medals, and whatnot for an organization I strongly feel that you should want to be an active member of the group before you join.  Maybe you like their education mission.  Perhaps it is their outreach programs.  Or it could be their stance on a historical issue.  Whatever is the reason, it should be more than collecting another ribbon.

2.       Understand the application requirements and procedures
This is the main reason applications take forever or are rejected by a society.  Please, please, please make sure you understand the process, the application, and what you have to do before you start to submit anything.  Most groups will have you work with someone who is the person in charge of new applications.  Get to know them.  Bake them cookies.  Do what they tell you to do.  They are there to get you IN the organization.  So, do all you can to help them.  Ask and answer questions.  Get them the papers needed (even if you think they should have everything they need) in a prompt fashion.  Let them know how the process of getting documents is going.  Ask them for help even.  Most are very enthusiastic genealogists and love doing research too.

3.       Organize your paperwork by generations
This may seem like a no-brainer but the easiest way to keep your information for an application packet organized is by sorting them by generations.  However you want to do that is up to you.  I like to paperclip each generation together.  A friend of mine takes a large hanging file folder and places a regular file folder for each generation in it.  For my folders I place a check list on the inside with what documents I need for each generation.  As I collect those documents I check them off.  That way it is very easy to see at a glance what I do and do not have.

4.       Create full source citations
You will never get away from source citations.  Ever.  Many societies have a very specific way they want the sources cited, so be aware of that before you write on any documents you turn in.  What I tend to do is ask the person I am working with if they would like me to place citations on the papers.  If they say no I create a source citation list that I include with the application packet.  That way when they do the final paperwork and create the societies specific source citations they have all the information available to them at their fingertips.

5.       Make transcripts of all handwritten documents
Yeah, I know.  Transcripts are a pain.  However, you want someone to love you quickly and for years?  Make a transcript of all the handwritten documents you turn in.  Many societies require that a transcript be submitted for all documents that are handwritten.  Some don’t, but they like it if there is one.  Take some time, make a transcript.  Besides, you never know.  You could find a new clue to your family that you didn’t see before!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Speaking during the month of cotober

Fall and pumpkin-spiced everything is in the air.  While I prefer apple cider, I am very happy that fall is here.  It means that I feel the need to educate!  That is right, I am ready to read about stuff want to learn, but I am also excited to be speaking with many groups of people this month.  Below are the places I will be presenting at over the next month and I hope you will come out and join me!  Make sure to say hi if you do.  I love when I can put a name with a face.

This coming Wednesday 7 October I am presenting a webinar titled "Engaging the Next Generation" to the Minnesota Genealogical Society.  It is my first time speaking with this group and I am super excited to do so.  They seem like a great bunch of people and I am happy to be participating in their first year of webinars.

I will be spending the morning of Saturday, October 10th with my local society, the Fredericksburg Regional Genealogical Society,  for their Fall Lecture Series.  There I will present 2 lectures, "Tips and Tricks to using" and "Introduction to DNA Testing for Genealogy.”  Registration is required and snacks will be provided so please check out the website if you are interested in attending.

In the vein of helping out local groups, I am assisting a local Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter with their Beginning Genealogy Workshop on 14 October 2015. I will admit this is my first all day workshop so I am more than a bit nervous.  Registration closed on the 2nd, however, if you message me ‘cause you really want to come I can see if there is room still available. 

I end the month where I began it with another lecture on the topic of "Engaging the Next Generation."  This will be on October 21st for the Shenandoah Valley Genealogical Society (SVGS) in Winchester, VA.  If you can’t see a theme yet I do have a couple passions in my line of work.  One of them is making sure we actively engage, promote, and sustain the youth in our community.  That, by the way, is a blog post in of itself coming your way later this month.

Ok everyone, I am off to batten down the hatches and hope that the hurricane doesn’t hit us too hard here in the metro DC area.  Yay, hurricane season!  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Kicking Off Family History Month

Image from the Library of Congress
Hey look!  It’s a blog, I wonder where you have been hiding.  Oh, I know…under a pile of deadlines.  Yeah, sorry about that everyone.  To say that it was a crazy September would be an understatement.  I am really ready for October to start.  Yay Family History month!!!

That is right everyone.  In case you forgot, October, in the U.S., is National Family History month.  To help celebrate it, and make myself get back on the ole’ blogging horse, I am kicking off the month with this post.  Plus, a whole bunch more.  Oh and a contest!  You will have to wait until next week to hear about that one. Hehehe.

Another way you can celebrate Family History month, besides reading blogs like mine, is through this website by the National Park Service called Celebrate Family History.  It has links to great lesson plans if you are a teacher, places to visit around the country, and activities to do with the whole family.  Really a great resource if you have not seen it before.

I hope you will be taking advantage of all the wonderful things that are usually done this month in the genealogy community.  Keep your eyes open for the announcement.  As I see them I will pass them on here or over at my Twitter account.

My biggest announcement is that I was selected to be a RootsTech Ambassador!  My plane and hotel are booked.  I am registered.  The reserch days at the FHL are being planned.  Really, this is going to be a wonderful time, again, and the best part is I get to bring you all a lot of information to help you prepare.  Remember, while it is awesome to attend in person, you can also do live streaming of videos.  Of course, if you will be there in person you should swing by the IDG booth and visit with me.  Or heck stop me in the hall or classrooms.  I love putting faces with names.

Hope you are ready for some great information and of course lots of fun.  Which, I am going to do my darndest to keep up with.  I really have missed writing to you all!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The dog days of summer

At the Free Public Baths, Harriett Island, St. Paul, MN

Yep, that is where we are folks.  It is hot and sticky here on the east coast of the US.  School is just a few short weeks away.  Summer time is winding down.  Which means it is party time around here!  Just joking, sort of.

There is a lot coming up this fall and if you are like me I start planning months out what I am doing genealogical wise as many months in advance as I possibly can.  Well, mainly because I am a mom and I have 4 schedules to juggle!  I bet some of you can relate to that.

Plus there is a lot of stuff going on in the community right now.  I hope you are watching WDYTYA!  To be honest, I really can't wait to see this Sunday's episode.  A behind the scenes episode with cut footage and some of our favorite scenes if we are to believe the advertising.  My husband scoffs at this, he detests clip shows in any form, but he is still going to sit there and watch it with me!  Of course, I also hope you are watching the after show IDG Chit Chat Live! that I co-host.  It's lots of fun!

Speaking of genealogy TV.  Have you submitted a story to Genealogy Roadshow yet?  They are seeking your stories, so get out there and submit!!  Go out to their casting page and fill out the application.  Quick and easy, I already did mine.

On Friday, I received news that I was selected to be an Ambassador at RootsTech this year.  I am thrilled to be doing this and know that I am going to have a great time in Salt Lake City with all of my favorite genea peeps.  Now to convince my husband that I need to get there early to do research.  2 days was just not enough time last year!  That, and I should start preparing for the trip now.

My last class for the year on Source Citations at Family Tree University started this week.  Registration is open until Friday for this 4-week long class if you want to learn more about creating good source citations.  It is designed for anyone but geared to people who are scared to death that they are going to do them wrong.  Source citations are fun, promise!

Make sure you check out my presentations page on this blog.  I recently updated it with speaking engagements for the fall and into next Spring.  As always, let me know if you are in the audience.  I would love to put faces with names!

On that note, I am off to buy school supplies and organize the kids for thier last 3 weeks.  Ah, then it is back to uninterrupted working hours (when it is still daylight) again.  It is the little things in life at times that make you smile.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Why should eliminating the NHPRC concern us

Last week a draft bill was sent to the US House of Representatives which included a provision to National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).  Why am I talking about this?  Well, it will affect every single genealogist out there researching in US records.
eliminate the

The NHPRC was founded in 1934 and has several goals.  Mainly they promote the preservation of American documents important to our heritage.  Especially documents that relate to democracy, history and culture.  They give grants to many different organizations who fall within the auspices of their mission as well projects that document democracy.  The NHPRC also publishes many books and pamphlets about these documents and aide in the historical research of our country.  Check out this guide to what they do for more information.

Those grants have furthered our ability to have access to documents that may have otherwise never seen the light of day.  It has preserved literally thousands of collections through digitization and proper training for archivists on care and storage.  That has in turn allowed researchers and the public access to these records and smaller archives that would have otherwise never happened. 

So why was a provision put in this bill to end funding?  To help pay for the cleanup costs that will be incurred by the federal government due to the OPM security breach.  Now, before you go off on how that is a very important thing.  Trust me, I get that.  It affected my whole family too.  But, I feel strongly that cutting ALL funding to an organization that is dedicated to preserving our documentary heritage is wrong.  WRONG! 

Yes, I am impassioned.  Yes, I think you should be too. 

As of this morning, it was reported by the National Coalition for History (NHC) that the draft bill, sponsored by Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) Committee, was pulled.  However, the committee will resume after Labor Day and it is likely that they may take another look at this bill again at that time.  This issue may still resurface.  You can keep up to date on the developing details through the NCH website.

I hope you see how anyone interested in continuing to preserve American historical documents should pay close attention to this ongoing story.