The Golden Rule — the law of reciprocity — offers a great maxim to apply to our world of genealogy. Most of us live far from the places our ancestors lived. We depend on others to make the local records safe, organized, and available — preferably in digital online form. The Golden Rule suggests we first do for others what we hope they’ll do for us. How many of us are doing that?
You’ve invested a day off and a tank of gas to have a precious four hours at an ancestral county courthouse, state archive, or local library. You want to make the mostof every minute. Here’s my high-powered hit-and-run data grabbing technique to get home with maximum ancestral data in minimum time. Continue reading High-powered hit-and-run data grabbing technique
If you post your genealogy to online trees, you’ve undoubtedly had that jolting moment when you see a precious photo of your parent displayed on a stranger’s page. You know they got it from your tree, but no one else does. Most are borrowing and forward-sharing without awareness of proper genealogical etiquette and protocols. The world is then losing its path back to the original image. Here’s a way to improve your chances that the desired information will travel with the image. Continue reading Embedding origin captions into your images
Some of you started long ago. I started six months ago. Perhaps some of you will start today. When it comes to the very difficult and incredibly rewarding challenge of documenting America’s enslaved populations, we who descend from slaveholders are the logical ones to do the work. It makes sense at so many levels. Welcome, GEGs, to the Beyond Kin Project. Continue reading Descendants of slaveholders, we have a job to do
Most genealogy software tools offer an embedded to-do list feature–useful, as far as they go. But for me, they don’t go far enough. Most are not accessible away from your own computer. If you have to move or restore your data via GEDCOM, you will usually lose your to-do items. The tools aren’t designed to let you apply a single to-do item to multiple people. Zotero, on the other hand, provides the ideal research to-do list. It fully integrates with research notes, and it’s free.
The GEG in me emerged in the summer of 2015, when I finally committed a week of my life to the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research. I returned in 2016 to an even better experience. This year I’m registered for Course 3, and we’re relocating to the University of Georgia. Join me in Athens July 23—28 for IGHR 2017 — the best value your genealogical education dollar can buy. Continue reading IGHR 2017: Seats going fast. It’s that good.
In genealogy, a rose by any other name may not smell sweet. A feud broils over what is acceptable, when it comes to naming conventions. Do you use question marks for unknown portions of a name? Do you write helpful information in the suffix field? Congratulations, we’ll call you a Montague! Do you get annoyed when you see people doing the above, fearing trashy data transfers — a messed-up GEDCOM? You, friend, we’ll call a Capulet. In determining how to use the name fields in our software, we find ourselves having to choose the house of Montague or Capulet — expedient practicality or clean data sharing. Some want both, and we call ourselves GEGs. Starry-eyed GEG I may be, but with the right tools and rules, I think Romeo and Juliet can have a future together.
You hear rumors that courthouses can yield ten times what you’ve learned about your ancestors from online sources. Ten times! But still you don’t go. “I’ll get around to that,” you say to yourself. “Let me just check one more database.” Well, friend, it’s time to overcome your dread. Pack your laptop and hit the road to a place where Wifi rarely goes. I dare you. I double-dog dare you to face your dread of courthouse research. You’ll thank me.
We genealogists use family trees to reflect the past, not to morally judge it. Our trees contain many family situations our churches then and now have disavowed. But we’re the historians of families; it is our job to gather, interpret, and present facts. In FamilySearch Family Tree (FSFT), I can reflect unwed parents, infidelity, common law marriage, and even incest. But FSFT blocks me from recording the legal marriage of two men. As a historian, I then have a problem: FSFT, great gift to the world that it has been, now risks obsolescence. (Welcome to my newest, and rather disturbing, addition to the Wish I’d Known Series.) Continue reading FamilySearch, same-sex marriage, and the risk of obsolescence
I’ll grant you, genealogy is a hobby to many, and I am glad we have the hobbyists in our numbers. The more the merrier. But when I think of genealogy, as applied to myself, the word “hobby” grates on my sensibilities. For me, it is the wrong word. The wrong idea altogether. Genealogy means so much more to me than that. How do I give it proper tribute? If I can’t stomach saying, “Genealogy is my hobby,” what can I say? Genealogy is my … what?