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?
A research log made perfect sense once. In fact, I felt great pride in my mammoth binder with neat notations, hand-crafted tabs, and cross-referenced numbers. My notebook even had a flap with a Velcro latch to secure it. I protected this treasure, when paper ruled. But paper stopped ruling a long time ago. Once I weaned myself from the inconvenience and limitations of paper, OneNote became my research log of choice — also with limitations. But then came Zotero, which made me ask the million-dollar question: Why do I need a day-by-day research log at all? And guess what? I don’t.
You proudly display 25 sources citing life events of your grandfather John Smith, and 20 on his father Robert Smith. You’re a source citer of consummate skill. Everyone can trust your work with so many sources, right? Well, maybe. How many of those sources prove that this particular Robert Smith was your John Smith’s father? It’s a great big gap in our genealogical software — the absence of a parental relationship proof requirement. But we can solve it with a simple custom fact.
Some of us will never be ancestors. We have no descendants. We died too young, or we married too old. We stayed single and took care of our parents or stayed single just because. Or married and couldn’t or married and didn’t. For any number of reasons or none, we died childless. So, who will tell our story?
I’ve heard it again and again from my fellow GEGs. “I’m not a professional genealogist, but I want to be as good as one.” Perhaps we should begin by adopting their moral compass. The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) requires its members to agree to a Code of Ethics. If avocational genealogists adapted the code to their own work, how might it look? Continue reading The avocational genealogist’s code of ethics
We love the censuses, don’t we? We need them. Right back to 1850, they’re our bedrock. Earlier than that, however, we dread them. Fear them, maybe. Avoid them, to our peril. While limited in value individually, however, the pre-1850 censuses become gold when compared to each other. But comparing them is a hassle, right? Not any more. I have designed an Excel tool that makes pre-1850 tally-matching a game you actually want to play. Let the Pre-1850 Census Analysis Tool* restore your sanity.
Remember when we Golden Egg Genealogists (GEGs) were innocent kittens? We could extend a family line back to the Mayflower over a weekend, thanks to those oh-so-helpful “Ancestry Member Trees” on Ancestry.com. Many of us built our early trees on those shaky branches. Here and there we might have speculated on possible family connections, adding them to the tree in an effort to chip away at a brick wall. Helpful! Then we grew into GEGs and started doing genealogy right, swearing we’d go back eventually and clean up that old mess. One day, though, we realized that a new batch of kittens were copying our oh-so-helpful and oh-so-public “Ancestry Member Trees.” Uh-oh. Continue reading The helps and hazards of speculative Ancestry tree climbing
For optimal effectiveness in ancestry research, our desktop genealogy software needs to share data (“sync”) with our online family trees. So, how well do the “Big Three” software packages sync? In this next installment of the Desktop Dilemma Series, we continue our side-by-side analysis of the Big Three — Family Tree Maker®, Legacy Family Tree®, and RootsMagic™.
You know you’re GEG-bound when you want to give back. Finding time to do volunteer work in genealogy can be a challenge, though. What if I told you I volunteer from the comfort of my home, in my pajamas, in the middle of the night? I volunteer for 15 minutes at a time, if that’s what I have. Better yet, I volunteer to read fascinating historical documents that few people have ever seen. FamilySearch Indexing offers me that opportunity to pay it forward . . . one document at a time. And you can share this privilege.
Continue reading FamilySearch Indexing Volunteers
What label do I attach to a great-great-great-grandmother in speech and in writing? Because, let’s face it, “great-great-great-grandmother” is just a ridiculous mouthful. Do I say “3-times-great-grandmother”? “Third-great-grandmother”? Or, more concisely in writing, “3rd-great-grandmother”? Do I need the hyphens? Does the genealogy field have a standard?