I’ve loved genealogy for most of my life. Being knowledgeable about what I’m doing has always been paramount to me, so naturally I want to be as educated about genealogy as I can, particularly so I can achieve the goals I wrote about in this post Just having a love affair with genealogy isn’t going to cut it.
It’s been a sporadic, occasional sort of affair, especially in the early days before computers: when months would go by waiting for a response to appear in the mailbox. Definitely a love hate relationship. To find a genealogical nugget of gold in an anxiously awaited, hand-written reply was to feel the exhiliration of a romantic summer afternoon; a new familial connection was a promise of a brightly budding romance. The absence of reliable evidence or running into that dreaded brickwall brought the sting of doubt and distrust, or worse: the unwelcome realization that the object of your affection was not who he’d once seemed to be. Admittedly, sometimes I got fed up and walked away for YEARS at a time.
Then, the advent of the computer age brought the dawn of a new day to genealogy. Armchair access to amazing databases and records, previously unavailable to those without the means to travel or the understanding of how to seek out information in the quagmire of official paperwork and unwieldy records management systems, has become common place.
My pedigree charts grew by leaps and bounds in the last few years and my pencil and paper database quickly became unmanageable. Enter technology, in the form of my favorite genealogy software Rootsmagic4, and I was off and running. My once on again, off again hobby is now a passionate habit, consuming as much of my energy and time as it can, and then some.
Deciphering, analyzing, and managing records covering several centuries and continents has added a complexity to my research process that I never imagined back in the 70s when I first developed a fascination, okay – obsession, for those who came before me. Software is great for storing and organizing the massive amounts of data, but how best to verify it, document it, and share it with others?
Fortunately, genealogy is more popular today than it has ever been. I would even say it’s become almost less of a hobby and more of a field, and genealogy experts can be found at every corner to help welcome and guide amateur historians like me, regardless of our level of ability and experience. Maybe because they’re really nice people, or maybe it’s because it benefits everyone when the information being accumulated, written about, and shared is thoughtful,accurate, and cited correctly.
As I’ve reached out via the internet for help and guidance, I’ve been thrilled to discover genealogists tend to be generous and kind with their knowledge and time, and are always happy to meet someone enthusiastic and passionate about the ancestral hunt! This is a great time to be a genealogist. There is so much to learn, and so many opportunities to learn it. And I really do want to learn as much as I can.
To that end, I’ve joined several relevant family history societies here in America and also the United Kingdom, where more than half of my family tree is based. In 2010 I became a member of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) (I was actually intimidated by this, feeling something akin to fear that they’d point fingers and laugh and call me a fraud, but it’s really been fine of course. No ogres…)
The NGS offers a home study course consisting of 16 parts, covering all aspects of good, sound genealogy. I’m up to part 7 and it has been a wonderful learning experience so far. What’s been really cool about that course is I’ve borrowed a friend’s ancestors to research and it turns out my friend’s ancestors are deliciously American. But that’s for another post…
Since most of my recent research has involved my British ancestors, my skills at local research are sorely lacking. The NGS course is really helping with this, but I’ve also joined my local historical society, and I’ve been volunteering in the Library & Archives on Tuesdays, which has really been an eye opener.
The other biggie in my pursuit of genealogy excellence is the Boston University Online Genealogical Research Program. I enrolled in this about a month ago and it starts tomorrow. Yikes… It’s been 25 years since I sat in a college classroom, so I’m a little nervous. Excited, but nervous….
So…….my blog is revamped and back up and running, my class starts tomorrow, my NGS project is going well, but for now I need to go cram to finish my Book Group book for tonight….