Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Attempt to Finish my Genealogy To Do Lists

One of the things I love to-do is make to do lists. The problem is that I never seem to actually do what's on the to-do list. I just like to make them. Stuff eventually gets crossed off the list, but I can never find the motivation to focus and do what needs to be done.

So I have decided to post my monthly genealogical to-do lists here on my blog and maybe if it is out there for everyone to see I might actually do what's on the list. (Of course I might just find that blogging my to-do list is more fun than doing what's on it and nothing will change.)

Tomorrow I will post my October to do list. But today I want to wrap up my September to do list.

September was a rough month for me because school started back and that meant work started back for me. I work as a substitute teacher and in the past few years I have had slow Septembers. It is the beginning of the school year and not many people are taking off. So I had this in mind when I made my September list. But for whatever reason this year, I have been extremely busy. I have worked all but 4 days this month, and one was a sick day for me.

Looking back at my September list it wasn't actually that long (for genealogy related tasks).
My goals were:
  • Go through my bookmarks and add the info to my genealogy database and file bookmarks to keep away
  • Finish my genealogy courses through the University of Toronto's National Institute for Genealogical Studies
  • Back up my hard drive
  • Do a marriage chat in Second Life
I started 2 classes in August from the University of Toronto and finished them mid-September. My next course starts next Monday. I backed up my hard drive. I did my Second Life chat.

That leaves me with the bookmarks. I really need to think of a better system for saving my finds when searching. I love the hunt, but I really need to focus on entering what I find and sourcing that info in my genealogy database before I start searching for another family. I did make a good dent in my bookmarks, but I also created more in the process. I really need to deal with my MATTHEWS family folder of bookmarks because I'm starting to forget what I was finding.

I also have a to-do list of things I want done before the end of the year.
I started working on resourcing the EISWERTH side of my family tree this week. I made a break through and found census and naturalization records for my KAVCIC/KAVCHICK/COUCHE/whatever-they-decided-their-name-was-that-week-family. That is a Madness Monday post waiting to happen. Since this side of my family tree ends up in Austria and Germany fairly quickly, I only have 2 more family groups to do. So this will be an October goal instead of a year end goal.

I started experimenting with Ancestry's My Canvas to create the coffee table book. I like how it is coming together, but I have some photo editing to do and tough choices on which photos to include. I hope to have this done by Thanksgiving to give everyone a chance to order the books for Christmas.

So I didn't do too bad with my September list, and I still have most of today to tackle some more bookmarks. Of course the EISWERTH line is all over my desk, so I'll probably just work on it today. Check back tomorrow for my October to-do list.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Opening Genealogy Events to the Younger Working Genealogists

In my last post about Family History Month, I started to rant about how annoying it was for many of the session I was interested in attending being during the day. This meant that I either had to take off the entire month of October to attend everything or miss out on lots of great talks. So here is my dedicated post to my rant:

Family History Month means that the Allen County Public Library is offering a talk or other event every day of October. They have been doing this for years. I went to a few events last year and really enjoyed them, so I looked forward to the October 2009 calendar of events. Once again there were some very interesting topics that I wanted to attend all month. The problem was that many of these events were on weekdays during the day. I don't want to take off lots of day in October to attend the events that interest me. I know there are a lot of others that have this same problem with the genealogy societies and events held where they live and nationally.

Although I have no data to support the following claim, I think that it is true: The age of the average genealogist is decreasing rapidly. Younger people are getting involved and finding a passion for genealogy. I'm not talking about high school and college students, I talking about people who have full time careers and find the time to do genealogy as a hobby. Genealogy is no longer reserved for retirees.

The reasons for this change is based on the availability of great resources on the internet. A genealogist can now search many databases from home, 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 day a year. Whenever a person has the time and desire, they can preform searches and make great strides in their research. Although you can't do everything online, there is a LOT you can do. The popularity of blogs, Facebook and Twitter in the genealogy world has also helped to spread the genealogy bug to nongenealogists. Many people are catching the genealogy bug so much that they are making it their profession.

So here is my question: If so many people are becoming genealogist with full time jobs, why are many society meetings and genealogy events held during working hours?

Is it just because that is the way it has always been? Do they not realize how many people are interested in genealogy that are working when the meetings are held? Is it about the cost of an evening or weekend meeting? Do they not want "younger" people at their meetings?

Here are some of my thoughts on some changes that should be made:

1. Societies should hold meetings in the evenings or on weekends. Meetings during the day time hours during the week are only going to be attended by retirees and others who have flexible schedules. Holding meetings later should help to increase attendance and membership.
2. Offer a variety of topics that would interest different people. For example, the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana's October program is on African American research. I didn't notice any African Americans at the September meeting, but this will encourage African Americans to attend and learn about how to do their own genealogy.
3. Promote events and meetings online through a society website, blog, twitter, Facebook, etc.
4. Make meetings open to the public. People who attend a meeting on an interesting topic will want to come back and become a member.
5. Events for a variety of levels. Don't focus only on beginners or only on advanced researchers.

I also have some ideas for libraries and archives. These are more problematic to undertake due to budget issues.
1. Evening hours and weekend hours. Move hours from 9-6 to 12-9 for example. Or be open Tuesday through Saturday instead of Monday through Friday.
2. Hold events on weekends or in the evenings.
3. Promote events online.

National or regional conferences:
1. Should hold events on the weekends to gain more attendants.
2. Promote online.
3. Move events across the country (if national) and not stick to one place (the South, the Northeast, try the Midwest or the West coast too!). This will allow a different group of people to be within driving distance of the event and be able to attend.

Not everyone will be happy with the times of genealogy events. But thinking of ways to get the most people involved should be a priority.

I have obviously just touched the surface on this topic. I wanted to start a discussion about it. So leave a comment. What are your thoughts on this topic? What other ideas should the genealogy community consider to encourage more participation in events and societies?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

October is Family History Month in Indiana

October is Family History Month and it's just around the corner. The Allen County Public Library recently posted their October events calendar and it is packed full of great learning opportunities. They have an event for each day of the month. Most of the sessions are free.

I will be attending the 2nd Annual Military Symposium on October 9 and 10. This year's theme is Military Lineage Societies and it features Ron Darrah. The cost is $30 before September 25, $35 after and $40 at the door. (I am already paid.)

I am also going to attend the Scrapbooking session with Dawne Slater-Putt on October 17. I will also be at the ACGSI (Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana) meeting on October 14.

There are many other sessions that I am interested in attending, but may not be able. I would love to attend the session on "House History," "Being Creative," "Ellis Island," and more, but they are all during the day on weekdays and I can't justify taking the whole month of October off to attend all of these great session.

I really wish that more of the sessions were in the evenings. I don't need (or even want) to attend every session. But I feel as more and more people are getting involved in genealogy over the internet the demographics of the people has changed. It's not just retirees who have nothing to do during the day doing research. I think many more people would attend these session and others across the country if they had the time available.

But that is a rant for another day. Back to Family History Month...

I am also considering attending the Indiana Genealogy and Local History Fair at the Indiana State Library in Indianapolis on October 24th. The cost is's free. (That's the main reason that I want to attend, followed closely by an interest in the topics." They will be discussing cemeteries, women in 19th century Indiana and pioneer migration.

What will you be doing this Family History Month? Leave a comment and let others know.

International Black Genealogy Summit, October 29-31 in Fort Wayne

The International Black Genealogy Summit will be held in Fort Wayne, Indiana at the Allen County Public Library on October 29-31, 2009. The theme is "Reconnecting Lost Links." Their website states: "This momentous event signifies the first time that all of the black historical and genealogical societies in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean will come together to celebrate the joys and challenges of black genealogy." Speakers include Tony Burroughs, Dr. Miles S. Edwards, Curt Witcher and many more. The Friday night banquet speaker is Dorothy Spruill Redford.

The conference costs $100 for October 30 and 31 or $75 for one day.

So what about October 29th you're asking? That's the reason that I wanted to blog about this conference.

October 29 is the pre-conference. And it costs...nothing. That's right, it's free. What a great idea!

The pre-conference includes 3 sessions with 9 classes. Speakers include Tony Burroughs, Roberta Ridley, Mary Vaughn, Gretchen Neff, Ruby Cain, Dr. Miles S. Edwards, Mike Robertson and Gladys Wilson. There is a moderated lunch session to discuss African American research challenges, a "meet the authors" discussion and book signing and the movie "Glory" will be shown.

Another great reason to go to this conference is that the library will be open to 12am (midnight) all three nights of the conference. Think of all the research you can get done.

You can find out more about the conference and pre-conference by going by going to the Black Genealogy Conference site.