Friday, October 25, 2013

A Leg Up

ANNOUNCEMENT! Posts for two weeks will be brief with genealogy tips only. When the blogger returns (Oct 28) we will go back to our standard format. As they say: “Don’t go away. We’ll be right back!”

Genealogy tip for today: A Leg Up

About two weeks ago we talked about ‘Just What IS Genealogy?’ It’s more than we think, when we stop to realize all the factors that go into who we are before we even begin our research.

Today we are going to talk a little bit more about this. “Is it history?” and “Do you read a lot?” were some of the questions we asked, but didn’t really address. If you are interested in history and do a lot of reading on the topic, then you already have a good background in world events and maybe even American history events. If you haven’t, don’t let that stop you. It’s not a requirement, just a benefit. But a helpful one.

Along with history, goes geography. Is that your thing? If it is – Woo Hoo! That will give you a leg up on your research, also.

Learning Styles play into researching genealogy. We talked about that on Oct. 14th. So we won’t go into detail about it, but it is another factor that plays into your research before you even begin.

Time: how much time do you have to devote to your hobby? If you work full time or even part time, it takes a bite out of your real life! J But you can still begin chipping away. If you don’t work outside of home, or are retired, then you may have a whole lot more time to indulge.

Money: Are finances tight right now for you? A lot of research can be done on the internet from the free websites that are out there. There’s always the “armchair” approach – what many of us did long before there was a computer. You correspond, and request forms or documents by mail. It’s sometimes called “shoestring genealogy.” You do it a little bit at a time. It may take a little longer, but you still get it done.

Maybe money isn’t an issue. Then you can go for it, carte blanch! You can travel – foreign and domestic. You can request documents to your heart’s content. (Course, when they start poring in, you need to be organized right away.)  Usually though we are people who are somewhere in between this two extremes. So you’ll do a little bit of this and a little bit of that! (My mind is weird – sorry – but that phrase reminds me of Fiddler on the Roof! Does it you?)

Okay, back to genealogy – Room/Space: What is your house like? Do you have a corner where you can at least squirrel away a two drawer file cabinet? When I was young my dad cut “lapboards” out of plywood. Some were about 30 inches wide and 18 inches across. Then he made a large one. These make good temporary desks you can use anywhere. That may be your hobby space. Or maybe you have a whole room you can turn into your genealogy office. A nice big desk and comfortable chair, filing cabinets (notice I put plural!), shelves for all your notebooks, and more. This is great if you can do it that way.

Your age: hmmmm, I know, you don’t want to talk about it. That’s ok, I’ll do the talking. Where you are in life also has an impact on how much or how little research you can do. If you have little ones or even if you have teenagers you don’t have as much time to do much of anything else. But take advantage of family get-togethers. Talk to the older members of the family and take notes if possible.  Grab a few moments here and there and see what you can find on the internet. If this is becoming a passion of yours, you can still squeeze in moments here and there.

As you get, (ahem) older, your time will be a little freer to a lot freer when you reach retirement age. Oddly enough the majority of people who get into genealogy are 50 and older. If you are younger than that you have quite the advantage as at this point in your life you probably still have those elderly relatives still around. Go get ‘em!!! You will wish later you did.

Residence: where do you live? Do you live in the area where your family has lived for the last 5-6 generations? That is a huge benefit and advantage!  Your mother may live across town and you can drop in and ask questions. Or maybe granny lives near by and she can regale you with all kinds of stories.

If you live in another part of the country, it isn’t impossible - just more difficult. You can’t always go visit at the drop of a hat. But you can plan a vacation around your needed area of research. Maybe sometime soon we’ll talk about planning a trip.

All of these factors, and probably more impact how you go about pursuing your dream hobby. You just have to figure out what you can do given your current status in life. Whatever advantages you have, give you a leg up on doing your research.

Happy Hunting!

If any of these posts are helpful drop us a line in the comments section below. We just want to know if the information we provide to you is helpful in anyway.


Now You Know!