PROWLS Report Card on 2012 activity

MM910001158 (1)On 2 January 2012 I posted my goals and aspirations for the year under the acronym PROWLS. So what does my report card look like? How did I do? Did I achieve my goals? Well my obsessive self says “not well” while my realistic self says “okay”….but not necessarily at what I intended initially. In fact the acronym should probably be WSLOPR or SWLOPR!

This is another of my epic posts, so don’t feel you have to stagger through it (just read my response to the Accentuate the Positive meme). This post is partly for my own benefit – an opportunity to reflect on what I did achieve, where were the gaps, and what might I do in 2013. Essentially a quality improvement process….<smile>

P FOR PUBLISH: Successes

Beyond the Internet

Beyond the Internet

    • 52 weeks of the Beyond the Internet series (over the year the steady digitisation of records became clear as topics increasingly “sat on the fence” between the real and virtual worlds.
    • The April A to Z challenge in which I wrote (extensively!) about places we’d lived which had been part of our/my family’s heritage, recent and historic.
    • Alona’s Family History Alphabet series: more “off the cuff”, about attributes we need or share as family historians, which generated a fair bit of conversation from my fellow genealogy-obsessives.
    • Two Blurb blog-to-books (somewhat tedious and time-consuming): (1)  my own personal history, based on the 2011 series, 52 weeks of Personal Genealogy and History and (2)  a collection of my other blog posts.
    • Rewrote the overseas portion of one of my family histories with a view to potential publication and handed it over for editorial comment, and then let it languish.
    • Started my Tropical Territory blog and tried to post either every day or every couple of days –until November when life took over and I lost the faith with it, or maybe just the energy.
    • Developed an addiction to Vistaprint, ordering business cards (complete with surname and place interests on the reverse), Kiva T-Shirts, note pads etc etc:  I used some of these products to promote Kiva Genealogists for Families throughout the year. (Did I mention I can be obsessive?)

P FOR PUBLISH: Gaps

    • My potentially-publishable family history languished at re-writing the Australian component. Solution 2013: refer the overseas component to a friend for further comment and re-kick-start the Australian section.
    • The children’s family photo history never got off the starting blocks. I was impressed by Carole Riley’s family history photo books that she showed me at Unlock the Past in Brisbane. Solution 2013: write the text, collect the photos in one place so I’m good to go when there’s another special.

R IS FOR RESEARCH: Successes

Family historians are stars.

Family historians are stars.

    • Opportunistic rather than planned out.
    • Finding my Gavin family marriage in Dublin!
    • Tracking the Dorfprozelten emigrants, and my own 2xgreat grandfather’s step-siblings’ migration to the States….but where did his brother get to?
    • Travel in 2012 didn’t leave me much time to get down and dirty in the archives though I did find out more information about my Melvin family in Queensland and helped Mr Cassmob with his Victorian ancestry a fair bit – leaving him lots to do in retirement <smile>.

R FOR RESEARCH: Gaps

It doesn’t feel like I achieved much research-wise in 2012 but perhaps I also need to look again at my papers and notes from early in the year.

I’ve missed the consistent research sleuthing in 2012 so I want to pick that up in more detail in 2013.

O FOR ORGANISE: Successes

It would be handy to have more arms

It would be handy to have more arms

    •  Labelling and sorting some of my non-digital photos and records progressed (is it every fast enough?)….still lots to be done there.
    • Following the disastrous loss of my hard drive back in August, I got a new backup system in place, thanks to advice from a friend. This is working so much better than how I used to do it, as I really thought I had all my bases covered, only to discover more time (and data!) had slipped past than I realised.
    • My folders and trays are organised (my desk not so much!) but there’s just so much info I need to get across –perhaps I should have done Michelle Goodrum’s 21st Century Organised Family Historian series! Certainly a possibility for checklisting in 2013.
    • An organisational tick also for having planned out the Beyond the Internet series and the two A to Zs from the beginning, and following them through.
    • Added translation options to my blog, and new statistics facilities.

O FOR ORGANISE: Gaps

I’m still dithering on whether I want to use Relatively Yours, The Master Genealogist or Family Historian though I now have all three on the computer. I still like RY’s ability to cope with “messy” family relationships but I don’t think that it’s had the development money thrown at it that some overseas programs have.

Goal: Increase my use of Evernote for information things I find.

W FOR WRITING: Successeswriting

    • This has a big tick as I did a lot of writing this year: 235 posts across the 365 days on this blog and 173 on my Tropical Territory blog, also 718 photos on this blog and 466 on TT (the latter was supposed to be photos only).  It was also supposed to be a photo a day but I lapsed big-time on this especially after mid-November.
    • While some of my posts respond to themes, others result from some “inspiration” that strikes, usually in the wee hours of the morning or when I first wake up.

W FOR WRITING: Gaps

  • I did start two other blogs From Dorfprozelten to Australia and GrassRoots Queenslanders. The problem is that I can’t quite decide if I’m better to keep all my topics in one place rather than try to grow yet more blogs and perhaps not have them shared as widely.

 If you have more than one blog, how do you find it works?

L FOR LEARNING: Successes, and decision gapslearning

    • Attendance at a flurry of Darwin talks in early 2012 from various experts – very interesting and with new information.
    • Attendance at the Unlock the Past Seminar in Brisbane for a couple of days due to an unanticipated family event. I learnt a lot but perhaps more than anything was delighted to meet some of my geneablogging mates there and at a Kiva gathering early in 2012.
    • RootsChat online, blog reading, book reading etc I’ve managed to fit in as much as possible given my distant location.
    • Pharos courses which proved interesting (though I’ve yet to decide whether to do a one-place study, and if so whether it should be Broadford, East Co Clare or Murphys Creek, Queensland).

In 2013 I want to learn more about Evernote, Scrivener and other tools to help me be organised.

S FOR SHARING: Successes

    • sharingThis may be an A+ topic. My blog posts have been well received and I thoroughly enjoy the comments I receive from people. It’s important to me to recognise that others have taken the time to comment so I like to maintain our virtual conversation by replying as soon as possible.
    • Since I know how important it is to me to feel like I’m not writing into a vacuum I want to maintain my blog reading and comment on others’ posts on a regular basis.
    • It’s also fun to follow the memes that are created or the themed topics that others suggest (Sharing Memories, Abundant Genealogy, Library Loot, A to Z, Carnival of Genealogy, Fearless Females, Saturday Night Genealogy Fun). I find them great ways to see our commonalities but also our differences, as well as document more of our own or our family’s stories.
    • Boosted my readership beyond Australia’s shores though Oz remains my main support base.
    • Shared my research skills and knowledge by helping a few friends with their own research or their trees, or even just brainstorming things together.
    • Talking on “Writing your family history” during Seniors Week was also one of my sharing activities and I was happy to find that people found it helpful.
    • On a fun note I participated in two swaps organised by Faith, Hope and Charity, one for the Jubilee mid-year and one for Christmas. Keep an eye out, they are good fun.
    • One of the big sharing successes has been the linkages:
    1. My blog drew in Cass family connections which led us to visit Melbourne mid-year for an amazing exhibition on Mr Cassmob’s great uncle, Brigadier WEH Cass and his wife Helena.
    2. The blog as a draw-card for the Dorfprozelten families. There are times I’ve felt like a matchmaker extraordinaire and some where I’ve been able to fill in the gaps in family connections and vital data.

 WHERE TO FROM HERE?Where to

Overall I’d say it’s not a bad report card. I’m disappointed at my gaps in research and publishing in particular so I’m hoping to address those more in 2013. Also a “could improve” in the Organise heading. Let’s see how the year progresses.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ONE & ALL. May you have health and happiness in 2013 and make many wonderful friends online and make many family discoveries.

Images are from Microsoft Office images online.

Accentuate the Positive 2012: Celebrating Successes

Geniaus has once encouraged us to reflect on our achievements in 2012 rather than all the things still on our wish lists or “gunna” lists. She rightly believes we don’t take sufficient notice of our successes in our on-going pursuit for more information. So she’s challenged us to take on the Accentuate the Positive Geneameme to encourage us to celebrate our successes.

2012 GeneamemSo here is my response (inevitably edited to allow more choices!)

1.  An elusive ancestor I found wasn’t a direct ancestor but my 2xgreat grandfather’s Ulrich step-siblings in New York State as well as new information on the Dorfprozelten emigrants to Australia.

Two excellent exhibitions at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance in June 2012. Both had personal interest to us.

Two excellent exhibitions at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance in June 2012. Both had personal interest to us.

2  Precious family photos I found were shared at the Melbourne exhibition re Brigadier Walter & Helena Cass –amazing family artefacts for Mr Cassmob and fascinating for me. Also gorgeous photos of St Nicholas of Myra in Dublin thanks to Jennifer from A Flesh and Bone Foundation.

3.  An ancestor’s grave I found was renovation was completed in February 2012 with a bronze plaque replicating the information on the (restored) original stone, and adding birth details (thanks to the financial contributions of family members!!).

4.  An important vital record I found was the marriage of Denis Gavin and Eleanor Murphy in Dublin thanks to Irish Genealogy (see #6)

5.  Newly found family members who shared photos and family stories of the Gavins; the curator and inheritor of the WEH Cass papers, photos and letters. Lots of Dorfprozelten connections and meeting new Cass cousins (not mine, but great fun). (Also see #2)

The renovated Kunkel grave at Murphys Creek, Qld

The renovated Kunkel grave at Murphys Creek, Qld

6.  A geneasurprise I received was finding my Gavin couple’s marriage in Dublin (see also #4)

7.   My 2012 blog post that I was particularly proud of was Labour Day, the workaday life of a Queensland Rail numbertaker.

8.   My 2012 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was V is for the Valiant of Villers-Brettoneux on Anzac Day.

9.  A new piece of software I mastered was adding Translation options to my blog, and recovering at least a good deal of my missing data after my hard drive crashed. My new best friend is Syncback, an easy backup program.

10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was Google + though I probably use Twitter more. I can’t live without Google Reader which is where I subscribe to all the blogs I follow and star the posts I particularly like (not strictly social media I guess, but…)

11. Genealogy conferences/seminars/webinar from which I learnt something new were Roots Tech (online), genie visitors to Darwin and Unlock the Past in Brisbane.

12. I am proud of the presentation I gave during Seniors Month in Darwin, on writing your family history.

Beyond the Internet

Beyond the Internet

13. A journal/magazine article I had published was…..none, but I did write my 52 weeks of Beyond the Internet on my blog.

14. I taught a friend how to …can’t remember …lots of discussions, virtual and real. I did encourage others attending various Darwin genie events to join the Kiva Genealogists for Families team.

15. Genealogy books that taught me something new were Hey America Your Roots Are Showing and Finding Family, but I find I also learn so much now from reading blog posts and other’s web recommendations.

16. A great repository/archive/library I visited was PROV where we traced some of Mr Cassmob’s family and very brief visits to Queensland State Archives (for mine).

17. New genealogy/history books I enjoyed were How to Write History that People Want to Read and Titanic Lives.

193 welcome to Alotau18. It was exciting to finally meet some of Aussie geneablogger mates at the Unlock the Past Expo in Brisbane and also at the Kiva Genealogists gathering in Brisbane in March.

19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was returning to Papua New Guinea, recent family history but important nonetheless, visiting family homes and places. Also visiting Melbourne for the WEH Cass exhibition and meeting lots of new Cass cousins (connected through my blog contacts).

20. Other positives I would like to share is being listed  on Family Tree Magazine’s Around the World in 40 blogs and also Inside History’s Top 50 Genealogy blogs (selected by Geniaus) and publishing two books of my blog posts.

Aspirations and goals for 2012: PROWLS

First and foremost, Happy New Year/Happy Hogmanay to my readers. I hope 2012 brings you an abundance of discoveries and excitement in your family history.

Having felt a tad unfocused in 2011, I’ve been giving some thought to want I want to achieve with my family history in 2012. So here it is – my goals and aspirations…maybe they (and you!) will keep me “honest” over the year. I’m hoping my acronym will help keep me focused on these points.

PUBLISH

Seems a bit cart-before-the-horse putting this first, but it’s at the head of my list because it’s the thing I most want to achieve. I have a draft history written for my Melvin family which needs gaps filled, research added, and editing done. It’s possible it may even need a re-write as I’m undecided about the style I’ve used….sigh.

A lower-priority “wish list” publication is a small book for my grandchildren about their ancestors.

RESEARCH

Somehow in 2011 my research felt like it took a back seat. Did it in reality? I’m not sure, but either way I want to get down and dirty in the records more often in 2012. I’d love that to be in the archives but if that’s just not possible geographically, then it will have to be online or microfilm.

This is the year when I decide whether I do more detailed research on the east Clare immigrants to eastern Australia, and if so, what I do with that. I also need to leave time for evolving research opportunities.

ORGANISE

More scanning of documents and (tagging of) photographs … I have lots of “stuff” from pre-computers that I really need to digitise.

Monitoring of what I’m actually doing and staying focused is important also.

Genealogy Program: I’ve mentioned before that family history computer software makes me feel like I’m hobbled. Perhaps it’s time to revisit this attitude and perhaps try a new program in lieu of Relatively Yours which I’ve had for years because of its holistic information approach (atypical in those years). Can’t decide whether to upgrade my copy of The Master Genealogist to Version 8 or try Family Historian.

WRITING

I much prefer to write up my findings than to put them into a genealogy database. It feels less confining and enables me to add the background story and pictures as well as the data and source references. It also lets me highlight the gaps in my information and where I need to dig deeper.

In an ideal world I’ll keep a running file on each family to which I add. Note, this is my ideal but I’d like to get back into this habit in 2012, with greater clarity and focus.

LEARNING

Once again I plan to do some more Pharos courses while the pound is weak and the Aussie dollar is strong.

I’ll also be following blogs on Google Reader throughout the year to learn what everyone else is up to, as well as listening in to some RootsTech presentations and webinars.

SHARING

Blogging will be the key component of my sharing strategy in 2012. I hope to continue writing about my own research but thought I might use some of the items from my Beyond the Internet geneameme to highlight different resources (off line and online) and how they’ve advanced my family stories. This may or may not tie in with the new 52 weeks of Abundant Genealogy series by Amy Coffin & Geneabloggers.

My thoughts have been skirmishing around setting up two more blogs: one exclusively for my Dorfprozelten research and one which will be updates and new research on my Kunkel family history since the 2003 publication of Grassroots Queenslanders: The Kunkel family. I’m particularly undecided on the latter and whether it’s best served by being split off from Family History across the Seas.

I’m looking forward to 2012 in the genealogy world and learning and sharing with my online mates.