Family History Alphabet: Q is for ….guess

Family History AlphabetMy theme for the Family History through the Alphabet is the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents we need to bring to our research. This week’s letter is Q, an important one if we’re ever to complete our family history.

On your quest persevere, don’t quit, and keep questioning.

Q is NOT for QUITTING:  If we want to find out the story of our families, hurdle those brick walls, break down data barriers we cannot afford to quit. Remember those other attributes: determination, persistence, bravery, enthusiasm and energy? These are our personal resources we draw on when the going gets tough.

Q is for QUESTIONING: As we acquire information we need always to question its accuracy, the sources and its relative merits. Remember: discernment, gumption, knowledge, enquiring?

Q is for QUALITY: I think it’s fair to say most of us want to produce quality research and ensure we can substantiate our research claims. Remember citing, attribution, and acknowledgements?

Q is for QUEST: Like knights of old we’re on a quest to learn more about our families, find those ancient ancestors and bring them to life.

Q is for QUANTITY: I guess we all know genealogists whose sole aim is to build up a vast quantity of names on their trees without a care in the world for accuracy, privacy or turning those names into people. Give me QUALITY over quantity any day! Which leads me to….

 Q is for QUERULOUS: Crabby, cantankerous and just plain grumpy can be the less pleasant attributes we bring to our research, especially when we stand in front of that brick wall or when someone breaches our privacy without permission, or doesn’t acknowledge our work.

What other Q attributes do you think we need as family historians?

Images from Microsoft Office clip art.

Family History Alphabet: A Plethora of P attributes

My theme for the Family History through the Alphabet is the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents we need to bring to our research. We’re powering through the alphabet and Week 16 brings us a plethora of “P” characteristics.

P is for Privacy: No, not our own, though that they may also come into it as we happily write our stories on our blogs. Equally importantly we need to respect the privacy of living family members and not post their online willy-nilly, or in a printed publication without their Permission.  I don’t advocate strict privacy for those in the distant past, as their records are usually already in the public domain. However it’s worth remembering to treat their stories with respect, tell the truth but don’t sensationalise it.

Mindful of the privacy of others.

P is for Permissions: we need to be mindful that we must get permissions from our relatives before sharing their information.  Another privacy issue is the golden rule of not sharing someone else’s emails or addresses without their permission.

P is for Perspective:  Social values change over time so we need to assess our families’ actions within the Prism of their era and historical context.

P is for Patience:  Despite what we see on genealogy shows like WDYTYA, this obsessionhobby takes time. There’s no professional genealogist there to hand us the very document we’re looking for, no archivists waiting to greet us at the door and respond to our particular research questions. We need a vast amount of patience to work our way steadily back through time.

Persistence and patience pay off.

P is for Persistence: The corollary to patience if we’re going to find those missing clues.  Sometimes I think it’s the family members who make us work the hardest to find them, that we appreciate the most.

P is for Perspicacity: Well yes, I know this is the same as D for Discernment, but how could I resist?

P is for Possessive:I don’t know about you but sometimes I get just a teeny weeny bit possessive of my families

P is for Plenty: Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how much we have to be grateful for along this quest: the plentiful resources and the plentiful generosity of others.

Do you have other P words to add to our suite of attributes?

Images from Office Clip Art (except for the FH Alphabet).

Family History Alphabet: O is Optimistic and Obsessive

Family History AlphabetMy theme for the Family History through the Alphabet is the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents we need to bring to our research. We’re galloping through the alphabet now and Week 15 brings us to the “O” attributes. What are they going to be?

O is for Optimistic: no matter how often we hit an Obstacle in our research, we somehow keep believing it will all turn out Okay and we’ll find that missing clue/picture/story.

O is for Observant: we’ll have a lot better chance of knocking down the brick wall if we remain observant to all the nuances in whatever we’re reading: the names of friends, neighbours and witnesses; some clue in the newspaper story; the lie of the land when we visit a family property, etc. A tiny example: one day I was cutting out a story on one of “my” Dorfprozelten Germans from the A3 page I’d printed off the microfilm (this was pre-Trove). As my scissors travelled up the page, my sub-conscious noticed a completely different small story about my George Kunkel’s claim for damages. Because of OCR issues it doesn’t turn up on Trove if I search by his name, so luck and observation gave me yet another snippet for my family history.

Obsessive, Opportunistic, Optimistic, Observant: all needed to pursue yet another clue. Image from Office ClipArt

O is for Opportunistic, a word that has a pejorative connotation, but really it just means we need to take the opportunities that come our way: the chance to visit a cemetery, the invitation to share our family history experience in some way, the opportunity to talk to elderly relatives.

O is for Obsessive: well this one is a no-brainer isn’t it? We’re nearly all totally obsessed with our family research and our quest to turn up new clues. How many times have you been asked “Haven’t you finished that yet?” But no, there’s always one more clue, one more bit of research, another cemetery to visit.

Don’t you just love this family history quest we’re all on?!

Family History Alphabet: N is for….

Family History AlphabetMy theme for the Family History through the Alphabet is the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents we need to bring to our research. Week 14 brings us attributes from the letter N.

N is for notetaking par excellence: If we aren’t good at notetaking when we start this journey, we certainly need to develop those skills. Without them we lose track of what we’ve found and where we’ve stored the information. We also run the risk of missing anomalies in the data we find.

N is for navigating new records and new sites: As our family history develops we need to learn about new records and how to maximise our usage of them.  With more information coming on daily (yet still leaving a vast amount lurking in archives everywhere), we also need to learn how to navigate new web sites.

N is for the white noise you get in your head when you’ve wandered the online labyrinth for too many hours without a thread to lead you home.

N is for nurturing and assisting other researchers. We also need to nurture those family stories so we can bring them to life for others.

N is for negotiating the stumbling blocks that research throws up, and sometimes negotiating outcomes with other researchers.

Family History Alphabet: M is for Mental Gymnastics, Maths and Mothers

Family History AlphabetMy theme for the Family History through the Alphabet is the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents we need to bring to our research. Week 13 is in the middle of the alphabet and brings us the letter M.

M is for MENTAL GYMNASTICS: I guess this is appropriate for the half-way mark and in the midst of the London Olympics. Not only does our mind get a work-out with learning and acquiring new skills, but we need to become proficient gymnasts. Triple back flips with twists are often required to resolve our challenging problems.

M is for MATHS:

What’s maths got to do with it? Well it certainly helps if we understand some basic maths given that money drove many of the documents we need to track down, whether taxes, land purchases, probate etc.  As if that’s not enough we will probably have to deal with conversions from pounds, shillings and pence (in the UK or elsewhere) and acres, roods and perches to hectares. Not to mention trying to assess what an amount from the 19th century converts to in current economic value.

M is for MONEY: Okay, not exactly an attribute but we surely do need some spare reserves of money if we’re to pursue this obsession of ours and to know how to be canny in making it go as far as possible.

M is for MATERNAL ANCESTORS: tracing our female ancestors can be trickier because they don’t always appear in formal documents. It’s up to us to give them equal air time and find ways of telling their stories that goes beyond the standard genealogical conventions.

I’d like to add M is for MORTALITY: the survival rates of our ancestors, but then again it’s not a researcher attribute.

Do you have other M word additions to our suite of attributes?

L is for learning, listening, local and living

Family History AlphabetMy theme for the Family History through the Alphabet series is the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents we need to bring to our research. This week we’re nearing the half-way mark with the letter L.

L is for LEARNING, one of the most important attributes we need as family historians. At every step on our journey of discovery we need to acquire the knowledge of people, places and historic events as they relate to our families. Not to mention learning more about the changes to technology that supports our documentation of discoveries. It’s certainly a good way to keep our brains active!  We also learn from all our geneamates in the blogosphere as each of us has our own writing style and expertise and our own family stories. Great fun and a great community!

L is for LISTENING: How many of us wish we’d listened more to our parents and grandparents and their stories? Most of us would have some regrets in this area. So listening is an important attribute we need to cultivate as we approach relatives for their own stories and that of their direct ancestors. As well as the oral histories, we learn from listening to informed speakers who can teach us a great deal of value about family history research.

L is for LOCAL INTEREST: Learning about the localities where our families lived is an important way to build up the background to their lives. We can do this by visiting local museums, reading local histories, or talking to the local historian or those with a long history in the area.

L is for LIVING: Some time ago, Geniaus reminded us how important it is to remember our living family members. Wise advice that it’s worth heeding lest we become so absorbed in chasing all those dead rellies and climbing brick walls that we forget to spend time with our nearest and dearest in real time. Nor should we forget to walk away from our mysteries and take our own adventures and enjoy our own lives so we can leave an inheritance of our own stories.

What have I forgotten? Are there other L attributes that we need as family historians?

K is for Kudos

Family History AlphabetAlona Tester from Gould Genealogy has proposed a Family History through the Alphabet series over the coming 26 weeks. I decided that my theme would be the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents you bring to your research.

K may not bring to mind many attributes but the one it does is important!

K is for Kudos: As family historians we owe it to others to recognise their hard work, whether it’s building a tree, family photos or stories. We also owe it to those whose books etc we source for our stories.  So our own research should be honest and include the references for all these works so that we acknowledge the contribution of others.

Can you think of any other K attributes?

These great additions have been provided in the comments:

Kindness (Kristin and Kate): generosity with our fellow researchers in sharing information or discoveries. The Kiva Genealogists for Families group founded by Judy Webster also reflects this kindness beyond our specific interests.

Keen as Mustard (Alex), yes we’ve all got the enthusiam.

Kinky (Fiona): my ancestors are pretty mundane so not too many kinky stories that I’ve found.

Knowledge (Mr Cassmob): the store of knowledge we acquire as we research our ancestors.

J is for Joy and Jubilation and a touch of Jealousy

Family History AlphabetAlona Tester from Gould Genealogy has proposed a Family History through the Alphabet series over the coming 26 weeks. I decided that my theme would be the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents you bring to your research. What does the letter J have in store?

J is for Joy and Jubilation when we make discoveries about our ancestors and flesh out their stories, not to mention knocking holes in those so-called brick walls.

J is for Joining Family History Societies, Geneabloggers, writing groups as well as joining in the joy of celebrating other researcher’s discoveries.

J is for Jealousy:  We may not want to admit it, we may be thrilled for others when they find old letters or suitcases full of photos, but I’d be surprised if we don’t occasional feel a twinge of the little green-eyed monster of jealousy and envy, longing for the same discoveries in our families.

What other J attributes can you think of?

I is for the Formidable Researcher

Family History AlphabetAlona Tester from Gould Genealogy has proposed a Family History through the Alphabet series over the coming 26 weeks. I decided that my theme would be the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents you bring to your research. This week’s focus is on the letter I.

I is for Inquisitiveness, Intelligence and Imagination: An Inquiring mind and your Intelligence are among the most Important attributes you will bring to your research. It will help you critique information you’re given and details you’ve discovered and guide you on the way to further research possibilities. Your Imagination will let you mentally free-range and think about influences on your ancestors’ lives, hypothesise about new possibilities and develop avenues for research to break down those stumbling blocks we all encounter.

I is for Investigative: I’m willing to bet that this one is why most of us get so absorbed in family history. We love the thrill of the chase, the sleuthing to find that pivotal piece of information about our ancestor or how to find out what happened to a disappearing aunt, or a “swimmer” who appears in a foreign land having left no trace in the migration records.  But a word of warning, at some stage we need to stop investigating and start writing/recording if we’re to leave a viable history for our descendants.

I is for IT savvy: In 2012 it’s pretty difficult to do family history research without using IT, meaning we need to become progressively more IT savvy. You can use other’s blog posts and general IT reading to expand your knowledge of these wondrous techie toys we use daily. Look at it this way, not only are we learning more about our family, we’re keeping our minds sharp and up to date with current technical trends. As we age we won’t be left behind in the technological slow-lane.

I is for Innovative: Not only do we need to be IT savvy, but we need to be Innovative in how we approach our research, using new strategies, learning new skills and thinking about our research from new angles. Innovation combined with all these other “I” skills will make for a formidable researcher.

I is for Individuality:  You will bring your own individuality to your family story, how you draw the stories together and what focus you shine on those stories.

What “I” words would you add to this list of attributes?

Family History Alphabet: H is for Health and Happiness

Family History AlphabetAlona Tester from Gould Genealogy has proposed a Family History through the Alphabet series over the coming 26 weeks. I decided that my theme would be the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents you bring to your research. This week’s focus is on the letter H.

H is for Health: have you ever considered how family history affects your health?  In my experience family history is great for your mental health because it keeps your brain buzzing and stimulated and gives you the chance to do something you love and be totally absorbed by. Of course there are those occasional days when it challenges your mental health driving you nuts as one lead after the other collapses…all part of the fun.

Yay for genie successes!

Family history is less great for your physical health as you sit hunched over a hot computer pursuing those same leads, or when you’re roaming a cemetery in the rain.  For those who have physical limitations, it also provides an enthralling hobby.

H is for Happiness:  You know…those moments when it all comes together and a problem is solved (even if it then leads to another). Or when you meet a new cousin, or you are given an ancestral photo etc. Cue the genie happy dance J.