5th Blogiversary: Reflections and Goals

fifth birthday candlesIt’s hard to believe, but today is this blog’s 5th anniversary.  Perhaps it’s why I’ve been feeling something of a five-year itch with it.  Over recent months, in a scattered way, I’ve been reflecting on where I’m at with both my research and blogging. My prevailing sense has been that my blogs, and my research, have got away from me – another way to say I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, despite chewing furiously.

tiger's tailWhen I bought a large mobile whiteboard about a year ago, I wrote at the top “Beware of the tiger’s tail”. What I meant by that, was to be strategic in my blogging rather than catching hold of the tiger’s tail and having it drag me along willy-nilly. Sure, I’ve written lots of stories relevant to my research but I’m equally sure I’ve not been strategic in my approach. I’ve been tempted to take myself off to Kakadu for a couple of days sans technology and take the chance to step back and decide what’s important to my family history research, my blog and what I want to achieve in the future.

So where do I go from here…other than Kakadu?


In the past my practice has been to write up my family history in narrative form – partly because I started in the pre-computer age, and partly because it suited my style, following an example demonstrated by two academic researchers I met.

Genealogy programs tend to make me feel claustrophobic and for a long time I felt that the Australian program, Relatively Yours, solved my needs best. However the time has come to jump ship and make the move to another program, probably Family Historian. I definitely want one that permits more than a restrictive view of what constitutes “family”. After all I’m interested in my ancestors’ broad life experiences, not just the hatches, matches and despatches. I want to know the nuances of their lives, the place, siblings, neighbours and former neighbours etc as they so often break down brick walls.Revisit record revise

I have published my Kunkel family history but with so much coming online, especially via Trove, there are always new additions. Similarly I have unpublished narratives for several of my other lines: McCorkindale, Melvin, Gavin.

Project: Transfer my RY data to Family Historian. Because of the particular aspect of Relatively Yours I don’t find the gedcom works as well as it might.

Project: Prepare a spreadsheet which lets me check which certificates and records I’ve explored, hold or am still missing. Work on timelines for my tricky ancestors.


A couple of months ago I wrote a post for the Worldwide Genealogy blog called My Three Rs of Genealogy Research: Review, Record, Revise. It certainly seems pertinent within this context.

family-history-back-to-basicsOverall I feel my genealogy (the structure of who’s who) is accurate: I’m a Doubting Thomas and will worry at something like a bone until I find the answer. If it’s not certain, then I will only add it as an hypothesis in my narrative, clearly stated as such…another advantage of the narrative model.

A month or so ago I added this note to my whiteboard as I wrestled with the “where to from here” question: Back to Basics.

Project: Review my many notes in over 50 notebooks from archive and library visits, LDS microfilms etc (and continue to digitise them). Incorporate the information into my narratives and genealogy program. I will also focus on whether my assumptions have been correct or whether I need more data.


red-do-over-button - smallThomas MacEntee’s new Genealogy Do-Over Program is opportunely timed for me, as I think it will be complementary to what I’m trying to do here. However, I won’t be packing away my 28 years of research as I don’t think I need to…after all my data doesn’t come from online trees or other’s research. In (almost?) every case I’ve started with the basics and gone from there.

However, I will be going back to revisit my basics as mentioned above, and putting the research microscope over the conclusions I’ve reached, the gaps in my research, and where I can pursue further information. In short, be more strategic. I’m confident there’ll be lots of tips in the Genealogy Do-Over Program that will help me with what I want to achieve.

Project: Follow along with the Geneabloggers’ Genealogy Do-Over Program and implement strategies as appropriate.


I’m expecting 2015 to be a big year for the Cassmob clan as a lot is planned. Hopefully I’ll be able to tackle these tasks along with the family goals.

BAck to Basics flow diagramMy over-arching goals:

Be Strategic 

Back to Basics

Reflect, Review, Revise and Record.

There are also other decisions to be made about my Dorfprozelten blog, which has been languishing unattended, and my East Clare Emigrants blog.


starsAs this fifth year draws to a close I’d like to thank you all for reading. Blogging may have sometimes taken me off-track research but it’s given me a wonderful world-wide community of friends, some I’ve already met, and some I hope to meet at Roots Tech and the FGS Conference in February.

Thanks so much for reading my blog posts, commenting and being supportive!! You’re all stars!

2011: the Genie year in review: SLOBR

I’m not a great one for lists and New Year’s resolutions so I didn’t formalise what I wanted to do at the start of 2011. This may have been a mistake because there have been times when I felt I’ve swirled along without a clear direction whereas I’m usually fairly good at being task-oriented when I want to complete something. So what DID I achieve in family history during 2011? This is an aide-memoir for me as much as anything so feel free to skip as much as you like.


Blogging has been my big sharing contribution in 2011. After a tentative first year, I dedicated a lot of time and energy to it this year. Some of what I’ve learned from blogging, I’ve talked about recently here.

I like to think that by helping out the people who’ve contacted me through the blog, especially those with Dorfprozelten ancestors, that I’ve contributed a little to the genie community. There has also been extensive email correspondence around a number of families I research (though not my own).

I’ve started in on my Blurb blog-to-book already and finding that I should have inserted my images at higher resolution…live and learn. I plan to get one book in hard copy then others in e-books for my family. The sharing of my personal history in the 52 weeks series was motivated by being able to pass that on to my family. My failure was not getting my husband to write more of his off-line.


A morning of talks by Suzie Zada in the middle of the year was a highlight for me. We were going on holidays that weekend and I kept saying I’ll leave after this presentation – and stayed to the end, even though the topics were not specifically relevant to my own research.

I learn every day through the blogs I read and the strategies and discoveries other make. Books, books and more books also add to my learning.

I enrolled in four Pharos courses, two great ones on Scottish family history by Chris Paton, one on enclosures which was excellent and one on old handwriting which was also valuable but because I had other commitments didn’t dedicate time to properly engaging.

RootsTech was a fascinating insight into a partially-online conference and I was able to learn a lot from the presentations I watched, including using cloud document storage. Looks like a few mid-night wake-ups in February 2012 for me!

Shamrock in the Bush was and is a great learning opportunity as well being companionable. Not Just Ned was not only a great reminder of aspects of my personal history but an insight into Irish lives in Australia (especially that voyage chest).


This one teeters on being a fail. My weakness is gathering the information re disparate families and then not entering them immediately into my informal narrative. I don’t file until I’ve written them up – you can see the pitfall.

On the plus side I’ve started reviewing a potential book on my Melvin family – I wrote about 150 pages a couple of years ago and while I’d done some more research, the narrative needs editing, adding to, and reviewing for further research.

Also on the plus side I’ve been scanning lots of photos –some for the 52 weeks series, and hundreds of our old slides. This achievement gives me a big tick in terms of cyclone preparation as well.

Thanks to some house renovations and ensuing chaos, my library of books and family history references got catalogued. I used Collectorz but also dabble in LibraryThing. Still can’t decide which I prefer but I think Collectorz is quicker to find the book reference I need whereas LibraryThing is online and gives you tips on books similar or relevant to those in your library.

A couple of months ago I started documenting what I worked on each day. This has been a mixed success as I followed it faithfully for some weeks then dropped the ball. However I did find it useful in keeping me on-track with what I want to, and also not being distracted by emails etc as they arrive. When I do focus I am like a terrier in getting through something, so I need to find a balance there.


For the first time I found a trace of my Gavin family in Ireland.

Having chased up my grandmother’s brother’s family for years, I’m now almost certain that he has no surviving descendants. Ancestry releases of war records have also filled out his history.

Through a combination of my research last year in Hertfordshire, online resources and the enclosure course with Pharos, I learned about the pubs my Kent family owned in Hertfordshire.

New digitisation of newspapers with Trove gave me a full list of my great-grandfather’s property which was sold after his death, right down to the picks and shovels. I’ve confirmed his will is not held by the Queensland State Archives so this newspaper advertisement was a find.


Sadly, I didn’t get enough opportunities to get to the Archives interstate in 2011. While I’ve been in Brisbane a few times this year, research hasn’t been the primary purpose so archives visits have been all too brief and far too whirlwind. It’s been a few years since I’ve had good solid archives time. However with more information coming online there’s more background research that I can do from Darwin.

One of my favourite strategies is to use LDS films to read old parish registers, parish chest materials, land records or whatever else is available on microfilm for “my” parishes. I’d be lost without these.

Thanks to Scotlands People I’ve added more information to my own families, and kick-started a friend’s family history for her. Love SP and all for the cost of a coffee.


All in all not an unsuccessful year but I do want to have a more clear-sighted focus in 2012. More research and more documentation are on the agenda. Where to for 2012? Time to plan.