Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Completely different? Not quite

I am feeling quite pleased with myself right now, as I have just finished putting together the second of my travel journal/albums. Also, the family home movies are safely digitized on an external hard drive, with a backup kept elsewhere. It has been good to get some distance, temporarily, from family history research, and it has made me realize that some tactics we genealogists employ can be quite useful in other situations.

But … has all this activity taught me anything I can use in genealogy? Absolutely!

For my travel albums I first had to make a list of the trips; second, I brought together the journals, photos, and other material from their various hiding places; third, a plan of attack was devised that would keep me on the straight and narrow (it’s SO easy to get distracted and/or confused); fourth, I am continuing to keep tabs on my progress.

For the beginner in genealogy, I would say: make a pedigree and family group sheets of your known ancestors and relatives, insofar as you know them (equivalent to the trip list above); collect whatever photos and/or documents you have relating to family members; decide what your long- and short-term aims are; plan your strategy and keep it updated.

My goal in the travel matter was to eventually create a modest set of scrapbooks for all my trips. (Nice finite project, unlike you-know-what). You must decide YOUR goal as a genealogist. What do you have to work with? Which line will you work on? Where will you start?

As for the travel albums, now that the materials are sorted and neatly stowed, and a couple of the volumes completed, I will not take on the rest of the compilations all in one gulp, which would turn it into into a joyless chore. Much better to attend to them individually, over time. Besides, having some breaks in between will mean returning with a fresh outlook and some new ideas.

Here again is something applicable to genealogy. Even if it were possible to devote all one's time to research, it is far better, in my experience, to back away now and then. New insights and approaches become apparent, and we go back the project with renewed enthusiasm and a sharper focus.

And is my workspace less cluttered now? Well … sort of.

PS The photograph is of the entrance to the Egyptian Avenue, Highgate Cemetery, London, from one my trips, naturally.

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