Do you schedule time for genealogy?

Schedule time for genealogyLast Sunday, I created a list of the things I wanted to get done before going to bed that night. I was going to be traveling the following week, so the list was pretty long. At the end of it, I wrote “Genealogy research.”

I’m so glad I added that last item. I got through the rest of my tasks quickly, checking each of them off the list. If I hadn’t added genealogy to the list, I probably would have turned off my computer and picked up my knitting. But because of the reminder, I went ahead and worked on the transcription of my 3rd great grandfather’s Civil War pension records. (Incidentally, that go the ball rolling and I continued transcribing during my trip.)

As much as I love doing family history research, sometimes I forget about doing it. When I get busy and lose my momentum, it can be hard for me to get the ball rolling again.

I’ve tried scheduling the research and that works for awhile. But it’s always when other parts of my life take over that the little pleasures fall by the wayside.

If you make family history research a priority, by scheduling it on your calendar or putting it on your task list, you can keep the momentum–and the enjoyment–going. At least that’s what works for me!

Photo by Courtney Dirks via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

Gravestones can contain errors

gravestones can be inaccurateI know this isn’t news to most of you, but the fact that gravestones can contain errors was brought home to me after my mother passed away last month. As I posted at the time, her obituary contained an error, even though I (a professional writer) had written it myself.

Somehow I felt that more care was given to the accuracy of gravestones, since they are, literally, engraved in stone. But I learned otherwise when my father and I went to the cemetery office to make arrangements. The office worker handed me a printout of what the grave marker would look like (it’s the covering for the niche in which her cremated remains were placed) and my mother’s birth date was wrong. She was born May 2, 1933 and the marker proof said May 5, 1933.

I caught it handily and made the correction. And of course it was simple human error. But what if I hadn’t been there and my grieving father hadn’t caught it? The gravestone would have been wrong. I wonder how many times that has happened in generations gone by. I would imagine our ancestors didn’t have the benefit of seeing proofs.

The experience has led me to take less stock in the “proof” that I had thought a gravemarker provided. It’s simply another secondary source that needs to be verified through other means.

It’s a great reminder of why it’s important to have multiple sources for any facts we track down.

Asking again: How do you use Facebook for genealogy?

FB-f-Logo__blue_100In early May, I wrote a blog post asking you how you use Facebook for genealogy. Unfortunately, a WordPress problem caused the comment Submit button to disappear and readers couldn’t answer the question. So I thought I’d try again. Please let me know how you use Facebook for your research!

Facebook has become part of my daily life and, I bet, yours. It’s almost hard to imagine how we navigated the online world without it. I use it for lots of things, but I don’t use it a whole lot to further my genealogy research. I’d like that to change.

I know that Facebook offers a lot to genealogists and I’m wondering how you all use it. I belong to a few genealogy-related Facebook groups that I find really helpful when I take the time to read them. They are:

I’m also a part of one family group, which was helpful when a reunion was being organized last year. And, of course, I have the Organize Your Family History Facebook page.

Are there other genealogy-related groups or communities that you recommend? Do you use Facebook to find cousins or otherwise further your research? I’d love to hear about it!

SHOTBOX can help you digitize documents

One of the RootsTech vendors I was most excited about was SHOTBOX, a tabletop photo light studio. This portable lightbox makes it easy to use your phone to take good-looking, well-lit photos of three-dimensional objects, which is great for those of who blog. It would also be really useful for folks selling items on eBay, etsy or craigslist.

What’s great for the genealogist, though, is that it provides the ability to easily take photos from above, which can be very useful for digitizing documents or photos (or photo album pages). If you have delicate documents you wouldn’t want to put through a sheet-fed scanner, or if you don’t have a scanner at all, SHOTBOX might be the tool you need to use your phone to digitize documents without risk of damage and without shadows.

Right now, SHOTBOX is running a Kickstarter campaign while they work with the factory to finish the manufacturing and ship by October. I pledged and pre-ordered the SHOTBOX plus the SideShot Kit (a lighted attachment to hold the phone or tablet steady for photos taken from the front), for a total of $149. Once the product is in production, the anticipated retail price will be $149 for the SHOTBOX and $89 for the SideShot.

Go to this page to see examples of photos taken with SHOTBOX.

I’m really excited to receive my SHOTBOX this autumn and put it to use!