Building flexibility into your genealogy trip

building flexibility into a genealogy research tripI just finished with my cemetery research trip to Kentucky and Alabama, where some of my ancestors lived and died. Being the professional organizer that I am, I planned the trip fairly extensively, down to the GPS coordinates of the cemeteries I was planning to visit. I worked up a schedule and made hotel reservations. My intention was to visit four cemeteries in three cities over two and a half days. I needed to end up in Nashville mid-afternoon of the third day for a conference.

On Day One, I realized that my plan was flawed. And I was so glad that I had the flexibility to change it. What I hadn’t done in all my planning was to build time in to look at local genealogy repositories for resources that might not be available to me on the internet. When I discovered that there was a Kentucky Room in a public library in Owensboro, Kentucky, 45 minutes north of where I was, I chose to stay and do research, rather than proceeding to Alabama as I’d originally planned.

That extra time in the Kentucky Room garnered me a death certificate on microfilm for my great great great grandmother, Elizabeth McEuen (that’s her grave marker in the photo), which in turn gave me her parents’ names.

The next day I proceeded to Baileyton, Alabama, where I had no trouble locating the grave markers of my great great grandparents, Laban and Margaret Rasco, and Laban’s parents, Jesse and Martha Rasco. When an internet search revealed a genealogy room at the library of Wayne State University, in Hanceville, Alabama, I decided to stay in northern Alabama and forgo my trip south to Marion Junction, Alabama, to visit another cemetery. I chose library research over cemetery research. This also saved me a few hours of driving in each direction.

I think it was a good decision. At the Wayne State library, the helpful librarians quickly identified Laban Rasco’s death certificate on microfilm and, in addition, they located his Confederate pension application, a 15-page document that I am looking forward to poring over.

I’m so glad I took this trip. Stepping away from the desk can be so beneficial. To stand in front of the graves of my ancestors was so powerful. To see the towns in which they lived helped me see them as humans. And talking with local people who knew my family’s surnames, brought my ancestors to life for me. One of the librarians in Hanceville, it turns out, grew up next to my family’s homestead. Making that connection with her was priceless.

Thanks to a blog reader, I called ahead to the church associated with one of the cemeteries and was connected to a wonderful local historian who went out of his way to help me and even met me at the cemetery. The trip couldn’t have gone better. And I learned a valuable lesson: When on a genealogy trip, keep my schedule loose and flexible so I can take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.

Genealogy jewelry

familytreenecklaceWhen I was at the Genealogy Society of Southern Illinois conference in August, one of the vendors was Fun Stuff for Genealogists, which was selling some genealogy-related jewelry. None of their wares really grabbed me, but perhaps I had them in the back of my mind when I came across the family tree necklace from Lisa Leonard Designs. Lisa Leonard specializes in personalized, hand-stamped jewelry.

The family tree necklace seems to be intended to be customized with the names of the wearer’s children. But when I saw it, I thought how great it would be to personalize it with my grandparents’ surnames. That’s my pendant in the picture. (I bought the pewter version.) It has the names adams ⋅rasco ⋅ jeffries⋅ brown stamped into it.  I wanted to be able to wear it on a longer chain, so I purchased a 30″ antique copper ball chain, along with the silver link chain that came with the necklace.

It feels like a wonderful way to honor them, as well as a great conversation starter. Just think how many genealogy buffs I’ll discover when I wear it!

Hint: If you decide you’d like one, you can sign up to receive Lisa Leonard’s newsletter and get a 15 percent off discount code.

Have you registered for RootsTech?

RootsTech 2015 registration is openAbout ten days ago, I registered for RootsTech 2015, which will be held February 11 to 15 in Salt Lake City. I attended last year and really enjoyed it. I jumped at the chance to register again for only $139, the early registration fee. (I’m accustomed to organizers’ conferences that cost about $500 to register.)

When they announced last year that RootsTech 2015 would be held in conjunction with the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ (FGS) annual conference, my first thought was, 10,000 people isn’t enough? Here’s the thing: RootsTech 2014 was so well organized (and, believe me, I don’t say that lightly) that I have no worries that combining the conference with FGS will have a negative impact on the conference experience. In fact, I’m pretty sure it will have a positive impact.

The two conferences are being held concurrently. There will be shared general sessions and a shared Expo. Those who register for one conference will have the option of going to the other conference’s breakout sessions (that option is available for a small additional registration fee). I didn’t know whether I would want to attend any FGS sessions, but for an additional $39, I figured it was worth it to keep that option open.

So I have my plane ticket, my hotel reservation, and my conference registration. It’s on my calendar and I am really looking forward to it.

Are you going? If so, please let me know! Last year, I met up with OYFH reader Lori Krause and we’ve had a great time staying in touch ever since! (Hope you’re going again, Lori!)

Paper vs electronic: What a difference two years makes!

paperpilecroppedI just took another gander at a blog post I wrote on August 16, 2012, called How I organize my family history research. I still organize my research papers the same way I described in that post–my filing system has withstood the test of time.

But what really jumped out at me was this paragraph:

…I have to tell you that I’m a paper person. I know I could (and perhaps should) save documents, like census images, as pdfs and just organize them on my computer. But I really like printing them out and keeping them in files. So that’s what I do.

I’m pretty happy to report that times have changed. I’ve created an electronic file system that allows me to find  documents on my computer easily (though I’m still discovering files that haven’t been properly named or filed). So now I don’t feel the need to print everything and put them in files. It’s positively liberating.

That means my files are available wherever my laptop is. (Or my iPad, since much of my genealogy research is also stored in Dropbox.) I can do research from any room in the house, or any room in the world, for that matter.

Back in May, I extolled the virtues of going paperless. I am so happy that my need to print is vanishing!

Yes, my paper filing system is working well. But these days, I use it only for retrieving documents I filed there in the past. I’m just not adding to it. And that’s okay by me!