Family History Alphabet: S sets us challenges

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 on the final rush to the end now and S is our letter of the week. By this stage we’re reaching some antonyms of earlier attributes.

S is for STAMINA:  We surely need a lot of stamina/endurance to make it through our family history research. There have been recent blog posts on “aren’t you finished yet?” the ubiquitous question from those who know we’ve been researching for some time. It’s the corollary to the first-time question (you know it) “how far back have you gone?” A number of us have been pursuing our family history for decades so the stamina to keep on keeping on is essential.

S is for SLEUTHING:  I’ve always thought this was a universal truth about genealogists but after Olive Tree Genealogy’s post on “what type of genealogist are you?” I wonder. Still for me it’s a given.

S is for SHARING: This is a big one especially for geneabloggers. We love to share and we love that our genimates[i] care enough to read our posts and comments. We also like to share with our families, but often they’re not nearly as interested as we’d like. Over the years we acquire a range of expertise from work as well as family history –we can offer to share this with others through classes, informal advice or volunteering.

S is for SUPPORTIVE: When you’re part of the Geneabloggers community you no longer feel the need for support -there’s always a virtual friend (and some non-virtual ones too) out there who can provide advice, cheer you on, and believe in what you’re doing.

S is for SORROW: As we learn more about our families and the tragedies they experienced it’s all too easy to be overtaken with sorrow for their losses. I never fail to be overwhelmed when I read of the tragic death of my great-grandmother, Julia Kunkel.

S is for SYMPATHY: Similar to sorrow but different.  Learning more about the times our ancestors lived in can give us a greater sympathy for the challenges they faced: leaving home never to see family again, the loss of babies, losing a farm or business, the deaths of adult children before their time.

Are you climbing up the best ladder to find your family?

S is for STRATEGIC: Ugh, I feel like I’m back at work with this one. Still and all we do need to be strategic in our approach to research especially in this online era.

Remember Steven Covey’s “Seven Habits” quote from Habit 2?  “If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster“. It applies to our family history goals as much as to the workplace or life in general.

So much information avalanches towards us these days, that we need to be discerning in our approach;  weigh up the most effective, and most accurate, way to discover more about our families; and perhaps balance where and how we spend our time. For me that means that I don’t always follow the social media for fear of being too distracted (I can hear the influence of our former staff development person in this). Each to his/her own.

S is for SKILLS IMPROVEMENT:  This seems like something of a tautology in a list of attributes but if we don’t focus on continually improving our skills then our research expertise will dwindle and we’ll struggle to say up with all the advances available to us.

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

This seems like a visual metaphor for geneablogger sharing: colourful, connected, supportive.

Images from Office Clip Art.

[i] Thanks to Jill Ball from Geniaus for this very Aussie spin on genealogy friendships.

18 thoughts on “Family History Alphabet: S sets us challenges

  1. Sanity, Satisfaction, Sustenance, ( not necessarily food, more discoveries), Snippets (of information), Secrets ( the uncovering of), Significance (deciding on), Stationery (lots of), Salutations ( goes with support) to name a Small Selection…


    1. I like sustenance because without some discoveries it’s easy to become disheartened -they don’t have to be big discoveries, tiny Snippets help. I like all your others too except sanity which I suspect is missing 🙂


  2. I love all the wonderful words you come up with Pauleen, but more the thought that goes into what they mean and how they apply to family history. I can very much relate to family not being interested in the family history. Just as well for our ‘Sustaining’ geneablogger friends who Spur us on to Sucess!


  3. Oh no! Are we on S already! I think Stamina is what I need to get on with S. Where’s my list? I like all your attributes and they make me think about the bigger picture of family history sleuthing.


  4. Another fascinating list of “attributes” Pauleen. Could “write a book” about each of them 🙂 but have to focus on SLEUTHING.
    Whooo Hooo… what a delight it was to track down my errant Grandfather who scarpered “across the pond” (from England to Canada) and set up a whole new family there… which, I understand, was not at all unusual for those times. Even better is that my SLEUTHING finally located a half cousin, in Canada, who equally shares my love of SLEUTHING 😀


    1. You’re definitely on a roll with Sleuthing lately Catherine…may it continue for you! I think “across the pond” is more common than we think…I have one to track down too. Now while you’re at it, could you please send me the “luck of the Irish” in finding my James Sherry, wherever he went/died.


      1. Thanks for your good wishes Pauleen. Have another email/non-blogging friend in the UK who managed to track down her “scarperer” too 🙂 Good luck to you!
        You will be the first to know if I discover your James Sherry whilst I’m shuffling/ trawling around looking for my “lost ones” 😀 … Cheers


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