Family History Alphabet: R is for………R-E-S-P-E-C-T

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. This week we’re on the letter R and all of a sudden I hear music.

R is for R-E-S-P-E-C-T:  We owe it to other researchers to acknowledge their work. Citations and  acknowledgements are courteous, and professional, attributes of serious researchers. We also need to show respect for the privacy of living family members in the publication of our research and a mindfulness that our ancestors were a product of the times, and did the best they could. We can be honest in our research reports without disrepecting their lives..

R is for Resilience: We have to be resilient when one trail after the other turns cold, when that brick wall looms in front of us. We Routinely pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again! If Ginger Rogers can dance backwards in high heels surely we can keep pursuing our goals despite the occasional obstacles.

R is for Resourceful: Family historians are tricky souls. We have all sorts of sneaky strategies for approaching those brick walls, for linking with other genealogists or cousins, or for pushing our information back through the decades. Do you have a particularly resourceful strategy?

Resourcefulness is one of our lateral attributes.

R is for Rituals and Routine:  There have been a number of blogs that talk about how we deal with our day as family historians: when we research, look at emails, blog, tweet, facebook or approach our ancestral searches. What’s your daily genealogy ritual?

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein i]


I is for the Formidable Researcher

Family History AlphabetAlona Tester from Gould Genealogy has proposed a Family History through the Alphabet series over the coming 26 weeks. I decided that my theme would be the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents you bring to your research. This week’s focus is on the letter I.

I is for Inquisitiveness, Intelligence and Imagination: An Inquiring mind and your Intelligence are among the most Important attributes you will bring to your research. It will help you critique information you’re given and details you’ve discovered and guide you on the way to further research possibilities. Your Imagination will let you mentally free-range and think about influences on your ancestors’ lives, hypothesise about new possibilities and develop avenues for research to break down those stumbling blocks we all encounter.

I is for Investigative: I’m willing to bet that this one is why most of us get so absorbed in family history. We love the thrill of the chase, the sleuthing to find that pivotal piece of information about our ancestor or how to find out what happened to a disappearing aunt, or a “swimmer” who appears in a foreign land having left no trace in the migration records.  But a word of warning, at some stage we need to stop investigating and start writing/recording if we’re to leave a viable history for our descendants.

I is for IT savvy: In 2012 it’s pretty difficult to do family history research without using IT, meaning we need to become progressively more IT savvy. You can use other’s blog posts and general IT reading to expand your knowledge of these wondrous techie toys we use daily. Look at it this way, not only are we learning more about our family, we’re keeping our minds sharp and up to date with current technical trends. As we age we won’t be left behind in the technological slow-lane.

I is for Innovative: Not only do we need to be IT savvy, but we need to be Innovative in how we approach our research, using new strategies, learning new skills and thinking about our research from new angles. Innovation combined with all these other “I” skills will make for a formidable researcher.

I is for Individuality:  You will bring your own individuality to your family story, how you draw the stories together and what focus you shine on those stories.

What “I” words would you add to this list of attributes?

Family History Alphabet: Attributes with E…

Family History AlphabetAlona Tester from Gould Genealogy has proposed a Family History through the Alphabet series over the coming 26 weeks. I decided that my theme would be the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents you bring to your research.

The letter E seems to Encapsulate quite a few attributes for family historians.

Ethics: How on earth did I forget this one on my first pass? Far too important to leave out, I’m adding it late. There are so many ethical issues we face as family historians. In particular those that affect living people and which may be confidential. Ensuring we don’t publish or put information about living people online without their permission. Ensuring we respect other’s work, copyright etc. Treating even the dead with respect, so that we tell the truth as we find it in the records but with compassion and not in a sensational way as if their only purpose is to give us a Good Story. Weighing up the stories we’re told by others, looking for possible bias, and presenting a balanced story.

Enthusiasm: When we start out on our journey we may be tentative and unsure about what we’ll find, but as we learn more about our ancestral families we become if anything over-Enthusiastic. However there are times when the trail turns cold when we need to heat up our Enthusiasm.

Expand our perspectives: I know I’m talking to the converted here, but blogs and reading of the old-fashioned kind broaden our perspectives and strategies.

An Office Clip Art image.

Managing Expectations:  Linked to those lulls in enthusiasm, we need to manage our expectations. Some questions will never be answered but with luck may be intuited to a degree from other reliable sources. Some sources simply no longer exist. You may have to manage others’ expectations as well. How often have you heard the questions “Aren’t you finished with that yet?” or “How far back have you gone?” What emphasis you place on your family history research, and where it takes you, is up to you…do you look at all your branches? Try to go back in time as far as possible? Try to learn more about each ancestor and their life?

Education, an Enquiring mind and Exploring: True of life in general but this obsession of ours challenges us daily to learn more, to try new strategies, to learn new technologies. That enquiring mind will be your guide in planning new research paths, developing research hypotheses and exploring new sources of information. Learn, learn, learn!

Energy: You need a lot of energy to keep going on the research trail, to climb cemetery fences, to explore old homesites….

Excellence: In some ways an ambitious goal but we can aim for the stars in our research, how we tell the stories and document our findings. This isn’t a goal to beat ourselves up with, this is one to inspire us to keep learning and trying.

Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude[i]. Ralph  Marston

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young[ii]. Henry Ford.