Monday, January 1, 2018

5 things to be grateful for in Family History

It's that time of year when we look back at what has happened in 2017 and are looking forward to the New Year.  What or who has helped us along our research path in our quest for our ancestors' stories?  I have much to be grateful for and at the top of my list is ....


Number 1 - Arwen (my training partner)

Now I know you are probably wondering how an earth a dog can help with family history.  Is she very good at sniffing out ancestors????  No, not really.  But she is very good at nudging me to get off my bottom and go for a walk which keeps me healthy (so I have even longer to do my family history!! Tee hee!).  In fact I was going to say at the very beginning of this post that I am incredibly grateful for my good health but I thought "Who or what can I thank for that?"  

Of course I could thank my ancestors and their good genes but I really do have to thank Arwen.  I could sit for hours in front of the computer screen getting lost on ancestral trails if she didn't put her wet nose under my elbow and softly whine.  Going for walks with Arwen is great because it keeps me fit (so I can walk around large repositories and up and down stairs).  It also gives me thinking time (I have some of my best thoughts when out walking) AND it gives me a chance to listen to podcasts or books which brings me to Number 2...

Number 2 - Podcasts and audio books

The Genealogy Guys podcast and others like The National Archives or Genies Down Under (which is having a break at the moment) are very useful for when your local radio station doesn't cut it anymore or there's too much negative/depressing politics on air that seems to be going nowhere.  I have just started a new job with a reasonably demanding commute (over 2 hours a day) so there is no excuse for not listening to as many audio books and podcasts as I can.  Where do you get audio books?  Well that brings me to Number 3....

Number 3 - Libraries

Yes, of course I am completely biased - I am a librarian after all - but I really am grateful to all the magnificent Libraries out there.  

A not very good selfie in front of the NLA - well it was freezing!

From the Grandaddy of them all in Australia - the National Library which keeps us busy with Trove - to my society's library at QFHS...and all the ones I can't visit in person but have helped me anyway.  For example - I borrowed 136 books alone from one of the library services I belong to this year - just think how much money that has saved me.  

QFHS has a small lending library and it was from this that I borrowed and read my first Nathan Dylan Goodwin book this year - Hiding the Past #1 in the Forensic Genealogist series.

Through my local library service I was able to obtain, via Inter Library Loan, a book called Speaking volumes : the Victorian Parliamentary Library, 1851-2001.  Understandably it's not a book everyone wants to borrow so is not widely available, but it was of great interest to me once I found out an ancestor had worked there in the early 1900s as per this blog post.  I was also able to borrow Roslyn Petelin's book How writing works : a field guide to effective writing to see what it was like.  I was so impressed it, I bought it.  The same was truce for Blaine Bettinger's books.

I would also like to give a big shout out to Suzy Young at the Northern Territory Library who helped me recently with finding maps of Darwin during the cyclone in 1974 for an oral history assignment I was doing at Uni.  Which leads me to Number 4...

Number 4 - Teachers

A big shout out to all the teachers out there - official and otherwise.  

I am studying a Diploma in Family History at UTAS at the moment and am enormously grateful to the staff for opening my eyes to different ways of thinking about what I do and who help me to dig deeper.  

I also joined SAG late last year and have enjoyed being able to attend webinars despite living so far from Sydney - this year I learned more about the Biographical Database of Australia and High Definition Ancestry DNA testing from Living DNA.

But there are lots of other "teachers" out there too.  All the lovely people who give so much of their time to local libraries, societies and in the blogging community generally.  There are so many to name but I'll give you a taste - Shauna Hicks who spoke about Ancestors in Church at Moreton Bay Library Service, Helen Smith whose talk on Treasures in the Quarter Session records I was able to attend at QFHS in October (you can see her upcoming talks here),  Sue Reid, Charlotte Sale, Geoff Morgan and Chris Schuetz - my fellow teachers on the Beginners course at QFHS, Judy Webster who keeps us up to date with all things Queensland and much else besides,  Alona Tester who is a powerhouse and has updated the latest list of Australian family history Facebook links, Chris Goopy who is another fabulous blogger who posts the most amazing links on a weekly basis - I don't know how she does it - and organizes great meet-ups for fellow genealogists.

Number 5 - Volunteers

I do bang on about this quite a bit but I think we all know just how little we would have to work with if it wasn't for the family history volunteers around the world who index records or correct text in Trove or help people in Society libraries use the equipment or locate records.  Gosh that was a long sentence!  See how much volunteers do?

A big shout out to anyone who volunteers their time for this wonderful hobby.  


QFHS Volunteers at Open Day 
What helps you in your ancestral quest?  Who or what do you give thanks for?  


Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

A great list Alex, and insights into how much we have to be grateful for. Perhaps I need a dog as well as (couldn’t be instead!) a cat so I get more exercise. Among the volunteers are the indexers who help transcribe and index records.

Crissouli said...

Thank you for the mention, Alex. I'm humbled to be listed among such great company.
You put me to shame with all the reading and listening you do..Still, we all approach family history in different ways and for different reasons.
We look forward to more get togethers in the year ahead.

diane b said...

With all that support I'm sure you are heading for a happy new year.

Melody Lassalle said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your list especially the importance teachers and libraries! As a former public library employee, I understand that people don't appreciate just how important libraries are.

I have my own Arwen. Her name is Misha and she's a Jack Russell. She keeps me from obsessing over my latest genealogy problem. Let's face it, she's a Jack Russell. If I don't take her for her walk, she will drive me nuts so I never get to solving that problem.

Happy New Year to You and Arwen!

samhundy_art said...

This is a wonderful list Alex. Thanks for the podcast recommendations. I have long commutes to work too which I usually spend researching - when network coverage permits.