It is easy to focus and keep focusing on the one area that keeps you frustrated and wondering what you got yourself into by researching your family. I can quickly list all the brickwalls I would love to sweep away into a small dust pan.
Dealing with not finding information, not getting responses from contacts and not knowing where to start on researching difficult relatives are the joy killers of genealogy. The result is you start to feel as if there is nothing else to work on and you are standing in dried concrete next to your brickwall.
The new year is time to start with a new mentality. Here is how refresh the mind for the new year.
1. Go through your family tree and make a list of areas you want to research on each person. You can organize the list by surnames, towns or time periods.
2. Take a closer look at your family albums. Can you identify all your relatives? Do you know where and when the pictures were taken? Time to call some family for help if you said no. Maybe you’ll get a great story with some helpful information by asking about a mystery photo.
3. Organize your notes, letters and records on your ancestors into individual folders. This will give you a chance to take a closer look at what you really have on the people you are researching.
4. Open an e-mail account only for your genealogy research. We all get too much spam. You could be missing important messages sitting among the spam. It is too easy to click delete by accident while clearing spam.
5. Keep a list of things you are waiting to arrive: researchers’ result for searches, archives’ responses to your requests, microfilms ordered from the Family History Center, etc.
6. Start a journal about your frustrations, successes and goals. After awhile, you will be able to read old entries and smile about the frustrations that became successes.
7. Buy a nice binder to put together your family letters and documents in acid-free plastic sleeves so you can show off your success. Here’s another chance to look at those letters and documents to find something important you missed before.
8. Start researching the villages and towns of your ancestors by putting the names into Google. Use Google Translate to try to find information in the native languages. Maybe you’ll come across someone else researching the same village and town or forums for those areas. Knowing the history of those birthplaces may be more useful than first thought.
9. Try writing an article or story with all the information you have on your ancestors or surnames. This will help see the big picture of the research already completed. Maybe you’ll notice areas that haven’t been researched yet.
10. Make sure to regularly check on your posts on forums and keep these posts bookmarked. Have you missed some great responses? Sometimes the automated messages for responses on forums go into the spam box or never get sent.
So here’s to another great year in genealogy research. What breakthroughs will you have in the new year with a fresh slate?