Shannon Bennett, Student
Anyone who discovers a passion for family history also discovers an addiction that they can’t describe except to others who share it. Being able to describe what I want to do and why, is something that I have struggled with from time to time. I am sure you can relate. Which is why I was excited to see a description of exactly who I want to be written in black and white in the first pages of this course.
A quote from Ethel W. Williams book Know Your Ancestors: A Guide to Genealogical Research sums up nicely what a genealogist should be:
Since I started researching my family I have at one time or another felt exactly like this passage. Through this course, and the rest of my ongoing genealogical education, I hope that I can hone my skills and become a better detective, historian, sociologist, and anything else the field requires of me. These attributes, and the quote, are now hanging on a printout above my desk. A reminder, if you will, of what I want to become on this journey.
Working through the basic lessons was at times a bit tedious. However, since I had never, ever, done any genealogy on paper I had a great time making pedigree charts, filling out family group sheets, and creating a 3-ring notebook of information. Realizing the whole time that maybe, just maybe, I do rely on my computer software a little too much.
This should have been something I figured out ages ago. I really do learn and remember things better when I physically write them down. Charts, graphs, drawings in the margins that I’ve created are what I remember the best. It just makes sense that I would make connections easier, remember the lines better, and overall understand all the little nuances of my family tree after I physically took the time to write it all down.
The only disappointing part from doing these first modules was the lack of family documents in my own home. I know the number one thing we do as genealogists is start with ourselves. We work from the known to the unknown. However, what happens when you have no proof of even the facts that you know in your mind? I don’t live near my family, so it’s not like I can pop down the street and raid their house for files. It is a full day trip via plane for that to happen, so needless to say I can’t be a bit spontaneous in this endeavor. That was my biggest struggle as a new genealogist, and thankfully there was the Internet, fax machines, and the postal service to help me gather a few of the documents I needed.
Well, I have to say my detective cap has come out, the magnifier is in hand, and I am ready to do some sleuthing. I can’t wait to see what other skills I should have looked into earlier.