ANNUAL END-OF-YEAR GENEALOGY GOALS REVIEW

I can only describe 2021 as a roller coaster year. Dips and climbs, moving slow then all too fast. Some parts smooth and other parts terrifying. Earlier this year, I told you why I reset my genealogy priorities. In this post, I briefly retell that story and evaluate progress on my original set of goals for this year.

In March, 2021, I was diagnosed with amytrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), a progressive neurologic disorder and a life expectancy of 2 to 5 years. I frantically worked on the article about my mother’s German ancestors which I submitted in July.  Using principles learned in Genealogy Do-Over, I began a complete and thorough re-organization of all things genealogical. I didn’t realize how many duplicate files and pieces of information were scattered all over my computer.  Digital file reorganization is 95% done.

Now, I need to evaluate my original genealogy goals for 2021.

Susan’s 2021 Genealogy Goals

Posten-Richards family (dad’s family)

  1. Revise at least 4 chapters of Posten family history book. Explore publication options. (One chapter done in 2018; one chapter rewritten in 2020). *Priority item for 2021—rewrote one chapter. Consider as priority for 2022?
  2. Follow-up on at least one BSO generated from previous searches. Parents of Benjamin Avery Posten; results posted on blog.
  3. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings. Done.

Tucker-Maurer family (mom’s family):

  1. Complete descendant list for Smetts-Maurer family as requested by cousin. Done- Feb 2021
  2. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings. Done
  3. Follow-up on at least one BSO generated from previous searches. Done- Rosina Smetts & Henry Renk

Ellerbee-Simmons/ Johnson-Reed (husband’s family)

  1. Scan original documents in paper files. Place originals in archival sleeves and appropriate notebook.  Ongoing.
  2. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings in each family group. Partially met – one ancestor and siblings in each family group.
  3. Create family group records with citations as addendums to scrapbooks given 2019 & 2020 for at least 4 family groups. . NOT DONE.
  4. Continue to trace descendants of slaves owned by husband’s ancestors. Use templates and directions from the Beyond Kin project. NOT DONE- LEAVE FOR OTHERS TO DO.
  5. Follow-up on at least two BSOs generated from previous searches (one from each family group).  Johnson family- Barbara Friddle Reed.

Genealogy Blog:

  1. Post on regular basis, optimally every 2 weeks. Posted every 2-3 weeks.
  2. Post at least 2 stories about each family—Posten-Richards (dad), Tucker-Maurer (mom), Ellerbee-Simmons (father-in-law), Johnson-Reed (mother-in-law). Partially met – 3  for Posten, 2 for Tucker, 1 for Ellerbee, 6 for Johnson.
  3. Limit each post to about 1500 words or less. Done consistently
  4. Purchase or download software to post GEDCOM family tree. Post at least 2 family trees to blog. (continued from 2019). NOT DONE.
  5. Continue to address Genealogical Proof Standard in reports. Done ABOUT 50% OF TIME.
  6.  

General items:

  1. Continue to place To-Do/ BSO items and questions for each family on color-coded file cards. Not done due to loss of function w/ right hand. How to track these in future?
  2. Send for at least 4 BMD certificates. DONE – DCs: Anna Klee Maurer, Stephen Scheffel, Edward Louis Maurer, Leonhard Maurer,; Maria Anna Metzger Maurer, Emma Lizzie Maurer, Anna Kolzelius Maurer,  BCs: William Charles Maurer, Herman Maurer. MCs: Arthur Maurer & Johanna Dassow, Leonhard Maurer & Crescentia Ley, Herman Maurer & Elizabeth Bailer.
  3. Submit article begun in 2020 to a local genealogical society for publication in their newsletter.  Specific family/ person TBA. Done July 2021- Maurer family. Not accepted but excellent feedback from editor
  4. Add to Research Toolbox:  books “Dating Vintage Photographs” ; possibly Dragon software. Bought Kindle books- Planning a future for your family’s past by Marion Burk Wood and After You’re Gone: Future proofing your genealogy research by Thomas MacEntee. Both offer good suggestions.  
  5. Enroll in at least one genealogy-related webinar or online class, topic to be determined.  GOAL MET. American Ancestors writing course Jan 2021; Seven things to know about German Church Records, February 2021; Pennsylvania Launching Pads into the Midwest, 14 Sept 2021; RootsMagic 8 overview 8 Oct 2021.

 Items Added:

  1. Duplicate Ellerbee-Simmons scrapbooks for Jason & Deanna. Ellerbee family scrapbooks in progress.
  2. Change from RootsMagic7 to RootsMagic8.  Change selected files to RM8 format, including copy of media files & relink to new media file:
    • Jerry Donald Ellerbee-DONE
    • George Avery Posten/ Cornelius Posten-DONE
    • Johnson-Reed
    • Posten-Richards
    • Tucker-Maurer
    • Others?
  3. Genealogy legacy planning:
    • Create single folder, “GENEALOGY REORGANIZATION FILES 2020” on personal computer. done
    • Reorganize digital files by family: Ellerbee-Simmons, Johnson-Reed, Posten-Richards, Tucker-Maurer, with standard subfolders under each heading.  Done
    • Move all genealogy files to appropriate location under GENEALOGY REORGANIZATION 2020. DONE
    • After moving RM files, recheck and relink media as needed.
    • Inventory all genealogy materials (paper files, digital files, websites, books and hard copy items, photographs, etc.). Review every 6 months. Designate place for print copy of inventory. Initial inventory done.

What about the budget?

Once more, a little over. For next year? Set specific priorities and reformat goal structure.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

Genealogy priorities & short life expectancy

How would your genealogy goals change if you only had two years to live? What kind of genealogy legacy will you leave? This is what now confronts me as I have been diagnosed with a progressive neurologic disorder and a life expectancy of 2 to 5 years.

 Thirty years ago, my goal was to find all original immigrants. On my dad’s side, one immigrant, Anthony Desire LaCoe/LeCoq (1778, France – 1883, Pennsylvania) was identified by others. Mom’s oral history suggested, and since been confirmed, one immigrant, Valentine Maurer (1800, Germany – 1898, New York). Immigrant origins for my husband’s family remain speculative as British with Scandinavian roots have been  identified through DNA. My research identified one more on dad’s side (surname Ostrander from Holland) and one on mom’s side (surname Traver from Germany).  Another researcher discovered a French ancestor, surname Fayard, for my father-in-law. For my mother-in-law, a German ancestor with last name Krueger/ Creager seems likely. So, six immigrants out of at least 32 family lines.

 Now, given time constraints, I have to focus on more realistic goals.  My legacy plan now includes leaving more copies of each scrapbook, especially the paper scrapbooks.  Two copies of Ellerbee-Simmons books exist, i.e. the original and copies given to Papaw’s sister in July 2019.  Two copies of Johnson-Reed scrapbook exist, i.e. original and copy given to sister-in-law last year.

I have two print copies of the Posten narrative history written in 2012, with all of its flaws. But, the framework is there.  Five relatives received copies of this document. Digital copies of all reside on my computer and are saved to the Cloud.

 I focus again on the paper scrapbooks with these new goals for the rest of this year: 

  1. Make two copies of the Ellerbee- Simmons scrapbooks. One copy for sister- in- law and one copy for youngest son. Original scrapbook stays with  my oldest son.
  2. Make one copy of the Johnson -Reed scrapbook for youngest son. Original scrapbook stays with my oldest son.

In previous post, I outlined the specific steps needed before re-submitting article about mom’s family. Similarly,  goals for the paper scrapbooks require specific steps:

  1. Buy five 12×12-inch scrapbooks from local hobby/craft store. Wait for a sale! Prefer scrapbooks that come with 25-50 plastic sleeves.
  2. Buy additional archival quality plastic sleeves as needed.
  3. Buy 1 ream acid-free white paper from office supply store.
  4. Choose dominant color or decorative theme for each scrapbook.
  5. List sections for each scrapbook. Choose one design for the section dividers.
  6. Use personal scrapbook supplies (paper, labels, stickers, decorations, etc.) before buying more. FYI: I have 8 boxes and numerous pads of paper, lots of themed decorations.
  7. Enlist husband’s help as needed with cutting out designs.

My next goal –  create scrapbook/ memory book of Tucker-Maurer family including photos and documents. As of today, my plan is to use  a book format,  then print professionally. I created a short (20 page) version for my brother two years ago. This version includes more information.

Specific steps include:

  1. Outline specific information, such as family group sheets, to be included.
  2. Review blog posts; revise posts as needed and use in this memory book.
  3. Write family/ individual stories as needed.

I discussed all of this with my husband. He asked, “How important is it, really, to get published in a genealogic journal?” I submitted one article and received appropriate feedback from the editor. I will continue to collect birth, death and marriage certificates for that family line.  Those acquisitions strengthen my legacy. However, I also accept that I may not have time to fully address genealogic standards as required by the journal. I can continue to publish via my blog.

The last few months have been an emotional roller coaster. Rethinking my genealogic priorities is only one thing that we have to do. I cannot say enough how much I appreciate my husband and sons. FYI- yes, I have begun the process of getting my genealogical files and items in order. More about that later.

As I work on preservation rather than expansion, the character of my blog posts may change. There are many family stories to tell within the boundaries of my current work.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and  Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

Genealogy standards and repositories (Priority Reset, Part 2)

The article that I submitted for consideration to a genealogic journal was not accepted. The editor gave lots of feedback with clear directions on how to proceed. In my last post, I reported how and why my genealogy goals for this year have changed. In this post, I outline specific ways in which I plan to revise this article. 

Here’s my new goal: Using the editor’s suggestions as base, revise article about Maurer family. If I follow her suggestions, I will better meet Genealogical Standards[1]. To review, genealogical standards include five criteria:

  1. Reasonably exhaustive research-“emphasizing original records. . . . “[2]
  2. Complete, accurate citation of sources
  3. Tests of evidence by analyzing and correlating data
  4. Resolution of conflicts among evidence
  5. Written conclusion that is reasonable and coherent

Specifically, I did not completely meet the first criteria about original records. I possess, and cited, many  original certificates and/or copies of the originals.  I purchased certificates directly from state, county and local offices. Relatives sent me photo or digital copies. Some records were available online. However, I frequently cited online indexes as sources.

Indexes are not original records!  As the editor pointed out, indexes should primarily be used as a finding aid for the original document. Indexes are transcriptions of original material and, therefore, subject to error. How many times have you found an ancestor’s name misspelled on an index?   Contact the agency or group that holds the original record, i.e. the repository.  Often, you pay a fee for a copy of the record from an agency or group.  Citation of only an index does not meet the genealogical standard.

The original record may be available online. One example is a link to a newspaper article. The article has been indexed on a database; clicking on the link sends you to a digital image of the newspaper. In the example below, the newspaper (Tyler Morning Telegraph, published in Tyler, Texas) is the repository. The obituary was accessed through two database indexes-  Ancestry and Newspapers.com.  Citation of either index without actually finding the article is not enough.  

Is an index ever appropriate as a primary source? I’m not sure and will leave that debate to the genealogy professionals. When you find an index entry for your ancestor, you are definitely one step closer to that missing puzzle piece. Keep good notes and cite the index appropriately in your research log.

For more information: Genealogy 101: Indexes, an Important Part of Genealogy Research

You may not be able to obtain a copy of more recent records. Agencies set criteria for what records are public domain and what records have restricted access. I have seen 75-100- year limits on birth certificates becoming public domain and 25, 50 or even 75- year limits for death certificates. In one jurisdiction, only parents and the actual person can obtain a copy of an original birth certificate, unless the person has been dead for at least 50 years. You may still be able to get a transcript of the certificate. Proof of direct descent sometimes eases restrictions. This can be frustrating for genealogists. However, I respect these agencies for making an effort to limit identity theft.

Remember that online databases such as Ancestry, Find My Past, My Heritage and Family Search are NOT the repositories of most records. These online services are the intermediary between repositories and the public. Example – the repository for most U.S. census records is the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C. State health departments are often the repositories for birth and death certificates issued since about 1910.

Back to my original goal of revising my article.  Related to the first genealogical standard, my specific objectives are:

  1. Identify all citations with the word “index.”
  2. Detect indexes that may have a digital copy of the original records. When found, go to the original source. Cite the original source including URL.
  3. If original record is not available online, contact agency that holds the original record. Submit request forms and fees as needed. Wait for responses.
  4. Recognize that this process may take months and be costly.

Ultimately, I will produce a better, more complete, family history. What if none of these efforts work? That’s a question I will pose to the editor after I have exhausted all other resources.

The editor also suggested that I consult a broader range of sources such as land records and court proceedings. That will be a topic for another post! 

My article is a work in progress. I have to consider possible copyright issues and, therefore, cannot reveal more to you at this time. I have multiple stories about how I discovered information. I hope to share some of those research notes with you later.   

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021


SOURCES:

[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, 2ND edition (Washington, D.C.: Turner Publishing Co., 2019).

[2] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, page 1.

One goal met; reset other goals

I did it! I finally submitted an article for consideration to a genealogic journal. My article was not accepted, but I am OK with that. The editor gave lots of great feedback with clear directions on how to proceed. I plan to work on revisions for that article. Over the last few months, priorities have changed for my genealogy work. In this post, I describe reasons for these changes.

In March 2021, I was diagnosed with a chronic, progressive disease and a life expectancy of two to five years. The disease eventually will disrupt my ability to write or use the computer. I already have limited use of my right arm and hand. This totally changes my genealogy goals. Article submission has been a goal for the last several years. Please note that I didn’t say “published,” although that would be nice! Now that the article has been submitted and reviewed, I can seriously reconsider my other goals. What is most important to finish? What is OK to leave for others?

My broad goals, i.e., to completely redo four different family lines, now seem unachievable. Some things will be left for future generations to do! Writing this blog has helped with cleaning up parts of every family line. I will do my best to continue my blog on a regular basis.

One specific project comes to mind. I haven’t specifically addressed this in my annual goals because I thought I had lots of time. But, with my current diagnosis, this project (actually a series of projects) becomes more urgent. The project involves scrapbooking.

Beginning in 2013, I created six genealogical scrapbooks– four in a traditional paper format and two in a digital format. Two paper scrapbooks were for father-in-law (Ellerbee and Simmons families). After Papa died, I made copies for Papa’s sister.  One paper scrapbook was for mother-in-law (Johnson-Reed families combined).  Last Christmas, Nana and I collaborated on a copy of that book for my sister-in-law. Fourth paper book was for my brother-in-law. One digital book was for my dad’s youngest sister about the Posten family. The second digital book was for my brother about our maternal grandmother’s family (Maurer).

As part of my legacy, I want to leave more than one copy of these scrapbooks, especially the paper scrapbooks. I already have two copies of the Posten narrative history that I wrote in 2014, with all of its flaws. But, the framework is there.  So, I change focus and reset my goals for the rest of this year.

New goals for the rest of this year: 

  1. Make two copies of the Ellerbee- Simmons scrapbooks. One copy for sister- in- law and one copy for son. Original scrapbook goes to my other son.
  2. Make one copy of the Johnson -Reed scrapbook for son. Original scrapbook goes to my other son. My sister-in-law received a copy of that scrapbook last Christmas.
  3. Create scrapbook/ memory book of Tucker-Maurer family including photos and documents.   Four to six copies – one for each son, one for my brother, one for nephew;  possibly copies for two cousins. Use blog posts as base.
  4. Contact lawyer and write will, including a specific genealogy will. My oldest son agrees to be caretaker of my genealogy work.
  5. Using editor’s suggestions as base, revise article about Maurer family. I will address specifics in another post.
  6. Resume work on other goals as time and energy permit.
  7. Tentative: Send copy of Posten-Richards book to Internet Archive for digital archiving. Note: I have two print copies of the Posten-Richards book that I wrote in 2014. I began a much-needed revision but seem to get easily distracted. I have new information to add. The citations, especially, need re-doing. I may have to leave the clean-up to someone else!

When those projects are done, I will look at my overall goals again and set priorities. No matter how much or how little I get done, genealogy paper and digital files are certainly in better shape than they were four years ago when I started the Genealogy Do- Over!

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots  blog, 2021

Priority- write that article!

                         

Just when I thought I had things under control, I re-prioritized my genealogy goals and began writing an article about my mother’s ancestors for a genealogy journal.  I thought that I had most of the information on three to four generations of descendants. I thought that I had most of the sources for that information. Over the last month, I discovered that neither one of those assumptions are true. In this post, I describe my journey to date.

What have I done to prepare for writing an article? In January of this year, I participated in a month-long webinar about writing. I bought a book, Guide to Genealogical Writing, and have been reading it.  I downloaded a template for writing using the Register style. I created an outline of people who I would be writing about. On the outline, I numbered each person as they would appear in the article.

Stratton and Hoff suggest to temporarily stop researching and start writing[1]. So, I have done that. I discover gaps in family stories –gaps not always identified in my RootsMagic tree.   Information on my RootsMagic tree on my computer is only partially complete, especially for the later generations. Sources are also incomplete. However, the families are becoming more real as I notice similarities and differences in family experiences. Example – sisters who both buried husbands and at least one child.   

I began writing the family stories with the information that I have. As I write, I make a note in red that a source or other information is needed.  I try to complete at least one person’s story each day. I follow the “cite as you write” guideline. Sometimes, I stop writing and follow clues to locate a source or other information. As a result, my personal tree is becoming more complete. So, the exercise of writing the family history for a genealogy journal has its benefits.  

Previously, I focused on the older generations, typically those who lived and died before the early decades of the 20th century.  This article includes four generations from my German ancestors in early 1800s through the latter part of the 20th century.  I choose not to include information about any persons who are still living.  

What have I learned from this? It takes more time than expected. There will be gaps to fill in. There will be sources to find. Even if my articles are not accepted for publication, I will leave fairly comprehensive and extensively researched histories to share with descendants. For your information, if the articles are not accepted for publication, I will share the information with you through my blog.  Yes,  I said  “articles”.  Last year, I started another article about a collateral family on Dad’s side.  I put aside that article to tackle other projects. When the current article is done, I plan to take up the second one again.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021


[1] Penelope L. Stratton & Henry B. Hoff, Guide to Genealogical Writing: How to Write and Publish Your Family History (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014), p.3.

2021 Genealogy Goals

A new year and time to set goals for my genealogical work. In my Last Post,  I reported how l I did with 2020 goals. Some goals were met and others were not. I have a mixture of broad and specific goals. Broad goals enable me to follow leads as they pop up. Specific goals lead me in a certain direction. For 2021, I make some goals more specific than in previous years.

One of my goals last year was to purchase voice recognition software.  Prices of these programs seem high. I went back to Genealogy Do- over Facebook page and looked at comments about the various programs.  One suggestion was to use the Microsoft 365 voice recognition app. So I’m trying it for the first time with this post. I will keep you informed.

2021 Genealogy Goals for Susan Posten Ellerbee

Posten-Richards family (dad’s family)

  1. Revise at least 4 chapters of Posten family history book. Explore publication options. (One chapter done in 2018; one chapter rewritten in 2020). *Priority item for 2021
  2. Follow-up on at least one BSO generated from previous searches.
  3. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings.

Tucker-Maurer family (mom’s family):

  1. Complete descendant list for Smetts-Maurer family as requested by cousin.
  2. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings.
  3. Follow-up on at least one BSO generated from previous searches.

Ellerbee-Simmons/ Johnson-Reed (husband’s family)

  1. Scan original documents in paper files. Place originals in archival sleeves and appropriate notebook.  
  2. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings in each family group.
  3. Create family group records with citations as addendums to scrapbooks given 2019 & 2020 for at least 4 family groups.
  4. Continue to trace descendants of slaves owned by Ellerbee & Johnson ancestors. Use templates and directions from the Beyond Kin project.
  5. Follow-up on at least two BSOs generated from previous searches (one from each family group).  

Genealogy Blog:

  1. Post on regular basis, optimally every 2 weeks.
  2. Post at least 2 stories about each family—Posten-Richards (dad), Tucker-Maurer (mom), Ellerbee-Simmons (father-in-law), Johnson-Reed (mother-in-law).
  3. Limit each post to about 1500 words or less.
  4. Purchase or download software to post GEDCOM family tree. Post at least 2 family trees to blog. (continued from 2019).
  5. Continue to address Genealogical Proof Standard in reports.

General items:

  1. Continue to place To-Do/ BSO items and questions for each family on color-coded file cards.
  2. Send for at least 4 BMD certificates.
  3. Submit article begun in 2020 to a local genealogical society for publication in their newsletter.  Specific family/ person TBA.
  4. Add to Research Toolbox:  books “Dating Vintage Photographs”.
  5. Enroll in at least one genealogy-related webinar or online class, topic to be determined. 

BUDGET:

I forgot to mention genealogy budget in my last post. So, here is my budget and actual spending for 2020 and proposed budget for 2021.

REFLECTION

My 2020 goals were mostly general.  However, general goals allow me to go where a search leads me. I could say “ identify siblings of great grandfather, Daniel S. Posten”   but instead I choose to leave my annual goals more generic.  I have been using yellow pads more this past year. When I sit down to work, I write a specific objective such as “ find Daniel Posten family in 1870 census.” Then, I make notes about which towns I searched. These yellow sheets are effective research logs for me.

I do create a digital research summary log of my findings. I sometimes forget to look beyond the first page. I looked at other formats and decided to stick with what I have been using.  

I probably use different methods to organize and document my work than you.  Each person uses mechanisms that work for them. However, we all desire similar outcomes –  to identify our ancestors, to find out about their lives and to share our findings with others.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

2020 Year End Review

2020- the year of Corona-virus pandemic. Shutdowns and shut in by fear of contagion, hundreds of thousands of deaths, health care systems pushed to the brink. The world has not seen anything like this since the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919. Yet, there is hope. Millions survive and a new vaccine has been rolled out. Yet, the work of genealogists continues as we test the limits of available resources. We postpone visits to libraries and county offices. In this post, I briefly tell of my own challenges and review my 2020 goals that seemed so achievable when I wrote them.

My “new” keyboard stand

January 2020. As a retiree, my daily schedule is fairly regular- genealogy work, housework, needlework and reading historical novels. Then, news of Corona virus took over the air waves and our lives. My mother-in-law’s chronic health issues became acute. Her doctor would have put her in hospital if not for CoVid. My sister-in-law and I split her 24/7 home care. Mother-in-law moved in with husband and me for several weeks until she was stable. This started the next chain of events.

We offered an open invitation for mother-in-law to sell her home and move in with us. She made that decision in June. We prepared her room with new flooring and paint. Her house sold quickly. After she moved, we held a living estate sale of items not taken by friends and family. Time for my genealogy pursuits shrank significantly during this period.

At the first of the year, we had reconfigured our home office and my computer workspace. Within just a few weeks, my shoulders began to hurt. My keyboard sat on the desk. Instead of an ergonomically safe posture, I bent my arms and shoulders up. Typing became almost unbearable. Long hours at the computer decreased to no more than 30-60 minutes at a time. An old typing table now provides a lower platform for keyboard. My 50+ year old solid oak desk resists attempts to drill holes for a undermount keyboard. Shoulder pain still exists and improving slightly.  

Protect your ergonomic health:   http://ergonomictrends.com/bad-computer-posture-mistakes/

These personal events impacted my pursuit of genealogy. As I review, I believe that I may have been over-optimistic when I set my 2020 goals. I also admit to a slight depressive effect of all the negative news on my mood. I lost motivation to complete tasks. However, I did achieve some goals. Most notably, the family cookbook project is complete!

For your information, here are my 2020 goals and my record of achievement of those goals.

Next post: 2021 goals.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

Midyear review, June 2020

Time for midyear review of my 2020 genealogy goals. My overall assessment?  Distracted. Minimal focus. Why? Multiple factors but nothing specific. I feel like I am in a rut. I have run out of steam to complete various projects.  Due to possible impact of Corona virus? We are blessed that none of our immediate family here have been directly affected. One of my second cousins, who lives in another state, contracted the virus but isolated at home. An elderly relative suffered other health problems and the doctor deferred hospitalization due to Corona virus.  She required 24/7 in-home care for several weeks.  

I feel overwhelmed by the constant negative reports on the news. Perhaps that negativity bubbles over into my genealogy work?  I continue to do some genealogy every day but lack momentum. Current work seems rote and routine – complete family group records, create and fill in research logs, clean up paper and digital files. Yet, these tasks are necessary to leave a coherent trail.

As I review my 2020 goals, I have made progress. I completed some goals quickly- copying BMD certificates from a Posten relative and responding to cousin requests for Tucker family.  I sent my DNA to a third company based on request from a possibly related Posten descendant with Pennsylvania ties. Result? No shared DNA. But, we are still hopeful for a common ancestor!   

Family cookbook project is almost done. So far, about 1/3 of total recipes are desserts. Shows obvious preference of our family and friends!

I received death certificate for Mom’s great grandmother, Anna Wolf Klee Mϋller/ Miller.  Anna died in 1883 at New York City. I plan to write a blog post about the process and information on that certificate. Two death certificate requests, both from New York, are still pending. New York state has so many other issues than responding to genealogical requests!  Because of Corona virus, I will defer making any more requests this year.  

I started work (again!) on revising Posten history, initially written in 2012. Last year, I took an online genealogy writing course and revised outline for book. I realized how sketchy much of the information is. I am still looking for Thomas Postens in 1830 and 1840. This entails page-by-page search of those census records because Ancestry and Family Search yield no hints, even when I use variations and asterisks. No results found in Northampton, Monroe or Pike counties, Pennsylvania. Expanding search to nearby counties- Bucks, Chester, Luzerne, Wayne.  I carefully document my search efforts and results.

I admit to following some rabbit trails in this search. I found some leads about Richard Postens and William Postens, either of whom could be Thomas’ father.  I may have found three daughters of Richard Postens – Elena (baptized 1774), Jane (born 1785) and Elizabeth (born circa 1795-1802).

Last week,  I followed a rabbit trail for Cornelius Postens who lived in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. Huntingdon county is in western part of the state. Cornelius was born about 1778 in Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Rachel, had at least three children- John, James and Charles. Cornelius died about 1852. I am still piecing their story together. The Huntingdon County branch could be related to Dad’s family.  

I am keeping a personal Corona Virus diary that I do not plan to publish. Daily entries have been reduced to once a week, or even less. I scanned and added articles from our local newspaper.  Perhaps one of my descendants will find it interesting.  I will probably print it and place with other personal papers at some point in the future.

To review, perhaps I have made more progress than I thought. My initial feeling of inertia is gradually being replaced by slow and steady.  Daily research efforts aren’t totally without focus but have been scattered between different families. My original set of 26 goals now seems too ambitious.  I continue to forge ahead.

As usual, writing my blog post helped. I see where I’ve been and the progress that I’ve made.  Emotionally, I still feel overwhelmed but less so. What did I learn from this reflection?

  • Recognize the challenges to identify family members who lived in late 1700s and early 1800s. 
  • Re-focus, set a specific research goal for each session.
  • Work in short spurts – maybe only 20-30 minutes at a time instead of hours! 
  • Keep extensive notes.
  • Review information already in files before each session (i.e., avoid duplication).  
  • When a specific goal seems unattainable or gets me bogged down, take a break then work on another question.

Apparently, others are experiencing similar issues.  Read Thomas MacEntee’s “10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Genealogy”, posted 4 June 2020. https://genealogybargains.s3.amazonaws.com/10+Ways+to+Jumpstart+Your+Genealogy.pdf

Blog posts that I found helpful:

Amy Johnson Crow, “Avoiding distractions in our genealogy”, blog post, 19 August 2019, Modern Genealogy Made Easy  (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/avoiding-distractions-genealogy/  :    accessed 4 May 2020).

Amy Johnson Crow, “Genealogy Research:  The WANDER Method,” blog post, 17 January 2020, Modern Genealogy Made Easy  (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/genealogy-research-process-wander-method/  :  accessed 4 May 2020).

“The Shiny Object Syndrome in Genealogy and How to Cure It,” blog post, 28 January 2019, Family History Foundation (https://familyhistoryfoundation.com/2019/01/28/shiny-object-syndrome-in-genealogy-how-to-cure-it/  : accessed 8 June 2020).

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

The last post (for 2019)

December –the last month of our calendar year.  Short days and long nights.  Holidays include Christmas (honoring birth of Jesus Christ), Kwanzaa (celebrating family, community and culture, primarily in African-American families) and Boxing Day (celebrating the giving of boxes to public and private servants, primarily in the United Kingdom).  For me, December signals a time to reflect on my genealogy goals for the previous 12 months.  How well did I do?

Last January 1, my stated genealogy goals seemed mostly achievable. I did not anticipate any major issues.  My father-in-law’s death on February 17, 2019,  although not totally unexpected, impacted me more than I expected.  My father died in 1998 and my mother in 2007.  My in-laws have been my surrogate parents for the past 12 years. For weeks after his death, I felt mired down. I went through the motions on genealogy projects.  I barely managed to post regularly on my blog. The quality of some posts probably suffered.  Even simple tasks requiring minimal thought, i.e. scanning certificates from a cousin on dad’s side, overwhelmed me.

FYI. My mother-in-law is doing OK. We made it through the summer and winter holidays.  There were tears and happy moments.

Genealogy presented a coping mechanism. Using lessons and skills from the Genealogy Do-Over, I have a well-defined, specific process for reviewing, cataloguing and saving information.  These specific steps help me stay on-target, at least most of the time! Did I occasionally veer off and follow those bright shiny objects that detract from a specific goal?  Oh, yes! But, then, routine took over and I was back on track.sticky note_test

A new project especially helped with grieving. In July 2019, I presented Papa’s sister with copies of the Simmons and Ellerbee scrapbooks. The Simmons scrapbook, presented to Papa in 2013, traced his maternal lineage. The Ellerbee scrapbook, presented to Papa in January 2018, traced his paternal lineage.  I cleaned up source lists and included new information.  The tactile work of cutting and pasting proved therapeutic.

I became more aware of placing ancestors within historical and other perspectives.  For example, I reacted emotionally to the removal of Native Americans from Georgia to make room for my husband’s white ancestors.  I read two books on the topic and one book about the Federal Road between Georgia and Texas. Looking beyond dates and places, I gained a broader view of ancestors’ lives within the context of time periods and places in which they lived.  Consider the impact of local events, such as opening or closing a factory or a major weather storm, on individuals and their community.

I found the “Beyond Kin” project (https://beyondkin.org/ ).  The project helps descendants of slaveholders identify and trace their family’s former slaves. My husband’s paternal and maternal ancestors hail from various Southern states and most were slaveholders.  I downloaded the templates and began by entering slaves held by John E. Ellerbee (1808, Georgia – 1877, Louisiana) in 1850 and 1860.  I haven’t done anything beyond these initial steps. Reports to follow!

Overall, I feel like the fog has  lifted and I am again on semi-solid ground.

Death of my laptop computer caused a major, although temporary, setback. Fortunately, we knew the laptop’s end was near.  I had hoped to have a new computer before the old one’s demise. My computer savvy son built me a new desktop computer. What saved me?  Purchase of notebook computer in 2017 and regular, frequent backups to the Cloud and an external hard drive!

Two maternal cousins found my blog in 2018. We stay in contact. We regularly share information and family heirlooms such as pictures.   An unexpected result and blessing!

I pinned a print copy of 2019 goals to the bulletin board in my office. I tried to review these goals at least once a month. As I completed, added or deferred goals, I wrote the information down. These notes provide quick reminders of progress.

Here are my refined 2019 goals and actions taken during the year:

Tucker-Maurer family (mom’s family):

  1. Continue paper & digital file clean-up. Timeline:  January 2019.  Met- ended major work at end of February 2019.
  2. Defer remainder of work as needed. Some work continued throughout the year, usually to answer a question posed by one of maternal cousins. Goal met.

Ellerbee-Simmons/ Johnson-Reed (husband’s family)

  1. Purchase notebooks for Ellerbee-Simmons & Johnson-Reed certificates, photographs and other memorabilia. DONE.  Purchased dividers for notebooks. Documents placed in appropriate notebook when found  online or in paper files.
  2. Send in husband’s DNA test. NOT DONE.  Purchased kit but did not use.
  3. Continue paper & digital file clean-up for father-in-law’s and/or mother-in-law’s family. Goal MET. More work done on Ellerbee files than Johnson files. 
  4. Plan field trip to Alabama and Georgia to trace Ellerbee family migration. If time and geography permit, follow migration of Johnson-Reed family. DEFERRED – Maybe 2020??

Added in 2019:

  1. Copy Ellerbee and Simmons scrapbooks for father-in-law’s sister. COMPLETED
  2. Resume work on scrapbook for extended family member. Work resumed in Summer 2019. Completed and given as Christmas present.

Posten-Richards family (dad’s family)

  1. Copy paper BMD certificates from Posten relative to digital files. Place originals in Posten BMD notebook. NOT DONE.  Continue in 2020.
  2. Submit at least one article to a local genealogical society for publication in their newsletter.  Priority: Use information from 2010 Posten family history (continued from 2018). NOT DONE. Same goal for  2020 without priority.
  3. Assist nephew to combine family trees of his parents (continued from 2018). Partially  met. Discussed his family tree during visits. Nephew loaned some documents to me. I scanned, copied then returned the documents to him. 
  4. Revise at least 4 chapters of Posten family history book. Explore publication options for  2020.  (One chapter done in 2018). NOT DONE.  Continue in 2020. Contacted by person from a ‘possibly related’ branch.

Genealogy Blog:

  1. Post on regular basis, optimally every 2 weeks. Posted 26 times in 2019.
  2. Post at least 2 stories about each family—Posten-Richards (dad), Tucker-Maurer (mom), Ellerbee-Simmons (father-in-law), Johnson-Reed (mother-in-law). GOAL PARTIALLY MET. Posten-Richards: 0 stories; Tucker-Maurer:  3 stories; Ellerbee-Simmons: 12 stories; Johnson-Reed: 2 stories. Two posts discussed members of all families. Seven posts with no specific family group.
  3. Limit each post to about 1500 words or less. GOAL MET.
  4. Purchase or download software to post GEDCOM family tree. Post at least 2 family trees to blog. NOT MET. Defer to 2020.  
  5. Address Genealogical Proof Standard in reports. PARTIALLY MET. Addressed in 75-90% of posts. In some posts, I discussed one or two criteria. Most of my blog posts are not meant to be the final report on a person or family. In those posts, I acknowledge that the ‘reasonably exhaustive research’ criterion has not been met. However, other criteria are likely to have been met. 

General items:

  1. Create master lists of To-Do/ BSO items and questions for each family. Begin with Tucker-Maurer and Ellerbee families. Partially met. Began using a color-coded file card system.
  2. Send for at least 6 BMD certificates. If budget permits, request one certificate per month. Partially met. Requested death certificates for Anna Klee Maurer, Anna Katharina Korzelius Maurer and Margaret Tucker (mom’s ancestors). Received first two. All from New York and take 6-9 months.
  3. Add to Research Toolbox: books “Dating Vintage Photographs” ; possibly Dragon software.   Not Done. Keep same goal for  2020.
  4.  Continue volunteer genealogy work with Daughters of the American Revolution. GOAL MET.
  5. Enroll in at least one genealogy-related webinar or online class, topic to be determined.  Attended one free webinar on various topics.
  6.  Review Genealogy Proof Standard. Buy book on this topic.   DONE.  Used book as reference. 

BUDGET: 

Budget Spent (Over)/ Under 2020 Proposal
Archival materials $60.00 $279.37 $ (219.37) $200.00
BMD Records $100.00 $59.00 $      41.00 $120.00
Books $75.00 $34.95 $      40.05 $75.00
Copying $10.00 $25.45 $   (15.45) $25.00
Education $150.00 $0.00 $   150.00 $100.00
Ink/ Printing $50.00 $131.68   (81.68) $180.00
Paper $25.00 $55.45   (30.45) $50.00
Subscriptions- annual $50.00 $288.80 $ (238.80) $290.00
Subscriptions-monthly $560.00 $550.80 $        9.20 $560.00
$1,320.00 $1,425.50 $ (361.50) $1600.00

Average cost per month:  about $118.00.

SUMMARY:

Met or partially met 14 of 21 goals set for 2019. Seven goals deferred to 2020. Two additional projects completed in 2019.  Overall, I may have been a bit over-ambitious with goals but am satisfied with progress. Over budget by $361.00.  Added two subscription services, paid annually, in 2019.  Two scrapbook projects were not anticipated when preparing 2019 budget.  Increase budget in these areas for 2020.

Next post:   My personal genealogy goals for 2020

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2019

Susan’s Genealogy Research Goals for 2019

In my last post,  End of Year Review- 2018 Genealogy Goals,  I reviewed my 2018 goals. Now, I present my 2019 goals and some insights.

Why set goals for your genealogy research?  The terms ‘focus’ and ‘guide’ come to mind.  Focus implies a specific area for your attention. A synonym for guide is ‘direct’ which also means ‘showing the way’.  Goals help you stay focused and direct your path. Annual  genealogy goals should also be flexible.  Circumstances, such as time and money, change.  New opportunities and challenges present themselves.  Be prepared to change or delete.  Be open to adding new goals.

Goals can be broad or narrow.  I believe that broad annual goals serve us better.  Although, some specifics are needed.  Example:   “Order birth/death/ marriage certificates” is probably too broad. “Order at least 4 birth, death or marriage certificates for Tucker-Maurer ancestors”  gives direction and is measurable.

COMMENT:  My teacher persona now kicks in. Most people use the term “goals” in the same way as the term “objectives” .  I view goals as broad statements with a long term focus such as goals for the year, quarter, month or project.  An objective (or step) reflects a short term focus—what do I want to accomplish today, this week, or during this work session.  Objectives are more specific than goals.   “Order death certificate for Anna Klee Maurer from New York in January 2019” is an objective.  Enough of the soapbox. Don’t fret about which term that you use.

I found this blog post helpful:   Setting Genealogy Goals by Jennifer Patterson Dondero. [1]  She suggests five steps:

  1. Previous year review
  2. Broad interest or goal identification
  3. Refining your interests/ goals
  4. Correlating your previous year review with your refinements
  5. Finalizing your resolutions/ goals

I have already reviewed  2018 (see last blog post).  Based on that review, I wrote an initial set of goals (step 4).  So, back to steps 2 and 3.  My broad interest areas are mom’s family (Tucker-Maurer) and husband’s family (specifically Ellerbee). We are tentatively planning a genealogy field trip to Alabama and Georgia in summer 2019. Purpose is to visit areas where Ellerbee family lived during pre-Civil War era.  I reviewed Ellerbee family research in 2014 before we made a trip to east Texas. Ellerbee family review was done December 2017 through January 2018 as I prepared a scrapbook for father- in-law’s 80th birthday.  I think that initial goal refinement is needed to set aside mom’s family for now and focus more on Ellerbee family.  

Here are my refined 2019 goals:

Tucker-Maurer family (mom’s family):

  1. Continue paper & digital file clean-up.  Timeline:  January 2019. 
  2. Defer remainder of work as needed.

Ellerbee-Simmons/ Johnson-Reed (husband’s family)

  1. Purchase notebooks for Ellerbee-Simmons & Johnson-Reed certificates, photographs and other memorabilia.
  2. Send in husband’s DNA test.
  3. Begin paper & digital file clean-up for father-in-law’s and/or mother-in-law’s family.
  4. Plan field trip to Alabama and Georgia to trace Ellerbee family migration. If time and geography permit, follow migration of Johnson-Reed family.

Posten-Richards family (dad’s family)

  1. Copy paper BMD certificates from Posten relative to digital files. Place originals in Posten BMD notebook.
  2. Submit at least one article to a local genealogical society for publication in their newsletter.  Priority: Use information from 2010 Posten family history (continued from 2018). 
  3. Assist nephew to combine family trees of his parents (continued from 2018).
  4. Revise at least 4 chapters of Posten family history book. Explore publication options for  2020.  (One chapter done in 2018).

Genealogy Blog:

  1. Post on regular basis, optimally every 2 weeks.
  2. Post at least 2 stories about each family- Posten-Richards (Dad), Tucker-Maurer (Mom), Ellerbee-Simmons (Father-in-law), Johnson-Reed (Mother-in-law).
  3. Limit each post to about 1500 words.
  4. Purchase or download software to post GEDCOM family tree. Add at least 2 family trees to blog.
  5. Address Genealogical Proof Standard in reports/ posts.

General items:

  1. Create master lists of To-Do/ BSO items and questions for each family. Begin with  Tucker-Maurer and Ellerbee families.
  2. Send for at least 6 BMD certificates. If budget permits, request one certificate per month.
  3. Add to Research Toolbox: Book about “Dating Vintage Photographs”; possibly Dragon software.
  4. Continue volunteer genealogy work with Daughters of the American Revolution.
  5. Enroll in at least one genealogy-related webinar or online class, topic to be determined.  
  6. Review Genealogy Proof Standard. Buy book on this topic.  https://www.genealogyexplained.com/basics/genealogica

Budget:

Printer & ink             $  60.00
Paper/ Notebooks $ 10.00
Books $ 50.00
BMD Certificates $ 120.00
Personal education $ 150.00
Subscriptions $ 600.00
TOTAL $1040.00   

Want more information about research goals? Look at these websites:  

Thomas MacAntee, Genealogy Do-Over, Month 2:  https://abundantgenealogy.com/genealogy-month-2-february-2018/  

Legacy Tree Genealogists:  https://www.legacytree.com/blog/setting-smart-genealogy-research-goals

Family Tree Magazine:  https://www.familytreemagazine.com/articles/news-blogs/family-tree-university/genealogy-goal-setting/

REFLECTION:

I have learned so much in the past two years from the Genealogy Do-Over. My file clean-up efforts will eventually pay off although progress sometimes seems very slow. My research habits continue to improve. My family feels a little neglected at times. I need to balance my genealogy and family time better.  

My husband suggested that I can earn money with genealogy. To do that, I need to pursue certification. I am not adding that to my goals for 2019 but will keep it in mind.

What I learned:  Define broad interest/ research areas.  Some of my blog posts meet the ‘reasonably exhaustive research’ standard and some do not. I use the blog as a sounding board for questions and brick walls.  The work doesn’t have to be complete for posting here.

What helped: Finding blog post about Setting Research Goals from The Occasional Genealogist. I reformatted my initial scattered list into broad interest areas/ categories. I believe this organization will help me to focus in 2019.

What didn’t help:  My background as a teacher wanting to separate goals and objectives. Not everyone needs to make that distinction! It’s a matter of semantics.

To-Do:  See my 2019 goals.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


[1] Jennifer Patterson Dondero, “Setting Genealogy Goals”, The Occasional Genealogist, December 2017 (https://www.theoccasionalgenealogist.com/2017/12/genealogy-goals-new-year.html   : accessed 20 December 2018).