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.
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):
- Continue paper & digital file clean-up. Timeline: January 2019. Met- ended major work at end of February 2019.
- 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)
- 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.
- Send in husband’s DNA test. NOT DONE. Purchased kit but did not use.
- 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.
- 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:
- Copy Ellerbee and Simmons scrapbooks for father-in-law’s sister. COMPLETED
- 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)
- Copy paper BMD certificates from Posten relative to digital files. Place originals in Posten BMD notebook. NOT DONE. Continue in 2020.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Post on regular basis, optimally every 2 weeks. Posted 26 times in 2019.
- 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.
- Limit each post to about 1500 words or less. GOAL MET.
- Purchase or download software to post GEDCOM family tree. Post at least 2 family trees to blog. NOT MET. Defer to 2020.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add to Research Toolbox: books “Dating Vintage Photographs” ; possibly Dragon software. Not Done. Keep same goal for 2020.
- Continue volunteer genealogy work with Daughters of the American Revolution. GOAL MET.
- Enroll in at least one genealogy-related webinar or online class, topic to be determined. Attended one free webinar on various topics.
- Review Genealogy Proof Standard. Buy book on this topic. DONE. Used book as reference.
|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|
|Ink/ Printing||$50.00||$131.68||$ (81.68)||$180.00|
|Subscriptions- annual||$50.00||$288.80||$ (238.80)||$290.00|
Average cost per month: about $118.00.
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.