“I started my blog FOUR years ago!” I said.
Cas’s reply, “And then what happened?” Heh.
What DID happen? Well, I unwittingly met my goal and then realized that it might not be for me. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I realized my motivation for becoming a Professional Genealogist had completely changed, and so it was no longer my goal.
The most important things that I learned in the last four years about genealogy:
Elizabeth Shown Mills. Dr. Thomas Jones. These are just two of the names that I didn’t know when I started my blog. Can you imagine? I’d been doing family history research since 1996, and I’d never heard these names. *hangs head*
ProGen Study Group. I was a member of ProGen 15; a class that is based on ESM’s (that name) book, Professional Genealogy. It’s where I learned my fear of writing under a deadline is alive, well, and detrimental to any potential career I might have that involves…writing.
The Genealogical Proof Standard. Yep, I’d never heard of this before either. At the point I was writing my proof for my ProGen class, I uncovered the fact that I’d misidentified my American Patriot’s daughter-in-law on my DAR application in 2003. No one caught it. Because they weren’t following the GPS. *sigh*
Conferences. Go. Just go. No, don’t say you can’t afford it, because I couldn’t afford it and yet I scraped together enough to drive to Cincinnati for my first NGS. I shared a room with a complete stranger in order to cut my cost, and made a wonderful friend in the process. There’s not enough space here for me to say all the wonderful things there are about the educational and social aspects of going to conferences big and small. So. Much. Fun. Oh, and some of my most important genealogical discoveries came while I was attending conferences. So, there’s that.
I started over. In 2012, after learning the points above, I realized that there was a lot of what I’d done all those years before that probably wasn’t absolutely correct, or at the very least wasn’t documented. And, in trying to figure out how to most efficiently get things together, I scrapped it all and started over with a brand new database and filing system, both physical and digital. No, I didn’t throw anything away (at least not in the beginning). I just started with myself and very methodically began to work back. Oh, the things I found!
DNA. Just do it. Even if you have your lines traced back to Charlemagne, DNA testing can help others to locate their roots by identifying you as a connection.
I won’t bore you with the Life Lessons I’ve had in this same four years. Some were pretty darn harsh. But, I’ve also had some truly joyous times too. And, the reality is that there’s more about the Genealogical community that I’ve come to know and love than I could have possibly imagined. A community that comes together for those in need by digging into their not-so-deep pockets and giving a *little* bit to help someone. And, my word, the sheer volume of generous thoughts and prayers, in times of need, are astounding.
Over the last four years, I’ve met second and third cousins, who I treasure immensely. I’ve traveled to places to stand on the ground my ancestors owned more than 200 years ago. I’ve documented back to all of my 2nd great grandparents, a feat I would have steadfastly said was impossible. Yes, I became a Professional Genealogist, but my work as an Archivist has expanded and I’m focusing on that. For now. Because the one thing I definitely learned in the last four years is this: things change. People change. And, when you embrace it, change can be fun.
Thanks to everyone who still reads my blog. Thank you.