While there's enough family history research to keep you busy until you're at least 120 years old, it might be easier to think about the bite-size chucks of work you can do . I know for me, thinking about a huge project makes me tired, but having something I can do in the few minutes I have in between other priorities can help to keep me focused.
The following are three examples of projects to consider when you think about your genealogical resolutions.
1. Add Sources to your Research
Ok, admit it. We are all guilty of it. It's okay, we love the research; the writing down of the source citation, not so much. But you know what happens. You get excited about your latest discovery and then two months later you can't remember where you found it. Sure, you know it's somewhere on Ancestry.com, but where?
Have 20 minutes to spare? Go through your genealogy database and choose one ancestor. Then look through each and every fact and add the source citation. Not sure where to start? Choose a grandparent to start off with or that pile of documents you have, and then start adding the source citation into your database.
Not citing sources is like eating that fourth piece of pizza. You know you shouldn't but you do it anyway. Decide now to slow down your research process and cite sources as you find them. Don't rely on your memory and don't let it overwhelm you. Start with just a few a day to help you catch yourself up.
Are you thinking that source citation doesn't matter because you will never show your work to anyone, ever. That's okay, even if you never show your research to another living soul, sometimes it's nice to have the citation so we can remember where we found something so we can continue our search.
2. Scan, Scan, Scan
I don't know about you, but my office looks like a tornado went through. My life revolves around all types of piles of papers, photos, documents, and ephemera. Online I've seen many people vowing that 2013 will be the year they go paperless. I don't want to go completely paperless, but a few less piles in my office would be a good idea.
The other benefit of scanning is preservation. When you scan something you can then share it or store it in multiple places, online, on flash drives, with a friend. Scanning your precious documents and photos helps ensure that they are preserved for the future.
Don't have time to scan? I understand. Once again, take this step a few minutes at a time. There is help with this task such as using a Flip-Pal scanner. These portable scanners do a wonderful job and allow you to scan from anywhere. Do it while watching TV or in between other chores. My favorite example of multitasking has to be the story of Leland Meitzler, owner of Family Roots Publishing scanning as he and his son drove to a conference. That's the benefit of a portable scanner!
Need additional inspiration? How about joining with others during a scan event? Miriam Robbins of the AnceStories blog sponsors a monthly Scanfest where family historians get together and chat as they scan. Why a Scanfest? According to Miriam's blog "because, quite honestly scanning is time-consuming and boring." Use this as an opportunity to scan, ask questions, and get to know other genealogists. Read the post for December's Scanfest and then check back with Miriam's blog for the next Scanfest.
3. Do Something with Those Digital Photos
Boy, I remember how in awe we were when we bought our first digital camera. The millions of photos we took, the printing off of many of those photos or even just leaving them on the disk or computer.
It's when I look at my family's historical photos that I start getting worried. Will my descendants, 75 years from now have access to all of these photos that I took of my family? Will someone four generations from now be able to hold up a photo and say "That's my great-great grandma Gena."?
They won't if all the photos are on my computer.
Yep, I don't know about you but I have photos that haven't seen the light of day since I took them. They are stored on my computer, some backed up on a backup service but that doesn't really help anyone if something happens to me.
Resolve today to share those photos. Create scrapbook albums for your children or grandchildren using free services like Snapfish or Shutterfly. Utilize a photo sharing website like Flikr or 1000memories. Start a blog and post stories and photos using a free service like Blogger. Do something so that a computer crash, a break-in, or a natural disaster doesn't wipe out your family's photo history.
And just a word about all those digital photos you printed from home years ago. I know even photos I printed of my kids 10 years ago have turned green and yellow as they fade. How can this be? Gary Clark, professional photographer and genealogist from PhotoTree.com explains, "most inks in inkjet printers and laser printers were never designed to be archival. Chemically they weren't meant to withstand breakdown. There are archival inks for high-end printers (some advertise up to a 70 year life), but these are only used in professional environments and are expensive." The photos you print out from home were not meant to last to the next generation.
Gary recommends that for archival quality prints:
- Keep the digital file archived so it can be reprinted.
- When printing out photos, use a commercial print service. (Costco and Walmart use a silver halide-based process that is the most permanent kind of photo print commercially available. There are also large reputable service companies that provide mail order service).
What will you Spend Time Doing this Year?
No matter what you resolve to do with your genealogy this year, genealogy should be fun. The excitement of piecing our ancestor's lives together should be what motivates you. If genealogy starts feeling like a chore, it's time to re-evaluate what you are doing so that it becomes a passion.
Good luck with your 2013 research.