Tuesday, November 1, 2011

31 Days of Genealogy - 10 Minutes at a Time - Days 26-31

This posts wraps up the 31 Days of Genealogy from Lisa Lee of Got Genealogy?. The daily challenges were a way to get us working on our genealogy everyday during the month of October, which is Family History Month. Most of the activities required a minimal amount of time, usually 10 minutes  or less.

The activies for Days 27 - 31 are as follows:

Days 27) Create a Google Alert - These allow you to monitor the web for interesting information. I've created a google alert for my name, my business name, and for one particular branch of my family (e.g. "Crawley genealogy").  Google.com/alerts is free, and you only need to create a gmail account (also free).  You can control how often Google notifies you (weekly, daily, immediately) and the types of items (books, video, news, etc).

Days 28) Join a Remote Genealogical or Historical Society - No matter where your ancestor lived, there's probably a genealogical or historical society at that faraway location.  Those remote societies often publish a periodic newsletter, complete with transcriptions, helpful information about resources, and in many cases, they'll do free (or almost-free) look-ups for members.  I use this feature often, with my Ontario Genealogical Society memberships, since I'm thousands of miles away in California, since I'm a long-distance member, they'll do a quick look-up for me, saving me time and considerable expense.

Days 29) Try Mocavo.com - Not one of my favorite sites, but many people love it.  It's touted as a genealogy search engine, in my opinion, it still has a ways to go before I'll use it on a regular basis.  That said, based on your own ancestry, you may find the Mocavo search results useful. Good thing it's free.

Days 30) Find a local genealogy class and take it - No matter where you live, you can probably find a local genealogy class taught within an hour's drive of your home.  In many cases, these classes are presented at a public library, at a church or other public venue, and many of the classes are free.  Even if the class is outside your general interest area, you can still learn something.  One of the most interesting classes I took was a Chinese genealogy class, in San Francisco.  I had never heard the term "Paper sons" before, and wasn't aware of the Chinese Exclusion Act and how it impacted generations of Chinese in the U.S. and those desiring to come to the U.S.  It gave me a new appreciation of the difficulties of genealogy, and I've used pointers from this class again and again over the years.

Days 31) Create an Ancestor Display - Using a foam board, create a display for one branch of your family, complete with photos, reduced-size photocopies of documents, maps, recipes, migration patterns, interesting quotes, etc.  The goal is to create something you can share with your relatives during the holidays.  Yes, we know that many of them aren't interested in genealogy, but by creating an attractive, interesting display, you can post it on a wall, easel, stand it up on a table, etc., so, before dinner is served, your relatives will have a chance to examine the information, learn something new, and even the most recalcitrant relative may be inspired to actually open up and share some stories of information. 

Day 27: This was something I had already done. I've set up Google Alerts for my name as well as for ancestral surnames.

Day 28: I'm a member of the East Georgia Genealogical Society, which covers all the known counties in which my maternal ancestors resided. I'm also a member of Martin County (NC) Genealogical Society which covers the geographic area of my paternal ancestors.

Day 29: I think I've tried the Macavo site before and didn't particularly care for it. That being said, I did try it again. I'm still not sure about the site. Unfortunately, I can't quite put my finger one what I don't like about the site. I'll put it in my arsenal of tools but not sure if it will be the near the top of the list of things I use.

Day 30: By doing a quick search of my local library's event calendar, I learned that there is a one day class next month, November 12, 2011, at the Mint Hill branch of our library. The title of the class is Find Your Ancestor & Learn About Yourself.

Day 31: This is a great idea. I've done similar things in the past like create a family tree for my my mother and my aunts as Christmas presents. Last night, I really didn't have time to create the foam board display. For me, this is one of those activities that would have taken longer than 10 minutes, so hopefully, after I finish up a few craft projects, I can create this.