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My genealogy goals for 2011

2 Jan

There are lots of things I want to achieve in 2011, but time is a big issue at the moment, so I am not going to be making any bold resolutions this year because I am pretty certain that they are destined to fail.

I know that goals should be specific and measurable (and all the other letters that make up the acronym SMART) but I don’t think I have anything really specific that I feel that I am likely to even get close to achieving or that I could even stick to. I will just carry on researching and seeing which way my ancestors direct me, I am always on the look out for an interesting story or for exploring a new area.

So I am not going to make any resolutions this year, instead I am just going to say that I will try to do as much family history as possible and to the highest standard possible.


Personal Genealogy Update: Week 50

12 Dec

It was a very disappointing week for family history last week, I think perhaps I have just been a bit too lazy for my own good, although the run up to Christmas doesn’t really help either. I achieved very little this week in the way of actual research and not much housekeeping either.

All the stuff that I wrote about last week (the KIPPS and KINGHORN families) didn’t get finished off and there was no new work on either of those branches. I was hoping to finish off those lines (to a reasonable level) and carry on with my housekeeping, but that never happened. I will try again this week, I really need to concentrate on the KINGHORNs of Carlisle otherwise I wont be ready to go up there and research them next year.

On the housekeeping side of things I didn’t progress much further, perhaps another two or three individuals. I think now I am scared about the size of my to-do list! It is getting to a state where it looks like it will be almost impossible to complete it all within my lifetime, and I shall soon have to start prioritising which items I really want to work on.

I did try to put some work in on George MITCHELL, but have struggled to find much information about the London to Brighton Railway (and specifically its engines) online and after some preliminary work in the catalogues it looks like I might be out of luck when it comes to finding information on his widow and some form of poor relief. I wont give up hope yet, but it doesn’t look promising.

So what do I realistically expect to achieve this week? I think I shall be setting the bar low this week, so I have a good chance of achieving something I set out to do. I will probably work on a few more individuals, tidying up their records and adding more to-do items. I want to do a bit more work on the ANSCOMBE family, now that I have their entry in the 1911 census to work with, but I think I am going to be running short of time again this week.

Frozen Friday

3 Dec

I think this picture pretty much sums up our weather these past few days. Like most of the UK we have experience a pretty sharp cold spell. This photo was taken around lunchtime today when the temperature almost (but not quite) made it above freezing.

I wrote on Tuesday that we had seen our first dusting of snow this winter, well the following morning there was more than a dusting, about an inch and a half. Much to my surprise the local bus service was still running and I made it to the local railway station, only to find there were no trains going my way. After two and a half hours I made my way back home defeated.

Thursday morning I woke up to about a foot of snow and I knew I wouldn’t be going anywhere. There was supposed to be a bus service running but no trains, so no work for me again. Today was much the same, most of the snow was still with us but the temperature had taken it upon itself to drop to -6°c. Although there buses and trains were starting to get back to normal, still no work for me.

Every year this happens, we get a cold spell and some snow and everything stops working for a few days. Some people point to other countries who live with snow all year and complain that we can’t cope with a few days of snow, but I think it happens so infrequently that we should just accept the fact that we are going to get caught out every so often.

I don’t know if I have mentioned it before, but I record the weather (temperature and rainfall) and have done for the past twenty or so years, on a very amateur basis, so looking at my records I can see that although we don’t usually have snow this early into the winter, it is not unusally for the temperature to drop to -6°c.

The weekend is set to warm up and we are forecast to have rain and not snow, so after a brief hiccup our weather will be getting back to normal.

Wordless Wednesday: The Honourable Rank of Researcher

17 Nov

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 43

24 Oct

I didn’t really get a great deal achieved last week. Of course there was the trip down to Chichester yesterday, but I spent most of my free time thinking about this blog and the way forward, essentially trying to streamline things and make more time for actual family history research.

I have scanned my latest batch of postcards, like I was planning to, but I never got around to scanning the four wills, let alone start transcribing them. I must at least get them scanned this week and try to make a start on transcribing them. I also need to scan the two newspaper articles that I copied down at Chichester, and transcribe them as well.

I have done more work on the BOXALLs of West Dean, Sussex and I think I have achieved my original goal of identifying the six BOXALLs on the war memorial at West Dean. I am still a little unsure about one of the men, and there may also be one other who is not recorded on the memorial. This week I need to start pulling everything together, but also there is so much more work that I could be doing on the BOXALLs, there are so many of them that I could keep going for ages.

So this week is going to be mostly organising and sorting out, a bit of scanning and possibly some transcribing. I will be really interested to see if my blogging plans actually help free up my time for family history. Also I need to try and decide what I am going to do with the bundle of maps that I bought yesterday.

Overcoming my blogging challenges

20 Oct

These last couple of weeks I have really been struggling to keep up my daily blogging routine. So far I have managed to achieve my unwritten goal of putting out at least one blog post each day, but some days it has been a real struggle. Why am I telling you this? Well, there are several reasons (one of which is to give me something to write about) but mainly the hope is that acknowledging the problem will help me deal with it in some way.

I know this is not the first time I have struggled to post every day and I am sure it will not be the last. I think time is probably the biggest issue here. I have lots of things I want to write about, but most of them seem to be things that will take more research than I really have time for. I want my posts to be more detailed, but that takes up lots more time.

I know there are lots of great blogging themes over at GeneaBloggers and I seem to have fallen out of the habit of using them, but perhaps I should. They are a great way to inspire ideas and generate content. I also have some regular themes of my own, Picture Postcard Parade and Personal Genealogy Update are two of my regular ones.

I think what is needed is a more regular schedule, perhaps not a calendar as such, but just a weekly list, so that I know in advance what I should be writing about on a particular day. What the actual themes are, and how many of the GeneaBloggers themes I use still needs to be worked out, but I think now is the time I got more organised.

I do like the fact that I seem to have a "West Dean" theme running through many of my posts at the moment, if I could manage to do that every week then that would be good, but I think that would probably take too much effort and at times would leave me struggling to find something to fit rather than whatever came naturally.

I will almost certainly allow myself to break out of the routine from time to time, so that I can focus on a particular topic for a week. For example, I have several postcards on a particular subject that I would like to showcase, but dragging it out over several weeks doesn’t make sense, neither does cramming them all together into one really long post.

Having written about my blogging challenges and describing the probable solution, I now feel a lot more positive about the whole subject. It is amazing how getting things off your chest can help, I now feel ready to go out and conquer the blogosphere, well maybe not, but at least I might be able to stop worrying.

Time: the family historian’s biggest enemy

18 Oct

[I will apologise right at the start that this is going to be a rather rambling post, probably repeating itself several times and wasting a slice of your precious time, but thanks for reading it anyway]

I would have to say that a lack of time is probably the family historian’s biggest enemy (I am talking here about the amateur researcher, not those that do it for a living) and certainly my own biggest challenge. There are just too many demands on our time these day, some of these are of our own making, but the vast majority are things we need to do just to survive.

If I had lots of money things would be easier, but where is the enjoyment of paying someone else to visit an archive and search the records for you? Effectively reducing your role to an observer rather than participant. Family history doesn’t make a good spectator sport.

The change in my employment situation about three month ago (getting a job again after six months out of work) has had a major impact on my ability to carry out any family history research. A big part of the problem was the sudden dramatic change, from lots of free time down to virtually none. Rather than being grateful for having a job, it felt like someone had stolen all my time and I would never have time to do any family history ever again.

I realised that thinking like this wasn’t going to get me anywhere, if I actually wanted to carry one doing family history then I would have to change my way of thinking more than anything else. Family history was a big part of my life, and I wanted it to still be a part of my life, but I had to accept that it wasn’t going to be such a big part.

There were several things that I had to do, part of that was to do with managing my time better and making the most of the available time, but a large part of it was about setting my expectations and accepting the situation:

The situation isn’t going to last forever – I don’t realistically expect to be in this job for the rest of my life (although it would be nice if I was), so one way or another the situation is going to change again at some time in the future, and hopefully I will be able to spend more time on family history.

I couldn’t do everything that I wanted with my family history – Until my situation changes again I am not going to be able to do everything I want to so I need to get used to the idea and make the most of the time I do have, rather than worrying about what I don’t have time to do.

Sometimes family history has to take second place – There are many other demands on my time, and some are more important than family history. I shouldn’t resent the time that I have to spend doing other things and not necessarily see them as things that are preventing me from doing family history, but rather to see them as opportunities to take a break from family history and relax.

Family history is not just about collecting names and dates – By changing what I consider to be family history work, I have enabled myself to spend more time doing family history. This blog is now part of my family history work, reading other blogs and buying postcards of ancestral villages are also family history, as is walking around the places where my ancestors lived. It turned out I was doing more family history than I thought!

In conclusion, whilst I have made some effort to adjust they way I work to make it more efficient, by far the biggest answer to my lack of time has been changing my attitude and way of thinking rather than anything practical.

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