Jul 102011
  1. Maybe Later (an unexpected gift)
    Dana, my 1st cousin once removed visited us about 35 years ago. He was a genealogical aficionado. He showed me his Brenner Notebook. Although I was not interested in genealogy at the time, I intuitively knew that this was a precious resource. With his permission, I copied all his hand-drawn charts and his photographs of people and documents. The beginning of a genealogical journey… maybe later!
  2. It’s In the Box (an uninformed repository)
    As members of my extended family learned about my copy of Dana’s notebook, they began to send me bits of family lore. It all went into a drawer until the drawer filled up; then it all went into a box. I had become the family historian / genealogist by common consent. But I still had little interest in pursuing this venture… maybe later!
  3. Baby Steps – Organize (almost) and Share (uncritical, untutored genealogy)
    John, a former brother-in-law began to work on my wife’s family genealogy. Knowing that I had data on my family, John encouraged me to share that data with him and he would share his data with me. I purchased Family Tree Maker and never figured out what to do with all the bonus discs that came with it. I entered the data I had with no concern about its sources or accuracy. We rejoiced as the number of people in our combined data bases grew… has ‘later’ arrived?
  4. Partnering (beginning to think critically about genealogy)
    I retired five years ago. Now genealogy seemed a viable option. In addition, Russ, my son was interested in our working together. He serves as the technology expert and webmaster for our genealogical project; I am the field researcher. For the first time, I began to think critically about family history and genealogical. Russ and I had extended discussions about the design of a genealogical website, quality vis-à-vis quantity, security and privacy, et al. We built a website with a private ResearchWiki for conversations and data storage… ‘later’ has definitely arrived!
  5. Internet Giddiness   (genealogy’s version of the flu?)
    Throughout stages 3 & 4 I was beginning to learn how to find appropriate genealogical data on the internet. Yahoo, then Google, searches began to generate data for our family genealogical project. The quantum leap came when I subscribed to Ancestry.com. I was finding more data than I knew what to do with, and loving every minute of it. I was copying images and data and storing it (unorganized) on hard drives and memory sticks. Some of it even made it into my RootsMagic data base. Unfortunately, too much data and too little organization. Too much giddiness and too little logic. One of these days, I’ll have to get organized… maybe later!
  6. Blogging        (a courageous step for me)
    I’m not sure when or how I first became aware of geneabloggers, but I began reading genealogical blogs as a way to learn more about the discipline of genealogical research and the telling of family stories. There was a not-so-subtle message in a preponderance of the blogs I was reading: If you are serious about genealogy, you need to develop a blog. I wasn’t sure I was ready for blogging, but I bit the bullet and, on 4 February 2010, I opened “Stardust ‘n’ Roots.” This will be my 73rd post… no time for ‘later;’ only ‘now’ counts!
  7. Cite & Insight       (growing up, genealogically)
    As I began to get my data organized and as I read more and more blogs, I realized that the biggest stumbling block to my genealogical research was the lack of source citations. Dana’s Brenner Notebook (see #1, above) contained no source citations, except for photos of book title pages where other pages had been photographed as well. John’s database (see #3, above) had some good source citations, but also contained citations of many secondary or tertiary sources that could not be verified. In some cases, I had preserved information about the sources of the data, but those pieces of information were not always with the relevant data. Scraps of paper, loose file cards, and disorganized electronic files did not help. Organizational ‘limbo’ leads quickly to citation ‘hell.’ In order to bring some validity to my genealogical data, I have developed a fairly comprehensive data storage and retrieval system (increasingly, with citations of sources) in our Research Wiki (see #4, above)… our genealogical project is beginning to ‘grow up!’
  8. Give Back         (the helped becomes the helper)
    While blogging and internet presence of our genealogy database is a fairly passive way of giving back (the data is available, but others have to take the initiative to get it), I have just begun indexing records for FamilySearch. In my first couple of weeks, I have indexed over 800 individual records. I am finding the indexing process to be a) rewarding (knowing that others will be able to find information about their ancestors), b) frustrating (deciphering the handwriting of others can be a real challenge, and c) fun, flat-out fun… my ‘now’ is someone else’s ‘later!’
Of course, the genealogical journey does not move unwaveringly through discrete stages – stage 2 does not begin where stage 1 ends. The stages overlap and each stage is potentially present in every other stage.

This “list post” is challenge 2 in the “31 Weeks to Build a Better Blog.” For more information see Tonia’s Roots.

  3 Responses to “The Eight Stages of My Genealogical Development”

  1. I love it! Great topic and great use of the list post format.

    Also, I'm glad you included the link to your website; I didn't realize you were a TNG user, too. : )

  2. What an insightful post! I think a lot of us can identify with these stages, too.

  3. I really enjoyed this post and I can identify with your stages!

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