Here we are on the cusp of a bright and shiny new year! This is the perfect time to start anew. For many of us genealogists, this might mean putting away what didn’t serve us and finding new approaches, tackling that long put off project, or learning some new skills.
1. Write that family history (or your own)!
It is important to flesh out our ancestors and bring them to life by writing our family histories. Writing about our ancestors and the times they lived in brings an entirely new dynamic to them. Maybe you have already done this but you might be missing the most important person that you know to write about, yourself! Whether you need to one or both 2018 is a great time to start!
Writing on an ancestor or a line? Try a few challenges to get your project rolling. The famous novel writing month kicked off a challenge last November at Family Tree magazine. You can follow a month-long project here to get you started: family tree magazine challenge
You can also join another month long family history writing challenge in February here: The family history writing challenge
How about writing about yourself? If you are like me you almost tend to learn about things after they no longer exist. There is just so much to find on the internet. You might already know about this project but if you have not heard of it (like me), you might want to give this a shot! It looks like it was started in 2013 in the attempt to get people to document their lives. It ran through 2015 and luckily for us it has begun again. It looks like a very fun way to start writing or recording things about yourself. It basically consists of 5 writing prompts that is published on the 1st of each month via Options to keep the Book of Me – 2018 Series
2. The famous Genealogy DO-OVER
Unless your perfect, and you might be, there is a chance that you have learned the hard way with self-taught genealogy. You might be horribly unorganized, your processes are not efficient, or perhaps you didn’t keep track of any of your sources. The typical reason to participate in a do-over can vary but the most important part is getting it done! If you lack structure doing it by yourself can be very challenging but lucky for you there is a Facebook group for exactly late ran by Thomas MacEntee and he also has a pdf workbook you can purchase (or use free if you have kindle unlimited) to go it alone or as an aid online. To get started head here: Genealogy Do-Over Page link to the workbook on Amazon: Here.
3. Learn New Skills
I admit it, it is hard to make regular time to learn new things but the world moves fast, things change, collections improve, and so do approaches to solving issues. I am going to list several FREE ways to get yourself educated. Some have payment options available to access more content.
Ancestry.com covers 5-minute skills, tricks, how to use their databases, DNA, and much more: Ancestry Academy
Family Tree Webinars hosts many FREE webinars. There is also a subscription which offers access to the entire library and live webinars that are not free: Family Tree Webinars
Family Search has always been at the front of FREE resources and this is not different with webinars: Family Search Webinars.
How about a FREE genealogy class through the University of Strathclyde? at: Futurelearn
4. Better work oath.
We have to help clean up the mess going around online, trees are rampant with errors and a flat-out lack of citations for sources. When I was in my twenties and started my research I didn’t know any better and now I am faced with the project of finding all of my sources. It’s not pretty and it is also why I recommend the genealogy do-over. VBut this is more than that. This is about holding your work to a standard, one that your decendents will greatly appreciate in the future.
5. Learn new tools.
Start a Pinterest board for genealogy, in case you have been on Pinterest in a while (or ever), a few things have changed. You don’t need to just dump everything into a million folders and dig through hundreds of posts you can now make a master folder and organize everything inside of it by subjects that you create, cool? yes! Or how about using Evernote to store all of your notes and things that you find online and regularly clearing it out as you organize them into bookmarks or heck use Evernote alone for your bookmarks and notes!
Have a new ipad? Family tree magazine has a course you can get on discount ever so often on using your ipad to do your genealogy research on the go!
Maybe pick up a class on restoring your old photos or on the best method for digitization of your old photo collection. It is the perfect time to get it done. Those old photos won’t last forever! Be the one to make them available digitally for future generations!
Subscribe to podcasts and learn more tricks and tips, or tune into one of the many genealogy television shows available today.
6. Take a genealogy field trip or vacation.
This is a great idea, maybe you haven’t visited any of the hometowns or areas of your ancestors or you have just put it off. Whether you can go only near or far there is a chance that you can at least visit somewhere and make it productive. Visit the courthouse, library, local genealogical society, and museum. See what records you can obtain and find their home or where they worked. Take pictures! Make it a habit to do more field research in order to get better records and bring your ancestors to life. Make a genealogical research bucket list! You can also find older publication from family tree magazine which included CD-ROM printouts to help you research every state!
You still haven’t got your DNA tested? Or perhaps you have but you still don’t understand how it works. DNA can help you cinch down those most elusive ancestors through your long-lost cousins. There are multiple testing sites and it can feel overwhelming if you don’t know much about how it all works. Pick up the DNA guide by family tree magazine to help you learn the basics here then head on over here to get a free DNA buying guide.
Whatever you choose, and you can choose them all, I hope that you make 2018 your most productive genealogy year to date!!!