Trying to Organize…

I’ve been through the process twice before. I’m trying to organize my genealogy information. I am brilliantly awful at organizing for myself. Put me in an office and ask me to organize your files? Absolutely. But my own? Agh! What a mess.

Ideally, an organizational system needs to accomplish a few things:

  • It must be functional on a day-to-day basis.
  • It must aid in the preservation of documents.
  • It must be separate from everything else in my life (lest I lose it completely).
  • It must be backed up.

So the questions are as follows:

  • What is the best way to organize files so that I can find them when I need them?
  • What is the best way to back up the files so I don’t lose them (both paper and disc are vulnerable)?
  • What is the best way to preserve paper documents?

So far, all I’ve decided for certain is that my paper files and electronic files should be identical. And…that paternal lines will have a blue file, maternal lines will have a red file. Any thoughts/tips?

Collaborative Genealogy

The question at GeneaBloggers today is this:

Do you collaborate with others in terms of your own family history research, and if so, what methods do you use?

I’m a great fan of collaboration where genealogy is concerned. Asking questions, telling stories, sharing photos and memories–that, after all, is what genealogy is about. I am so blessed to have several family members who’ve helped me and talked with me when others (I’m sure!) grew weary of my ponderings.

So far, I’ve been mostly on the receiving end of the field. I haven’t had any information, documents, photos, etc, that others in the family didn’t already have (or have access to).  My hope, however, is to compile some of my work into book form for my siblings and their families. That’s what it’s all about, anyway–preserving information, not hoarding it.

Family history isn’t worth much if we can’t share it.

Tuesday’s Tip: Talk to the Living

I confess.

Family History is like a puzzle. It’s not only about finding all of the pieces, but then putting those pieces together and then understanding the picture it creates. At times, this is a daunting project. I am still very new to the genealogy world, but I have already found myself (more than once) surrounded by papers, papers, endless papers, trying to make sense of a particular topic.

We can’t forget the most valuable resource we have: our families. Take the time to ask questions of your relatives and then listen carefully for their answers.

I also confess freely: I recently connected with someone on my mother’s side of the family, and she has been a treat to talk with. I had assumed that all of the “old family” had passed on, but in our conversations, I learned that one of my grandmother’s cousins was still alive and well (and living in the same city here in Michigan where he grew up). I also learned that this man was my mother’s baptism sponsor.

Now. The brick wall has been his parents: where they came from, who their parents were, etc. Do you think he might be able to shed some light on that? I do. And so, my big genealogy goal for this week is to take my own medicine. I cannot interview him in person at this time (though I’m hoping to do so some time next year), but I can write him a letter.

And thus far, I’ve been wonderfully blessed in my letter writing responses. We shall see what comes of it!

In the meantime, happy digging! And don’t forget to search for clues among the living. :)

Blue’s Clues

I wish that searching for family history was like an episode of Blue’s Clues. Every clue would have a blue paw print, screaming, “A clue!” It doesn’t really work that way. There’s no song and dance, no paw prints. I’m finding that more often than not, I don’t even recognize clues as they come at me. It is more often that I look at something and wonder what it means, then forget about it for some time.

Maybe it’s best to let ideas turn over in our minds for awhile before we try to make sense of them.

Still–it would be nice if, once in awhile, clues came with a song. :)


What’s in My Name?

Yesterday, I asked you to share the stories of your name, why you were named as you were, how you feel about your name, etc.  Because of the wonderful responses I received (both in the comments and elsewhere), I felt I had better swallow my own medicine and share my name story today.

My name is Sarah.

My father’s name is Earl, and his sisters’ names all end in “eine” (as evidenced by my Aunt Georgeine, who comments sometimes on this blog). Rumor has it that my father wanted to name me “Earleine,” to follow tradition. My mother wanted “Sarah Elizabeth,” after the women in the Bible. I love my aunts and my father, but I can’t tell you how thankful I am that my mom won that argument.

Sarah and Elizabeth are both Hebrew names, meaning “princess” or “noblewoman” and “my God is an oath,” respectively. I don’t think I wear either of these names well in terms of my character, but I do love them both.

When I was young, I hated my name. I wanted a nickname, and there weren’t any nicknames to be had with the name “Sarah.” Or so I thought. Now, it is not uncommon to hear folks calling me by any number of Sarah-derivatives: Sar, Sarie, Hahahaha, even “semmie” came from my real name.

Maybe I would have made a better “Earleine” than I do “Sarah,” but…I like to think I’m growing into my name. After all, if “Sarah” means “princess,” then that means I am the daughter of a King; and that has been the greatest struggle of my life thus far–to see myself as God’s daughter. But I’m working on it. And He’s working on me.

Pax Christi. Enjoy your weekend, all!