Here are five goals I believe are easy enough to accomplish in 365 days. Even if you only pick one, you’ll be doing yourself and maybe even your fellow genealogists a favor.
Think of all the resources you’ve benefited from that are the product of someone like you volunteering their time to index, digitize or simply post the information you’ve discovered on your ancestors. Now imagine giving someone else that feeling too.
Here are some great places to start:
- Join the indexing effort at Family Search (familysearch.org/volunteer)
- Be a Smithsonian Digital Volunteer and transcribe historical U.S. documents (transcription.si.edu)
- Organize a cleanup day at your local cemetery and fulfill Find-A-Grave photo requests while you’re there (findagrave.com)
- Sign up to volunteer at Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK.org)
The “C” Word: It’s Not So Scary
Don’t be tempted to skip this one when I say it, but what about citing sources in the new year? It seems intimidating, but don’t let the formatting turn you away. Even if you just make a couple notes on each document about when and where you found it, you’ll thank yourself later. And future generations of your family will thank you too.
I’ve been using Evernote to help accomplish this in my own research. Some genealogists use an Excel spreadsheet or printed research log. Adopt your own way of doing it and it’ll become second nature in no time. If you want to get serious about it (and all good genealogy professionals should) grab a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills. It’s a must-have reference.
Back it up!
You’ve spent hours researching and writing, but are you protecting all that work from a hard drive crash or mother nature? Make it a habit to back up your genealogy files in two places at least twice a month. I make a copy to an external hard drive and another to a USB flash drive which isn’t that reliable, but works for me as a backup to the backup.
For the pros out there, you can invest in cloud storage from places like Dropbox or Backblaze, which comes highly suggested among genealogy friends.
One of my ancestors wrote an entire book about his line of the family at sixteen years old! I’ve been grateful to him ever since I found that book online (thank you Google Books). I wonder what he would say if he knew it was still being shared in that way.
It doesn’t have to be a book, of course. Writing a simple report that focuses on one line of your family will benefit you and your future family members for years to come.
If you’re not the report writing type, why not make this year the time you finally launch a blog. It’s a great way to network, connect with cousins who find you via Google search and document some of your best findings.
I used Weebly to create this site. A great free place most genealogists start blogging is Blogger.
Even a professional genealogist admits they still have a lot to learn. The secret of genealogy the “non genies” out there don’t know is that it’s fun because there is always something new to learn.
The good news is that resources are endless. Boston University offers a Certificate in Genealogical Research that comes recommended by many genealogists.
If you’re looking for free educational resources, webinars are a great choice. Here are a few links I’ve used that include some free webinars for genealogy:
Which of these five resolutions will you pledge to do in the next year? If you have other ideas for genealogy resolutions, please share in the comments.