Happy New Year and best wishes for a fabulous 2014! For every one of us out here who are fans of Huffington Post, UK as well as family history, genealogy, and ancestry this is the time for making resolutions that will help us kick off our New Year in proper fashion.
Rather than suggesting resolutions here, I am going to offer some commonsense suggestions that will, I believe, help make your family history and genealogy efforts more effective and successful. Here they are:
1) Go beyond the data! While we all know that it is important to capture the data about our ancestors, such as births, deaths, marriages, it is what we typically find beyond these data that adds the true interest and excitement to our family trees.
2) Go for the stories! One of the questions I often get asked is "How do we get the younger generation involved and interested in genealogy, ancestry, and family history?" The answer to me is simply through stories! Stories bring our data to life, they add the spice to the olio that is our family, and a sure-fire method to capture the interest of others in our efforts to preserve our family histories and genealogy. While I may lose a lot of folks' attention when I am speaking about genetic DNA, matrilineal, etc, I never lose them when I am simply telling a story. Best of all, stories tend to lead to questions and questions are a surefire sign of interest.
3) Go multimedia! Just as adding 'ink' to our family tree is good, but adding multimedia wherever we can is crucial. Again, multimedia draws people into our work and our world of genealogy. Sure some of us 'hardcore' genealogy fans love to discuss the finer points of what we might find imbedded in a marriage license or an old parish birth record, but most folks want a bit more flash! The good news is that we can give it to them by multimedia additions to our family trees such as videos, photos, and audio recordings. Perhaps most importantly, I suggest you do this by employing a multimedia and electronically-based version of our family trees, such as that offered by MyHeritage.com. Note: I have no financial interest in MyHeritage.com, but I do use them for my work and my own personal family tree due to their superior security features coupled with their focus on being a world-class family history social network.
4) Go forward with an open mind and open ears! It is critical that as genealogists and family historians we all keep an open mind and our ears open. I cannot tell you how often I garner critical family history clues by being sure I am employing active listening. In short...Be a sponge!
5) Go forth with an accepting attitude! Again it is critical for us as genealogy and family history fans to be a most accepting community. We must be accepting of our differences in approaches, differences of opinion, differences in whom we are and who we may encounter in our work and our family histories. Debates and discussions are healthy and good in our work, however it is worthwhile to remember, as one of my favorite quotes states, "Be informed, not just opinionated." This is supremely true in every aspect of our genealogy.
So there you have them. My commonsense suggestions to help us all make the most of our genealogy, ancestry, and family history work as we kick off 2014.
Happy New Year!