11 February 2011

Opening Doors - Eastern Kentucky Genealogy and Continued Education

compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber
February 2011

I usually try for a clever title for my blog but just could not come up with an eye catcher that would convey my emotions.

As genealogists we are memory collectors. Sadly my mother has been struck with Alzheimers which steels those memories. I am her caregiver as well as the keeper of memories for both of us now. While I am on this journey with her my travel as well as research has been greatly curtailed.

Through the years patrons and clients alike have expressed gratitude for services I have provided which always left me with a warm fuzzy feeling. Realizing that many could not get to the area because of disabilities gave me drive to visit the hundreds of cemeteries to digitize every stone & to turn over every stick and stone for information they needed. But until I became "home bound" I truly did not realize how that gratitude translated from the client/patron eyes or how much new technological avenues would effect me emotionally. They are such a blessing.

I have discovered many avenues to pursue to keep me in the know and to keep up with the ever advancing world of technology in my beloved field of Genealogy. Avenues that would never have been available to any of us ten years ago.

Besides the obvious use of archive and library databases, Footnote, Ancestry, GenealogyBank, and Heritage Quest, doors are opening every day to gain new knowledge.

Genealogy bloggers are constantly reviewing new materials and sharing their knowledge with all of us. I use RSS feed to daily keep me abreast of my favorite blogs. RSS stands for "Rich Site Summery" which translates simply to notification of daily changes in any given web url. My RSS feeds come directly into my e-mail reader. For more information visit the RSS Primer.

I miss the comradery of other genealogists at state meetings and National conferences. But because of social networking I have been able to stay in touch with many I have met through the years via Face Book which has gained a huge genealogy network.

This week I have gotten the next best thing since I can't travel right now! Rootstech has streamed several sessions daily, at no cost for those of us at home. They also are providing a live Twitter feed which has left me smiling.

In the past several weeks I have attended several free - yes I said free - Webinars with different subjects. Everything from DNA to tweeking my own computer genealogy program. [Thank you for the wonderful talks Roots Magic!]

While conferences can be pricey with motel reservations, travel expenses and conference prices you cannot beat face to face contact. I honestly have gleaned more sitting at a round table during lunch than in some of the actual classes. You certainly can't beat the friendship. I love you all! BUT under certain circumstances I now realize other avenues can and should be available to the world at large.

Many genealogical conferences offer copies of the class after it is over. But now I am spoiled with live streams and see a future for them at conferences where you pay for a choice of conference sessions.

Maureen Taylor wrote an article about Online Education in The Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly's December 2010 issue. It was an exceedingly helpful reminder to me that being on a forced sabbatical does not mean that I can not continue to grow in my field.

Among her list were free videos that start for beginners and expand to professionals. FamilySearch and Ancestry's Learning Center are two places to begin and with video's there are no time restraints. They are just a click away.

I have always encouraged new researchers, given free consultations and shared documentation balancing it with the business and my personal genealogy. "Random Acts of Kindness" and "paying it forward" by complete strangers shows that humanity is not the ugly world we see on television news shows - thank goodness. These single acts have such power for those that would otherwise not be able to access materials.

A big example of "acts of kindness" is volunteering for indexing at FamilySearch. I sat with tears in my eyes when I found the Hungarian funeral card for my great great grandfather in Budapest listing my Amerian grandfather in bold print as his grandson. Thank you FamilySearch. Sadly I found it to late for my mother to comprehend its significance.

Genealogy has become not only my passion and occupation but now a distraction from the stress that fills the sadness in my life. During this "sabbatical" I am digitizing my personal collection, checking my citations and in some cases looking at family documentation I have not reviewed in many years. Like the cobblers son things were on a back burner while I helped others. Yes, we all need to clean up our own documentation and cite our sources!

Digitized materials can now be shared with each son and grandchild. This includes a medical history for my family. My legacy and my memories handed down so that those that follow will know my love of family past and present.

We never stop learning.

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