Reflections


re flec tion
(noun)
A fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration.
A thought occurring in consideration or meditation. [1]

Every December when I send out our family Christmas newsletter, I review the highlights of the previous year. Sometimes I list them by family member, but lately I’ve been ticking them off by month as I look over our calendar pages. I thought as a prelude to my Resolutions post, which will be my submission to the 63rd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, that I would review the highlights of my year in genealogy and in blogging:

January
A conversation with my father-in-law and a post by Terry Thornton about walksheds prompted my post, “Every Eleven Miles.” It was the most-read article of my blog in January and was published the following month in print form by the Memphis Buff, the newsletter of the Memphis Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Association.

Google Book Search sent a local film crew to my home to interview me as a part of their video series on different hobbyists and professionals who use Google Book Search for a variety of purposes. The video was released on YouTube in June and can be viewed here.

At the request of several of my Beginning class students, and with the recommendation from a couple of them who were also employees of the Community Colleges of Spokane, I taught my first Intermediate Online Genealogy class, a six-week course, at CCS’s Institute for Extended Learning. (Next session here.) I also did a presentation on Footnote for the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society’s monthly computer class.

February
In response to some questions from one of the students in my Intermediate Online Genealogy class, I compiled the Confederate Pensions Databases post, which was the number-one read for the month. However, my favorite was a series on Random Acts of Kindness Week. I also posted my first Wordless Wednesday after being inspired by George Geder.

“Vital Records and Obituary Websites” was my presentation for the EWGS’s February computer class.

March
I started the monthly Calendar of Events post, where genea-bloggers and their readers can find the dates for holidays, history, and heritage events as well as deadlines for the carnivals.

At long last, the marriage date and place of my great-great-grandparents, James L. YORK and Mary “Mae” E. McARTHUR was found!

AnceStories won the 2008 Artistry of Genealogy Award.

April
In the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors series, I posted a brief biographical sketch, with photos if I had any, of the direct ancestors (or their brothers) of my children who served in the American Civil War. I timed it so the last post would be the day before Memorial Day, originally set aside to honor those who had fallen during that conflict.

A cousin of my husband’s found a Bible that had once belonged to their mutual ancestor, Ann (WILSON) WESTABY, of the immigrant Westaby couple that came to the United States in 1850. This relative generously scanned the Bible and sent me copies via CD.

I taught my sixth Beginning Online Genealogy class, a four-week course, for the Community Colleges of Spokane. Also, the Colville, Washington LDS Church asked me to speak on military records for their annual Family History Conference.

May
My mother agreed to write her school years memories for the 48th Carnival of Genealogy and her posts were a big hit! A bonus result was connecting with her best childhood friend after the friend Googled her name and found it in Mom’s posts. A trip back to Michigan this summer provided Mom and Beth to reunite.

June
The Spokane County Library District asked me to present my Beginning Online Genealogy course to its patrons.

I was honored to be a guest blogger on Shades of the Departed’s “Friday from the Collectors” column.

July
After Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak’s Unclaimed Persons project bought genealogists and genea-bloggers to Facebook in droves, Thomas MacEntee formed the Genea-Bloggers Group on Facebook (inviting me to be one of the original administrators) and then started Facebook Bootcamp for Genea-bloggers, a team effort by several bloggers, including myself.

The Northeast Washington Genealogical Society kindly invited me to give my “Frugal Genealogy” presentation.

Tom Sowa, the technology columnist of our local newspaper, The Spokesman-Review, saw my Google Book Search video and came to interview me. The article was published in print on July 27th in the business section of the paper (my second interview by the S-R in less than a year!) and was also reproduced on his blog here.

August
Let the Games begin; the Genea-Blogging Games, that is! Wasn’t it fun?

I presented a tutorial on WorldVitalRecords at the EWGS monthly computer class.

AnceStories made it into the list of AllTop’s top genealogy blogs.

September
As Ways and Means Chairperson for EWGS, I coordinated the Rest Stop Fundraiser.

October
The Whitman County Genealogical Society kindly invited me to give my “Frugal Genealogy” presentation.

Lisa Louise Cooke interviewed me about my best research tips and what motivates me to do genealogy for her new Personal Life Media Family History podcast. The podcast aired in November and can be heard here.

I taught my seventh Beginning Online Genealogy class for the Community Colleges of Spokane.

November
I discovered how much fun Ancestry’s MyCanvas program was and used it to create family calendars for Christmas gifts (look for a post in the next week summarizing my experience and the reactions of family members).

December
I began my Tuesday’s Tip column, which is a bit hit. My posts on organizing digital genealogy files (documents, photos, and miscellaneous files) bring lots of traffic to the site.

In addition, we had ten successful Scanfests and a Spring Break Scan-a-thon. There were dozens of memes and challenges, and two new genealogy carnivals to submit posts to. I may not have broken down any great brick walls, but my research went deeper and wider on individuals and families I already had. I look forward to what 2009 will bring us!

Source: 1. reflection. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/reflection (accessed: December 31, 2008).

The Year in Review (2007)

This is the time of year when newspapers, magazines, television shows and websites list the year in review, and I thought I’d join in with a personalized version of my own. Two Thousand Seven was a fantastic, wonderful year, genealogically-speaking. Though I wasn’t able to get a lot of records research done, I was able to dig deeper into the personal and family history of my ancestors to uncover rich, detailed information that had been unknown to me. What immediately comes to mind is discovering, quite by accident, that my great-grandparents were charter members of the American Legion, Reinhart W. Roman Post 537 and Women’s Auxiliary in Conklin, Ottawa Co., Michigan, after stumbling upon a website of the history of Chester Township. I never would have imagined all the delightful treasures and experiences I came across this year! Here they are, in no particular order, my top ten list:

  • 1. Blogging Joy
  • Although I started this blog nearly two years ago (16 January 2006), it wasn’t until I started writing for the Carnival of Genealogy and switched to this current URL on January 22nd that things really took off for me, both as a blogger and in readership numbers. But really what has been the best reward of blogging my genealogy has been the sense of community and the dear friends I’ve made. From the many carnivals that have sprung up (Cabinet of Curiosities, Carnival of Central and East European Genealogy, Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, and the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories) to Scanfest (the brainchild of Susan Kitchens, by the way!) to banding together during the Ancestry Internet Biographical Collections controversy, I’ve learned about the personal and genealogical trials and triumphs of people I’ve never met face-to-face (but hope to!), and have been encouraged and educated by them along the way. I hope I’ve given equally in return.

  • 2. My 15 Minutes of Fame
  • It was very exciting to have my local newspaper feature me in their Home and Garden section as they highlighted my genealogical treasures. Hopefully, my emphasis on the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society during the interview will increase awareness and attendance of our society within our community. I was also interviewed by U.S. News and World Report (as a user of Ancestry.com) and an representative of Google Reader’s public relations department (on my Alice Teddy the Rollerskating Bear find here and here). U.S. News has so far not published my interview; and the Google Reader interview was for a possible future press release. That the media is covering genealogy and family history more and more is, I believe, an indication of public awareness and interest in these areas.

  • 3. Collections from My Ancestors
  • Two large collections of documents, photos, and letters made their way into my home this past year. After the death of my maternal grandfather last January, I started receiving items from my uncle who was the executor of the estate of my grandparents. I’m still in the process of scanning, adding to my database, and analyzing what I call the DeVRIES-HOEKSTRA collection. Additionally, my uncle blessed me by doing his own on-site research–and then sharing it with me–on the houses that our families occupied in Grand Rapids, Michigan from the time the DeVRIES family arrived there in 1897. Secondly, one of my paternal aunts sent several CDs of scanned materials from my great-grandfather’s experiences in North Russia at the end of World War I. My posts on this subject have generated a lot of readership, not just from the genealogical community, but from the military and history communities as well. I still have more posts to blog about his “adventures” there and what happened after he returned to the U.S.

  • 4. A Collection from My Husband’s Ancestors
  • Recently, my father-in-law loaned my husband and me a box full of old and modern family photos and dozens of postcards received by his maternal grandparents, mainly during the years 1908 to the early 1950s. I look forward to scanning, entering into my husband’s database, and analyzing these materials.

  • 5. Presentations
  • This year brought fabulous opportunities for me to make presentations to various groups around the Inland Northwest. In March, I did two presentations at the local LDS Church’s Family History Conference, and in June, the Bonner County (Idaho) Genealogical Society invited me to be their featured speaker at their genealogical conference. I also had the opportunity to share “Frugal Genealogy” with the Kootenai County (Idaho) Genealogical Society in October. I also taught three EWGS computer classes for members this past year. These experiences allowed me to meet other researchers and see what kinds of resources are available in outlying communities.

  • 6. Starting a New Class
  • One of the results of some successful Online Beginning Genealogy classes that I taught through my local community colleges’ district was being asked to start an Intermediate class, which begins later next month.

  • 7. Letters from My Childhood
  • I took a walk down memory lane by reading the letters my mother had written to her parents from 1966 – 1978. There’s some terrific material there…perhaps even a book.

  • 8. Grave Photos
  • Some wonderful volunteers at Find A Grave were able to take photos of graves of ancestors of my husband and me. These included my 3rd-great-grandmother, Maria Marina (VanKLINKEN) TON BYL, made all the more bittersweet since she is buried in a Potter’s Field in an unmarked grave.

  • 9. Surprises
  • As I’ve mentioned above, I discovered my ROBBINS family was instrumental in starting up an American Legion Post, and my JACKSON relatives trained a rollerskating bear! Another great discovery was finding my husband’s WESTABY ancestors in the 1920 Census, at long last!

  • 10. Freebies and Income
    It’s always nice to be rewarded or earn something doing what comes naturally and for which you are passionate! Thanks to the great people at Footnote.com, Genealogy Publishing Company, and MemoryPress, I’ve tasted the sweet fruits of my labor.

I can only dare to dream that 2008 can match or surpass 2007 in the wealth of what I’ve experienced! I wish all my readers, fellow genea-bloggers, and family members the very best in the coming New Year. May your brick walls come crashing down, and may all your ancestor hunts be successful and rewarding!

The Year in Review (2007)

This is the time of year when newspapers, magazines, television shows and websites list the year in review, and I thought I’d join in with a personalized version of my own. Two Thousand Seven was a fantastic, wonderful year, genealogically-speaking. Though I wasn’t able to get a lot of records research done, I was able to dig deeper into the personal and family history of my ancestors to uncover rich, detailed information that had been unknown to me. What immediately comes to mind is discovering, quite by accident, that my great-grandparents were charter members of the American Legion, Reinhart W. Roman Post 537 and Women’s Auxiliary in Conklin, Ottawa Co., Michigan, after stumbling upon a website of the history of Chester Township. I never would have imagined all the delightful treasures and experiences I came across this year! Here they are, in no particular order, my top ten list:

  • 1. Blogging Joy
  • Although I started this blog nearly two years ago (16 January 2006), it wasn’t until I started writing for the Carnival of Genealogy and switched to this current URL on January 22nd that things really took off for me, both as a blogger and in readership numbers. But really what has been the best reward of blogging my genealogy has been the sense of community and the dear friends I’ve made. From the many carnivals that have sprung up (Cabinet of Curiosities, Carnival of Central and East European Genealogy, Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, and the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories) to Scanfest (the brainchild of Susan Kitchens, by the way!) to banding together during the Ancestry Internet Biographical Collections controversy, I’ve learned about the personal and genealogical trials and triumphs of people I’ve never met face-to-face (but hope to!), and have been encouraged and educated by them along the way. I hope I’ve given equally in return.

  • 2. My 15 Minutes of Fame
  • It was very exciting to have my local newspaper feature me in their Home and Garden section as they highlighted my genealogical treasures. Hopefully, my emphasis on the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society during the interview will increase awareness and attendance of our society within our community. I was also interviewed by U.S. News and World Report (as a user of Ancestry.com) and an representative of Google Reader’s public relations department (on my Alice Teddy the Rollerskating Bear find here and here). U.S. News has so far not published my interview; and the Google Reader interview was for a possible future press release. That the media is covering genealogy and family history more and more is, I believe, an indication of public awareness and interest in these areas.

  • 3. Collections from My Ancestors
  • Two large collections of documents, photos, and letters made their way into my home this past year. After the death of my maternal grandfather last January, I started receiving items from my uncle who was the executor of the estate of my grandparents. I’m still in the process of scanning, adding to my database, and analyzing what I call the DeVRIES-HOEKSTRA collection. Additionally, my uncle blessed me by doing his own on-site research–and then sharing it with me–on the houses that our families occupied in Grand Rapids, Michigan from the time the DeVRIES family arrived there in 1897. Secondly, one of my paternal aunts sent several CDs of scanned materials from my great-grandfather’s experiences in North Russia at the end of World War I. My posts on this subject have generated a lot of readership, not just from the genealogical community, but from the military and history communities as well. I still have more posts to blog about his “adventures” there and what happened after he returned to the U.S.

  • 4. A Collection from My Husband’s Ancestors
  • Recently, my father-in-law loaned my husband and me a box full of old and modern family photos and dozens of postcards received by his maternal grandparents, mainly during the years 1908 to the early 1950s. I look forward to scanning, entering into my husband’s database, and analyzing these materials.

  • 5. Presentations
  • This year brought fabulous opportunities for me to make presentations to various groups around the Inland Northwest. In March, I did two presentations at the local LDS Church’s Family History Conference, and in June, the Bonner County (Idaho) Genealogical Society invited me to be their featured speaker at their genealogical conference. I also had the opportunity to share “Frugal Genealogy” with the Kootenai County (Idaho) Genealogical Society in October. I also taught three EWGS computer classes for members this past year. These experiences allowed me to meet other researchers and see what kinds of resources are available in outlying communities.

  • 6. Starting a New Class
  • One of the results of some successful Online Beginning Genealogy classes that I taught through my local community colleges’ district was being asked to start an Intermediate class, which begins later next month.

  • 7. Letters from My Childhood
  • I took a walk down memory lane by reading the letters my mother had written to her parents from 1966 – 1978. There’s some terrific material there…perhaps even a book.

  • 8. Grave Photos
  • Some wonderful volunteers at Find A Grave were able to take photos of graves of ancestors of my husband and me. These included my 3rd-great-grandmother, Maria Marina (VanKLINKEN) TON BYL, made all the more bittersweet since she is buried in a Potter’s Field in an unmarked grave.

  • 9. Surprises
  • As I’ve mentioned above, I discovered my ROBBINS family was instrumental in starting up an American Legion Post, and my JACKSON relatives trained a rollerskating bear! Another great discovery was finding my husband’s WESTABY ancestors in the 1920 Census, at long last!

  • 10. Freebies and Income
    It’s always nice to be rewarded or earn something doing what comes naturally and for which you are passionate! Thanks to the great people at Footnote.com, Genealogy Publishing Company, and MemoryPress, I’ve tasted the sweet fruits of my labor.

I can only dare to dream that 2008 can match or surpass 2007 in the wealth of what I’ve experienced! I wish all my readers, fellow genea-bloggers, and family members the very best in the coming New Year. May your brick walls come crashing down, and may all your ancestor hunts be successful and rewarding!