Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Looking back, and looking ahead

One of the blogging prompts at Geneabloggers this past week was to review our genealogical accomplishments of the last year, and post our goals for the coming year. I was sorry that I didn’t get around to participating last year, so here I go for this year, and only a few days late. Maybe by putting my goals out there, I’ll be more motivated to work on them!

I was busy in 2011, to the point where I cleared the decks of nearly all client work. An intensive elementary German class, the online ProGen study group, and being a teaching assistant for Boston University’s online Certificate Program in Genealogical Research and their new Genealogical Essentials course filled most of the time that I allotted for work.

It was a good year for taking advantage of continuing education opportunities: I attended the New England Regional Genealogical Conference (NERGC) in April, a week-long course in Writing Narrative Family Histories at Boston University in July, and a three-day workshop about Massachusetts colonial governor Thomas Hutchinson and the time/situation in which he lived.

I managed to carve out time to give some of my own ancestral projects the same thoroughness as I do my client work, and wrote extensive “state of the research” reports for two of my more troublesome families. It was very satisfying work, and I’m looking forward to giving the same treatment to other of my projects this year.

The genealogical high point of the year concerned my continuing research on my grandfather’s half-sister, Marisa. In April I found and met with a woman who had known her well; she graciously invited me to her home, spent an entire morning talking to me, and gave me the only known photos of Marisa. My quest for Marisa is a long story for another time; suffice it to say that this is a project in which I am quite invested emotionally.

Looking ahead to 2012… one always begins with a long list of hopes and plans (heck, I begin every day that way). But if I accomplish these three, I’ll be doing pretty well:

  • It’s time for me to try and get published. [Yikes, did I just say that out loud?] I have two projects that I want to re-write for state/regional publications, and which I think have a chance of being accepted. Y’all can hold my feet to the fire on this one!
  • I need to resume client work, if for no other reason than the fact that researching for others always makes me stretch my skills. There are time constraints, unfamiliar repositories and records, and the absolute necessity for writing up the research thoroughly yet very clearly and succinctly. I’m forced to move out of my comfort zone, which really means that I end up expanding my comfort zone.
  • Client work also pushes me to investigate new tools, and I am then usually slow to really learn all that the tool can offer me. I think I did a good job of choosing new and useful bits of software last year, and this year’s goal will be to become more proficient with them. I don’t want to spend research time or writing time in figuring out how things work! First up: an inexpensive four-week online class on Scrivener. This will do double-duty: not only will it give me an extended period of guided practice, but I’m also very curious to see how an individual (vs. a company or institution) sets up an online class.

I’ll also continue my volunteer work in the Manuscripts Department at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. Continuing education opportunities are always a goal, and always dependent on schedule and economics.

Lastly, I need to figure out what I’m doing with this blog. It fell by the wayside last year as I became busier than I ever expected to be. It might be that my intention of using the blog to write up my Michutka family history very thoroughly is overly ambitious. Stay tuned!

A blessed New Year to all!

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