Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spring into Genealogy

Spring has finally arrived! The days are getting longer with more light and hopefully for us in the Northeast, the snow will soon disappear.

Now is the perfect time to shake off those winter doldrums and get back into action with your genealogy. Here are five things you can do to revitalize your family history research.

1. Clean your house. Bring those boxes of old photographs out of your attic and basement into the daylight. Scour closests and drawers for "hidden genealogical gems," such as old letters, postcards, diaries, bridal and baby books, funeral registries, memorial cards, medals, and other memorabilia. Store them in the right environment where you can easily find them again and don't forget to label everything!

2. Break your cabin fever. If you live in an area prone to inclement weather, you've probably been stuck in your house all winter long and chained to your computer for research. Not that perusing the latest online genealogical databases or search engines is a bad thing, but now it's time to get out there and network! Go to a genealogical conference (like the Pan-Slavic Seminar I will be participating in as a speaker on April 14th in Bridgeport, CT), or your local group's meetings. Call up a relative and plan a visit. Make a point of going to the cemetery to look for your ancestors' headstones.

3. Organize! Get those family history files and binders in shape. Purge duplicates and file those lose documents. Scan photographs and documents and safely store your originals. Enter key data into your genealogical software program.

4. Plan a research trip. Look for bargain airfares and try to visit your ancestral town or village. Or, take a roadtrip to where you grew up or where your ancestors lived. Make sure you use the Web to identify key places you want to visit before you hit the road. Note cemeteries, courthouses, special walking tours; use Google Earth or other maps to locate the neigborhoods, streets, and addresses where your ancestors lived.

5. Brush up on your skills through any number of learning opportunities. There are many conferences planned for the spring and summer. You can also sign up for online genealogy classes which you can do at your own pace, such as those available at GenClass (sign up now for new classes in April and May!).

Happy Spring! Happy Hunting!

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