Monday, April 21, 2014

Confessions About the Clock

I have a confession to make. This blog was created to document my year of being “on the clock,” but somehow along the way, it has become a genealogical potpourri of my experiences, albeit with a genealogical twist. Yet, I have written this blog without discussing the real “work” that goes into my everyday life; the work I do toward my certification. It’s probably my personality showing through - I love to laugh and feel that it is often more important to focus on the joy found in my work than to focus on the work that results in wrinkles furrowed into my brow. However, as I said that I would document my year, it is part of my personal due diligence to chronicle the “work product” that I am involved in on a day-to-day basis. Me, being me, I would rather talk about what I’ve done right rather than whine about what has not gone so well. I try to be an optimist, so that’s what you get here. Maybe I should throw in a piece about the misery once a week and call it “Moaning Monday?” Meh.

When my packet first arrived from the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), I tore through it and almost missed an appointment, just to work on the will that I was given to transcribe. Then, eying the clock (not the one that I am “on,” but the real one on the table) I gathered everything up, put in a labeled binder with page protectors to keep it all together, and dashed out the door, barely making my appointment. Later, I also took each required task (to complete my portfolio) and created a separate file for it. The requirements for each part of my portfolio were on a page of their own, bolded, underlined, and highlighted, to make sure that I went over it, read it extensively, and pulled out the most important parts visually, so that I could periodically re-check it. While doing so, this forced me to notice the most important parts of each requirement. It has worked well so far.

Next, I invested in a library. I researched and found every book on the BCG list. Some were easy to find, while others required real hunting, not unlike a genealogical search to find some old, obscure document. I found that many were available online, for a price that ranged radically from reasonable to “are you out of your mind?” I purchased several through used and rare book services. It wasn’t easy, but I found them and read them. I still read them. 

One of the many resources that I have stumbled over and found to be a real resource for clues (notice that I did not say, or infer, that this means “proof” of any kind) are old, period books, meaning non-fictional accounts, written by contemporaries of those being researched. I make sure that  they are specific to the period that I am researching and the location that I am researching. More than once, just one or two lines in one of these period books has opened up a whole new avenue of investigation for me. They are a wonderful resource for anyone researching in obscure locations or where traditional records are limited.

Finally for today, I have devoted so much time to learning: learning from books; learning from journal articles; and learning by attending seminars and institutes. I schedule time for webinars and to read other genealogist’s blogs. I am grateful for what I learn and still, I am oddly embarrassed, yet bolstered, when I learn how much I already  know. Still, knowledge is always mixed and when I learn what I already know, I always pick up something new, be it through new stories, by hearing about different techniques, or especially, from cautionary tales of mistakes made by others and learning how to avoid making them myself. Genealogists can never afford to be cocky. Excited? Yes. Thrilled over what they can accomplish? Of course; Relieved when they can learn something and can use it successfully? Absolutely. But, never think that you know it all. Always remember that genealogy keeps growing and changing. There are so many new things popping up, that we can never know it all. 

Therein lies genealogy’s beguilement: while there are always more mysteries that one can solve, there will always be many, many more mysteries to be solved.

Happy hunting!