With 2018 now behind us, and with the optimism that comes with the arrival of another new year, it’s time to think about my genealogical resolutions. How did I do on last year’s resolutions? What lessons did I learn? What are my goals for the new year?
One year ago, I made two genealogical resolutions for 2018:
- Write more blog posts here on Blackenedroots.
- Join a hereditary society or two—most likely the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) and the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (Mayflower Society).
Let’s see how I did.
1. Writing more blog posts. Since starting this blog, I’ve published 194 posts. As you can see from the chart below, two-thirds of my posts were written in my first two years—a combination of lots of low-hanging fruit and no wonderfully energetic young girl wanting to play all day long. 2014 was spent making preparations for having said little girl, including a DIY, demo-to-bare-studs, complete rebuild of 25% of our house to make room for Arwen. Still, though, I could take an occasional day off and write a blog post. Arwen was born at the end of 2014, and my attention turned to her. Over the first three years of her life, I posted a total of 26 blog posts. But with a concerted effort, I published 24 posts in 2018—almost as many in the previous three years combined. Resolution accomplished.
2. Join a hereditary society or two. Despite spending most of my genealogical effort this year documenting 12 generations of direct descent from Mayflower passengers John Alden and Priscilla (Mullens) Alden, my application to join the Mayflower society is still under consideration. I hesitate to call this an unmet resolution. It’s just a really hard one that was not completed by the end of 2018. I do expect it to be complete early this year. I haven’t yet applied to any other hereditary societies because I wanted to be able to focus on this notoriously difficult application process first. I’m going to mark this one “resolution in progress.”
For 2019, there are so many things I’d like to accomplish: scanning a big chunk of my undigitized photos and papers; better organizing original papers, photos, and research notes; interviewing older relatives; writing biographies of deceased ancestors; going through the Genealogy Do Over process to spot and correct errors I made decades ago when I was less rigorous about research methodology; start incorporating DNA analyses into my genealogical research; formalize my research process with a research log; and find a good way to let researchers and family browse my collection of digitized photos and papers by person, place, date, or keyword.
As with 2018, I think it’s wiser to choose just a couple of goals to maximize my chances of success. My preference would be to do something like 52 ancestors in 52 weeks, but I don’t think I could handle that pace, given the state my records are currently in. Instead, I think it’s going to be smarter to work on foundational—albeit less exciting—things first. Accordingly, I’ll go with these two genealogical goals for 2019:
- Better organize my original papers, photos, and research notes. I’ve come up with a system of filing information by generation, family, and individual; and my wife got me a lovely century-old double-wide filing cabinet in which to organize all the hanging files. All that’s left to do is track down all of the stashes and boxes and binders and folders and piles of information I’ve accumulated over the years and get it incorporated into the system I’ve designed. In the process of getting my documentation together for the Mayflower Society, it was both amusing and annoying to find that I have ordered multiple duplicate copies of costly documentation over the years because I couldn’t find the copy I originally ordered.
- Start incorporating DNA research into my genealogy.
I have plenty of other genealogical aspirations for the new year, but I’d rather stick to just these to improve my chances for a successful 2019.
That said, there are some biographical sketches that I need to write soon, so I’ll probably at least get a good start on a few of those this year as well.