Saturday, June 13, 2009
At the Family History Expo
Interloper. That's what I am here. I'm not a hardcore genealogist; I'm a dabbling lifewriter who is managing to pick up a few good tips:
#1: If you are trying to put together some sort of family history book and you are not using a program like Rootsmagic or Legacy (which is actually the number 1 program out there) you are crazy. These programs have awesome organizing and customizing options. You can actually print a book according to YOUR specifications from your own computer, complete with pedigree charts, narratives, and indexes.
#2: If you are writing a personal history and having trouble organizing yourself there programs out there to help you too. One that is being marketed pretty strongly here is Personal Historian by the Rootsmagic folks. This one has a nifty feature that will integrate a cultural and historical time line into your personal time line so you can what movies came out, what were the hits on the radio and what was going in world politics. All these things serve not only as good contextual cues but also as memory cues. Personal Historian also has outlining and drafting tools to help people who don't consider themselves writers through the daunting writing process. Unfortunately, the program doesn't come with a personal editor--which is what I certainly need :) (There are other programs on the internet for free. I'm just telling you about this one because it's the one I've seen in action.)
#3 Don't go into your genealogy alone. There are a gazillion people out there who are doing the same stuff you are and they are probably better at it than you. You can find these people in family history centers, blogs (The Chart Chick does some interesting stuff and my friend Sarah is a passionate genealogist who is full of great info.), and even Twitter. Apparently that is the new place to get the most up-to-date genealogy information. Those genealogists may be older but they are definitely technologically hip!
#4 Genealogy heals. As a Mormon I've pretty much only ever thought about genealogy from a get-those-names-to-the-temple point of view, but everyone (Mormon or not, religious or not) keeps talking about how genealogy has soothed their spirits, healed their hearts, or centered them in the universe. It isn't just about filling in missing leaves on your tree or doing grave rubbings. There is an apparently indescribable yet palpable emotional/psychological value in knowing where you come from.
Almost makes me wonder why I don't do it. Almost.