Over the past year, my focus has been on expanding my research abilities, gaining experience in web page design and upkeep and teaching. Using the resources available to me, I have managed to learn quite a bit about all three of those goals, and the learning continues.
Lesson One: It is not easy to maintain a website in which the goal is to continually add more information and new sources with new ideas - all for free. How I would love someone to pay me just $1 per hour for the work that goes into the Summit County, Colorado and Colfax County, Nebraska Trails to the Past sites! It is truly difficult, and Colfax County is the more frustrating of the two. Since I am not in Nebraska, and have no access to Nebraska's libraries or countless resources, I am dependent on my own library system to supply me with information, the already existing websites that I do not want to copy, and my wallet - which is pretty much empty. An ever expanding level of respect is being developed in me for all those that came before, especially those site administrators at Rootsweb who really started the county-by-county genealogy website concept.
Lesson Two: Social networking is a must. Let's face it: Twitter is not going anywhere (to quote my dear brother), and I either have to play or get off the 'net. You can follow me on Twitter... @ancestryjourney, Facebook and Google +.
Lesson Three: Teaching girls about genealogical records when some don't even know what a phone book is has been a bit more challenging than originally anticipated. Keep your fingers crossed; on Thursday we will be talking about maps. Hopefully I am more successful there than I was with the phone book idea. I hope no one pulls out a GPS on me...
Although I will agree that my research skills have grown in 2011, I do have to say that I really wish archives offices, courthouses, cemeteries and LDS Family History Centers all came equipped with babysitters. Two year old's do not like walking around cemeteries so Mommy can take pictures of anything with words on it. Two year old's do not like waiting for a volunteer to make copies of ten select pages from a record file, one page at a time. (Bless her heart, she was so patient with us!) Other researchers do not necessarily think its cute when said two year old starts "reading" aloud from her Elmo book in the middle of a very quiet room. At one point this year, I said to my father that his granddaughter had, "probably been to more cemeteries than you have." Over Thanksgiving, we made a list, and sure enough, she has.
We were at the library today (thankfully there for her this time - not me! Gotta' love story time!) and my now nearly three year old daughter pulled a book off the shelf while we were in "Mommy's section." The book was entitled Famous Last Words, compiled by Ray Robinson. It was just so appropriate for me, I had to check it out. Maybe I should let her pick the books out every week!
(For more on the Trails to the Past organization, or to access my two sites, please visit us at: http://trailstothepast.org/. Volunteers are needed around the country!)