2019 Genealogy Year in Review

What a great genealogy year! I began this blog in May 2020 shortly after I decided that I wanted to become a Professional Genealogist when I retire from teaching in 2033. I have many guesses and ideas of what that could look like. I’m not sure if I would like to be a contractor for larger firms, an educator (like private music lessons, but instead genealogy lessons), a researcher that takes on clients, and/or a genealogy lecturer. I don’t see myself becoming a writer but I guess I shouldn’t rule anything out!

In the basement of the Erie County Court House learning looking through the Registers.

In May, I wrote a blog detailing my personal education plan of things that I wanted to accomplish towards becoming a Professional Genealogist. Below is what I wrote and how I did after 6 months:

  1. Become a Certified Genealogist: The portfolio that you have to turn in remind me of my Master’s thesis. I think I can do it by the time 2033 comes around. I will have plenty of time to educate myself and practice the skills that they require.
    • This one was not an immediate goal but one that I am aware of in the big picture. When I was at GRIP and FGS, I took the time to look through some of the sample binders of approved portfolios to start to familiarize myself with them.
  2. Conferences: I would like to attend at least one National, State, or Regional Conference annually. With my teaching schedule, the FGS conference is in August so I booked a hotel room, flight, and registered for the 2019 FGS Conference in Washington, D.C.!
    • Washington, D.C. was amazing!! Not only did I get to see the sites, research my family, and learn from the amazing lectures, I think my favorite part was the friends I made and the networking that I did. From that conference, I made contacts that led to me having speaking engagements in Michigan and Ontario. It also led to me setting up NCGS as a FamilySearch Affiliate Library. This might seem like a small thing, but I became comfortable enough as a familiar face (or in the same crowd with) to “friend” many of the big names in genealogy on Facebook and now peek inside their circle.
In front of the Library of Congress!!
  1. Institutes: I would like to try to attend a Genealogy Institute at least every other year. I am already registered to attend GRIP at the end of June to take Mastering Genealogical Documentation with Dr. Tom Jones!
    • I really enjoyed attending GRIP. Though the information was a lot to try to absorb, I think more sank in than I realized. “Drinking from a fire hose” is a good analogy for it. But again, I made great contacts and friends with the WNYGS folks that were there the same week. From that, I was asked to speak for WNYGS for the first time on Lineage Societies.
WNYGS members with LeBrenda Garrett-Nelson.
  1. Society Membership: NCGS, WNYGS, PGSNYS, NGS, NYG&B, and APG. I currently are a member of all of those with the exception of APG.
    • I joined all of the societies listed above (including APG) and then some! I also joined: BIGS (Buffalo Irish Genealogical Society), IGSWNY (Italian Genealogy Society of Western New York in which they “gave me” the Italian surname of Sheligano as I have no Italian in me – LOL), PHGS (Painted Hills Genealogical Society), GSP (Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania), and VGA (Virtual Genealogical Association).
Watching the VGA 2019 Conference while trying to wake up in the morning on a weekend. 🙂
  1. Lineage Societies: As a Professional Genealogist, I can image that clients might want to hire me to help them prove their lineage to join certain societies. To practice for that, I would like to join some lineage societies: Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania First Families of Pennsylvania, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.
    • I was successfully approved into the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania First Families of Pennsylvania and the National Society Descendants of American Farmers! I also submitted my application to DAR and GSMD and am waiting for approval from them.
My first lineage society certificate and pin!
  1. Education: I would like to stay informed of genealogy news and various research techniques. To do so, I would like to listen to genealogy podcasts as they are published, read at least one genealogy book each month, watch at least 10 webinars each month, attend at least 5 local presentations a year, and to read peer-reviewed periodicals.
    • One neat opportunity arose that I volunteered for was to be a beta tester for the new NYG&B record collection portion of their site. What a way to stay ahead of the news!
    • I have kept up with listening to genealogy podcasts, but I haven’t read a book each month. I have been making progress in reading though as I got a few local genealogy friends together started our own little Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group. This is why I think more of GRIP sank in than I originally thought as in reading MGP, the concepts are clicking more easily.
    • I haven’t kept count, but I believe that I probably watch at least 10 webinars a month and attended at least 5 local presentations a year.
    • Reading the peer-reviewed articles in periodicals is something that I did not accomplish. I did join a NGSQ online group that reads one article a month and discusses it via e mail, but I haven’t yet finished one of the assigned articles or discussed it. I would like to be better about doing so this year and at least read the article and send out a discussion at least once this year. Baby steps.
  1. Writing: I would like to contribute at least one newsletter article for NCGS each year.
    • Not only did I write an article for NCGS on Genealogy Shows on TV that was in the June 2019 issue, I also wrote one for WNYGS that was in the Sept 2019 issue on the NCGS Library.
    • In addition to the articles, I wrote 52 blog posts for NCGS. Most of them highlighting books in our library but some of them about exciting news with our society or personal items like writing my grandpa’s obituary. I have become much for familiar with our NCGS library and have enjoyed writing the blogs (including poking a little fun at myself).
Me finding my 6th grade picture in the yearbook.
  1. Speaking: I would like to give genealogical presentations to at least 3 different societies/groups/libraries each year.
    • I spoke for NTLGC, NCGS, Lockport Library, Amherst Senior Center Genealogy Club, and the Family History Center’s Family History Fair.
  1. Books: Build up a reference library.
    • Well, I certainly took this one to heart! I have so many books now and I don’t have the time to read them! Between creating a Book Discussion SIG with NCGS and the MGP Study Group, I will do better next year at reading some of the books on my shelf.
I was excited when my new edition of Genealogy Standards came in the mail.
  1. Certificates: To receive a certificate for the NGS American Genealogical Studies course.
    • I am still on track with this but it is slow going. I got discouraged when my first report came back with a bad grade. The instructor said that I did a good job for a first report, but that there were items that needed to be fixed. She was right and I know that I will be a better genealogist because of her help and me completing this course. I am glad that I signed up for it and will complete it in 2020.
  1. Brand Myself: Create a website.
    • Done! I’m not quite sure how to work all of the features, but I am able to put my blog up here and my speaking calendar so it’s a good start. I should maybe start to think about business cards as a next step at some point down the line.
  1. Resume: Create a genealogy resume.
    • I did create one, though I realized that I haven’t kept very good records about when and what topics I spoke for which groups over the years. I need to keep better track of this going forward.
  1. ProBono Genealogy Clients: Ask my friends if I can practice being a professional by researching their trees.
    • I did not get past asking them if in the future they would be agreeable to this. I think the NGS AGS course made me realize that I am not ready to write reports yet. Maybe in 2020 I can start this goal, but if it doesn’t happen until after I complete the NGS AGS course and/or ProGen (which I signed up on the waiting list for), then I am ok with that.

What an amazing year! I’m so happy with this direction that I’ve chosen and am so proud of how much I have already grown as a genealogist these past 6 months. I am excited to see what awaits in 2020!

My favorite picture from 2019. I am in the National Archives, holding a document signed by my 5x Great Grandfather, Samuel Harding, signed in 1832.