I Completed My March Goals!

April Fools!

I didn’t really come close. Here are my monthly goals (only one of which I met):

  • Processing one document/source per week (if not more) into my RootsMagic database.
  • Writing at least one blog post per week.
  • Reading one genealogy book per month.
  • Exploring one new technology per month. 
  • And taking one genealogy-related trip every two months.

I did get in enough blog posts to average out to one per week, but that’s about it. I only got in a few hours of personal genealogy time last week — the rest of my genealogy research time went to a client project.

Here is the main reason why I didn’t accomplish anything else:

17910_10200868603777793_466604317_n

Maggie came into my life 3 weeks ago and has been occupying a lot of my time (not that I’m complaining). She’s a 1.5-year-old Lab-mix rescue and she is the best dog on the planet.

How’d I Do in February? (Not Good.)

February has come and gone and I pretty much missed all of my personal monthly genealogy goals. I’m going to continue to blame my client projects, as they did take up all of my available genealogy time. Not that I’m complaining too much. I love my client projects!

First, let’s grade my progress. Here are the goals I set for myself for each month:

  • Processing one document/source per week (if not more) into my RootsMagic database. I didn’t touch RM this month — need to get back to it.
  • Writing at least one blog post per week. If you include my January recap post, my journaling post and a local history post, I only missed this mark by one. Phew!
  • Reading one genealogy book per month. I’m not reading much in the form of books lately and that needs to change. I blame House of Cards on Netflix and the availability of some of my favorite History Channel shows on Amazon Prime. And myself.
  • Exploring one new technology per month. Not genealogy-related, but I re-learned pivot tables in Excel at work this month. Does that count?
  • And taking one genealogy-related trip every two months. No February trips, but I did register for the Washington Family History Conference coming up in May!

Will I fare better in March? I’m going to be realistic and say no. I still have active client projects on-going and more work coming my way. My personal genealogy research is usually what feeds my blog, so if I don’t have time to research, I’m not going to blog. I am going to try and do better on the reading front.

How’d I Do in January?

Okay, okay, okay. It’s only February and I’m already behind on my January goals. But I do have good reasons.

First, let’s grade my progress. Here are the goals I set for myself for each month:

  • Processing one document/source per week (if not more) into my RootsMagic database. I got off to a good start the first week of January and added several items to RM. So, if you take the average, yes, I did add what comes out to one document per week.
  • Writing at least one blog post per week. I only posted a few times in January. Explanation on why below.
  • Reading one genealogy book per month. I read several chapters in a book on archival preservation, but didn’t quite make it all the way through. Not the book’s fault — I am taking the blame on this one. I need to really set aside more time for reading.
  • Exploring one new technology per month. I actually have this one covered! More on that below.
  • And taking one genealogy-related trip every two months. I didn’t go anywhere in January. We’ll have to see what February holds.

On to my excuses (I think they’re pretty good, actually):

1) I was without my laptop for two weeks — I dropped it off with a local company to be suped up with a new hard drive, operating system, Parallels, and to have my old hard drive turned into an external drive. Could I have done all this myself? Probably. But it would have taken me even longer and no guarantee that everything would be working right. Unfortunately, the guy assigned to work on my computer caught the flu and was out for several days. That and waiting for parts to arrive meant a lengthy delay before I got my computer back. I relied on my iPad in the interim, but I really don’t like blogging on it. The good news is I have the laptop back now and it’s super-fast and up-to-date.

2) I started a new job. I’ve been getting used to a new routine and schedule and my personal genealogy projects have been on the back burner since the middle of the month as a result.

3) I picked up new client genealogy work. For the better part of a week, when I got home from the day job, I was on the clock for a client. This left little time to work on my own genealogy. The good news is that the client wants me to do more work on the project and I had a couple more inquiries from other potential clients as well. The bad news? I will still be delaying work on my own genealogy into February, which will probably mean I won’t be posting much new material on the blog.

Now, for the new technology tool that I learned about this month. I needed to create multi-page PDFs for my client research project. You can do this in a program like Adobe Acrobat, but I found out about a different, free way to do so (as long as you have a Mac). You can use the Automator tool to create a script that will string together individual PDFs into one larger file. Read more about how to do it here.

Let’s see how I do in February!

My 2013 Genealogy Re-Boot

2013 will be a year of big change for me. I’m starting a new job closer to my home and one of the results of this will be recouping hours each week previously spent in my car commuting. I’m hoping this will translate into more time that I can put towards genealogy.

Additionally, I’m in the midst of a genealogy re-boot. While I’m choosing to blog about it at the beginning of the New Year, it’s actually been underway for a couple of months (even before I knew that I’d be taking the new job). I’ve been slowly making changes to my blog and how I do research, in the hopes that I will be a better, more organized genealogist in the long run.

Steps I’ve taken so far:

1) most notably, was the re-design of my blog, which was mostly cosmetic, but was needed to make my content more accessible and pleasing to view;

2) I updated my versions of Crossover and RootsMagic, as I plan to start using RM more (more on that later);

3) I started blogging more often, using the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories as a convenient way to bring more content to my blog (this also helped me to make use of many photos I recently acquired; more on this later as well);

and 4) I added a small “cousin-bait” paragraph to blog posts about my ancestors, inviting those who may share those ancestors to be in touch with me. Folks still find my blog by searching for terms that make it painfully obvious that they share, or at least are searching for, an ancestor of mine, but still, they don’t make contact. However, I have started to hear from cousins more often (one of whom cited the cousin-bait paragraph in his email to me), so I think this was a worthwhile update to make.

I have many more changes that I hope to implement. Among these is to set goals for things I’d like to accomplish each week or month, such as:

  • Processing one document/source per week (if not more) into my RootsMagic database. I have been neglecting this database entirely over the past year, and that’s bad because it’s the database where everything is sourced properly. My Ancestry.com family tree allows me to discover lots of potential resources, but not everything on there is proven fact. I’m using RM to create a fully sourced tree.
  • Writing at least one blog post per week. I’ve been neglecting this blog, but I hope to have lots of new content thanks to my revamped genealogy plan.
  • Reading one genealogy book per month. I am a book collector, but haven’t done very well when it comes to reading those books. I’m excited that I will have more time and energy to put toward this goal.
  • Exploring one new technology per month. This doesn’t have to be genealogy-related, necessarily. Things are changing so rapidly these days and there’s so much out there that I want to explore.
  • And taking one genealogy-related trip every two months. I won’t be able to travel to far-flung conferences this year, but I’m hopeful that I can do things like attend local APG chapter meetings, FHL events and the like.

There are some specific things I want to have completed by the end of 2013:

  • Become an expert Evernote user (I’ve only been using this tool haphazardly until now).
  • Explore FamilySearch more, especially FamilySearch Wiki.
  • Clean up the surname organization of files on my computer.
  • Re-organize my office. I brought home a lot of stuff from my old office and so I need to find a way to store everything in my home office and still be able to use the space.
  • A renewed focus on photo organization and actually using my photos, not just archiving them. My focus over the past several years has been to try and preserve as many family photos as I possibly can. I want to start using these photos more, however. I have many of them in scrapbooks and other items that only I can enjoy. I want to explore ways to share the photos more easily with family members and others.

I’m publishing this post as a way to hold myself accountable for the above goals. I’ve been in a holding pattern over the past year when it comes to my own personal genealogy research. This is partly due to a lack of time, thanks to my old commute. However, the biggest problem was that I didn’t have a plan. I expect that I’ll be revising the above plan as I achieve goals, acquire new skills and learn about new resources. I’m looking forward to sharing my new discoveries with you.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Way-Back Machine Edition

Mom, Grandma Grace, Baby Aunt Joan

A few years ago, I participated in the Geneabloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories. You can read my posts here.

This year, I’m going to do something a little different. I recently acquired a bunch of photos from my mom’s childhood and a large percentage of the photos are from around the holidays. I’m going to try and post most of the photos following this year’s advent calendar prompts.

Stay tuned for lots of 1950s holiday action. The fun starts tomorrow!

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.

My Week in Search Terms

As a blogger, I’m obsessed with site metrics and as a researcher/librarian, I’m obsessed with search terms. WordPress satisfies both obsessions with its blog statistics, which let me know how people find my blog by searching the Internet.

I found several interesting search terms over the past week (for still more search-term hilarity, I suggest you visit my friend Amy’s We Tree blog for her “Fun with Search Terms” posts).

1943 guide to hiring women — perhaps this week’s “Binders Full of Women” meme made you think of this brochure that informed 1940s government managers about the ins and outs of hiring and employing women.

andrew jackson photos — unfortunately, Andrew Jackson died in 1845, pre-dating most photographic technology. My second great grand uncle Andrew Jackson Corley, on the other hand, lived in the late 1800s, and I was lucky to come across a photo of him.

how to flip my couch into a flatbed — I think the method you use will be determined by the type of couch you have (Hopefully you have a sleeper sofa. Otherwise, I’m not sure how successful you’ll be). You found my blog because of my post about my Flip-pal scanner — one of my best purchases of 2012. I highly recommend you get one too. You can use it while on your couch or while on your bed.

roots tech 2012, going to — RootsTech 2012 was back in February, but you’re in luck! The event will take place again in March 2013. Hope to see you there.

why are maganetic albums badMagnetic albums are bad. Really, really bad. I highly recommend using an acid-free album like these from Creative Memories (I am a CM consultant) to better protect your photos.

“alfred t. gourley” civil war — nice use of quotation marks to create a phrase out of the name. Unfortunately, even though you most likely also are a descendant of my third great-grandfather, you didn’t reach out (and I even have a special request at the top of this post asking for you to make contact). Next time, stop by and say hello! I don’t bite.

abbey mausoleum arlington wiki — It would be great if there were a wiki for this now-defunct mausoleum, which was looted over many years of neglect. I posted about my search for ancestors who used to be buried there. Hopefully you also found this FindaGrave page about Arlington Abbey, including old pictures of the facility.

No Need to Adjust Your Screen

No need to adjust your screen. After three years, I finally decided to give Bayside Blog a new look.

I had many reasons for doing so. The old blog layout was so skinny, in terms of the column width that was allotted for actual blog post content. All photos appeared very small. The header graphic was very large and pushed a lot of the content too far down the page. Most importantly, I heard that it was not a very accessible design for those with vision problems. The text was a light gray (a setting I couldn’t adjust) and hard to read.

The new look, I hope, is more visually pleasing and I know it will be more flexible in terms of what I want to be able to display. The wider main column will especially be helpful.

I’ve added a couple of new features. There is a link to my Facebook page for my house history section of my business. I also added a widget that displays the complete list blog post categories, for easier browsing.

Please let me know what you think!

Update from The Hill

Just a quick post to share a link to another blog: Archaeology in Annapolis by the team of students from the University of Maryland who spent three weeks on an archaeological dig at the “Buffalo Soldier’s House” in Easton’s The Hill neighborhood. They found some great stuff!

My First Jamboree — Part 1

I just returned today from four jam-packed fun days at the Southern California Genealogical Society 2012 Jamboree. Why would a Marylander with no ancestors from Cali trek so far? Because she was jealous of all her friends who’ve attended and touted the event in years past. Plus, I’d never been to California before.

I arrived mid-morning on Thursday after a very early departure from Baltimore and tried to nap in my hotel room before hanging with my genealogy pals in the afternoon/evening. I say ‘tried’ because I wasn’t very successful due to some ambient noise in the hallway. Turns out we were sharing the hotel not only with this year’s American Idol finalists, who are on tour, but hopeful singers auditioning for The Voice 3. And they practiced. A lot. In their rooms. At all hours. Not all of them very well.

But I digress. I met up with several fellow genealogy bloggers in the lobby and bar that evening, include Denise Levinick, Amy Coffin, Thomas MacEntee, Caroline Pointer, Kimmy VonAspern, Randy Seaver, Lisa Alzo and Kathryn Doyle (hope I’m not forgetting anyone!). Kathryn and Denise had actually served as my welcoming committee as I first arrived at the hotel. We had a great time catching up, but I made an early night of it due to my lack of sleep.

I spent the next morning hanging out with a subset of the above group in the lobby of the hotel after having breakfast with Elyse Doerflinger. I also introduced myself to genealogy megastar Megan Smolenyak. I was ecstatic to run into Tonia Kendrick, whom I hadn’t seen since FGS in Knoxville in 2010. We had lunch that day and then Denise Levenick and I went to the conference registration desk to pick up our nametags and check out the exhibit hall before the first sessions of the conference. At some point during that day, I ran into Kim Cotton (or was it the day before?). I also finally got to meet Gini Webb. It’s so fun meeting folks I’ve only been in contact with over the web.

One of my favorite parts of the conference is networking with fellow genealogists, but there were sessions to attend. On Friday, I attended sessions on a genealogy case study and the impact of the Internet on genealogy. I skipped the last session of the day and instead was found in the bar with Lisa Alzo, Amy Coffin, Thomas MacEntee and many others who wandered in and out.

Carla Laemmle, on the right.

That night was one of the highlights of the conference — the Hollywood Gala. We were encouraged to dress to the nines, and many did. There were movie stars from days gone by on hand, including Carla Laemmle, who was in the cast of 1931′s Dracula. We had a lot of fun posing for a photographer while we gabbed and sipped sparkling cider.

More to come in a future post!

Social Media Makeover for Genealogy

Last year, at the Association for Independent Information Professionals conference, Mary Ellen Bates gave tips for completing a one-day marketing makeover. With a tip of the hat to her, here’s how you can apply the same principles to your social media profiles on the web to maximize exposure to those who may be looking for you (or at least looking for the same ancestors as you).

Blogging

If you’re reading this site, you know about blogs and may even have one. I’ve done a pretty thorough job of tagging my posts with the surnames that are mentioned, but other bloggers have gone a step further and created a list of the surnames they are working on all in one place. I decided to do the same and used my Ahnentafel chart as a starting point. While I was at it, I did a refresh of the about page for my blog and republished that.

One additional step I plan to take is to add my email address to all of my posts that deal with ancestors. Too often, I see folks find my blog by searching for common ancestors, but they don’t reach out to me. I want to make it as easy as possible for them to be in touch.

Facebook

I’m friends with dozens of other genealogists on Facebook and I happen to know that at least a few of them have found distant relations on this social media site. I’ve even made a few such connections myself. I don’t have my profile set up so that just anyone can see everything. You have to be friends with me to see most of the information about me. So what if a cousin is seeking me out on Facebook? Would they be able to find me?

You can see how your Facebook profile appears to others by clicking the “View As” link under the little gear icon on your profile page. That will take you to the version of your profile that the public sees. From there, I clicked on “About” to see what information was visible there. I noticed that my blog address was missing from my Contact Info box for one thing. I also noticed that I’m not taking advantage of the About You box — I’m considering listing my surnames there too.

Twitter

Twitter has been a great tool for connecting with other genealogists, but its Profile page barely allows you to list more information about yourself than you can include in a tweet. All the more reason to make sure you’re making use of all of the available fields — name, location, web site and bio. The Bio field only allows up to 160 characters. Currently, my web site field points to my business site. I added my personal blog address to the Bio field.

LinkedIn

I don’t really spend a lot of time on LinkedIn to begin with and I haven’t tried to use it as a cousin-seeking tool. I do link to most of my blog posts from LinkedIn, however, as a way of sharing my latest research. Has anyone else used LinkedIn to connect with distant relatives?

Pinterest

I recently joined Pinterest and have been using it mainly to collect recipes, but it also can be used for genealogy. I did a quick check and Google does include it in search results, so be sure to tag your pins with appropriate surnames or create boards about particular surnames, to make it easier for others to find you.

If you’re interested in searching Pinterest for your own surname(s), I recommend going to Google instead of using the Pinterest search interface. In the Google search bar, type “‘surname’ site:pinterest.com” and it will bring up just results from Pinterest, but in a list format that’s a bit easier to sort through.

So, the above are the main sites I use to connect with others. I’m sure there are similar tips for freshening up your presence on other sites. Why not take a few minutes to make sure your profiles are up to snuff?