Sunday, July 12, 2015

Desperately Seeking Surnames Is Six

I'm Starting A Blog!

Six years ago today I sat at my kitchen table on my laptop figuring out Blogger. I remember my husband walking in the room and I said "I'm starting a blog!" His reaction was something to the effect of "oh, what are you going to do with it?" Of course I had no answer to that, I was moving forward full throttle just to get the blog set up. After that, you know, I would figure it out.

I have figured some of it out. I've figured out that blogging is a hobby for me and only a hobby. I do like the format. I do like having my own place to voice my opinions and share my genealogy related research, trials and tribulations. I also like that I no longer feel stressed or guilty that I haven't posted in a while. This is my outlet, not my job.

This Is My Deal I Can Do What I Want

It's taken me a long time to figure out what where I want to go with this blog and what my purpose is. I've decided my goal is to get my surnames out there. "Hey Google, Index Me!" I've spent a bit of time working on my Surnames I Seek page and then promoting those surnames with dedicated posts. I have more work to do, stay tuned.

I need to take the time (yeah, I have so much extra time) to dedicate more research to my surnames and focus on finding the origins and as many details on each that I can about each surname. I will say that what I have found so far has been very interesting. There is a wealth of surname information available, how accurate that information is, well that's up to you to decide.

Six years is a long time and a lot has happened. I've attended a couple of national genealogy conferences, a few state and local conferences and I've made some great GeneaBFFs that are now real life BFFs! I started documenting everything that has happened in the last six years that is related to my blog and genealogy research. Wow, I've come a long way.

What An Amazing World This Blog Has Opened Up For Me

I've met two distant cousins, through this blog and/or my online genealogy "presence," in real life, multiple times! I correspond with 3 more via email several times a year. I spent several years collaborating with a cousin by marriage who lives in Germany and was able to translate documents for me! It's craziness. I live in the Midwest and I have regular contact with family researchers in the South, Pacific Northwest, East Coast and Germany as needed.

Would all of this have happened without Desperately Seeking Surnames? Maybe. I feel (and this is the marketer in me talking for those of you know know me IRL) this blog gives me a platform and legitimacy. When I reach out to a cousin and say "hey I think we are related, check out the blog post I did on this family," that seems to give folks a feeling of comfort, this person is real and not some crazy stalker.

This Is Mine And I Am Proud Of It

I had one, previously unknown, cousin email me and said "I sat reading your blog posts with tears streaming down my face as I realized this was my family too." That's when it hit me, I don't have to reach a huge audience. I don't have to be first in Google search rankings, I don't have to make the top 10, 20 or any list, I just have to get my surnames out there, make the connections then welcome and embrace my entire extended family as I find them and enjoy the journey.

I hope you enjoy the journey as well. I appreciate each and every one of you that read, comment and share my posts. Now, let's all keep on #seekingsurnames! 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Genealogy Elitism, Shake It Off This Is Your Journey

The elitist, the snob, the know-it-all and those that are just plain rude.

Amy Johnson Crow published a post titled "Genealogy and Elitism: It Isn't What you Say, It's How you Say It." This post resonated with me on many levels, especially when she shared an example of genealogy scolding witnessed first hand in a library.

I understand where some genealogists are coming from. They are extremely passionate about their craft, have knowledge to share and learned from bad experiences along the way. They want to help the rookie researcher avoid the pitfalls they found themselves in.

I've read posts eluding to the elitists in our midst. I never knew who "they" were for sure but the occasional blog or social media post lead me to believe they are alive, well and ticking people off.

Your intentions are good and you mean well. Your delivery, however, could use a little work. 

Are they elitists? Are they geneasnobs? Are they sticklers for following the rules all the time, every time? Could be a little bit of each. In their defense, they do have good intentions, I believe. They want to make our research better for us now and for those that follow behind us. So why they keep putting themselves out there as an authority that is willing to help only to be unhelpful and rude is the question.

Recently I posted a question in a Facebook group. I posted a specific question for a specific reason. The question related to an ancestor I have been researching for close to 14 years now. I will paraphrase the first reply I received: "that's a bad approach, let us know when you are serious about researching this person and we will try to help."

I have a few things to say about that comment.
  1. That's the best you got? Why comment at all?
  2. Was your point to make me look stupid or tick me off?
  3. The only way you could top that answer was to have said "Google It." BTW don't say that to a complete stranger that visits your group asking for help. Ever.
That was a recent experience. There have been other instances in the past and I also witnessed a similar non-helpful, wasted comment directed towards another individual that specifically stated she was a newbie. So, yes it is happening.

Shake it Off

What was my reply to the rudemaster in my example above? Nothing. I saw no point in trying to educate the person in the basics of common courtesy. To be honest, I looked at my laptop screen, pointed at the rudemaster and said "you are a jerk." Then I went about my business. That's what I'm suggesting you do too. Pick your battles folks and shake it off!

Your ancestral quest is your journey, this is your adventure! Don't let someone with misplaced intentions, or a very poor communicator, get to you. Keep moving forward searching and finding those ancestors. Yes, you will have to deal with those that are a bit snooty, but so what. There are plenty of others that will bend over backwards to help you out. Find them and leave the others behind.