Getting Back into Geneaogy
My life up to now
I first started “doing” genealogy about 1970. There was no internet. Let me repeat: There was NO INTERNET. Gasp! Horrified faces! Yuck!
So how did one do genealogy way back then? Slowly, carefully, and with a lot of travel or letter writing. Lots and lots of travel to libraries and cemeteries and talking to relatives. And lots and lots of letter writing. Thankfully stamps were only about a nickel when I started. And add in a few, a very few, phone calls. Long distance phone calls were so expensive as there was no such thing as “unlimited calling” back then. No such thing as cell phones either!
By 1970 I had five children, the last born in 1968 on my first child’s sixth birthday. Needless to say, with two on a bottle and three in diapers for a few years, I was using genealogy to stay sane! By 1977, we had added two more children and I had started taking courses at the local college. By 1988, I had graduated college with a BS in Accounting, with advanced courses in history, paralegal, and with an emphasis in education. Oh, and did I add that by this time I had become a grandmother? I was also still “doing” genealogy research but now I was getting paid for some of it.
By then the Internet revolution had hit and I was deep into technology. I didn’t just embrace it. I loved and lived it! In college I moved from punch cards to magnetic tape to computers and as soon as my first computer class was over I drove five hours to Dallas Texas to buy my first computer and promptly order a five inch floppies of the PAF v1 software program. (Look it up.) Upgrading and upgrading and still more upgrading brought me to my tenth or fifteenth or so computer and Legacy 8. I went from “towers with tons of wires” to laptops small enough I can stick them in my purse and go. Ironically the laptops hold tons more info than the towers.
Twenty years a Caregiver
In 1996 my mother came to live with us and that was also the year I started a babysitting business. The babysitting was through necessary. I had three grandchildren born that year and either my daughters were in college or already teaching. And my mother had had a stroke and I was her 24/7 caregiver, even though she was still able to mostly take care of herself at that time.
After ten years of childcare, my mother went into the nursing home as she was mostly bedridden or wheelchair bound by then. Shorty thereafter I had a mild stroke caused by all the stress I had been under, but also by that time I had been diagnosed with a very severe text-book case of Fibromyalgia. At one time the doctors thought I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was on a walker and in constant pain. For those who have followed the symptoms of Fibromyalgia the doctor said I had twenty-three pressure points out of eighteen, and then he quit counting! Actually he told me to just double that amount as he only counted on one side! I had also fallen and cracked a hip bone. Needless to say, that was a very bad time in my life! Genealogy had been my lifeline to sanity, before I was forced to give it up.
In 2009 my husband had a heat stroke. He had retired from logging and was into bailing and selling hay. And again in 2010 while the temperatures hovered in the 105 degree range here in north Louisiana, he was again bailing hay and had his second heat stroke. This one did major long-term damage and for the next five years I watched and was a fulltime caregiver to a man who had been six foot four inches tall and weighing almost three hundred pounds to a man who is currently bedridden in a nursing home.
Making the decision to do professional genealogy again.
After resigning myself to the fact my seventy-five year old husband of 56 years would not be coming home, I found I must go back and join the living...alone, by myself, for the first time in my life. Since Social Security will only go so far and only knowing how to be a wife, mother, and grandmother… and a genealogist who did professional genealogy (on the side) for forty years, I knew in order to stay sane (and eat) I needed get a life. So here I am getting ready to “go back to the future… of genealogy.”
I guess it was as good time as any to decide to go back to work as an old client from 2003 contacted me to do some more work for him. He had a family reunion coming up and wanted some more work done. So along with learning how to live single (alone) I am learning how to do almost instantly research that used to take hours, days, and months of time.
That old client was delighted I took (and documented) his family line from Louisiana to at least two generations into Germany. The research I did for him online not only had the information but also tied into images of the documents that I could print out and/or down load as needed or wanted.
Here is where I want to add a special thank you to all the wonderful men and woman that spent countless hours of indexing and uploading all the information that can now be found online. And the work goes on if you want to donate your time in helping to index millions of records being uploaded to the internet for all genealogists to use free.
But indexing is another topic for another day. You might want to “follow’ along as I learn and detail some of newer, faster, and different ways of doing genealogy, both old and new. Most of what I will write about will be beneficial to beginners, but also may be of entertaining value for experienced genealogist, as I will be more or less dragging and old dog into the twenty-first century of genealog.
Just remember: everything is NOT online. I have heard others say recently that less than twenty percent of what the Family History Library in Utah has is online and no, just because they are the largest genealogy library in the world they do not have access to all the records in archives and libraries all over the world. So.. Just so you understand...I can not emphasize this enough... Sometimes you will be forced to walk away from that computer and actually go into a library or archive or walk that cemetery. Maybe I will see you there. Be sure and say hi!