26 August 2009

Intro - Juggling Family and Genealogy

I have lots of interests, but there are only two that consume me: family and genealogy, and in a way they are related. To be fair, I love working on anyone's genealogy, so the connection is thin. My other interests, knitting, walking, travel, singing in a chorus, are just that: interests. Family and genealogy are what light my life and I guess I'll write my blog with a focus on them.

This photo of our three sons was taken about 1998, when I was just beginning to get really serious about genealogy. I started the NGS Basic Course in American Genealogy about then. By the time the little one was out of diapers I had finished the course and was doing little jobs for friends, pro bono, of course. All I wanted to do was read, read, read. I continued to work on my own family genealogy, much of which had been researched already by my mother, aunt and grandmother.

The internet was still very young, so there wasn't much to do on it in 1998. I had, however, been using it since before it was called "the internet." I used to belong to bulletin boards, especially on AOL, and posted the occasional query. More frequently than I posted, though, I answered questions from books in my already substantial library. Things really started hopping as the internet grew. I can remember how long it seemed between the announcement that FamilySearch.org was coming online and the actual date it happened. Seemed like forever. And when it finally did, so many people flocked to it that it crashed.

Rootsweb and USGenWeb were well underway and the amount of information available started to explode. Subscription services like Ancestry got me really hooked. The New England Historic and Genealogical Society (NEHGS) came rather late to the game, but is gaining speed.

The web hasn't stopped its logarithmic expansion. I would have stayed with genealogy with or without the internet, but having information accessible immediately, for free, gave a jolt to the profession and enabled me to learn much more than I otherwise would have been able to while caring for three young children. Not only did it help me learn, but it created a whole new realm of people who became fond of genealogy once they caught a glimpse of the 1880 census, and completely overwhelmed about three months later. That's when they call in the professionals.

That was then and this is now. The eldest boy is entering college. The other two are still home requiring my skills as a driver, teacher, chef, maid, policewoman, nurse and loving mother. This, I happily do. But when I'm not tending to hearth and home, I'm managing genealogy projects. I don't know what this blog actually will come to, but think I need to write it, if only for myself.