Sunday, October 13, 2013

One is the Loneliest Number

Genealogy research is one of those hobbies that is often a solo activity. If you are lucky you will have at least one friend or family member that shares a passing interest in this time consuming hobby. Yet family members and friends often roll their eyes as you talk about the minute details concerning how you found that record that has eluded you for years.

So why it is such a solo activity? Could it be the hours spent in libraries and archives reading books and pouring over microfilms? Or maybe the late nights when everyone else has gone to bed and you are just looking for that one digitized record or database index entry that still eludes you.

Yet that doesn't have to be the case. Over the past several years I've been fortunate to meeting and talk with other family history researchers that have similar regional or family interests. So where do you find these elusive like minded people?

Many towns and cities have genealogy societies. Living in Ottawa means I'm lucky enough to several groups near by. I belong to the Ottawa branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa and Sir Guy Carleton branch of the United Empire Loyalists's Association of Canada. Historical societies are also another venue to meet and talk with others that may have your passion into researching the history of the people and places you are interested in. Don't forget about the local libraries, archives and museums. Talk to the curators and ask about who else drops by on a regular basis that may share the same interests as yourself. Many times the archives and museums have educational talks so drop by and meet those that also have taken the time to listen to the talks. There are also the Latter Day Saints' Family History Centres. Besides being a great resource for genealogy material you also can meet and chat with other researchers there.

If you have a tree on Ancestry have you explored the "Recent Member Connect Activity" page? There you will find a list of who have save the same records that you have used to people within their own tree. Maybe you have added photographs to your online tree. Has someone linked your picture to someone on their tree? If so, have you taken the time to send them a message asking about their connection to the people referenced in picture?

On Ancestry and several other genealogy sites you can share your family tree. Have you taken some time to search other trees for common relatives? Even better, have you sent the owner of the tree an e-mail or message asking about their connection? The owner just might be a distant connection.

In this age of social media there is also Twitter and Facebook. Search on the hashtag #genealogy on Twitter and you will come across many others talking about genealogy research (#familyhistory also works). On Facebook you will come across many regional and family focused groups. Read and participate in those online discussions.

For myself I've done all the above and have connected with many people either researching the same families or at least the same region. Many times they have been able to provide a different perspective on what I've been researching. When I run into a brick wall concerning some distantly connected relative I know I can always reach out to a cousin to ask for their input as to where to look next. Sometime they even have the answer to my problem!

So take a step away from your computer or microfilm and reach out to other genealogy researchers. Share your war stories and know that there are others with the same interests.

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