Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Year in Review (2007)

This is the time of year when newspapers, magazines, television shows and websites list the year in review, and I thought I'd join in with a personalized version of my own. Two Thousand Seven was a fantastic, wonderful year, genealogically-speaking. Though I wasn't able to get a lot of records research done, I was able to dig deeper into the personal and family history of my ancestors to uncover rich, detailed information that had been unknown to me. What immediately comes to mind is discovering, quite by accident, that my great-grandparents were charter members of the American Legion, Reinhart W. Roman Post 537 and Women's Auxiliary in Conklin, Ottawa Co., Michigan, after stumbling upon a website of the history of Chester Township. I never would have imagined all the delightful treasures and experiences I came across this year! Here they are, in no particular order, my top ten list:
  • 1. Blogging Joy
  • Although I started this blog nearly two years ago (16 January 2006), it wasn't until I started writing for the Carnival of Genealogy and switched to this current URL on January 22nd that things really took off for me, both as a blogger and in readership numbers. But really what has been the best reward of blogging my genealogy has been the sense of community and the dear friends I've made. From the many carnivals that have sprung up (Cabinet of Curiosities, Carnival of Central and East European Genealogy, Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, and the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories) to Scanfest (the brainchild of Susan Kitchens, by the way!) to banding together during the Ancestry Internet Biographical Collections controversy, I've learned about the personal and genealogical trials and triumphs of people I've never met face-to-face (but hope to!), and have been encouraged and educated by them along the way. I hope I've given equally in return.

  • 2. My 15 Minutes of Fame
  • It was very exciting to have my local newspaper feature me in their Home and Garden section as they highlighted my genealogical treasures. Hopefully, my emphasis on the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society during the interview will increase awareness and attendance of our society within our community. I was also interviewed by U.S. News and World Report (as a user of Ancestry.com) and an representative of Google Reader's public relations department (on my Alice Teddy the Rollerskating Bear find here and here). U.S. News has so far not published my interview; and the Google Reader interview was for a possible future press release. That the media is covering genealogy and family history more and more is, I believe, an indication of public awareness and interest in these areas.

  • 3. Collections from My Ancestors
  • Two large collections of documents, photos, and letters made their way into my home this past year. After the death of my maternal grandfather last January, I started receiving items from my uncle who was the executor of the estate of my grandparents. I'm still in the process of scanning, adding to my database, and analyzing what I call the DeVRIES-HOEKSTRA collection. Additionally, my uncle blessed me by doing his own on-site research--and then sharing it with me--on the houses that our families occupied in Grand Rapids, Michigan from the time the DeVRIES family arrived there in 1897. Secondly, one of my paternal aunts sent several CDs of scanned materials from my great-grandfather's experiences in North Russia at the end of World War I. My posts on this subject have generated a lot of readership, not just from the genealogical community, but from the military and history communities as well. I still have more posts to blog about his "adventures" there and what happened after he returned to the U.S.

  • 4. A Collection from My Children's Paternal Ancestors
  • Recently, my children's paternal grandfather loaned me a box full of old and modern family photos and dozens of postcards received by his maternal grandparents, mainly during the years 1908 to the early 1950s. I look forward to scanning, entering into my children's paternal family database, and analyzing these materials.

  • 5. Presentations
  • This year brought fabulous opportunities for me to make presentations to various groups around the Inland Northwest. In March, I did two presentations at the local LDS Church's Family History Conference, and in June, the Bonner County (Idaho) Genealogical Society invited me to be their featured speaker at their genealogical conference. I also had the opportunity to share "Frugal Genealogy" with the Kootenai County (Idaho) Genealogical Society in October. I also taught three EWGS computer classes for members this past year. These experiences allowed me to meet other researchers and see what kinds of resources are available in outlying communities.

  • 6. Starting a New Class
  • One of the results of some successful Online Beginning Genealogy classes that I taught through my local community colleges' district was being asked to start an Intermediate class, which begins later next month.

  • 7. Letters from My Childhood
  • I took a walk down memory lane by reading the letters my mother had written to her parents from 1966 - 1978. There's some terrific material there...perhaps even a book.

  • 8. Grave Photos
  • Some wonderful volunteers at Find A Grave were able to take photos of graves of ancestors of my husband and me. These included my 3rd-great-grandmother, Maria Marina (VanKLINKEN) TON BYL, made all the more bittersweet since she is buried in a Potter's Field in an unmarked grave.

  • 9. Surprises
  • As I've mentioned above, I discovered my ROBBINS family was instrumental in starting up an American Legion Post, and my JACKSON relatives trained a rollerskating bear! Another great discovery was finding my husband's WESTABY ancestors in the 1920 Census, at long last!

  • 10. Freebies and Income
    It's always nice to be rewarded or earn something doing what comes naturally and for which you are passionate! Thanks to the great people at Footnote.com, Genealogy Publishing Company, and MemoryPress, I've tasted the sweet fruits of my labor.

I can only dare to dream that 2008 can match or surpass 2007 in the wealth of what I've experienced! I wish all my readers, fellow genea-bloggers, and family members the very best in the coming New Year. May your brick walls come crashing down, and may all your ancestor hunts be successful and rewarding!
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