Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tuesday's Tips: Summertime Genealogy

For some people, winter is the best time to do genealogical research. They may be home more and traveling less. Stay-at-home moms (or dads) may have a little more time on their hands while their kids are at school. Others, like me, find summer a better season to work on family history. School staff may have a more flexible summer schedule. Perhaps an upcoming family reunion sparks a desire to wrap up loose ends on a particular family research project, say, for a published book to share or sell at the get together. Vacation destinations may include courthouses, cemeteries, and repositories in ancestral locations. Finally, many genealogical societies have large summertime conferences. No matter what your favorite or most convenient season is in which to do research, you can be prepared to get the most of our your summertime genealogy with the following tips.

A Free Guide
Mocavo offers a great Summer Genealogy Research Guide as a free downloadable .pdf document. Complete with tips for genealogy at home or on-the-go, it includes several handy forms and a checklist.

Holiday Specials
Next weekend is Memorial Day in the United States, when we honor the fallen military and traditionally clean and decorate family graves. Fold3 is offering free access to their entire WWII Military Collection from now through May 31st (if you're not a subscriber, you will be prompted to create a freebie user account). MyHeritage is offering free access to their US Military Collection from May 23rd - 26th. Not sure if your ancestors served? Check out this free handy infographic from Fold3!

Keep in mind that it's not just the U.S. genealogy subscription websites that offer freebies during summer holidays. If you live in a different country--or your ancestors did--keep an eye on genealogy sites in those locations. Add the 4YourFamilyStory Blog to your list of must-reads to be sure to find highlights of those specials.

Cemetery Tips
Speaking of Memorial Day, it's always a good idea to know what to bring, what to do, and (most importantly!) what NOT to do when you visit a cemetery. Savings Graves has some informative educational resources in their left-hand menu which include locating cemeteries and gravesites, cleaning and care of tombstones, and gravestone repair and restoration. Midge Frazel, of the Granite in My Blood blog, shares a useful, labeled photograph of her cemetery kit. She also shares her series, Learning Cemetery Research, with some forms and videos here.

The mecca of geneabloggers everywhere, the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree fires up in a few more weeks. In late August, genealogists will be "Gone to Texas" during the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2014 Conference. My own state will be hosting D. Joshua Taylor as keynote speaker for the Washington State Genealogical Society's State Conference in mid-August in Arlington. Keep track of conferences in your areas of interest by visiting ConferenceKeeper.

Family, work, or financial restraints prevent you from traveling to conferences? Many offer webinars for free at the time of the conference, or for a modest fee after the session has ended. Learn about webinars and where to access them in my post, Tuesday's Tip: Webinars.

Using different technology, you can participate in a genealogy chatroom to do some summer learning as well. Jen Baldwin hosts GenChat through Twitter several times a month (use the hashtag #genchat). Pat Richley hosts Mondays with Myrt on Google Hangouts. And I host Scanfest on the last Sunday of most months (go here for the 2014 dates); it's an opportunity to scan your precious genealogy photos and documents as a preservation and backup measure, while chatting with other genealogists about preservation, technology, and genealogy. Actually, our topics range from the serious to the silly!

Whether you're driving your kids to endless soccer or baseball games, or taking a long road trip, you'll want to be able to listen to your favorite genealogy podcasts. I've listed some must-listens here. Best of all? They're free!

Family Reunions
Planning a reunion...or even just thinking about one? Family Reunion Organizer is software made by the folks of my favorite genealogy database software, RootsMagic. You can also use EventBrite for a free online organizer. GatheredAgain has tons of ideas for themes, games, and invitations. Finally, don't forget to use Pinterest to discover, gather, and organize your ideas!

Summer Reads
If your idea of summertime genealogy means sitting on the beach or the dock with an umbrella drink and an engrossing novel, I recommend checking out GoodReads' list of genealogy fiction!

What would summer be without road construction? You can avoid the delays, headaches, and (maybe) cranky kids and spouses by using Google to find current construction projects that might be on the way from your home to your ancestors' tombstones in the old family cemetery. Check the state, county, and city websites to ensure your route will be construction-free, or to find detours and/or alternative routes. For Washington State, I searched for Washington Department of Transportation. There was a link on the DOT's home page for construction projects; I could also have used the site's search engine to search for road construction. For Spokane County, I Googled Spokane County road construction projects. And for my city, I searched for City of Spokane road construction projects. All three searches brought up helpful lists or maps.

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There you have it! Ten tips to keep your summer genealogy projects interesting, educational, and affordable!

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