Monday, December 31, 2007

My New Year's Genealogy Resolutions for 2008

In Roman mythology, Janus (or Ianus) was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings, and endings. His most apparent remnants in modern culture are his namesakes, the month of January and the caretaker of doors and halls: Janitor.

Janus was usually depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions. Janus was frequently used to symbolize change and transitions such as the progression of past to future, of one condition to another, of one vision to another, the growing up of young people, and of one universe to another. He was also known as the figure representing time because he could see into the past with one face and into the future with the other. Hence, Janus was worshipped at the beginnings of the harvest and planting times, as well as marriages, births and other beginnings.

Wikipedia contributors, "Janus (mythology)," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed December 31, 2007).

I suppose if we genea-bloggers lived in Roman times, we would worship Janus. He would make a wonderful god of genealogy! He could see the past and the future, and was celebrated at births, marriages, and other beginnings, events we celebrate as well. Like Janus, we are the keepers of the gates, doors, and hallways into our family histories; those entrusted with the keys. We are janitors--custodians--of the past for the generations that come after.

My post today is a reflection of my 2007 genealogy resolutions and a listing the ones for 2008. Like Janus, I am looking both directions at once. I had five goals for the year 2007, and much of my 2008 resolutions will be a continuance of them, while I have added a couple of new things as well. Here is my 2007 list, with comments on how I did:

1. To continue and to improve my process of recording my research, especially when I search online databases. I've done much better than I ever have in recording where I've been when searching online, but there still is room for improvement. My problem is impatience...I don't want to slow myself down to record where I looked, and then I end up wasting time in the long run by repeating searches. I did create an Online Research Form to help me, and I resolve to do better in 2008.

2. To cite my sources properly. It's a lot of work, especially to go back and re-cite 20 years' worth of information that I used to enter in note form on my computer. I give myself an A on this resolution, as far as my databases went. I used my RootsMagic citation wizard a lot this year and went back and started re-entering (or entering for the first time) my sources. There's still much work ahead, but the acquisition of Evidence Explained! was a bonus for my genealogical toolbox. I do need to make sure that I cite my sources correctly on this blog, and go back and cite old posts.

3. To photograph and log my genealogical "treasures," items that have once belonged to my ancestors and late relatives. Hmm...I kind of forgot about this one. I was going to have a private blog to log the treasures, but I think Tim Abbott's Cabinet of Curiosities is going to be a good way to record these. Scanfest is also a part of this. I'll renew this resolution as well.

4. To begin to slowly change my hard copy files from a file folder system to a notebook system, using archival-safe, acid-free page protectors. Nope. This one was a dud. It was expensive, time-consuming, and an inefficient way for me to store and access my records. I started to keep my HOEKSTRA materials this way, and although it looked very good and professional, it just was plain awkward. My original plan was to prepare materials for a possible book, but I've got too much research ahead of me to do any near publishing. I've decided to stick with file folders for all my family lines, and I've been implementing Sharon DeBartolo Carmack's system explained in Organizing Your Family History Search. RootsMagic allows me to color code family lines, and I'm using colored folders for my files: blue for my dad's lines, red for Mom's, and green and yellow respectively for my father- and mother-in-law's lines. Also, orange is for my maternal step-grandfather's family and purple is for my paternal grandmother's adoptive family lines. So while the original resolution didn't work, its alternative has.

5. To continue to blog at this be consistent in writing both prompts and responses for my new blog, AnceStories2. I deserve an A+ for the first part, but receive a D for the second. This is my 340th post since last year's resolution on this blog, but I sloughed off badly on AnceStories2. I don't want to abandon it, so I've decided to continue to post enough prompts up to Week 52, giving readers a year's worth of prompts. From that point on, I'll probably blog occasionally on various other ways to record one's memories.

My 2008 resolutions are to continue with the five points of focus above, either in the same vein or the altered goal I've mentioned. Additionally, there are two other goals I want to work on, preservation and writing. The first requires that I lease a safety-deposit box at my financial institution in which to safely keep original documents and family treasures, photo negatives, and computer backups. I'm also going to buy some larger flash drives to back up my files on a regular basis. The second involves doing more non-blog writing by submitting articles for publication. But I'd also like to blog my mother's letters in a private blog, perhaps as preparation for a book.

There you have it: record; cite; archive and preserve; organize; and blog and write. I think I'll make a little sign with these goals and hang it near my computer as a daily reminder. What are your goals or resolutions for 2008?


Chery Kinnick said...


"record; cite; archive and preserve; organize... Are you sure that isn't an exercise routine??? Good genealogical muscle building! And, I love the idea of Janus!

Anonymous said...


One of my resolutions will include organization, my Achilles heal. :(

I've gone from folders to binders (a disaster) and back to folders. Now, I'm going to go from folders to scanned docs & photos. Pray for me! LOL

This alone stands between me and a trip to Salt Lake City.

"Guided by the Ancestors"

Miriam Robbins said...

Chery and George, I hope as part of your own genealogical resolutions that you will join me for Scanfest to get on top of those time-consuming scanning projects! Thanks for dropping by and leaving your comments. Happy New Year!

Lee said...

Happy New Year, Miriam!

I hope all of your Christmas wishes came true, and I have no doubt all of your New Year resolutions will.


Sally J. said...


You probably don't think about it this way, but I see you as an inspiration for getting organized. I'm sorry that the binder didn't work out, but at least you tried. That's better than all talk and no action!

At the risk of being a party pooper, you might want to find out how hot the temperature gets in the safe deposit box storage area. I used to recommend this, but now I hesitate because the temperature and humidity levels can be too high. Records storage facilities have better climate control, and some allow you to rent out space as small as 1 cubic foot.

Anyhoo. Happy, happy new year, Miriam. Thanks again for scanfest, which makes a dull repetitive project fun. I plan to join ya'll at some point this spring.

Best of luck on your organizing projects, and remember: Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps. Email me if you need a little inspirado to keep going. (big grin)

-Sally J.
The Practical Archivist

Miriam Robbins said...

Thank you for your comment, Lee.

Sally, you bring up a valid point. I'll definitely check into the temp and humidity of the safe deposit vault at my financial institution. I guess the same could be said for a records storage facility. My husband and I once worked for one for several years and I can attest that the "archives" were full of dust, rodents, insects, and moisture. Oh, sure, being an underground facility, it was maintained at a steady cool temperature, but it certainly didn't maintain any sort of archival standards.

Professor Dru said...

Janitors--custodians--of the past..I love the way you said this.