Thursday, December 29, 2016

New Year's Resolutions

Have you been thinking about your genealogy goals for the new year? Here are a few suggestions for your 2017 to-do list:

  1. Get your research organized
  2. Interview a relative
  3. Join a genealogy society (maybe NSGS?)
  4. Read a local history or a surname study
  5. Digitize and label your family photos
  6. Create a family history scrapbook
  7. Take a research trip
  8. Share your genealogy online
  9. Participate in a genealogy do-over
  10. Attend a genealogy class (our class schedule is here)

Happy searching in the new year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Write Your Story

At some point during your research, you'll probably start considering if you want to write your family history. Writing is the best way to preserve your history. Creating a family tree is great but stories add depth to your genealogy. Personal anecdotes and details make your ancestors feel like real people and not just names and dates.

A writing project may sound intimidating but it's easy to get started.

First decide what sort of family history you want to write. Do you want you write a memoir or a biography? Are you creating a scrapbook filled with memorabilia? You also need to focus on the scope of your work. Many writers like to trace their line from themselves to the earliest known ancestor but maybe you would prefer to focus on the life of one specific person and their descendants?

When writing about ancestors that you know little about personally, use general historical information. Ask yourself: What was their profession? What would their typical day have been like? Are there any significant stories from their hometown that would have impacted their lives? What about national or international events or catastrophes? Did they move to a new area? How would they have adapted? What languages did they speak? What cultural or religious celebrations would they have observed? Using social history can help you pick out a common theme or plot for your story. For example, you can focus on the immigration experiences of your ancestors or on life as a pioneer settler.

Remember to cite and document your sources! They give your research credibility and help others with their own research.

If you want to get started or need moral support, join one of the NSGS writer's groups.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Swedish American Genealogical Society

The Swedish American Genealogical Society meets at the Swedish American Museum in Chicago. The society presents genealogy programs and speakers once a month. You can visit the museum calendar for information on specific events.

If you're particularly having problems with your Swedish ancestors or don't know how to get started you can book a private research appointment with a member of the society on Wednesday afternoons. You'll have access to expert genealogists and be able to use the Society's resources. There is a fee associated with the presentations and the research sessions.

If you're looking to do even more Swedish research, there's the Swedish-American Historical Society located in the North Park neighborhood of Chicago. They focus on the experience of Swedish American immigrants in North America. You can search the digital archives of their quarterly online.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Oral Histories

The holidays are a great time to capture oral histories with your family. Here are a few books to help you get started.

The Oral History Workshop
This is an excellent resource! About a third of the book is devoted to sample questions revolving around a central theme for your interview. The authors also explain how to get started and how to turn an interview into a story. Helpful checklists and tips for archiving round out the book.

The following books also offer advice on copyright and publishing your oral histories in a variety of mediums. They discuss interview techniques and guides for transcription as well. These resources are especially useful if you're thinking of staring a large project:

Doing Oral History
The Oral History Manual
Recording Oral History