Now that I'm back to my normal routine, I'm trying to review the great experiences from this summer.
Great times included four conferences in California, Washington State and Texas; visiting dear friends and family members; and meeting several relatives for the first time as we shared family history.
At all the conferences, I helped explain what we do at MyHeritage.com and how our tools and features make it easy for families to connect and communicate no matter where they live.
My suitcase now includes several new T-shirts from this year's events and some for 2011 events.
Here are some highlights:
Some 50 geneabloggers attended the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree this year.
In a move that could be a real moneymaker - and thus an incentive to provide genealogical services - for many additional countries, Ireland will begin providing Irish Heritage certificates by the end of 2010.
There are some 70 million individuals worldwide with Irish heritage, and this seems like a great way to show it. The certificate may also provide travel and tourist discounts when the certificate-holders visit Ireland.
After reconnecting with someone whom I knew in California and who was now in New Jersey, I realized her husband's family's long connection to a small community, now a suburb of a larger city, in that Eastern state. My own family had a long-ago connection to the same community when it was much, much smaller, and more rural.
My great-grandmother's sister and her husband had settled in that small town soon after they arrived in 1905, although my great-grandmother and her family lived in nearby big-city Newark.
I took a chance and asked if the woman's husband, whose family had lived there from the early 1900s, possibly had known my relatives. It was very exciting to learn that my great-grandmother's sister had been the husband's babysitter!
Genealogists are not normally a wild bunch.
Our "happy dances" tend to accompany the discovery of new records for elusive ancestors.
Our "wild and crazy" moments happen as we help others find answers to their family history questions or help them locate hard-to-find records. We enjoy discovering the clues and pointers in both unusual and ordinary places.
This week produced two interesting developments.
I'm in northern California - Silicon Valley - at the home of friends, as I rest from one conference and rest up for three more in quick succession with only a day between each, beginning this coming weekend.
So, along with continuing prep work for my presentations - and blogging - it's nice to get in some fun. Fun, to those of us who pursue our roots, can mean many things.
My friend Rosanne is a semi-retired reference librarian - and an accomplished genealogist. I went with her to her library one day last week. As we parked, I noticed this great license plate on the adjacent car. We agreed that the vehicle MUST belong to a genealogist.
The recently concluded Southern California Genealogical Society's 41st Jamboree presented numerous such sessions.
Sometimes there are sessions at which the proverbial lightbulb switches on. Such essential knowledge is transmitted that the participants then find it difficut to look at their own individual family histories in quite the same way as before.
All of us have family stories that might be termed myths. How can we determine whether a story may be fact or fiction?
A fascinating session on just this topic was given by Jean Wilcox Hibben. With a PhD in folkore, an MA in speech communication, and a Certified Genealogist, Jean is president of both the Corona (California) Genealogical Society and the Southern California chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists, Genealogical Speakers Guild secretary and much more.
I have to admit that some of my own recent research is not as organized as it could be, due to lack of time. There are notes on loose papers not yet in the correct folder or binder. There are photographs waiting to be sorted. There are miscellaneous printed emails that I understand - would anyone else?
Although beginning researchers might not think about this important topic, it is essential to address at every stage of research.
What will happen to your research if you become ill or worse? Will it be just thrown away? Will close family or other relatives understand what your work represents and its value?
This is a very personal topic for me as our family lost a 300-year-old family tree brought by one of the last family members to arrive from Belarus to the US in the early 1900s. He died in Florida in the 1950s and neither of his children were there. Everything in the house, including our priceless family history, was simply thrown away.
No matter how much research I do, the information contained in that tree will be impossible to replace in its entirety. It was compiled by those who lived that history and who knew much more than I can ever learn.
Our family has experienced two recent events in the circle of life.
When family historians and genealogists speak about sharing family history at life cycle events, we generally mean life's happy occasions: births, engagements, marriages, graduations, birthdays and anniversaries.
We don't often think about the sad events, which occur just as frequently, such as the deaths of family members.
As I have often shared, in addition to a traditional gift for a happy occasion, I also add a printout of the family history, a chart and a list of ancestors to a young couple getting married (with their names already entered), for the birth of a baby (with the baby's name already entered), anniversaries and at other occasions.
At the recent wedding of a cousin from Switzerland, the family history envelope handed to the bride's mother elicited immediate conversation with the guests surrounding her. I answered many questions and met several new and interesting distant relatives who had traveled for the wedding. Everyone was interested in the material and wondered how I had gathered it.