Friday, December 30, 2011

The Year in Review : Is Your Family History Moving Forward?

With the close of 2011 and a new year on the horizon, ask yourself the question "Is my family history moving forward?"  Your answer might lean toward the affirmative because more blanks are filled on your tree, but is that the true litmus test for progress?

Dimensional Portal
Tracing our ancestral history is what we make it, but if you stop to think a moment it is truly multidimensional.  Potentially, genealogy has made us more adept computer users and online surfers.  It forces focus on detail and makes us detectives.  There is an upgraded appreciation for the antiquities and peoples of the past.  Preservation has taken on a whole new meaning, and as I've told countless of my peers over the years, my knowledge of history now is paramount to anything ever learned in school. 

One of the primary goals of this blog is to introduce and reinforce as many of those dimensions as are applicable to family history in Southwest Michigan.  A quick review of the postings in 2011 enables us to ask the questions that will help us determine if we are making progress:
  1. Have I acquainted myself with basic genealogical research practices, with emphasis on citing sources and the review process?
  2. Have I attended classes, lectures or seminars to interact with other historians and further my knowledge?
  3. Have I kept up to date with the latest publications and research tools?
  4. Have I created personal online & offline research checklists?
  5. Have I taken the time to try out new internet resources, learned how to use them to their fullest, and be aware of their limitations?
  6. Have I tried to use the "think outside of the box" philosophy for brick wall research, learning more about obscure resources?
  7. Have I taken the time to read books and articles to further my knowledge of tools applicable to my research?
  8. Have I sought out historical & special collections in libraries, archives and government facilities in the areas of my research focus?
  9. Have I done my duty as the historian in my family by labeling pictures, organizing documents, and seeing to their survival through various preservation methods including publishing?
  10. Have I helped further the preservation and perpetuation of family history on a larger scale by donating my time to projects sponsored by a library or archives? [Look for a post on this one in January]
  11. Have I familiarized myself with the Southwest Michigan bounty available in the Local  History Collection of the Van Buren District Library?
It would suffice to implement only a few of these points and I applaud you if you have done so in 2011.  But, I would propose that you integrate some more of them into your 2012 resolutions.  You may say, "I just want to trace my ancestors back as far as I can, not become a genealogy expert."  Just like this sentence is a conjunction [the act of joining], successfully tracing ancestry and becoming a more proficient researcher are inevitably conjoined.  The whole process is just plain fun...Happy New Year.

Nameless Picture of the Day
 Mrs. Laura Hickman home, Sturgis
real photo postcard

Can you identify the location of the house in this real photo postcard?  Do you have knowledge of the Hickman family? Please contact us if you any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail.