Starting 2020 with a Clearer Vision of Genealogy

Introduction: In this article, Gena Philibert-Ortega suggests a way to set some genealogy goals for 2020. Gena is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.”

Happy 2020! Ready to begin a new year? If you’re like me, you may be glad 2019 is over and anxious to start a new year with new possibilities.

As you start thinking about the new year, your thoughts may turn to what you want to accomplish. Sure, you could write down some random goals – but what if you tried something different?

Illustration: writing a list

Instead of goals what if you chose a theme for your year?

Your Year, Your Theme

What if you chose a theme for your year and everything you wanted to accomplish centered around that theme? You would then choose goals based on that theme and that focus would help drive the projects you want to accomplish.

So, what would your theme be? A genealogical theme may focus on:

  • A family surname
  • A specific ancestor
  • A specific ancestral family
  • A familial location
  • A historical era (Revolutionary War, for example)
  • An heirloom
  • A record set (marriage certificates, 1910 Census, World War I draft)
  • A type of newspaper article (obituaries, legal notices)
  • A project (family history book, scanning photos, an online tree, a one-name study, or DNA project, for example)
  • Organizing your family history (label photographs, upload to the cloud, share with family via a portable drive)
  • A family history trip (to your ancestor’s hometown or even to document your own growing-up years)

One of my themes for this year is Women’s Suffrage, since 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. I want to learn more about voting in the U.S., barriers to voting, and the on again/off again rights of women in regards to suffrage. My goals will focus on seeking out records, historical newspaper articles, and books on that topic in an effort to learn more about how we can use and better understand those records for our genealogy.

From Theme to Goal

Once you have a theme for 2020, you can select some goals to help you with that theme. My goals have to do with reading and searching voting records. To achieve this, I’ll be creating some bibliographies of what I want to read and taking the time to search the FamilySearch Catalog for voting records. I’ll also document my female ancestors in voting records.

Your goals will focus on your theme and what you want to accomplish by 31 December 2020. You may add or delete from your list of goals as the year goes on, and you may reevaluate your theme as you learn more or your life circumstances change. Life gets the better of us in terms of work, family, and health – and it’s ok if your goals fall by the wayside.

Your Genealogical 2020

Genealogy is so much more than a hobby. We are the story keepers and story tellers. We remember the details that get lost in day-to-day life. Creating your own personal theme and tailoring your goals to match them, whether it’s 1 goal or 50, helps you keep in mind what’s important: keeping family memories alive.

How will you bring your genealogy into focus in 2020? What will your theme be? Once you have chosen a theme, keep that in clear focus as you think of what you want to accomplish.

Happy New Year!

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