Taking Back What Was Once Lost

Things I Needed To Do Yesterday: Genealogy Checklist

After 12 years of genealogy, I am constantly amazed that I still have a very long list of things I need to do. Things I needed to do yesterday. Things I understand the importance of, but am usually too embarrassed in polite company to admit I haven’t done them yet. I am painfully reminded of this every time I attend a genealogy conference, especially FGS and NGS. I wish there was some magical Time Fairy who could add more hours to each day with a flick of her fairy-dust wrist.

Here’s what’s on my “Needed To Do Yesterday” list for the 2009-2010 Genealogy Year:

  • Maps. I still haven’t utilized maps to their full extent, though I’ve taken umpteen classes and KNOW this is a serious untapped resource for me. Maps have lived very much on the periphery of my research. Ditto for platting out land.
  • Timelines. Sad to say it, I have probably done exactly one timeline. I have a folder marked “Timelines”. I know they can help point out holes and put some order to the thought processes. I have grand and glorious plans to exploit timelines, but haven’t yet. ARGHH.
  • Me. One of the cardinal rules in genealogy is to start with yourself and I have tried to start writing about MY life many times and gotten sidetracked at the archives or the courthouse or whatever ancient record has cast its spell over me. I did spend one afternoon in my old neighborhood taking pictures & videos of my schools & homes & old jobs, but other than that, I still haven’t adequately written about my life thus far. ARGHH.
  • Organization. I’m not sure—see, I’m about to tell a lie—I’m SURE I don’t have a workable system of organization. It’s sort of cobbled together over the years & marked by fits of fearĀ  & backing up marathons. I can pretty much find things when I need them but I still have many moments where my mind says : Is this backed up? Is it properly sourced? What if my computer crashes? Where are my pictures? I do backup to external hard drives & DVDs but somehow I’m still not at peace with my process.

That’s enough for tonight. I might have well have streaked naked across the internet, the way I’ve bared my genealogical embarrassments, LOL. But I thought I’d share this in the hopes that you could make your own “Shoulda Been Done This” list. And pledge, alongside with me, to get a movin’.


  1. August 5, 2009    

    Wow. I’ve done everything you say you haven’t, but I haven’t gotten nearly as far as you with my maternal or paternal lines. Received a lot of inspiration since coming across your site. Keep up the good work.

  2. Renate's Gravatar Renate
    August 8, 2009    

    Wow… I’m guilty of all of the above!

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About Me

I blog, teach, write and lecture about family history research and it's just as rewarding today as it was when I began 18 years ago. This lifelong quest has helped me to better know my past and I've taken back--reclaimed- my kin and some of that lost memory.  

Post History

What I Talk About

Locations and Surnames

Hardin, Chester and Lawrence Counties, TN
Holt, Barnes, Harbour, Bradley Springer and Fendricks
Lawrence County, AL
Springer and Fendricks
Montgomery County, MD
Prather, Simpson
Somerset County, MD
Waters, Fountain, Curtis
Duval and Madison County, FL
Smith, Harris, Garner

Favorite Family History Quotes

"The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past."
-William Faulkner

"Call it a clan, call it a network, all it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one"
- Jane Howard

"Friends are God's apologies for relations."
-Hugh Kingsmill

"No matter what you've done for yourself or for humanity, if you can't look back on having given love and attention to your own family, what have you really accomplished?"
-Elbert Hubbard

"Families are like fudge; mostly sweet with a few nuts."

"If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you might as well make it dance!"

"Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city;)"
-George Burns

"Where does the family start? It starts with a young man falling in love with a girl. No superior alternative has yet been found."
-Winston Churchill

"The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never ever introduce yourself to had life not done it for you."
-Kendall Hailey

"If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all the generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people."
-Thich Nhat Hanh