Saturday, December 19, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over - Cycle 4, Week 12

This is week 12 of cycle 4 of the Genealogy Do-Over. Our topics this week are (1) sharing research and (2) and reviewing research travel options.

Sharing Research

I have been very fortunate when asking for help from other researchers. I have also been given research done by other family members many years ago. However, regardless of this I still do my due diligence and verify every scrap of information passed on to me.The one thing I have learned here in the Genealogy Do-Over is that sharing and collaboration are important steps when working and/or researching genealogy because without them you won't get very far. I love being able to share my research efforts with someone new and I like to be able to pay it forward for those who have helped me too.

I am always happy to share my research and I will do whatever I can to help someone else even if we don't share the same family lines. However and it is sometimes my biggest bright shining object (BSO) for me. Why? Because my curiosity gets the better of me. I have to know what happens to the family so I follow the lines all the way through and that leads to lots of extended family members! 

Since the end of the my first time through the Genealogy Do-Over I have made some  changes about my research and sharing. I have learned that just because someone asks to see my tree doesn't necessarily mean they need to see your entire tree. What they really want is to see the documents attached especially if it didn't come from Ancestry. I changed my member profile at Ancestry.  

I have written what I hope is a great profile! I have introduced myself and explained that some trees are not mine to share without that person's permission. I have asked that when sending me a message to please include which tree they are referring to, all pertinent information and I have asked for people to include their name, I hate not knowing who I am talking to. I have listed the names of my trees because they are private and marked the trees that are my bio-genetic trees. I have listed what I can do to help someone who may need something from my neck of the woods. I also suggested they stop by my blog and then my thank you and sign off. I would like your opinion this so please leave me a comment, thank you!

Here is my member profile from Ancestry:

Do's and Don'ts of Collaboration and Sharing

Always Be Nice! The genealogy community is a small world and with social media it maybe getting just a little bit larger. This means that how you answer queries from other researchers may be posted "everywhere" as a "beware of __________, they are _____.", I will let you fill in the blanks. Being kind and generous with those who  approach you and those you approach can make the world of difference to a new genealogist/researcher but also to the more experienced genealogist/researcher as well.

If you are going to share and/or collaborate with another researcher the work you have painstakingly done and vice versa, then Attribution should be given to all parties. I have not actively and/or directly collaborated with anyone in regards to my genealogy research in such a detailed endeavor, at least not in anything I have done thus far. I have been the lucky recipient of research done by older generations in my family but much of this work had no source details and only the name of the compiler of the research. I choose to use research as springboard to find other clues. I also create and include source citations for this research. I include researchers name and contact information, the type of information shared, the family it pertains to, the date it I received it and any other pertinent information. When I share my research I create a report in Family Tree Maker which includes my name, contact information and a source list.

My preferred way to get information is to reciprocate in kind, I don't just take it and run.  When I ask someone to share information, their research or online tree with me the first thing I do is to offer the same in return. When I have finished with the information provided, I then forward a copy of my updated information, a new individual family report, provide sources for any new information and include my research notes and a picture of the individual or family, if I have it.

One thing I learned from Thomas MacEntee in a webinar titled, "Google for Genealogists" which he did for Legacy Family Tree in 2011 (year is from the CD I purchased) was to create an Alert using Google. However, until reading this I never thought to use it for my research or my blog. Thank you, Thomas, for the reminder and my new alerts have been set! I have two more things I would like to add to the Do's and Don'ts list. 

When you are asking someone for help, Provide as much information as you can on the person or family you are seeking information on. For example, if you are contacting me and you want information about a person or family please provide as much detail as you know. My Ancestry member profile has a section detailing this information but I think it is worth repeating. This especially  important for anyone with multiple trees and/or with families who use the same names for generations.
  • Please tell which tree you found the information you are requesting, 
  • Please provide as much detail of the person or family you are asking about such as:
    • Birth date/year and place of birth, if known
    • Death date/year and place of death, if known
    • Parents names, if known
    • Spouse's name (including maiden name, if known
    • Their birth & death places, dates and year, if known
    • Children's names, place of birth and year, if known
Whether you are asking for help or you find that someone has incorrect or outdated information do not Bully them! Send them an email, a message or leave a comment providing the correct information or ask them to contact you privately. I include this because when I first started adding my research to Ancestry I contacted by a research via Ancestry who not only bullied me but was extremely rude. This person told me that if I could not spell his surname correctly I had no business doing genealogy! I was't wrong with the spelling because there were 4 or 5 variant spellings to this particular surname and I had this information in my notes section of Ancestry. That wasn't good enough! They did not want to have a rational and calm discussion. He continued to berate me and threatened me by telling me he would contact Ancestry if I didn't make the changes. I knew Ancestry wouldn't do anything to me. Finally I went in and changed the surnames of about 40 profiles to THEIR preferred spelling and added each possible spelling with it.

Was I intimidated by this man, Yes, but I knew Ancestry would not do anything to me. However I was afraid that this man could post negative comments about me via message boards or perhaps to other researchers. So, I went in and changed the surname and listed every variation possible for every person with that surname. I also blocked him so as not to have any further contact with this person.

Reviewing Research Travel Options

I am very fortunate that a lot of my research is done within an eight to ten hour drive from my home. When I go to visit my parents, I try to do get in as much genealogy as I can by talking with my parents, looking for graves on my husband's side of the family and sharing information with my niece who is interested in genealogy. Whenever, wherever and however I can I will always find something genealogy related to do. 

Sponsored Research Trips, Genealogy Cruises and More
  • Genealogy Society Trips
  • Individual or Vendor-Sponsored Trips
  • Individually Tailored Trips
  • Genealogy Cruises
Organized trips such as those sponsored by genealogical societies, vendor-sponsored, individual sponsors and genealogy cruises are great. Some of these trips may include transportation to and from the airport to the host hotel, a couple of breakfast and lunch seminars/meetings and there may be a dinner event sponsored by a genealogical society and/or vendor (or two) depending on the type and/or length of the event. One perk to consider is that you may be able to have a consultation with a professional genealogist who may have very specific areas of research which you do not. Genealogy cruises also have the perk of a vacation within the conference you are attending. Another perk to consider is that you may find a genealogy based trip that may take you close to an ancestral country and you might be able to book a few extra days at the beginning or end of your trip depending upon the vendor. The part of these types of trips are the connections you make whether they are personal or professional or perhaps both and it can all be a fabulous adventure.

Do-It-Yourself Research Trips

I consider myself to be a good traveler especially since I am a former travel agent with experience in traveling both here in the states and abroad. These are great things to consider when planning any trip.
  • What type of traveler are you?
  • Preparation & Packing
  • Preferred Mode of Transportation
  • Accommodations
  • Expenses
  • Emergencies and Last Minute Changes
What type of traveler are you?

I am a relaxed and easy traveler. I always bring a good book or two, and magazines to keep myself occupied while waiting to get from point A to point B. If I am flying I will keep a good eye on any price changes because if the price drops then you maybe entitled to refund for the difference in price but only if you can meet the requirements for the new fare. I also start checking for any changes about a week prior to my trip even though I will arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes early to determine if there are any delays or changes such a new gate assignment.

Preparation & Packing

I will admit here and now that I tend to over pack especially if I am traveling by car!  If I am traveling by plane then it depends on where I am going, how long I will be gone and what I will be doing and keeping in mind the weight restrictions for suitcases set up by TSA. As I travel agent I learned the secret of how to maximize my packing space! Regardless of how long the trip maybe, my packing starts as I do any necessary laundry. I start pulling together my genealogy materials at least a week or two before my scheduled trip so that I have the latest updated information at my fingertips. Now I have a time or two gone to the nearest package store and shipped things home before my trip is over. My husband just loves me when I do this!


Photo Credit: Andrew Stawarz

Preferred Mode of Transportation


I like traveling by plane. I find it relaxing and enjoyable. In my carry-on bag I keep a few things that I consider "must haves" if I am flying. My "must haves" are ear plugs (for crying babies and snoring passengers), lip balm and a pair of sandals or flip flops. Why sandals or flip flops? On long flights my feet sometimes swell so I keep these handy just in case because they are easy to slip on and off.

Have you had any surgeries that required "medical metal" as I call it, such as rods, plates and screws? I have and I tend to set off the scanning machines at the airport especially considering I have "medical metal" in my neck, back and foot! If you are like me then you might want to see this link ( It does not exempt you from a search or screening by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) but it allows you to let them know without the entire area knowing your personal issues. I also recommend checking TSA's website ( for any recent changes before leaving home. You can also get a note from your doctor explaining what type of "medical metal" you have. It can certainly help.

For me, traveling overseas means acclimating myself to the time difference before I leave so that the jet lag doesn't interfere too badly. The best piece of advice I ever received from a fellow travel agent is this, If you are going to be on a flight that is 8 hours long or you be crossing the international date line, you may want to consider consulting your medical care provider for a short term prescription of sleeping medication (or if you prefer, use an over the counter product) to help you sleep on the plane in both directions. You will wake up much more refreshed and it also helps with the jet lag too!


I have always wanted to travel by train! However, living in the Carolina's the options are limited. Train travel in the south is not as prevalent as it is in other parts of the country. My sons use to travel by train from Charlotte, NC to Greensboro, NC after moving in with their Dad. It cost $20 round trip (back in the mid 1990's) so they came often. My son David actually fell asleep on the train at Thanksgiving one year. He woke up and realized he had missed the stop so contacted whoever was in charge on the train and they dropped him of in the middle of the tracks about 3 miles from my parents house. Talk about being less than happy with Amtrak! However once they had obtained their driver's license's they quite taking the train.


I also enjoy traveling by car and I have to be in the front seat for any trip over 2 or 3 hours otherwise I get quite car sick. I love the freedom that driving provides such as creating my own schedule, stopping when I want, the scenery and using the GPS in my car. As I mentioned I tend to over pack, however, it does allow me to take more genealogy related items such as a large portable scanner and my cemetery kit.


Now this is where I get really picky!  

If I am lucky enough to be researching in area where I have family and/or friends living and it is not an imposition for them during the dates I plan to be in their area, then I prefer to stay with them because it will allow us to catch up. Hopefully, I will get a few family interviews in too. 

I don't need to stay at the most luxurious hotel with all the bells and whistles. Instead what I do need is a hotel where I will feel comfortable and safe. I prefer hotels where all the doors are accessible from inside the hotel. No matter what chain of hotels you are staying at, they are not all equal. In some areas a Days Inn can be a 4 star property and in others you wouldn't even think of considering it. My wish list for a hotel room is a sitting area, desk, mini-fridge, a pool (indoor or outdoor), room service and/or at least have good eateries close by. It is a must for me to have non-smoking and pet-free room because of my asthma and allergies.


As noted above, if I can stay with family that is by far first preference. It will also help my budget too. Keeping expenses down while traveling is hard even with a budget because you never know what might happen. I am a change thief!! When my husband comes home from work he deposits his loose change on the bar. He won't carry change, it makes his pockets to heavy. He also leaves it in the car too. My philosophy is once he goes to bed, it is mine! (grin). I also collect the change from pocketbook and wallet at the same time and keep it in a old cosmetics bag and carry it with me when I am researching in repositories for making copies and feeding the parking meter. In a few months time I usually $30.00 to $50.00. 

Emergencies and Last Minute Changes

I am a relatively calm person and react well in emergencies. I do have some first aid training, I know how to perform CPR, the Heimlich maneuver and I can tie a tourniquet if need be. Along with being a travel agent I was also a certified nursing assistant. 

As someone with a "colorful" medical history that includes multiple food and drug allergies I am always prepared for the worst. I never leave home without my medical history form that I prepared about 10 years ago and modify as needed. It includes my name, address, home and cell phone numbers, my insurance information, my emergency contacts, my blood type, a list of my medications both prescriptions and over the counter medications and/or supplements, a list of my medical issues, a list of all surgeries, and a list of any type of medical devices (like pins, rods, plates and screws) and where they are located. I also have have included that I am an organ donor and whether or not I want the full code blue treatment and should the time ever come that I need to have a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) I will attach a copy to the medical sheet. Here is a sample of what a demo of my medical history form looks like I would also include the hospitals, urgent care facilities and pharmacies near my hotel in whatever city I am visiting.

I never leave home without making sure that my family knows where I am going and how long I will be gone. As a young kid I started doing this with my parents. If there was a change in my plans or if I was going to be late I never failed to call my parents and let them know. I also made sure that my kids did it too. When Tommy and I traveling together I send our itinerary to our son David and my Mom that way there at least two people who know the details. When I am traveling by myself I leave my itinerary with Tommy, David and Mom. Some habits, whether good or bad never leave you!

Editor's Note: Portions of this post are from my original post for week 12 which you can find here.

PHOTO CREDIT: Andrew Stawarz, file number 3538910787_478191af2b_b.jpg, Flickr ( : downloaded 19 December 2015); used under Creative Commons Attributions-No Derivatives 4.0 International.

1 comment: