Genealogy Football: 60 Minute Challenge

Genealogical Touchdown Photo WPI confess that this post qualifies as a delay of game, but as the Dallas Cowboys prepared last week to meet the Jacksonville Jaguars in London at the NFL International Series, Emmitt Smith was on hand for the festivities. The former Cowboy was the first Pro Football Hall of Famer to discover his roots all the way back to Africa on Who Do You Think You Are?  during the first season. It was a great episode!

While in London the 2014 Dallas Cowboys took some time to Play 60 with some youth. For those who may not know, in October 2007 the NFL began a campaign promoting youth health and fitness by encouraging them to be active for at least 60 minutes daily. It’s a good idea for all of us :)

As I streamed through the photos of players and youth, I was reminded of a challenge I faced in one class I taught to those beginning their search for their ancestors. As an educator, I am aware of the sedentary lives of students in a classroom. As a genealogist, I am aware of the sedentary nature of many of the activities related to the pursuit of one’s ancestors. The limits on time and energy come into play even with those most interested.

On this particular occasion I had one student who was just too busy to complete assignments. Each week this student came to class. Each class period she would explain she had not found time to complete the assignment. After a number of missed assignments I asked if there was anything I could do to help. After hearing about the challenges that she faced I asked, “Would you be willing to experiment with me?” The student agreed.

During the next week this student was asked to spare 30 minutes, only 30 minutes, to work on the assignment. Morning, afternoon, or evening, it did not matter. The day of the week, it did not matter. The commitment was to just “do it” for 30 minutes.

This student later said that she committed to the 30 minutes that very evening to get it out of the way :) She reported the following: ‘I took the challenge about 9pm that very night. As I got into the databases I kept finding more and more. It was so exciting … I was up ’til 4am! I can never do that again! I had difficultly getting through work the next day.’ :)

Now, the challenge was 30 minutes, not 7 hours, but anyone who knows anything about pursuing one’s roots also knows that it can be addictive. Genealogical pursuits must have limits; 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or a few hours, one genealogical football game is best played within those limits, just like the physical sport is held to four 15-minute quarters, plus overtime every now and then.

So, if this fall season you’ve been weighed down with other responsibilities, experienced a false start, or have experienced burnout, take the 60 minute challenge! And while you’re at it, Play 60 each day as an example to our youth for a more active and healthier generation! Studies show that it helps the mind as well as the body, which is good for tackling those tough genealogical brick walls. :)

[For those who may have missed the beginning of this series you may be interested in the post, Are Genealogy and Family History Your Game This Season?]

Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

Your Family History’s Future is in the Stats

Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks on winning Super Bowl XLVIII. It was amazing execution on the field for the triumphant win! Seattle, enjoy your celebration today; I wish I could be there! Football is all about claiming the Lombardi trophy and statistics provide great feedback as to what happened on the field and how to approach the future.

Family history and genealogy similarly have stats we can review to orient ourselves to the game. Coupled with a research log, this feedback can help a researcher move the chains.

Numbers of the GenerationsThe most comprehensive statistic to calculate is how many ancestors you have found compared to how many are yet to be found in a certain number of generations. By dividing the total number of ancestors you have found by the sum of the total number of ancestors from the first generation to the target generation that you are interested in, you will find the percentage of ancestors found. This will give you an idea of how many more research opportunities you have before you. This can be humbling. Those who say it’s all been done are few indeed. Even if one has the essential identifiers of name, date, place, and relationship to an event, a researcher must look to see if the data has a source and then verify it.

For example, I went on Ancestry.com and found an interesting sourced tree in which I had great hope. It not only had complete vital information but the sources indicated the microfilm numbers by which the information was obtained. Nevertheless, when I pulled the film to verify the information none of it was correct! I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating, never trust an online tree. It may contain valid information and clues to further your research but always verify the information and its sources!

As far as statistics, I’ve always looked at completing nine generations simply because in the next generation there are 1,024 more ancestors to find and that can be overwhelming. Nevertheless, I never miss an opportunity to go beyond and add additional generations to my lineage when records are available. Remember, records become more scarce and incomplete as one moves back in time.

So, are you up to the challenge of finding the next generation of your ancestors and their families? In previous posts I’ve mentioned resources to get you started. This week I would like to recommend RootsTech 2014, the largest family history and genealogy conference in North America, which begins today with an Innovator Summit, formerly called Developer Day, and the Full-Access conference beginning tomorrow, February 6th, through Saturday, February 8th, at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah. Check out the website at RootsTech.org for pass comparisons and registration information.

Not in Salt Lake City? There is good news! The keynote presentations and specific sessions will be streamed live and available for later viewing at your convenience. Whether you are at RootsTech 2014 in person or view the conference virtually you will strengthen your offense by participating in this conference. There’s no doubt about it!

[FYI: Keynote and select presentations given at RootTech 2013 are still available for viewing for a limited time. Check out the sessions here.]

Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

Seeking the Win-Win in Genealogy Football

The Genealogical Touchdown32 . . . 12 . . . 8 . . . 4 . . . 2 . . . . There’s no such thing as a win-win in football, unless it’s two consecutive wins. This is the obvious goal of the NFL Conference Championship games today. Only two teams will triumph on their respective playing fields . . . . Two more weeks and only one team will prevail and claim the Lombardi trophy at Super Bowl XLVIII.

I’ll leave the commentary to the NFL analysts. They’re good at what they do. But if you’ve been following along with genealogy football, the same principle applies: win, and win again! The objective is to win from the first down to touchdown again and again for as long as there is time on the clock. It’s the play-by-play effort that makes the difference. One can never win in the present what the future holds. It is elusive. But, if in the present a play is successfully executed, and then the next, and then the next, soon the outcome is the goal and the goal this season is your Family History Bowl.

One of the ways you can track your plays is with a research log, or research calendar as some call it. When you track your plays you keep on track. There are many ways to keep this log so that it can be an effective tool as you make your plays: paper and pencil, a pre-printed form [like the one from Ancestry.com], a spreadsheet, your database computer program, or your favorite journaling app. A research log is kept for each individual or family in your lineage. It’s traditionally suggested that a child remain the subject of his or her parents’ log until that child marries. One of my favorite things about automated logs is that with tagging and/or search capacity that child who became a parent can be found on either log. [This log may be incorporated into a research report, but remember that a report that contains suggestions for further research may be completely outdated on the day of review. Check for updated availability of records.]

Recently, I was going through a fifth-generation grandfather’s file. The research I completed for him is decades old but a question came to mind. When I opened the folder I found a piece of paper with a list of sources I had reviewed and the result for consulting each particular source. The paper was dated, written in pencil, and did not look like more than scratch, but it was as if this piece of paper, this research log, transported me back in time to briefly relive the plays, make the catch, and enabled me to run and score the genealogical touchdown. The answer was found among the documents that I had already secured. It’s not always this easy, but it is always the place that you, as a researcher, want to begin. The research log is your punt return; it shows your position on the field and where to begin your drive for that touchdown!

Over the years as I have reviewed the work of a number of genealogists, including my own, I have found that the key to efficiency is the research log. It’s helpful to know what information was sought for and why, the title of the record and in what form the record was recorded, whether online, microfilm or fiche, or paper, the date [especially when using online databases], the place where the information was accessed and the result, even if what you were looking for was not there. By recording this information you will be in great field position to evaluate the source, identify inconsistencies, make wise judgements about the contribution of this source to your research, and determine where your next play begins. Wishing you all the success on this game day!

[In it’s simplicity, The Genealogical Touchdown Playbook is available in PDF format for personal, non-commercial use. It provides a place for interested youth, and others, to record their drive downfield to the ultimate genealogical touchdown!]

Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

There’s More Than Just a Number on a Jersey

8 QBs 4 WPTeam colors. Team uniforms. Teamwork. This is what we witnessed during Wild Card Weekend. Thanks to all the players and coaches! Winning is a time for celebration; losing is never easy.

It’s the NFL Divisional Playoffs this weekend and I’m interested in names, particularly family names, also known as surnames, the ones the guys wear on the back of their jerseys. Surnames can provide additional facts and clues about your family and their story.

Ancestry.com has a great database available to search for information about a surname’s meaning and origin. The database information is from the Dictionary of American Family Names. Additional demographic information is provided for the United States, England and Wales, and Scotland. There are charts and links that provide information on immigration, average life expectancy, occupations, and civil war records.

The FamilySearch wiki has a list of surname database links that provide information from many countries. If you do not see the country related to your surname interest on the list, use your search engine of choice. If you find a helpful site, contribute that information to the FamilySearch wiki. Other genealogists and family historians will thank you!

Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

It’s Wild Card Weekend

The back of this library patron's shirt says it all!

The back of this library patron’s shirt says it all!

Warning: Participating in genealogy and family history football while watching an NFL game with your significant other may cause side effects including distraction, interference with relational bonding, and failure to fully enjoy chips, salsa, and guacamole. Research responsibly.

It’s the NFL’s Wild Card Weekend! Now that the playing field has been narrowed to twelve, the winner of the Lombardi trophy will soon be determined on the field. Although some teams are required to play more on their way to the Super Bowl, it’s anyone’s game. Since there is no NFL team in the land of genealogy and family history, the following of the locals here can change as fast as the wind. It’s a house divided. But in football, there is no place like home!

So, are you up for your game this Wild Card weekend? Do you have your goal defined for each of the games you will play? Have you narrowed the field so that you are prepared to finish the season on February 2, 2014? Each play moves you closer to a genealogical touchdown, to winning the game, and ultimately achieving the Lombardi trophy of your Family History Bowl.

Have you looked for information on your pivotal person and it’s just not where you hoped it would be? Is the record set impossible to access in the time frame of this season? Does the most obvious record set not exist? Check out this page on the FamilySearch wiki. Go to the bottom of the page to “Selecting Record Types.” There you will find a listing of objectives and a priority list of records to search. If you cannot find that record set online, check the FamilySearch catalog for available microfilm, then visit the Family History Library or order microfilm to view at your local Family History Center. If you need assistance contact me. I would be happy to provide coaching advice or execute a play or more on your behalf.

To the NFL players and coaches this season, the genealogist who struggles to find time to play the game, to our ancestors whose lives were rarely blessed more than ours, I close with a quote known as The Man in the Arena[1]:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Cheering you on in your game to win your Family History Bowl!

1.Roosevelt, Theodore. “Citizenship In A Republic.” Delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on April 23, 1910. Accessed January 4, 2014. http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html. [For a copy of the complete speech in PDF format click here.]

Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

Genealogy and Family History: A Game for All Seasons

A round "Tuit" to help you get around to your genealogy and family history!

A round “Tuit” to help you get around to your genealogy and family history!

Some of you may have started participating in genealogy and family history this past autumn when the leaves were turning and the weather called us to an inside game. For others, New Year’s Day tradition brings the air of resolutions and the commitment to new goals.

A recent survey of articles reveals that many of us have the same aspirations: eat well, exercise, get more sleep, lose weight, and/or get in or out of relationships. There are also goals related to finance, organization, and making life better, happier, and more satisfying. One of your goals may be to learn more about your genealogy and family history.

There are a number of reasons that individuals pursue their genealogy and family history, and if this is one of your goals this year I would like to recommend resources to help you get started.

First let me state that it is traditionally taught that you start with yourself, but any ancestor of interest is just as appropriate. Please be aware that if you have not proven the relationships between generations you may be learning about family history that belongs to someone else. As interesting as this may be, it will not help you reach your goal to know your family history.

If you are interested in recording your or a family member’s personal history, Real Simple has published a 10-page worksheet with questions that cover a life span of experience to help get you started. Set a time to complete this document or arrange a time to interview that family member of interest. You could even do both :-) Choose your questions wisely. Some individuals may be uncomfortable with specific topics so be sensitive and appropriate.

The second resource I would like to recommend comes in two online wikis. For those who are unfamiliar with the term “wiki” it is a web application that allows individuals to collaborate and add, modify, or delete content as necessary. The idea is to keep the most relevant and up-to-date information available to its audience. Ancestry.com has a wiki that provides the information found in two classic reference books for the United States, Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources and The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy. The information from these two books, in addition to other information available in Ancestry’s Learning Center, can help you get started. FamilySearch.org has a wiki that provides information from their classic Research Outlines that covers research resources internationally as well as more up-to-date information. FamilySearch also has online tutorials for the necessary education to reach your goal of knowing more about your family history.

And finally, don’t forget the search engines that provide access to all the information available online. Check out David Barney’s well-attended presentation at RootsTech 2013 for helpful hints on using Google’s tools for genealogy.

Genealogy and family history can be fascinating. There is a definite learning curve so take is slow. Focus on one pivotal person and build from there. With these resources you will have everything necessary to reach your goal. Remember the KISS principle. Wishing you all the best in this new year!

Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

‘Tis the Season for a Holiday Bowl

Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf-Holiday Bowl 1984 WP Maybe I’m living in the past, but then again, I’m a genealogist. It’s the holiday season and the word “holiday” and “football” reminded me of the Holiday Bowl. As you may remember, in 1984 a college team won that game clinching the National Championship with an undefeated season of 13-0. I wasn’t there but the thrill of the final moments could be felt through the network!

There have been moments in the NFL this season where records have been exceeded, critics have been silenced, and lessons have been learned. Whether you are a rookie or a veteran genealogist I hope that you’re enjoying your time on the field. Maybe your success has exceeded your expectations. Maybe you’ve heard trash talk from your critics. Hopefully, you’ve learned more about your ancestors! I know I have :-)

Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf-Christmas foliage WPWith the holidays happening, what plans do you have to clinch your Family History Bowl this season? It’s a critical time. In the NFL, teams are competing for those coveted placements in the playoffs. Your time to plan for the NFL Super Bowl, Groundhog Day, and your Family History Bowl may be competing for your attention! February 2, 2014 is fast approaching!

Most of us spend the holidays with family and friends. Sometimes we may be at an away game. There are a number of considerations for a holiday game plan. Know your options and opportunities by reviewing the game plan you established at the beginning of this season. Know the available venues located near the area of your celebration and evaluate the time you may have to devote to this game. For example, besides the typical huddle around the hearth, are you aware that there are libraries, archives, and societies that are open during the holidays? Recruit some players :-) If you happen to be at an away game, when it comes to family history you are most fortunate. The databases of those online sites never close, although sometimes they’re down for maintenance.Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf-archives WP

Whatever your game plan, we at The Single Leaf wish you and yours the very best this holiday season! For those who will be huddled at home, I would like to recommend a resource published by the team at Real Simple that lists a number of questions to stoke the conversation. Merry Christmas!

[By the way, the survey results from my last post indicate that most of you participate in family history and genealogy on Sunday and Monday. I suspected as such, but there is another night of the week that the NFL has captured and that is Thursday. It’s just a another great night for researching your family tree :-)]

Copyright ©2013 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

How Committed Are You to the Game?

Gold-PanningLast week was a bye week for me, at least from publishing. It’s nice to have a week off now and again. As a genealogist and family historian committed to serious research and writing, I have discovered a gold mine of opportunity for my own family’s research. As I pan the records I am finding a few unknowns throughout the generations. Every time one discovers the maiden name of a female ancestor another vein of treasure opens in the surviving records :-)

This brings to mind the San Francisco 49ers and a quote attributed to Jerry Rice, “… I’m totally committed to the game of football. That’s why I’ve had so much success.”1 I can say the same thing about genealogy and family history :-)

So, how committed are you to genealogy and family history? Have you established your game schedule? Do you show up weekly? Life is full of competing opportunities. Have you found the best game day for the pursuit of your Family History Bowl? Please take a moment to respond to this one question survey. Thank you!

[Although Jerry Rice has retired from the field, he is committed to giving back to the community. Check out his website at http://www.jerryricefootball.com. ]

1. Jerry Rice. BrainyQuote.com, Xplore Inc, 2013. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jerryrice445104.html, accessed September 2013.

Copyright ©2013 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

How Much Is It Going To Cost To Get Into the Game?

Referencing my last post, a few questions have come to my attention as we begin this season, one being the title of this post. In light of public exposure to genealogy, through shows like Who Do You Think You Are?, many have been discussing the realistic amount of time it takes to produce the outcomes illustrated on a network show.

Coins WPMost recently a blog post on Ancestry.com revealed the 1000 hours of research behind the pursuit of Cindy Crawford’s roots. In addition, much of the highlighted research was research completed long before the inception of the show. One point that I did not see mentioned was the financial cost of those 1000 hours. In the real world hiring a genealogist to complete 1000 hours of research may cost anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 and that is not including travel expenses associated with on-site research. For most of us, this is unrealistic. Besides, if you are going to send someone to research your roots I would hope that someone would be you!  Who wants to sit on the sidelines?

So this begs the question, how much is it going to cost to get into the game? The short answer is that it will cost both time and money. The amount it will cost will depend on you and your circumstances.

In my last post I mentioned scheduling your game. I hope that you have committed time to this pursuit. It just might be the most rewarding trophy you place on your shelf or the shelves of your descendants. It doesn’t have to be 1000 hours in a few months. Small gains can still make a first down. Consistent progress may not only help you find family history, but make memories that become your family’s history of the future.

As far as the financial cost, it all depends on your choices. Be forewarned: the pursuit of one’s genealogy and family history has become big business. Nevertheless, one can pursue genealogy and family history with little, if any, additional cost :-) Gathering records and photographs in your possession and interviewing family members and others who knew your family cost no more than your time. Access to a computer, the internet, scanners, and subscription sites may be as close as your nearest Family History Center. On the web, your favorite search engine may list interesting leads and some sources. Be aware that the search algorithm of the different providers may reveal different results. Sometimes great material is missed if you limit your query to one search database.

So, how much is it going to cost to get into the game? It all depends. There is no doubt that such a pursuit comes from discretionary funds and this amount varies from person to person. I would recommend that a set amount be put aside each month. It’s part of the discipline of the game.

Every game has limits. In football, there are four quarters, each lasting 15 minutes. With the exception of a possible tie at the end of a fourth quarter, the game is over when the clock runs out. Know the limits of your game, but don’t let these limits block you. Tackle your limits, whether in time or money, with innovations that provide new paths to success. As the quarterback of your team it is your responsibility to read the defense of the opposing team (limits) and make the necessary adjustments. The goal is to gain yardage for a first down and ultimately a touchdown!

My best to you this coming week…Cheering you on from the bleachers :-)

[After all these considerations, if you decide that you would like to handoff your research project to an assistant coach contact me. Together we can come up with a winning strategy to find your elusive ancestors.]

Copyright ©2013 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

Are Genealogy and Family History Your Game This Season?

stadium at nightI wrote about the genealogy touchdown back in February.1 Although it was my way of well-wishing genealogists and family historians in their work on Super Bowl Sunday, the game of football can help create a winning strategy in the pursuit of your family tree goals.

One person every team needs is a good coach. I remember when I was a little girl the undefeated season of the Miami Dolphins. Yes, that was my team and I have a childhood photo to prove it :-) Coach Don Shula once said, “I think what coaching is all about is taking players and analyzing [their] ability, put[ting] them in a position where they can excel within the framework of the team winning…”2

If you have the desire and motivation this is your opportunity. You can be the coach of your own team. As one committed to helping others grow their family trees, I provide the following questions for you to consider as the football season begins:

How do you define your Family History Bowl this season?

Like the NFL, the goal is to win the Bowl game. Although we may want to know everything about our lineage back to Adam, each season brings a different challenge. Decide on the individual that will be the pivotal player of your project. This individual’s story becomes your game. When you choose someone to focus on, realize that the outgrowth of your pursuit will encompass family, community, and social history. This pivotal player will help you determine if what you find is relevant to the game you are currently playing. The focus on this pivotal person will help you set parameters on your pursuit so that progress can be made with little distraction. Finding an in-law, or outlaw, may be interesting, but if it doesn’t take you to your Bowl game it must be put aside for another season. Note your interest, but then get back in the game. Remember, if you were playing the Super Bowl Champions today, you would not concern yourself with any other team but them. FOCUS on the goal; this is how a game is won :-)

What’s your game plan?

Every genealogist needs a plan that provides direction in their research. A great place to begin once you have determined that pivotal person is the FamilySearch wiki and the RootsWeb.com wiki. These resources can provide direction at no cost to you. Search for the known or suspected locality of that pivotal person on these sites to find what record sets are available that might help answer your questions. Then, of course, use websites, including the FamilySearch Catalog, and on-site research facilities to identify holdings and locate specific record sets. By the way, one overlooked resource is individuals who might have known your pivotal person so interview as many of them as possible. Once you know what your game plan is it’s time to make another decision…

Who’s on your team?

In football the offense has 11 players, and the defense has an equal number. Then there are special teams. You may not be able to recruit these numbers to your team, but recruit. The actual number of team players is dependent on the individual project. Teamwork is your key to success :-)

Your offense will consist of those that actually assist in obtaining the genealogy touchdowns. These individuals will be other family members, if you are fortunate, and friends of a like-mind. I would recommend that you become the quarterback; the team will need your vision and leadership :-) For those with children and/or grandchildren, involve them in tasks that engage them. Most children will have an interest in some aspect of this work if it’s presented to them in an appealing way. It’s amazing how genealogical tasks can become enjoyable. It’s not always the task at hand but who you’re with that can make the difference, especially for children.

Now the defense is critical. There are so many competing interests and distractions in life that one may believe that there is no time for this game. Your defense must be carefully considered. It always helps to have the support of family and friends. Remember, your best defense is a good offense. Determine what you will do and stay with the plan, unless of course it’s a true emergency :-)

Finally, you must identify who’s on special teams. These are the reference librarians, archivists, and others who can direct you when necessary. Make a list of the libraries, archives, genealogical and historical societies that are specialists in your area of interest. Those at a Family History Center near you may also be able to assist you.

What’s your schedule?

Now that you’ve defined your Bowl game, determined your game plan, and identified your team, it’s time to set the schedule to play the game. Decide when you can play and stick to it. Once a week is a good strategy in the lives of people who are busy with other commitments. Two to three hours on a Sunday evening may be just the activity you need, but the schedule is yours to decide. I’ve seen meaningful success in 15 minutes. Although there have been a few games forfeited over the years, your game is worth playing so stick with it!

We are in this to win!

I’m looking forward to a winning season; I hope you are, too! Unlike winning the NFL Super Bowl, each team in the field of genealogy and family history can win the big one. I look forward to your genealogical success! I am here all season to answer your questions; contact me :-) I would love to hear from you!

1. Definition: A genealogy touchdown is when you have used sound principles to gather enough information and evidence to accurately identify an individual and his or her place in the world. A genealogy touchdown is the answer to your research question. Depending on your game, a genealogy touchdown is when you have used sound principles to gather enough information and evidence to reconstruct a family, a neighborhood and/or events that tell a story of a people. A genealogy touchdown is a sense of accomplishment amidst the game, knowing the game is not over yet. A genealogy touchdown inspires an end zone celebration :-)

2. Don Shula. BrainyQuote.com, Xplore Inc, 2013. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/d/don_shula.html, accessed August 31, 2013.

Copyright ©2013-2019 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.