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.

Lynn, Lynn, where have you been? I’ve been to London to visit…WDYTYA Live!

WDYTYA Lynn Broderick 2013 1 WP

I placed it on the calendar, so I thought I’d report on Who Do You Think You Are? Live in London. It wasn’t on my personal calendar, just the genealogical calendar that I keep. Although I ended up being there, it was a surprise, a very nice surprise :-)

So, what was it like to attend “the world’s biggest family history event?” Well, it was interesting and it was a lot of fun. It’s based on the highly successful UK edition of the television show, including having some of the celebrities in attendance. WDYTYA Lynn Broderick 2013 2 WPThe conference focused on British research with a touch of the Irish. With this year being The Gathering Ireland 2013, it was definitely my year! Presentations covered local history, folklore, family stories, and the many resources available to search for one’s Irish ancestors. Find My Past and Eneclann were in attendance as well as Tourism Ireland to assist those with questions.

WDYTYA Lynn Broderick 2013 3 WPFamilySearch was there to greet you as you entered the Olympia National Hall. David Rencher, Chief Genealogical Officer of FamilySearch, and Audrey Collins of The National Archives, along with many others, were there to assist with research questions. This conference encourages its attendees to come prepared to get things done. Personally, I like it that way!

FamilyTree DNA held sessions throughout each day to educate participants about DNA, the tests that are available, and what one can expect to learn from such an investment. The line at their booth seemed never ending!

Ancestry held training sessions from Top Tips to Family Tree Maker. Exploring Your Family’s Past with Sir Tony Robinson was a very popular session with standing room only. It was fortunate that the open sessions allowed one to hear from a distance :-) Many of the booths were regional and it was fun to engage in conversation with such knowledgeable individuals. I found a small plush toy cow monogrammed with the flag and name of Jersey at the Jersey Family History Forum. For those who may not know, Jersey cows have an interesting history :-)

WDYTYA Lynn Broderick 2013 4 WPAsk the Experts gave individuals the opportunity to speak with a knowledgeable genealogist about an area of research interest. Maureen Taylor, known as The Photo Detective, James McCurdy, and other photo experts were on hand to identify and date one’s family photographs. This line seemed never ending too! Scanners for personal documents and photos were also available in the Ancestry member’s lounge.

WDYTYA Lynn Broderick 2013 5 WP

Eric Knowles was on hand to help attendees learn more about their family heirlooms and there was even a Military Memorabilia Checkpoint and experts specializing in different divisions. All of these opportunities were found on the second floor of the venue each day.

Many people just sat down by the cafes at the corners of the building to talk and eat. There was rarely an empty table! Each day welcomed new people to the venue. On Saturday, many youth and young adults accompanied their parents and/or grandparents. This was a boon for my friend Janet Hovorka who has just published a resource for families entitled Zap the Grandma Gap :-)WDYTYA Lynn Broderick 2013 6 WP

Attendees were given an option to purchase tickets for those “must see” sessions to guarantee a place. As to be expected, Dr. Turi King’s session on the DNA testing of Richard the III had standing room only! I had the opportunity to listen to an interview with Dr. King by Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems. Lisa mentioned that the interview will be released sometime in March and made available on iTunes so keep in touch. I’ll post the information as soon as I receive it.

It was a wonderful event, visiting with old friends and meeting new people. As a bonus, the airline just happened to fly over the area of Ireland from which my ancestors emigrated, and with clear skies and a window seat I enjoyed photographing the area. The pictures may not be of “professional” quality, but they make a great memory :-)

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