I was asked the question recently of what are your favorite resources for my research. Digging a little deeper what my friend wanted to know was how to move forward with your research when one hits a brick wall.
I think we have all been there (or are there!).
The past few months have been a time of many transitions, some of which are still in progress. Moving, travel, preparing young adult children for their next steps….it is enough to make your head spin! Don’t get me wrong. It is all good, just busy!
Looking back these are some of my favorite genealogy things this summer. They are not the traditional things one thinks about, but these have helped me keep my mind active in genealogy even when more traditional research opportunities have been limited.
1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
I discovered this book my daughter’s freshman year of college and am re-reading it again this summer. It was her university’s campus wide summer reading book. I bought my own copy and it has become one of my all time favorite books. I am so excited to hear it will be made into a movie. “Science based non-fiction” is how Skloot’s first book is often described. As a genealogist I am drawn in by Henrietta’s story andthe author’s research into her family history. As a healthcare professional, I am fascinated by the science and medical ethics involved. As a bonus, the author researched and provided commentary on Henrietta’s young life in Halifax County, VA – a place I research frequently. The social history provided for the times and the resource list have provided me numerous new sources of research.
When traveling or exercising I listen to podcasts from fellow genealogists. Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems and George Morgan & Drew Smith of The Genealogy Guys are my go-to favorites. With all the traveling this summer, podcasts have provided genealogy education on the go. (Lisa even “ran” a half marathon with me. I dare say I was the only one listening to genealogy podcasts among the runners. 🙂 )
Pencils?! Yes, specifically mechanical pencils are one of my favorite tools in my genealogy toolbox. As I continue to chisel away at the brick walls in my genealogy research, I have been creating timelines for ancestors and their communities. Old school paper and pencil is still my favorite way to create a timeline and “work the data”. (I am a kinesthetic learner.) Back to school sales are the perfect time to stock up.
I have not actually used this….yet. But I love sticky notes and when I came across them (while searching for something else) I added them to my shopping list. Aren’t they perfect for the researcher?
My Hoka running shoes are the most comfortable for my fee and running style. Genealogy is a sedentary pursuit and a sedentary lifestyle is not a healthy one. I encourage to read Thomas MacEntee’s post “Is Genealogy Dangerous to Your Health?” from this past May. As I approached my 50th birthday, I decided I wanted an active lifestyle going forward, so I took the step of joining a running group. As it turns out, I love running! I am amazed at the clearness of my thoughts and the new research ideas and perspectives I have when I run. If running is not your thing, no problem. I do think we should get away from the computer and get out and move! Walk, garden, play with the dog….. I am stepping off of my soapbox now.
6. My Family Photographs – I have spent a lot of time working with my ancestors’ photographs this summer. When I have needed inspiration this month I have pulled a few out to study. I have also shared unidentified photographs with other family members and researchers resulting in obtaining new oral history information and clues to move forward with research.