Friday, January 22, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy: #3 Assess Myself

Week #3's challenge is this:
"Assess yourself! You’re great at researching everyone else’s history, but how much of your own have you recorded? Do an assessment of your personal records and timeline events to ensure your own life is as well-documented as that of your ancestors. If you have a genealogy blog, write about the status of your own research and steps you may take to fill gaps and document your own life."

I'll be honest. It's not a pretty picture.

I really try to be an organized person. Really. However, since having children my life has gone a bit sideways, all for the better of course. But my organization skills have been tested and found lacking since giving birth.

The other problem is what I like to call "packrat-itis". I have it; I come from a long family history of it. This can be both good and bad. Sometimes there is just simply too much of a good thing.

I have many wonderful mementos of my childhood. My mother put all my greeting cards for various holidays, birthdays, etc. into a scrapbook for me. I have another scrapbook that has those wonderful art projects from preschool and early grade school years. I loved to draw pictures, mostly self-portraits, with yellow hair, stick legs and a huge wide smile; I have several of these. I have the tiny photos of many of my childhood friends and my mother still has all my class pictures from elementary school. She even has my orthodontia before and after photos; it's amazing what braces can do!

I love to take photos and I have albums of photos from our wedding, vacations we have taken, family gatherings, and some with that wonderful panoramic film that made them 12 or so inches long. That camera made Yellowstone a lot of fun. This doesn't include the 1,500+ photos I have taken since we got our first digital camera nearly six years ago.

This disorganization really hit home when I was setting my resolutions for 2010. One of them included preparing an Illinois Pioneer Prairie Certificate, which requires documentation from me back to my prairie ancestor. I have been diligently gathering my records starting with my ancestor, Walter Harmon b. 1798. As I was getting closer to me I realized I need to ask my mother for her birth and marriage certificates. Then it dawned on me that I also need those for myself. Hmmm, wonder where they are?

All is not lost, however, because I am making every effort to document some things about me and our family life. I have to look no farther than the walls of my office for my college diploma and my professional certificates and memberships. My husband's diploma hangs in our home. I have our baptism certificates. I am still working on a daily entry into a journal as I described in my resolutions post - it's week #3 and I'm still going strong. I have managed to complete an entire scrapbook about a wonderful Disney and San Diego vacation we took in 2006. My daughter was only 2 at the time, but loves to look at the pictures. I am starting a scrapbook to keep each of our annual Christmas letters and photo cards that we send to our family and friends. I have also kept preschool projects for our oldest daughter in a scrapbook and I plan to do the same for our younger daughter. While I wasn't great with their baby books, I do have some fun things like the ultrasound pictures and a piece of paper for each where we timed my contractions before heading to the hospital. I feel these few things are as much about me as they are about the children.

All in all, I have many pieces that document my past and present, but alas they are in a sad state of organization. I have a lot of work to do.

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