Thursday, October 26, 2017

Day Twenty-Six: G is for Gaining Ground

Once I cleared all the files in the "F" folder, I figured progress in my Fall Cleanup project would accelerate. Sure enough, it did.

First step in the folder for "G" topics was labeled, generically enough, "General Info on Genealogy." My, what a lot of old resources I found in that twenty year old folder! Most of them were for websites which have long been gone, or at least have morphed into other resources. Most, thankfully, were for topics for which I know I now have up-to-date resources, listed in my online records or in my much more concise notes.

It still amazes me to see how many people I was in touch with during those early days of online genealogical research. There were so many "lists" where people could exchange information—"listservs" from the University of Pennsylvania and other colleges, early computer services such as Prodigy, and, of course, the many mailing lists hosted by Rootsweb.

Not only were folks trying to compare notes on mutual connections with ancestors, but they were also keen on sharing great tips and resources. One man shared tips on how to visit a cemetery for family history purposes. A woman on a different mailing list provided a formula for determining a person's date of birth from the precise age at date of death (gleaned either from old headstones or from more recent death certificates). One wonderful, multi-post resource was a dictionary of archaic medical terms. Others shared a naming pattern, or the geometric progression of how many direct ancestors a given person could have. Someone shared a poem about genealogy.

Of course, many of these resources can now be accessed via online resources, but I didn't know that then. All I could do was figure out a way to be organized about saving all these bits of information in the filing system of the day. Mostly, it was a simple matter of finding a post and clicking on the button for "print." Presto: more stuff to file.

Some of those names from back in the 1990s are still around in the genealogy world today. Saved, among the papers in my many file folders, were excerpts from the "Rootsweb Review" for which I still remember the editor's name: Myra Vanderpool Gormley. Apparently—though in a different guise—she has been active in both writing and research ever since those early years in which I carefully saved her work from the Rootsweb days. Having published several books (including a last hurrah for Rootsweb, The Official Guide to, the same year she retired from the organization), she now even keeps up with a genealogy blog, which she dubbed "Shaking Family Trees."

And I thought all patron saints were from bygone centuries. Genealogy, it appears, is a different case.

The majority of the pages I unearthed from the folders in the "G" file found their new home in the nearest circular file. I have to confess, though: some gems were just too hard to toss. But they were only five or six. Maybe seven. Certainly no more than eight.

Above: "Rainy Day, Boston," 1885 oil on canvas by American Impressionist artist Childe Hassam; courtesy Google Art Project via Wikipedia; in the public domain.

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