Saturday, September 9, 2023

Looking Forward


Fall is in the air—and in those delicious promos for pumpkin spiced lattes. Around here, daytime temperatures are still reaching into the nineties, but people are ready for a change.

I can't say I'm in any rush to dispense with the seasonable weather, but the coolness in the morning—and a few other signs—have put me in the mood to look forward to a new year.

Yesterday's message from which gifted me with the beta version of their new "fan view" has certainly been part of the reason I'm looking forward to the upcoming year. Frankly, work on my father-in-law's Irish roots, mired in the murky midst of a century lacking existent records, has put a damper on my research enthusiasm. And looking forward to the last quarter of the year, when I devote time to puzzling through my own father's unfathomable Polish roots, comes with that same dread of unsuccessful forays. I need something new to look forward to, and the fan view beta has given me that first glimpse of something—hopefully—yet to come.

Here's the main reason I'm looking forward to using the fan view: it will help me find some fresh candidates for my Twelve Most Wanted for 2024. Yes, I warned you: I'm already looking forward to a new year. My approach—and quickly, just in case Ancestry yanks its beta version of this fan chart option—is to take all of my most distant known ancestors and draw up charts using each of them as the home person.

I could take, for instance, my second great-grandparents and create that fan view chart for each one of them. Then, looking at who is missing in the generations beyond, formulate my plan for filling in those blanks. For the family lines in which the blanks don't appear until generations after that point, I simply use that later great-grandparent as the home person for the fan chart. In some cases—for instance, in my mother's and my mother-in-law's family lines—that home person could be someone born in colonial times.

Wherever those ancestors fall on the timeline of generations, the visual of who's there and who's missing is quite helpful—and is somehow more obvious to me than looking at a horizontal pedigree chart. I'm having quite a bit of fun with this already, but I think it will offer up some viable alternatives for me to research next year. It will certainly pinpoint some of the lines I've neglected over the past years.

I may not be much for pumpkin spiced lattes, myself, but that encouraging feeling of looking forward to a new challenge does provide inspiration—and energy. And to think it was all thanks to a simple experiment in a beta version of an idea that really isn't anything new. Just different. Like changing seasons. And different coffee flavors. 

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