- Have you hit a brick wall? You know what that is right? You are desperately trying to find some information that will prove that your great great grandfather is who you think he is, but you can't prove it. Or the names on a marriage record doesn't have the exact names that it "should." Or a variety of other reasons.
- Are you totally disorganized? You know what I mean - you have photos and photo albums strewn all about; you have notes written on slips of paper everywhere. You think you know who you need to research but you have no plan. And getting organized is boring, right?
- Have you lost your zeal for research? So you haven't found anyone new lately - you've been searching but haven't had what I call a "boing" and thus you have become discouraged. Your cousin bait and cousin hunting activities haven't paid off and nobody has emailed you about your Ancestry Tree in months.
- Do you have a mental goal to increase the number of ancestors and relatives in your database? Are you one of those people who think a successful researcher has to have thousands of names in their database? Take it from me - that is a silly goal. I belong to a few forums where genealogy is discussed - and you would be amazed at how many people boast about their 17,000 or 30,000 or even 100,000 person databases. Who cares?
- Do you have a mental goal to to prove that your ancestry goes back to a specific century? Why is that? Isn't that kind of an arbitrary goal? All that does is create stress and pressure that you don't need. And stress and pressure isn't fun - is it?
- Do you have a website for your Family History? If you don't - why not? It allows you to crystallize your research and focuses on non-research activities. More on this later.
- Are you intimidated by all the experts and the requirement for detailed source citations? Read any article about genealogy research and the experts will all say the same thing - you MUST document in detail where you have found the information that you have found. Guess what - that is good advice - but I do not agree with what some require as 100 or 200 word citations I'm kidding here - but I don't care to have to document what I had for lunch the day that I found the marriage record online for my great great great Uncle and Aunt. So cite your sources, but don't let the academics intimidate you into thinking you are doing something wrong. Again, that is no fun.
I have THE answer for you. Listen closely as if I am whispering. The answer is to:
Stop focusing on the ancestors you don't know and start focusing on the ancestors you do know
- First of all - if you don't have a family history website - for crying out loud - build one. It's easy and guess what - It's fun! Here are 3 links from this site "The Ancestor Hunt" about building a Family History Website: Build Your Family History Website; Make Your Family History Website Memorable; Another Reason to Create a Family History Website
- Search for newspaper articles about your ancestors - not just birth announcements or marriage announcements or obituaries - but stories - about how someone nearly got run over, or committed a crime, or won an award at the county fair for their peaches, or ran for political office, etc. There are tons of stories sitting and waiting for you to discover. And there are several newspaper search sites out there - some free and some require a paid subscription. Try it out - it's fun.
- Focus on photos for awhile. If they aren't part of your family history website - then write articles about and around them - photos can and do inspire stories. If you aren't sharing them with your relatives - why aren't you? It's easy. Create a free Flickr or Picasa or Photobucket online account, tag the photos and upload them. Send the links to your relatives - who knows, one or more of the photos may trigger a memory or a story from your "cousins."
- Focus on writing stories for awhile. Take that interview from Great Aunt Bernice and write a story around it. Or better yet - are there "themes" that run through your ancestors? For example - I have a few ancestors who were inventors with patents, and a collection of entertainers - both in music and movies and TV. Write some themed articles. I even have about a half dozen house painters - I don't know why - but it's interesting. Write about them.
So - focus on the ancestors you know about - the discoveries are just as rewarding and in my opinion even more rewarding than finding a new ancestor, or a new set of dates for someone. You will have fun and your attitude will change positively!
And you will...