Most days, I go to bed (sometimes rather late but) knowing that I have learnt something new, and today is no different. This time last year, I barely knew half of the people I would now consider my great geneafriends. Some people I have only ‘virtually met’ but I have been lucky enough to travel to Australia and Canada (twice) during 2014 and had the pleasure of meeting many people in real life! Today, I found out that for the past two years my geneamate, Jill Ball (aka GeniAus), has invited family historians to take part in an Accentuate the Positive Geneameme. She did this as she felt that a lot of her ‘geneablogging friends were too hard on themselves’, and she’s probably not too far wrong! We do often ‘lament that [we] haven’t achieved as much as [we] set out to do’…. I can’t count how many bloggers have reflected on not achieving the #52Ancestors challenge this year as all sorts of things ‘got in the way’.
So, I take up your invitation, Jill and invite all my geneafriends to do so too. Please take part in Jill’s Accentuate the Positive Geneameme activity by responding to the following statements/questions in a blog post, as I have below. I haven’t answered all the questions and you don’t have to either! You can write as much or as little as you want or just answer a few of the questions which are more pertinent to you.
Once you have completed your blog, please share the link in a comment on Jill’s post or send her an email: Jillballau@gmail.com. Jill will then do a compilation of responses so that we can all share each other’s successes.
So, here is my Accentuate the Positive Geneameme for 2014:
1. An elusive ancestor I found was
Despite everything that work, life and the world at large has thrown at me this year, I have managed to blog my way through the entire #52Ancestors Challenge (thanks Amy Johnson Crow – superb concept). One particular thing I have realised this year about myself is that when I decide I have to do something – for whatever reason – I do it. When I won the Superstar Genealogist Award in 2013, my website was awful and John Reid pointed everyone to it who wanted to know more about me (though at least he spelled my Gray correctly on that occasion!). Within a week, the fantastic Colin Spencer, had a brand new site up and running for me. He said ‘it would be great if you could blog every day’….. so, I do!
It is tough for me to pick just one elusive ancestor I have located this year as the #52Ancestors Challenge has brought a whole host of new information and new contacts to my inbox. But, I guess that my most recent demolition and longest standing brick wall is my most elusive ancestor to be located and I have Steve Robson to thank for the information he shared with me regarding Ann Codling, then Robson, just prior to Christmas – see comments on my post of 25 May, #21 Ann Codling (b. 1803 Simonburn, Northumberland). I have ordered two certificates to prove the facts and of course, one arrived in 2014 (see below) and I shall be eagerly awaiting the postman/lady tomorrow with the other one (marriage of Ann Robson to Peter Knox) to confirm what I am 99.99999% certain is right. If you haven’t blogged through the #52Ancestors in #52Weeks Challenge, I would recommend doing it in 2015. It’s not too late!
2. A precious family photo I found was
Well, for this one, I can take no credit at all in terms of finding it, but this year, I received one of the best Christmas presents ever. A book. Not a fiction book written by one of my favourite authors. A book called ‘My Family’ which had been designed by Ma FWL, including photographs of all the important people in my life to date and some who sadly departed before I was even around. Carefully thought through and constructed over many months I am sure, this is a book which I will treasure forever.
3. An ancestor’s grave I found was
Having been tracing my own ancestry for a fair few years, I can’t recall locating a grave from my own family tree this year. However, there have been several occasions when we (me and Mr FWL) have found ourselves wandering around small villages during the summer months (when it wasn’t pouring with rain) and we have taken the opportunity to photograph gravestones and other memorials for geneafriends who are surname studiers. Some names positively leap off and it’s always a pleasure to pass these on, often to people who live many thousands of miles/kilometres from the churchyard and would never have had the opportunity to take the pictures themselves. Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness are what makes the world go round…..
8. My 2014 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was
This post had absolutely nothing to do with genealogy and I was utterly staggered to find that my random waffles about issues with airport security in Canada were read by over 1,000 people! Many people have commented to me verbally about how much they laughed whilst reading it …. which has made me reconsider what I blog about on a daily basis since!
10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was
I have become far more of a social media (dare I say it?) geek in 2014. Yes, I used Facebook but no, I was not a great twitterer/tweeter/twit or whatever you call people who use Twitter a lot at the start of 2014! Google+ is my trusty friend but I don’t use it to maximum effect, I know that. The best thing about Google+ is definitely the ability to Hangout. How would I chair an international committee of genies without Google+ Hangouts? I probably wouldn’t. The Surname Society, founded in November 2014, is not like other societies and organisations. We are not all based in the same country and we don’t physically meet in the same room to hold a Committee meeting. Who needs to nowadays? We live in an online world and personally, I like it (though I have enjoyed my geneadventures this year too – see number 18/19 below).
12. I am proud of the presentations I gave at/to
When considering my presenter application for Who Do You Think You Are Live? in 2014 (London), I rather strangely put in two World War 1 suggestions. I say strangely because this is most certainly not a topic which I would consider my forte/specialism/call-it-what-you-will. Thank you Else Churchill for selecting both of my wild ideas – World War 1: Women In War and The Impact of World War One on rural communities. I say thank you for many reasons: (1) I really enjoyed researching and presenting them, (2) they have been booked many times last year and this year by other organisations and (3) the topic behind one of the lectures brought FWL an exciting project which will soon come to fruition!
18. It was exciting to finally meet and 19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was
I have been extremely lucky in my geneadventures this year – 2014 was certainly a good year and I have definitely put my feet a few more steps up on the genealadder. Alan Phillips of Unlock The Past Cruises (Gould Genealogy) invited me ‘Down Under’ on the Sydney cruise in February where I was lucky enough to work alongside Jill Ball, Pauleen Cass, Kerry Farmer, Shauna Hicks, Maria Northcote, Helen Smith and Sharn White, amongst many other professional and amateur genies. International ‘talent’ included Thomas MacEntee, Chris Paton and Jane Taubman – as well as me! – and it would appear that my sea legs are pretty solid, so I am cruising again in 2015.
Two trips to Canada – to Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) Conference in May and Toronto Branch Meeting of OGS in November – have also re-energised old friendships from my University of Ottawa days (1998-1999) and reminded me how lovely Canadians are (not that I had ever really forgotten!). Memories of the antics of ‘The Four Amigos’ in Niagara with Jane MacNamara, Marian Press and James F. S. Thomson will always make me smile (it was Google’s fault, I am sure!) and I am very much looking forward to my return in May 2015 when I can meet up with all my Canadian geneafriends again (Sandra Joyce, Karen Mahoney, Christine Woodcock and dozens of others …. far too many to name).
So, celebrate the successes of the past and the future, my friends. I sincerely hope that you have/will have plenty of them. Don’t forget to share them so we can all celebrate with you!