December 28th, 2009
- Maintain my health and fitness program so that I will have the energy and strength to do the next 9 items.
It is too easy to get mesmerised by the computer or the fascination of the library, book or whatever. Without regular breaks my back starts to ache, my joints stiffen up and my brain overloads and I start to dither. If I don’t make the effort to leave the house or telephone someone, I find myself telling the budgie my success stories. To keep focussed everyone needs to be aware of regular exercise, nutritious food, lots of water and time out. Socialising (with real people – email doesn’t count) is also part of family history so attending genealogical or family history meetings and learning what’s new and sharing information is just as important. It’s not all online.
- Start using my new digital recorder and get Mum’s memories of her grandmother before it is too late.
Spending time with my mother during her recent illness has made me all too aware of what she knows, but won’t necessarily tell me unless I ask the right questions. The digital recorder is small and unobtrusive, and by showing Mum some old photos I can get her to start telling me her memories and childhood stories. With luck, and the right positioning of the recorder, she forgets it is there after a while and talks on freely about people I will only ever know through her memories.
- Scan my old photos, identify them and share with the family.
I have been collecting family photos for over 30 years and while I have made some attempts to identify, arrange and make more accessible some photos to other family members, I am very aware that there is a lot more I can do here. There is so much that is in my head that no one else will ever be able to work out, unless I seriously start to make this huge amount of material more organised with better descriptions, scanned images and proper storage conditions.
- Conserve and preserve family heirlooms discovered during my recent stay at Mum’s including both my parents’ 21st birthday keys and cards, Dad’s first love letter to Mum (both aged 12 at the time), her wedding dress, my first pair of shoes, photos and other documents.
As well as the photographs, I have various bits and pieces of memorabilia which have not been stored in ideal conditions and are now old and fragile. By purchasing some acid free archival storage boxes and paper I can make these valuable items more safe and secure for future generations. All it takes is a bit of time, money and effort. It’s a pity that there aren’t more rainy weekends in Melbourne these days, but on those cold weekends and boring nights of television, I am sure that I will find the time to tackle this goal, as long as I stop procrastinating!
- Work with my other Johnston family members to finally sort out the Johnston Clan from Knockbride, County Cavan.
The Johnston clan is huge with lots of siblings in each generation and almost every line has one or more people researching it but it is also confused with missing or unknown information. A few of us have started to get together to pool all our information and systematically work our way through the known and the unknown. 2010 will be the year we sort out all the Knockbride Johnstons!
- Finalise my draft of the Price family history in time for my mother’s 76th birthday.
I first started this draft for the 100th anniversary of the family’s arrival in 1878 but in 1978 I had only been researching for two years and had not done a lot of overseas research. Every few years I have updated it with new information but never finished it. There was always something else to do or find out. In 2008 I was definitely going to finish it for the 130th anniversary but personal illness got in the way and for my mother’s 75th in 2009, my partner’s illness sidetracked me. It is so easy for other things to come along and take higher priority (as they must sometimes) but there comes a time when everyone must simply say enough and finish. Publish and/or distribute copies – I can always say another edition is in the pipeline. At least there is a finished product, not a collection of certificates, photos, bits and pieces of information etc which is meaningless without the context that only I can give it.
- Start a website for my family history research.
Having seen so many interesting and surprisingly simple family history websites, it really is time that I start to put my own family history online. It is such an easy way to share information and photographs with people and invite them to share their stories as well. Just doing my own blogs has been an interesting experience with people contacting me with ideas, suggestions and on one occasion, even related to me.
- Continue to inspire and assist others with their family history research.
Most of my working life in government (35 years) was spent assisting people with genealogical and family history research and I hope to continue doing that in my new venture Unlock the Past with Gould Genealogy & History. I have always been conscious of the tyranny of distance in Australia and that not everyone has easy access to major archives, libraries and societies. Regional areas also need access to good resources and speakers and hopefully Unlock the Past will help us achieve that.
Keeping up with blogs is a bit like writing a diary – if you set a specific time to do it, you will probably do it. If you leave it random, it will probably be forgotten or haphazard. So for things that I really want to do I am now going to set specific times in my calendar and treat it as something that I must do. Plus as I really enjoy reading the comments that people post on my blogs, I am going to make the effort to make comments myself to let other people know that I appreciate the opportunity of being able to read their blogs and learn from their experiences.
- Stay focussed, organised and enthused and open to all new possibilities in my family research travels!
Rereading the above aspirations I wonder if I have been too ambitious but without goals and specific targets we have nothing to aim for. Having this blog printed and in a visible place in my study will keep me focussed, not so sure about organised (depends on what else is happening) and enthused ( being enthusiastic about family history is never a problem). I am always excited about new developments and 2010 is going to have all sorts of new and exciting resources, technology and breakthroughs in my research. I can’t wait!