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Friday, 2 January 2015

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2014

Jill at GeniAus has asked us to review our activities in 2014 by asking  various questions with the emphasis on  "Accentuating the Positive." 

I will get the negative out of the way first of all, as when I look back, my first thought is the lack of progress on completing the final part of my Danson family narrative, the final part  of my husband's Donaldson Family narrative and the failure to look in greater  depth at my Weston family research which is all rather basic -  names and dates and little else.   These topics  appear regularly on my "to do" list, which makes me wonder  about my time management skills!   

Onto the Positive:
An elusive ancestor I found was - not quite elusive,  as I knew the name and dates of my great great great grandmother Elizabeth Danson, nee Brown, but that is all I knew.   Cassmob (Pauleen's) post Three Rs of Genealogy Research (Revisit, Record, Revise)  prompted me to look back at my sources  to see how I could bring her more to the fore of my family history.   I chose to write this by looking at her roles through life - as a daughter, wife, mother, widow and friend. It was a very satisfactory post to research and write and did indeed "Bring Betty Out of the Shadows" - also a lesson to undertake similar exercises with other ancestral research.
A precious family photo I found was...nothing new here unfortunately - I just wish there was.  However my local historical society Auld Earlston has allowed me to feature photographs/postcards from its large collection on my blog - notably in my Sepia Saturday posts  - a great boost as I was rapidly exhausting my own family photographs   

A geneasurprise I received was - being asked  by Wendy of Jollett etc.  to contribute an article for  the Geneabloggers series  "My I Introduce to you .. .... , published on 1st December.  I was honoured to be singled out and given this kind of profile.  

My 2014 blog post that I was particularly proud of was... For Remembrance Sunday - Deep Peace.  This was a post that I wrote  quickly that weekend featuring the Gaelic Blessing "Deep Peace", illustrated with photographs from my personal collection.  I received two comments, one online and one in a personal e-mail,  but the writers expressed themselves so beautifully at the impact they felt in reading the post, I could not help being moved too.  

My 2014 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments - my posts in Sepia Saturday series regularly come out high in pageviews and comments from the very supportive network of contributors.  Top was A Wartime Traveller's Tale  recounting my father's far east journey in 1945. 

 A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy - the positive note is I signed up to Google+, though I must admit I need to spend much more time making effective use of it. I have compiled scrapbooks from my childhood, so an obvious move from collecting postcards and pictures was to join Pinterest, with my boards reflecting my interests in history, travel, books, antiques and the arts.  It is a very relaxing activity - and  quite addictive!

I am proud of the presentation I gave  - I took part in a local Hobbies Show, with my theme "First Steps in Family History" and as a result was  asked to give a talk to a local organization on "First World War Memorabilia" using much of the material that has featured on my blog.  I enjoy preparing material for such events, creating a display that is appealing,  and interacting with the audience.   

I taught a friend how to...Because of my mother's Lancashire Danson family  I am a member of the Lancashire Family History and Heraldry  Society  and also its Mentoring Group and have advised a fellow member at the early stages of her Lancashire research.  Locally I have advised friends on tracing a family of blacksmiths, and on research into World War One casualties. 

A great repository/archive/library I visited was...The new Borders Family History Society facility in Galashiels.  It is nigh a   two hour bus journey to visit an  archive centre, but the BFHS is much closer and I have found the voluntary staff enthusiastic and helpful on any queries with regard to Borders research.
A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was..."How to be a Victorian" by Ruth Goodman, published by the Penguin Group in 2013 -  very readable and informative with an original approach.  Material has been gathered from contemporary accounts,  letters, diaries, newspapers and magazines to follow a typical routine  day in all its detail  for both men and women of ordinary backgrounds in both towns and country. A fascinating insight into how our Victorian ancestors really lived.

Other positives I would like to share: 
  • At the start of 2014,  I became one of 31 bloggers to sign up  for the new website Worldwide Genealogy Collaboration, where I post on the 8th of the month.  Set up by Julia of Anglers Rest,   it is a stimulating, thought-provoking site with contributions from Britain, Europe, North America and Australia.  and posts which often cover topics in some depth.

  • Completing the  A-Z April Challenge with 26 posts in a month - a demanding  task but very rewarding, with my theme "My Scottish Borders" focusing on Border history and Border ballads.  It has not put me off, and I am already planning what to do April 2015.

  • Much of my activity in 2014 has taken a new direction - by  researching and writing posts on behalf of friends/contacts who have supplied me with background information and photographs, whilst I undertook additional research  -  hence profiles of Donald Farmer, a Boer War VC and A Transatlantic Collaboration on a Yosemite Traveller - John Kinsey Smedley,  a Civil War naval surgeon, who wrote a journal of his travels in Yosemite Valley in 1874.  A side benefit was the increase in my own knowledge of relevant resources and events.

  • I was delighted to participate in Alex Daw's initiative to " add a bit of spit and polish to an old blog" by inviting us to open our blog to comments and criticism.   The advice from fellow bloggers resulted  in a brighter look to my own blog. 
Finally family history blogging continues to enhance my life - the prompts, the research, the writing plus  the posts, comments and support from online enthusiasts.  I value all this very much.  

 So I wish everyone a  fulfilling year for 2015! 


  1. Thanks for the mention Susan. You've achieved so much this year, and it was interesting to read your interview. I did love your story of a woman's stages...worth applying to other ancestors. I didn't mention Alex's inspiration re the blog revamp ....oops.

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