My mother piqued my interest in family history when I was child by sharing her photo albums, memorabilia and tidbits of information. I started researching my family history when I was in high school but did not get serious about my research until almost 30 years later. By that time, my mother had dementia and was not able to share in my research. No one else in my family shares my passion for genealogy so I usually don’t discuss my research with family.
Although my husband does not share my interest in genealogy he is very supportive of my interest. He does not complain when I ask him to make a detour when we are on vacation so I can visit a library or archive to do some research. He always obliges me when I ask him to proofread something I have written and does not mind that my research stuff take up 95% our home office space.
My husband is a great sport when it comes to my research. However, when I really need someone to talk to I call on one of my genealogy buddies. I rely on my genealogy buddies to share the joy of a new discovery, commiserate about the frustration of a brick wall and to keep me motivated.
One time I went into a panic when I thought I had lost a notebook containing all the research on my Shakespeare ancestors. Although I had backup copies of all the items in the notebook, the thought of losing my neatly organized binder nearly brought me to tears. “What are you looking for”, my husband asked when he saw me frantically searching in the office closet. “I can’t find my Shakespeare notebook”, I replied. “I am sure you will find it”, he calmly replied and went on his way. I needed to talk to someone who would truly understand what I was going through so I called my genealogy buddy, Robyn. “I can’t find my Shakespeare notebook”, I wailed when she answered the phone. “Oh girl, I know how you feel”, she replied and proceeded to tell me about the time she had misplaced some of her research. We talked for a while and I was much calmer after our conversation ended. I later resumed my search and found my notebook.
My genealogy buddies give me a push when I need it. When I had a very rough draft of my book on Union High School, I shared it with a graphic designer to get his input for a cover and the book layout. My heart sank as he flipped through my draft and made comments: He did not like my tentative title, he did not like my idea for the cover design, he did not like the pictures I had selected, and he did not like my concept for the book layout. In short, he did not like anything about the book. As I drove home after the meeting I became dejected and started to doubt my ability to complete the project. When I got home I put my rough draft away and moped around the house for awhile. Then I called my genealogy buddy, Vanessa, and told her about my experience.
She could hear the dejection in my voice and sought to reassure me. She pointed out that this was just one person’s opinion and that I should not let it deter me. She encouraged me to seek the advice of another graphic designer and others who had published local history books. After my conversation with Vanessa, my vision for the book became clearer and my motivation returned. I thought of a new title for the book and found a graphic designer and editor who helped turn my vision for Memories of Union High: An Oasis in Caroline County, Virginia 1903-1969 into a reality. I have received many compliments on the book, congratulations from my congressional representative, recognition from the Caroline County Board of Supervisors and the book was a Finalist in the African American Non-fiction category for the 2012 National Indie Excellence Book Awards contest. None of this would have happened without Vanessa’s pep talk.
I am also inspired by many other genealogist and family historians: Alice Harris, President of the Central Maryland AAHGS chapter who always does such a great job planning so many informative events for the chapter, Thomas McEntee who shares a lot of useful information on his blog and has so many inspirational guests on his GeneaBloggers Blog Talk Radio show, Bernice Bennett who also has great guests on her Blog Talk Radio show, as well as, the many people I meet at genealogy conferences, forums and chat rooms.
Every family historian needs genealogy buddies to keep them going. I am so thankful for mine.