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Five Fun Summer Projects for Genealogists

Thanks to Lisa Alzo for this guest blog post.

Summer is officially here (in the Northern Hemisphere the summer solstice officially arrived June 21 at 12:24 A.M. EDT.), and my mind is racing with ideas on how to make the most of my genealogy time without the stress of the usual work deadlines and travel obligations. If you are looking for some fun ways to move forward with your family history, here are five suggestions.

Summer Genealogy Projects

  1. Create a Genealogy Vision Board. Looking to make progress on a particular family line? Break down a longstanding brick wall? Perhaps you want to plan a research trip or dream about possible travel to your ancestral homeland? Is there a conference or institute you would like to attend this year?  One way to keep track of all your genealogy goals or aspirations is to set up a vision board. Many folks do this by cutting out pictures from magazines and pinning them on poster board or a cork board. But you can also do this virtually either with Pinterest, or by using a cloud-based program such as Trello, which happens to be my favorite project management tool. If you are not familiar with Trello, you can learn more from my recent blog post, “5 Ways to Use Trello for Genealogy and Family History,” or by watching the Legacy webinar, “Your Whiteboard in the Cloud: Trello for Genealogists.” Get tips from other users by joining the Trello for Genealogy and Family History Facebook group.
  1. Set up a Genealogy Bullet Journal. Once you have your “vision board,” you will need a way to keep track of daily or weekly tasks, such as online database searches, contacting relatives, or requesting documents from archives. Popular in time management circles, Bullet journaling is a trend that has been gaining some traction in the genealogy community. While your bullet journal can be basic or fancy (it is totally up to you), all you really need to get started is a notebook or journal and a pen. You can read blog posts about bullet journaling by genealogists such as Kathryn Lake Hogan, “How to Bullet Journal for Genealogy,” DearMyrtle, “Setting Up My Bullet Journal - Part 1,” and Midge Frazel, “Bullet Journaling Video List: Video Presentations of Interest to Genealogists, Planners and Bullet Journaling.” There is also a Bullet Journaling Genealogy Facebook group,
  1. Attend School by the Pool. Grab your laptop or tablet, find your favorite lounge chair and learn while you soak up some sun (or enjoy the shade). Take advantage of the many Legacy Family Tree Webinars (watch them live for free), or become a paid subscriber for unlimited access to these as well as archived webinars in the webinar library (now up to 549 classes of genealogy education, 754 hours of genealogy instruction ,2532 pages of instructors' handouts). Whether you want to learn about methodology, technology, or DNA, you can easily build your own summer school curriculum.
  2. Scan Family Photographs. What genealogist doesn’t have boxes of family photographs to sort, scan and share? For the past month, I have been sorting through what seems like an endless collection myself. So, when I learned that my colleague and friend, Denise Levenick, was hosting a Genealogy Scan Along on her website, The Family Curator, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to begin my own photo scanning project. Denise calls it a "virtual scanning bee." For four weeks, participants will each work on a scanning project to create a family history photo book. Denise will offer guidance through tutorials and tips (and participants can connect via the Genealogy Scan Along Facebook group. Don’t miss this opportunity!
  3. Jumpstart that Family History Writing Project. If writing a family history is on your “to-do” list, then why not    take some small steps now to get started? You don’t have to be finished with your research to begin writing. A good way to  get those creative juices flowing is through a Storyboard—a visual outline of your story. One of my favorite tools to use for this task is Scrivener.  If you are not familiar with this writing and project management tool, check out my five-part Legacy Family Tree Webinars series on using Scrivener, as well as my Storyboard Your Family History webinar.         

The above ideas are enough to keep you busy throughout the summer and easy ways to have fun with your family history. Remember, as Geoff Rasmussen says, “Life is short. Do Genealogy First!” 

Lisa A. Alzo, M.F.A. is a freelance writer, instructor and internationally recognized lecturer specializing in Eastern European genealogy, writing your family history, and finding female and immigrant ancestors.  She is the author of 10 books, and hundreds of magazine articles.  Lisa is a frequent speaker for Legacy Family Tree Webinars, and blogs at  The Accidental Genealogist. She can be reached at http://www.lisaalzo.com.

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