What Does a Genealogist/Historian Do On Her Day Off?

The high point of my day, however, was taking an album full of Civil War era photos to the Randolph County Historical Society in Winchester, IN.  The pictures were sent to our historical society, but, after researching some of the names that were actually noted, we determined that the pictures were most likely of folks from Randolph County.  I had a lovely time talking with the people who are working very hard to keep the doors open. Check them out here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/700114120119028/

On my way home, I drove through Fountain City and saw the sign pointing toward the highest point in Indiana.  So, I decided to check it out.  Believe it or not, I was not the first person there today!  I also didn’t realize how close I was to Ohio.

Back to work tomorrow!

Who am I kidding?  Back to work now! 😉

Has It Really Been FOUR Years?

I can’t believe I missed my blogiversary!  It was June 24, 2018, and was actually FOUR years!  It occurred during my transition into my new position so it probably slipped my mind, but I did remember it a few days ago.  Sadly, I thought just three years had passed.  Good thing for archives, amIright?!

<–There it is, my very first posted image…Faces in the Clouds

<–I’ve pulled this out for my upcoming ProGen Study Group!

<–Our 1930 Chrysler in our Memorial Day parade this year!

+ + = My life right now!

 

Deciding to Go for It!

The book on bottom I’ve had for 5 years.  The book on top I recently bought.

In 2013, I had a feeling my long-time job at the hospital was going to end.  And it did.  They outsourced the work I did to a national company, at which they had secured a position for me if I decided to work there.  I had no other choice, so I went to work for the national company and began planning for a change.

It took 5 years, but I was able to put medical transcription behind me and move forward with my Muze position.  I can’t even tell you the normal lab values for SGOT right now and those used to roll off my tongue!

When I first began planning my career change, I was moving in the direction of becoming a professional genealogist and consultant for this area of Indiana.  I did a lot of pro bono work, watched a lot of webinars, attended seminars and conferences, and volunteered at the historical society.  One thing I had planned on doing but could never fit into my schedule as it was a 19-month program was a ProGen Study Group.  A ProGen Study Group is held virtually and covers the information in the books in the photo (currently, only the top book is being used).  You are part of a group of 7 other students and a mentor who is certified by the BCG or accredited by ICAPGen.  You work on all aspects of becoming a professional genealogist, from an education plan to business practices to actual genealogical work.  That work you do is then peer reviewed.  The waiting list is long; I signed up during the spring of 2017 and was first contacted a year later.  Since signing up, though, the program was adapted to be just 12 months long.  You spend on average 20 hours per month working on assignments.

I was contacted about joining ProGen38.  This came at the time I was transitioning into my new role as Muze Executive Director, so it didn’t feel right.  On the other hand, it didn’t feel right to leave behind my goal of becoming a professional genealogist either.

So, when the invitation came for ProGen39, I didn’t think twice.  I jumped in with both feet and am preparing to begin this journey in September!  Maybe, just maybe, I’ll push myself a bit more and go “on the clock” once I complete the course.  You fellow genealogists know what I mean!  Apply for certification through BCG.  A giant step for me but what I’ve been planning for all along!

From StEPs to Paths!

I’ve had a couple days off from the Muze, and I’ve done the following:

  • Finished up the newsletter for bulk rate mailing! If you are so inclined, go here and click on July to read the newsletter (.pdf format).
  • Watched three webinars (intro to digitization; vision, mission, and planning; website updating)
  • Created a schematic detailing the “paths” on which we find ourselves (path to: vision, logo, virtual exhibit, website overhaul, and digitization)
  • Started planning for my Trunk of Curiosities to go with my presentations…here it is:
  • Started reading the StEPs workbook
  • Did a price comparison on different items to share with the Board
  • Getting the News You Can Use email ready to roll on August 1
  • Sent out my weekly update late Sunday night (just about slipped my mind!)

In my downtime, I have been working on:

  • DAR duties (finishing chapter yearbook, finishing plan for the year, creating a letter and first agenda, reviewing bylaws, creating an email to send out to create a bylaws committee)
  • Reviewing the chapter master report

Every once in awhile, a thought will cross my mind…don’t forget ProGen39!!  My mind, it is a’swirlin’!

For something non-work-related, I watched a couple BatDad videos on Facebook. 😀

One More StEP…or Maybe Two

My historical society took a big leap of faith and approved our entry into the StEPS Program through AASLH (American Association for State and Local History).  StEPS stands for Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations.  It is a self-guided process wherein history organizations take a good hard look at policy and procedure and their future.  We will receive a workbook to work on different aspects of our organization, e.g. mission and governance, audience, and collection.  I am very excited about this!  We plan on reviewing it through the rest of this year and actively working on what needs attention beginning in 2019.

Drawer from Thaddeus Coffin desk

I am so grateful for the Genealogy Library we have at our historical society (named after Clarence H. Smith, some day soon I’ll tell you more about him).  When I began pondering career changes, professional genealogy seemed like the path I wanted to follow.  Volunteering at the historical society opened my eyes to the wonder that is our local history.  This position as director fulfills my genealogical passion, as well as teaches me unique things about my county.  If I don’t learn something new daily, then I consider it a nonproductive day.  These new things I learn can come from any nook of the Museum…our oldest book was published in 1789…a child on a tour showed me a new piece of wood in our Thaddeus Coffin desk (made of nearly 57,000 pieces!)…a lovely weed had found its way into our entry pavilion!  Even though I’m the executive director of a historical society and museum, genealogy still plays a large role in my life.

Bronze on wood trunk I bought today to use for my presentations! “The Trunk of Curiosities”

That is why when I recently received the invitation to join the ProGen Study Group 39 I jumped at the opportunity.  I had tentatively set aside my goal of achieving professional genealogy certification through the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), but, by signing up and participating in the yearlong ProGen course of study, I believe I might move forward with my BCG goal.  We’ll see in a year!

Census record I may use for ProGen or BCG

Thank you to those who voted on the skeleton key poll.  What do you think of this one?

Skeleton key on gentleman’s black top hat

Why We Do What We Do

I shared the following post on the historical society’s Facebook page and thought I’d post it here, as well:
“Just wanted to share…why we do what we do: We had some visitors this week who dropped in to see some portraits of their ancestors that they knew we had. These portraits hang in the Museum. We told them we might have some more family information in our genealogy library. They were then able to hold in their hands the sermons that their ancestor had held in his hands, written in both English and German, around 150 years ago, here in Henry County. This is why we exist, to preserve the bountiful history of our county to share with people today and future generations, for the descendants of our early Henry County citizens to make a connection with their ancestors. This particular visit made me stop and think about what the importance of Henry County history means to so many generations and what an honor it is to be a guardian of the treasures of yesteryear.”

Later on that week, we had a member stop by to donate a ticket used by the Union Traction Company of Indiana (Interurban).  He asked what we did with our transportation artifacts, photos, and documents, if we ever put them on display to be shared.  Oh, how we’d love to have the space to do that!  We have *so much* stored away just waiting on that special person to come look at it and learn from it.  I tucked the train ticket into an archival-quality envelope so that it wouldn’t get lost in the Interurban file.  Hopefully, in the future, we’ll be able to virtually display more of our collection.  I entered the ticket into PastPerfect and soon will have the ability to add the picture of it, as well.  For right now, though, here it is:

Our database continues to grow!

Have I Mentioned…

how much I am loving my new position?

At first, I was somewhat apprehensive going into it.  I felt like I didn’t know enough; I felt like I was leaving my genealogical study and research behind; I was worried I’d fail miserably.

So far, so good!  Of course, it’s early on, but I’m slowly becoming more comfortable in picking up the phone to call someone.  I’m delegating tasks so that I’m not doing everything myself.  I ask questions and give advice.  And, I feel like I’m actually making a difference.  I heard that phrase so many times in my previous career, and it must have resonated within me.  I am thankful for those years working at the hospital and learning what I did; it has transferred nicely to my Muze job.

I attempt to use customer service skills, too.  Customer service goes a long way…something as simple as actually actively listening to a person’s story or spelling their name right or giving them a heads up about a DNA test deal really make my job so worth it.  I like being able to help people along on their family history journey or talking to them about our local history or listening to their stories about our county.  My goal is to learn something new every day; so far, my new position has not let me down!

Now, I need your help! Pick your favorite:
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Thanks!