A Little Bit About MeI didn't get to be a professional genealogist by going to school for genealogy. I started as a complete Occasional Genealogist. I only got to do research occasionally and that was in the days before the Internet. I didn't even have the luxury of surfing the Internet in my bunny slippers to learn about genealogy. Genealogy has a way of becoming quite consuming if you have the time. For a while, I did have free time. Over ten years ago I took my first full-time position as a genealogist. Back then I even managed to do my own research pretty often. It wasn't until I had kids that I started reverting to being an Occasional Genealogist with my personal research.
How Can I Help?I've been through many "stages" of genealogy, from being a beginner, and probably making every mistake out there, all the way to being a full-time professional who had free time to spend on my own research. I want to spare you some of the growing pains my personal research has been through as well as share some of the "secrets" that make professionals successful (here's a hint, there aren't any secrets).
Why the OCCASIONAL genealogist?So why a blog devoted to The Occasional Genealogist? Why not just write about "genealogy" without the distinction? First, there isn't anything fundamentally different an Occasional Genealogist has to do. However, most beginning genealogists don't research and work in a way that is conducive to infrequent sessions of genealogy. Successful professionals, do. That's right, if you're an Occasional Genealogist, you need to up your skills to a professional level. That doesn't mean you need the specific knowledge of a professional but you do need the organizational skills. When I say "organizational skills," I'm not just talking about your filing system. A good beginning genealogy book, class, or course will cover all of the research skills you need. The skills that aren't specifically related to using records are what I'm talking about. Reading old handwriting is a research skill, keeping a research log is an organizational skill. This distinction is semantics but for an Occasional Genealogist, the big difference is in the organizational skills, not the research skills.
For most of us, organizing isn't the fun part. And even if you enjoy organizing, what you enjoy, may not lead to your success. There are lots of ways to do genealogy correctly but not every option works for every genealogist, or for every genealogical problem. If you have decided genealogy is what you want to spend your limited free time on, but you're starting to become frustrated, you may need to adjust what you're doing. Genealogy takes a lot of time. It's really only thanks to the Internet that it has become a hobby anyone, no matter their quantity of free time, can pursue.
Do you have time for genealogy?
Give Up? Never!So should you give up if you can't devote a great deal of time to genealogy? No! I refuse!
That's right, I'm personally invested in this concept of a successful Occasional Genealogist. This blog isn't just to help you adapt good genealogical practices to your ridiculously small amounts of free time. It's also to make me take my own advice. I've paid for the mistakes I made when I was a beginner. I wish I had known which skills would have made a difference down the road. I had limited time to research and I made my own choices about what didn't get done to save time. Sometimes I made the wrong decision. Rarely was that obvious immediately. Today I see the pitfalls ahead. I'm going to share the tips and tricks I've developed to save time without heading straight for a pitfall. I hope I'll also come up with some new strategies based on what you, the readers, need.
What's Coming Up Next?So what should you expect from The Occasional Genealogist? You will get advice targeted at genealogists who don't often get to do research. I'll mix up the types of tips, tricks, and advice because only getting to research occasionally happens to different types of genealogists. Just because you have free time doesn't mean you can research. I know everyone's "free time" is different so I'll make different kinds of suggestions. Some suggestions will be for targeted research. Some suggestions will be more about organizing and record keeping. Not all suggestions will work for you. I hope over time you'll start to recognize what you can do with the resources you have available, how you can best adapt good practices to those resources, and also what works for you.
Leave a comment about what you think is your greatest struggle as an Occasional Genealogist. I know everyone is different so give me some ideas what brought you to "The Occasional Genealogist" and how this blog can help you do great genealogy, despite the interruptions.