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# Thursday, April 30, 2009
Overcoming Genealogical Malaise and Canine Sabotage
Posted by Diane

Funny how when my research is humming along and I’m finding all kinds of new genealogy information, my excitement percolates over and I can’t wait to write about it here.

But when there’s nothing on the microfilm and my online searches come up empty, I keep quiet. I fade into a kind of genealogical malaise.

My dog enjoys shredding paper. (Once I caught her slinking away from my purse with a $10 bill in her teeth.) Soon after my ancestors failed to appear in city directory microfilm, Janie got hold of a research request sitting on the bookshelf waiting to be mailed to the Louisiana state archives. I found it in two pieces on the living room floor.

I still haven’t done anything about those two pieces. Malaise.

They say that when you’re trying to get into shape, the best motivation is seeing the dieting and exercise pay off. That principle applies to genealogy: The best inspiration to do more research is getting results.

So when you keep not finding new information despite your best efforts, you’re in danger of embarking on a downward spiral—lack of motivation to look for records followed by (wonder of wonders) not finding your ancestors.

That’s when you need outside motivation. I’ll throw out a few suggestions, and I hope you’ll click Comments to add your own:
  • Take a genealogy class, attend an event, go to a society meeting or read a magazine (hey! I know one you might like!). Let others help you see the possibilities. Plus, it’ll be inspiring to talk to people who are in a more excited state of doing genealogy than you're stuck in.
  • Help a genealogy newbie. You could go with a friend to a Family History Center, be a library volunteer or answer questions online in forums such as ours. You’ll gain confidence in your research skills and be inspired by your helpee’s successes—a little like watching a wide-eyed toddler discover the world.   
  • Bask in the glow of past bingo! moments. Go through your research and remember the time you finally discovered Great-grandpa, his last name mangled, in the 1900 census. That feeling of triumph will be yours again.
  • Power through. Our sister publication Writer’s Digest says the best way to get over writer’s block is to make yourself sit down and write. It’s like that. Force yourself to do some research (try moving to an environment, such as the library, where you won’t be tempted to clean the kitchen or turn on the TV).
  • Accept the lows with the highs. You can’t be on all time, and neither can your family tree. Instead of feeling guilty, let yourself enjoy a short research vacation. Then jump back in refreshed.

Research Tips
Thursday, April 30, 2009 2:37:40 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
Friday, May 01, 2009 10:46:33 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Write about one of your ancestors, perhaps the "brick wall" or one that intrigues you. List the info you have or make it a short biography. Maybe even think about what you would like to know about them.
Kathy
Katherine McArthur
Monday, May 04, 2009 9:20:35 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Great advice! This also would be a good way to try out different theories, for example, where ancestors might have moved and why.
Diane
Comments are closed.