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Changing Hats

In the fast paced world of retail and commercial construction project management results are measured by deadlines and budgets. At the end of the day no one wants to hear about how hard you worked, what you did or how many obstacles were thrown at you…did you or did you not achieve the desired result on time? That is what counts. If, for example, a fashion retail store has its grand opening scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving, no amount of hard work will give you a pass for not getting the job done until Saturday. I have spent years with terms such as pro-activity, get in front of it, drop dead date. It is all very black and white. Either the artwork was installed on time or it wasn’t. The lighting fixtures either came in on budget or they didn’t.

And so it is these past few years I have been struggling to transition from part to full-time professional genealogist. I do understand that there are no guarantees that a land sale will exist for a certain individual, and, if it does exist there is no guarantee that it will be found in a certain repository, or even sometimes at all. So, I understand the concept of charging an hourly rate for a search that bears no fruit. Or, that is to say, I get the concept. But…I am programmed to deliver results at the end of each day. So if that day yields no results, then I spend time trying to figure out what to do to produce results that I feel comfortable charging for. I have tried giving myself pep talks and comparing these task to other tasks that involve paid work for no results. But still I am resistant. This has been the main challenge for me in changing careers.

On the flip side, I have used my former project management and data crunching hats to create some excellent time-saving tools. I just added time line and log modules to my custom genealogy database. The time line module lets me quickly enter data that may or may not apply in the early stages of the project to yield a report to take with me into the field. It is also helpful to spot anomalies. As more work is done, only the relevant items need be put into more formal language. The log helps me track my back and forth contacts with clients, prospective clients and volunteer projects so that I can stay on top of who has been waiting too long for an answer, research proposal, status update, project report.

Right now I am hot on the trail of someone’s illusive Huguenot ancestor and thus there are a few too many individuals that have been waiting too long to hear back from me. And so, I had best get cracking!

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I intended for this blog to be a repository for my genealogy tips, thoughts and reflections that were too lengthy to for wall posts.  The past few months have been so busy I have yet to get back to it.  But now I resolve to post more regularly.

This June I traveled with my siblings to Sweden where we visited my mother’s ancestral home.  In Lycksele and Vägsele we saw my grandparents’ birthplaces.  We visited churches and historic sites in Göteborg, Stockholm, the High Coast, Umeå, Lycksele, Tärnaby and Östersund, hiking many miles each day sightseeing both cities and mountain wilderness. I met my genealogist cousin with whom I had corresponded for several years, and his parents who had originally helped my parents research my mother’s ancestry.  We shared some wonderful times with this family and stored up memories to last a lifetime.  After I returned I discovered through a Facebook post that a local friend shares my ancestry.  She connected me with another Swedish cousin who sent me this photo of my ancestors, John Philipson Hilduinen and his wife Hildur, who walked from northern Finland ca 1670 and built the first settlement in Lycksele parish, Örträsk.

In July I gave a talk to the New York Chapter of the Wing Family of America for their annual reunion, this year held at the picturesque and historic  Inn at Dover Furnace.  My presentation included a virtual tour of nearby Wing family related sites: Old Drovers Inn, also the first town hall for the Town of Dover; the Benson Lossing home; and Wing Post Office and Store on Chestnut Ridge.  

Following the meeting we toured, in person, the Tabor-Wing House in Dover Plains (above). Some reunion goers then hiked to the Dover Stone Church (above) where Pequot Sachem Sassacus is thought to have sought refuge when pursued by the English soldiers in 1637.  Though the afternoon was exceptionally hot even for July, those who took the hike wrote to say they were very pleased to have made the effort and intended to return with other family members.  Still others drove to Pawling to visit the Oblong Meeting House and Mehitable Wing Monument on Quaker Hill, and were pleasantly surprised to find the Meeting House open for visitors.

August was a busy month!  I continued updating the web site for the National Association of Leavitt Families and collected material for our quarterly newsletter Leavitt Leaves.  Lots of work this time adding reunion photos and news….this year the reunion was in Turner, ME, and I was very sorry to have missed it while traveling in Sweden.  The Dutchess County Genealogical Society had a booth at the Dutchess County Fair. Our VP of Education, Mary Ann Zatlukal did an excellent job of setting up the volunteer schedule and the displays for this event…as President I did not really have to do much except show up for my shift!  Our County Clerk joined us on opening day to help greet guests and discuss how the Courthouse records can help researchers.  

But…by far for me the most exciting family history event in August was an addition to my own family tree…the arrival of my first grandson, in New York City…he made his appearance in the midst of hectic times, but safely, just before Hurricane Irene.



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