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Janus, Guardian of the Open Door Thread.

A Look Back

So, I started this Group, see, and I really didn’t know what I was doing.

I still don’t know what I’m doing.

I think many of us would take (polite) exception to that, but thus began life last February 11 for the Genealogy and Family History Community. Our intrepid edwardssl spanked it on its little butt and we've been yelping with joy ever since.

Genealogy & Family History Community

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Leave the blood feuds at home

family treed

From that inaugural post:

If you are interested in research, analysis and discussion of genealogy, family history, or even simply history itself, you may want to join our group. I’m hoping to get lots of Kossacks to share their own family histories (no living individuals, please), and perhaps if they have such research experience, contribute “how-to” diaries, sharing links and giving helpful suggestions.

Having recently spent some time skimming through the group's collective body of work, I'm impressed with both the quality and the variety of subjects explored. Folks have been eager to tell their families' stories, and have shown genuine interest in reading the stories of others. Our own GrumpyOldGeek said it well, just last week:

I love this stuff.

If someone asks me what I do for fun, they're eventually going to be asked about their own family history. Usually, no prompting is needed. People like to talk about their family history. Their stories are unique, to say the least. Sometimes it's like drinking from a firehose.

And in the realm of "how-to," well, GFHC-ers have been generous in sharing tips and answering questions, both in posts and in comments. (Oh, and our friendliness is epic, the stuff of legend — unlike some of our "grandcestors," we are never cranky. Well, almost never.)

The very next post from edwardssl enlightened, nay, electrified the genealogy world with this learnèd disquisition:

This is only a test.

Test. Test. Test.

Testity, Test, Test, Test.

Testicles, Specticles [sic]


Anyway... she soon got things rolling with some excellent advice for anyone wondering how to get started...

If you’re new to family history research, or if you’d like to do it but have no idea where to begin, getting started can be the hardest part of the experience. Vast amounts information and resources are going online every day. Sometimes beginners can get overwhelmed. Others have problems getting started at all because they just don’t have enough information to build on.

...followed by a list of great suggestions.

The week after that saw the very first GFHC Open Thread

I’ve been rather pleased with the amount of interest and participation in our little Genealogy and Family History Community (GFHC) Group. Though I was sure there was at least a passing interest in the subject, I didn’t know what to expect when I first set up the Group.  Well, it appears there's a lot of interest. So, I wanted to say thanks to you all who have joined, followed, participated in or even just occasionally browsed through our Groups discussions so far. It’s been so much fun.

In fact, we’ve grown so much, it’s been suggested that it’s time we set up our very own, regularly scheduled



 — and since then, this group dedicated to "looking back" has never, er, looked back.

I could mine great quotes from every post since, but for that very reason (and because I would have a really hard time deciding what to include), let me suggest that you take a look back through the archives yourself.

As for me, I became a GFHCommunist about a month after that first Open Thread. I'd written a piece about one of my ancestors for my own blog (which I was then just getting started), and, on a whim, I crossposted it in Orange, where it was quickly republished to this group (thanks, greenbird and edwardssl!). Needless to say, I joined right up. :-)

That very day, March 24th, I discovered yet another thing I've come to love about this fine group: the keen appreciation for a good (or bad!) joke. This poll from that day's Open Thread (heh, "Organizing my shi ... um, stuff") still makes me snicker:

(Yes, I'm quite fond of the fleur de Kos, thankyouverymuch!)

A Look Ahead

My next Open Thread post, just a couple of weeks from now, will take a look at Mormons, genealogy, and me; after that, I'll turn my attention to microhistory and its relevance for family historians. Then (if I can manage to actually pull it off) I'll post a follow-up (yay, Midweek Fix!) with an exercise in microhistory taken from a specific day in the life of my third-great-grandfather, Charles Price (who has developed a pernicious propensity for interrupting my other researches).

Down the line, I'm working on something for Women's History Month (March) — wouldn't it be great if we made it Women's Family History Month? — and my long-promised tale of the Wild West, a murderous saga of seduction, sister wives, and other shenanigans. Also among my drafts: a post on one ancestor's sense of humor; one that showcases some genealogy/family history-related poems; and (now that I have a new scanner) pieces based on family photos from my collection.

Our lovely and talented Founder began this group last February with an invitation, a roll call of sorts:

So since this is the first diary, I thought we could share our primary geographic areas of research.

Today, as we look ahead to 2012, this seems like a good time to repeat (and expand) that invitation: what areas — geographical, historical periods, specific family names — are you working on? And, looking back at 2011, what have you accomplished this year? Any brick walls reduced to rubble, smashed to smithereens (or, at least, commencing to crumble)?

Finally, what can we look forward to reading from you over the coming weeks and months? GFHC-ers (and honored guests of lurkish disposition), represent!

The floor is yours. Have a satisfying (or sentimental, or snarky) look back, a stimulating look ahead, and above all, have a very, very Happy New Year!

The kindly year, his liberal hands
Have lavished all his store.
And shall we turn from where he stands,
Because he gives no more?
Oh stay, oh stay,
One grateful hour, and then away.

~ William Cullen Bryant

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