After several days of rest from my long road trip to and from the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Springfield, I have reflected on my experience. This being my first national conference, I went with few expectations other than soaking up all the new information and knowledge I could muster, and most of all, the broad opportunities for networking with other like-minded family historians and writers.

At the end of each day, my husband would ask the same question: "Did you learn anything new today?" and I would nod, providing a small recount of my chosen lectures. Each hour-long presentation that I selected was certainly worthwhile on different levels, as I caught newly noted 'tidbits' and 'how-tos' for genealogical exploration. But as I sit in front of my computer today with new found inspiration, the central theme of note for my learned experience is to trust my gut.

As I listened closely to several of the conference speakers, I picked up on the same subtle theme: keep your eyes open to the small clues; expand your search to your ancestor's neighbors or fellow church members and listen to your own intuition.

We have all experienced it; finding records along the way as we frantically try to follow the trail of an ancestor, only to toss questionable records aside, disregarding their importance. Some clues certainly take our attention off-track, yet many others occasionally lead to enlightened discoveries. Which is just what occurred to me today when I went back through an old file, retrieving documents held for later review.

Spending the last several years searching for the county of origin of my Irish ancestors, I have over time, filled a file full of unconnected dots: records, documents, obituaries of my Irish great great grandparents along with a few records of their Irish neighbors living close by. Rather than disregarding the tidbits as I came across them, I saved them; printed them off and placed them in the growing file.

And this last week, as I reflected back on trusting my gut, I looked at the tidbits again and found a connection: A name on a census record that could be the key to linking my ancestor to his Irish county of birth. For you, my genealogical details are not important. What is important, however, is to learn a lesson that is most fundamental to your journey: trust your intuition-the voice in your head that stops to review a new lead-wondering if perhaps you found a clue. How many times have you moved on, disregarding their importance? What if you had listened to yourself and saved all of those fragments of information to be reviewed another time?

Keep in reserve your unconnected tidbits for later; tucking them away to be reviewed with fresh eyes. Because your own instincts and intuition can eventually help you connect the dots; leading to enlightened details of your genealogical hunt.

Keep searching for answers,



09/22/2011 7:32am

Well said! We acquire more knowledge, familiarity with the persons and areas we research. What seemed unimportant once may jump out at us later.

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