Tips: What’s a Genealogist to Do in the Dog Days of Summer?

Those who live in a cold climate appreciate the warmth of summer months. However, even though the weather might be much more appreciated than storms which mean shoveling snow and icy road, the dog days of summer aren’t so great either.

Snow might be long gone, but humidity and bugs are definitely present. Or, if like me, you live in the desert, the dog days of summer are way worse than the Tucson winter.

Either way, if you need a break from genealogy software, compiling data and source citations, here are a few genealogically-themed suggestions.

  1. Sit back, relax and read a good book or two. I’d recommend Val D. Greenwood’s The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, 4th Edition, David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, Judy Jacobson’s History for Genealogists and The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd Edition by Lisa Louise Cooke. A fifth suggestion would be to search online for a copy of that vintage history or story that relates to the home of an ancestral family. Now is the time to get it read!
  2. If you can’t stay away from your computer for that long, use your online time to learn something new. Most genealogy webinars are free if viewed live. GeneaWebinars Calendar has over 30 webinars just in the month of August with topics ranging from DNA, solving tough research problems, Black ProGen to Mondays with Myrt, discussing trending genealogical topics.
  3. Still can’t stay away from the computer? Check out YouTube for more learning opportunities. Family History Fanatics posts new videos weekly. Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems has a slew of great videos, too. Or just search for “genealogy” on YouTube and choose from 235,000 results!
  4. You know that letter you’ve been meaning to write to ????? Summer is a great time to send that note off to Aunt Nellie asking about old photos, request a document from the archives or share your findings with that distant cousin who contacted you.
  5. Now is just the right time to get out all those old family photographs. You’ve been meaning to get them sorted, labeled and mounted in acid free albums. Archival quality supplies can be ordered from companies like University Products and Gaylord’s. A word of caution here, though. No governmental restrictions are placed on products using the words “archival quality.” If your items are vintage family treasures, I would not recommend buying your supplies from the chain store in the shopping center.
  6. Make some new genea-friends. Many local societies schedule meetings in the summertime. Contact your public library if you can’t find online information for your area. You might discover you’re a perfect fit for each other!
  7. Having computer withdrawal? Dedicate some time to learning more tricks of the trade in your genealogy software program. Most today offer so many bells and whistles that we don’t even realize are there. Or, try out a new genea-tech toy. Try out Scrivener or Trello for organizing your thoughts and writing a family history. Don’t panic – your history doesn’t have to be a book. It could be just a single family anecdote. Try out Evernote or Evidentia. Organize your home library using LibraryThing.
  8. For those who want to get out of the house and actively contribute to your community history, contact town officials, a local historical society or genealogy group and ask if they have any projects that require volunteer hands – cleaning up a cemetery, sorting books and papers, offering to help those in need of someone with more advanced genealogical research skills.

All of these paths lead to genealogical success and don’t involve a drop of sweat! Well, maybe cemetery work would, but have fun. 🙂

6 thoughts on “Tips: What’s a Genealogist to Do in the Dog Days of Summer?”

  1. All great ideas! May I add…prepare a research plan for the fall and winter, so you can hit the ground running and know who and what, exactly, you’re looking for. And one more idea: click to look at those hints that have been piling up. Maybe one will be the clue to unlock a fresh line of inquiry?

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