Saturday, January 2, 2016

Genea To Do List: January 2016 Update

Happy New Year All!

It's been a few weeks since I've posted, but, like you, I've been spending time with family during this holiday season, and writing has definitely been on the back burner. Happily, I got to spend time with folks on both sides of my family, though if you saw one of my more recent posts, you know it wasn't for the happiest of reasons on my paternal side. Still, it's been a while since I've seen those folks and I enjoyed their company. I'll need to plan another trip out so we can be a little sillier, and also so I can do some interviewing about family history!

Back in September, I posted a list of To Do items for my genealogical research. I'm using this public forum to stay accountable, so it's time to give you an update on where things stand.

1. Digitize my Grandma Doris's 29 photo albums and scrapbooks. I'm happy to say that just last night, I made some progress on this! I sat down with my mom and we went through the first 7 photo albums, with her identifying family members I haven't met or just don't remember. Today I'll start scanning those. I've also already scanned a pile of framed awards given to her and my grandfather, Louis Shepherd, and photos that were sprinkled throughout my Grandma Doris' other papers.

2. Plan my first research trip to Washington, DC. Done! I've been down twice already, with the payoff being a bunch of obituaries, funeral and marriage notices and newspaper articles for folks on both sides of my mom's family, plus city directory listings helping me trace the movements of people and families from residence to residence around the city. Plus, the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives has a collection of DC public school yearbooks and I was able to find one of my people in one of them! If I'm lucky, that visit will actually bear more fruit in the near future, thanks to their very helpful staff and connections. Beyond that, I'll still need to take a trip down to the DC Archives, but this may have to happen after my winter break in New Orleans.

3. Reach out to my remaining living Grandfather. I'm working on this one now. I don't personally know my paternal grandfather (it's complicated), but other members of my extended family have maintained or rekindled contact with him. He's in his 80s. Now's the time (!), and I'm planning a trip out with one of his children to go visit him. I'm nervous, but I'm also looking forward to it.

4.  Write up some more of the stories I'm already able to tell and the mysteries I want to solve. If you've been reading this blog, you know I've been making progress on this one. Otherwise, you'd have nothing to read :) I've been focusing on my great-grandmother Katherine Shepherd, and I have many more stories to tell about her and her connections before I even get started on other lines!

5. Figure out my priorities for Ohio research. *Cricket* There's been so much to do on my maternal side that I haven't gotten to this yet. It will need to be one of the things I think about and get started on while I'm in New Orleans, which is important because while I'm down there I plan to visit and do research in Alabama, from whence my Ohio people came! One of my priorities, though, is continuing to interview my living family members, and I did a bit of this, informally, while I was out there a couple of weeks ago.

6. Review my current research for holes, lingering questions, and mistakes. On my mother's side, yes, with a focus on her paternal branch. As I continue to interview family members, and also dig deeper into archives, I'll be cross-referencing what I'm hearing and reading with my current research to see what, if anything needs changing or updating.

7. Set goals for additional research trips. In addition to my two DC trips, I've taken two productive trips down to Salem, New Jersey and one to the Gloucester County Historical Society, also in NJ. As I mentioned, I'm working on a trip to visit my paternal grandfather in West Virginia, hopefully in the next 4-5 months, as well as a trip to Alabama, between now and the end of April. In that same timeframe, while I'm based in New Orleans, I'll also be taking a trip over to Georgia to research my mom's maternal ancestry. Before I leave, I'm making at least 1 daytrip up to NYC to look for probate records for my maternal great-grandmother Katherine Shepherd and her last husband (as far as I know), Ivan Sharpe. And I might take another trip down to Salem for contextual information on my New Jersey maternal people.

So, there you have it - I've made some real progress on my To Do List and other things are in the works! I'll come back to this again around the end of March to note progress or (hopefully not) setbacks. Until then, the writing, researching and interviewing continues!

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