Tag Archives: knitting

My Path to Certification – Issue No. 4

Today is August 1st. I promised to submit my application to the BCG on August 1st. Well, I completed the application last Friday and put it in the mail. Hopefully, it arrived in Washington, D.C., about today. I can’t take it back at this point so I should consider myself officially on the clock. I feel a mixture of emotions from excitement to panic. I wonder if I can possibly pull this off in the next year. We shall see!

After taking the plunge and finally submitting the application, I worked on some other aspects of my plan. I don’t really have a plan, per se, past knowing that I have a year to submit my portfolio. I know some people who schedule what element they will work on each month. I do want to do a major portion of work on my KDP first so that I can put it aside and come back to it later. I feel such a large piece of writing needs to sit so I can go back and make improvements with a clearer vision. I can only do that if I walk away at some point. Right now I’m try to figure out how to continue researching but transition from research to writing. One strategy I am trying is—to just sit with a pad of paper and pencil and write with a purpose. For example, chose one section of the KDP to write about. No fact-checking or writing footnotes. Just write. I can go back later and correct the specifics and add the footnotes.

I received a great recommendation for a book this week—On Writing Well by William Zinsser. The 30th anniversary edition includes a chapter on writing family history (which I haven’t read yet). I believe the book is helping my brain make this transition from researching to putting pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard). Writing is such an important part of the portfolio (or the job of being a genealogist). Learning to write well should be an integral part of any genealogist’s education plan. I have read my share of absolutely boring family histories. I do not want to be one of those family history writers who strings a bunch of facts with footnotes together to make a narrative. I want to breathe life into my ancestors! Finding a balance between sound technical genealogical writing and entertaining family narrative is my goal. A couple take-a-ways from the book so far:

  • Use action verbs and consistent verb tenses – These are both lessons I learned during my time at BU and ProGen, and I cannot stress them enough. I hear them repeated at genealogy seminars and conventions continually. It’s great to read a non-genealogy related person give the same advice.
  • Writing is hard work. It requires practice just like any other craft. Find a writer whose style you admire. Read the journals—NEHGS, NGS, TAG, etc.—to find a fellow genealogist whose style you like.
  • Use a dictionary and thesaurus – I have a beat-up copy of Roget’s Thesaurus that I have used since my college days. I still use it!
  • De-clutter your words – If you can get the point across with fewer words, do it!

In the last week, besides my trip to the Family History Library to copy microfilm, I spent part of my weekend downloading journal articles (and not genealogy ones!) In order to add historical context and knowledge to my narrative, I must learn about the social, historical, and economic factors that may have influenced my ancestors lives. Sites like JSTOR and Internet Archive provide access to historical texts. I downloaded articles on the early history of my county as well as contemporary books that were written for people interested in migrating to the region where my ancestors lived. With these, for example, I gained insight on diseases that may have affected my ancestors or construction projects (railroads, canals) that impacted their lives.

Genealogical Standard 57: Background information“Assembled research results provide sufficient background information for readers to understand…what [an item] means in context of…place and time…[which] may include concepts from economics, ethnic studies, genetics, geography, government, history, law, religion, sociology, and other fields.”


I finished my sweater this weekend. Now, I’m working on completing another “almost-done” project—a sweater I started for my son last fall. He has grown a couple inches since then so hopefully he will get some use out of it!

My teacher hat goes back on this week. School starts next week so I must parcel out my time and prioritize my various projects more efficiently. Until next time!

©2017 copyright owned Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2017/08/01/my-path-to-certification-issue-no-4/

Book of Me – Prompt 21: Hobbies

book of meThe Book of Me – Written by You is a weekly blog prompt created by Julie Goucher of the blog Angler’s Rest. This is a fifteen month writing project to highlight my life so that I will have something to leave behind for my descendants. Week twenty one’s prompt is Hobbies.

  • Childhood hobbies & collections
  • Did you share a “passion” with a family member or friend?
  • Tell us about it – How, why, where
  • Do you still have any old hobbies – the ones that have been with you since childhood?
  • Do you still have those childhood collections?

I have a few hobbies and they have pretty much been lifelong. They are 1) books and reading, 2) sewing and knitting, and 3) genealogy. All three activities have been passed down to me by my elders and have developed or evolved over many decades. Some of my lesser hobbies are subsets of the larger three categories. For example, I have always been a fan of the science fiction and fantasy genre.  I have read lots of books as well as enjoyed many science fiction television shows and movies over the years. One of my oldest friends (from Jr. high) can be credited with introducing me to science fiction literature. We had already bonded over Doctor Who and Star Trek. One series we read was the Dune books by Frank Herbert. I still have my copy of The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin which she gave me for my birthday or Christmas many years ago.

Doctor Who books

Some of my Doctor Who books

So the major, sometimes overwhelming, collection in my life is my books. Some of my books, I have owned since childhood. The collection is always changing but I have thousands of books in my house. I have a collection of Doctor Who novels from my high school days. My first job was at the Worcester (Massachusetts) Public library’s main branch. Across the street from the library was an independent book store (whose name escapes me at present). The store no longer exists. However, they sold many of the Doctor Who books I own. They were the only place in town that sold them at the time. I used to go across the street during my break to buy the newest novelization or I would go to the store after I left work on my way home. I have contemplated selling these books at times, but they really aren’t worth much so I have just held onto them. Several years ago my daughter picked up a few of them to read and that was definitely fun for me to see.

Vintage patterns

Vintage patterns from 1900-1940

As a knitter and seamstress, I have collections of yarn and fabric. My workroom is filled with buckets full. I also collect old paper patterns. I have some that survive from the 1910s and 1920s. Of course, there are lots of knitting and sewing themed books in my library. There are a few vintage sewing books from the 1950s and 1960s. These are the types of books that were used in high school home economic courses to teach girls to be happy little homemakers.

At this point, genealogy is more than just a hobby; it has turned into a profession. (Sewing was my profession at one point but has now returned to the hobby status). Currently, I have boxes of family ephemera and artifacts that need to be sorted through, preserved and catalogued. I spend much of my spare time every day learning and working in this field. There are a few hundred books that go with this specialty as well.

Most of my friends and family share a passion for one (or more) of the above and I can’t imagine it being otherwise. A world without books is inconceivable!

© 2014 copyright owned and written by Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found at: https://genealogylady.net/2014/02/08/book-of-me-prompt-21-hobbies/

Book of Me – Prompt 6: Diaries and Journals

book of meThe Book of Me – Written by You is a weekly blog prompt created by Julie Goucher of the blog Angler’s Rest. This is a fifteen month writing project to highlight my life so that I will have something to leave behind for my descendants. Week six asks about personal diaries and journals. For those of you who have been following along, this week I am not using my traditional 3rd person narrative. I did not feel that the prompt supported that format.

  • Do you keep a diary or journal?
  • When did you start?
  • What information do you record?
  • How do you keep a journal – written or electronic?
  • If you have a written journal, do you always buy the same one or buy whatever takes your fancy?
  • What are your succession plans for you journals & diaries?
  • Do you include pictures & other items as a way of recording events?
  • What do you use to write your journal – a special pen, or a fountain pen, or even the closest writing implement to hand?
  • Have you inherited any? If you have what are your plans for them?
Failed journals

Failed journals

When I first read this week’s prompt, I admit my first response was to be a little flip. Do you keep a diary or  journal? No. When did you start? Not applicable. What information do you record? Not applicable…and so on. I have attempted to write a journal in the past. It was mostly in my young, carefree and unattached adulthood. Back when I had time to spare, and little responsibility to anyone beyond myself. I never wrote one when I was a kid, at least that I recall. I do have the four journals that I attempted to use to express my feelings and daily activities. These were all purchased in the late 1980s or early 1990s. One is filled with poetry that I liked at the time. Another is virtually blank. It was also purchased to record inspiring quotes and poetry. The third book I used as a travel journal on my big adventure through Great Britain in 1991, although it had been started a couple years earlier as a combination budget book and who knows what else. Again, the book is only half filled. The fourth book does have some more traditional diary like entries but it is not completely used either. Half the pages are empty, like a broken promise.

The fact of the matter is I am just not that kind of a person. I have my daily routines, like having tea first thing in the morning, every morning, rain or shine, no matter what. I can’t stand coffee. I even travel with my own tea bags so I can have my tea. But writing is not part of my routine. As I stated in one of my early blog posts last year when I began my blog, I have never thought of myself as a writer. I’m an artist. I express myself in other ways. I have never used words as my medium before. So the questions remain hanging in the air. Do you keep a diary or journal?

No, but I have other things that paint a picture of my life. There are the quilts that I have made for myself and my children. I have the programs of all the theatrical shows I worked on during my college and graduate school years and some from later on when I started to work professionally. I have renderings of costumes I designed, pictures of costumes I constructed (and sweated over), and clothes that I have made for myself. I am the family photographer. I have photographs. I have scrapbooks that I made using some of those photographs. I manage the collection of photographs that chronicle all the trips we have taken, the special events and holidays, and the ordinary. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? And now that I have taken the steps to “become” a writer, I have my blog. Granted the major focus of my blog is transcribing the letters of my grandparents. But doing that is part of my daily routine. When my descendants look through my daily chattel, they can deduce what I did every day for 3 or 4 or how many years it takes me to get through this immense stack of letters. And in today’s (and the future’s) age of technology, I am sure my descendants will figure out a way to see all my ordinary everyday Facebook posts. That’s about as close as I am ever going to get to writing a journal.

The above photographs were all taken by Deborah Sweeney

P.S. On a side note, my father has been keeping a daily journal since I was one month old. Let’s just say I am officially middle aged so that is a really long time! I have already made my case as the family archivist that I want those journals and he has already made provisions for the journals to be passed on to me when he is gone. So no, I haven’t inherited any journals yet but I will someday but I am more than happy to wait.

©2013 copyright owned and written by Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found at: https://genealogylady.net/2013/10/05/book-of-me-pro…s-and-journals/

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