By all indications I have a serious case of senioritis. With just two more courses to complete by December 16 for NIGS (National Institute of Genealogical Studies) in order to receive my certificates in German Research, American Research, and Professional Learning, I am feeling like a high school senior. Lack of motivation. Easily distracted. Procrastinating like crazy. Falling asleep while doing assignments. Watching the clock for the end of my study time. Watching my phone and hoping someone will call. Playing puzzles on my iPad longer than I should.

I started this journey during the fall of 2015 and completed 62 online course in less than three years, while also completing ProGen, GenFed 2017, several institutes, and taking care of family. Not bad for a retired school teacher in her 60s! But, I can’t stop now…

Time to let another kind of Senior-itis kick in. What’s that, you say? It has to do with taking advantage of all the benefits that come with acquiring the status of being a “Senior Citizen.” Better coping skills learned from years of experiences. Time and opportunity to pursue a dream.  Emotional and intellectual maturity. Pride in all that I have accomplished already. Willful determination to complete what I began, because I know I can!

Time to finish those last two courses! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel… Looks like a celebration lies ahead of me!


Every Journey Has Its Bumps

I don’t know if it is Murphy’s Law, but it seems that no matter how you travel or where you go, you are bound to experience a few bumps along the way. Maybe your flight is delayed, or there is turbulence, or your luggage doesn’t arrive when you do. Maybe you accidentally take a wrong turn, miss an exit, or hit a few potholes. Maybe you get sick at the most inopportune times. What is life without its bumps?

My journey to certification with BCG (Board for Certification of Genealogists) is now almost eight months long. Before attending the 2019 FGS Conference in Ft. Wayne, IN, a few weeks ago, I was feeling pretty good about my research progress. My one area of concern had to do with my case study, so I went by the BCG booth and asked about it. Here comes the big bump!

My case study topic, while an interesting and worthwhile one for our family’s information, does not qualify as a case study for my portfolio. Ugh! I was afraid of that! Wait, was that a bump, or did I actually lose a tire?  What to do? Replace the tire and move on, of course.

Choosing the topic for one’s case study is often the most difficult part of any certification journey, or so I’ve been told. This is definitely true in my case. I am still trying to find that perfect “tire”–one that fits the BCG criteria for a case study, one that is new, one that will take me all the way to the end of this road to certification. In the meantime, I have other writing I can do. And… if need be, I can always request an extension. Thank you, BCG!


Vesterheim Museum & Decorah Genealogical Society

The Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa, is dedicated to Norwegian heritage. (I learned about it while researching places that might help me with my BCG portfolio projects.) It contains an amazing collection of Norwegian artifacts depicting life in Norway and in immigrant America. The craftsmanship of the items on display is beyond description. Walking through the four floors of exhibits, not to mention the many buildings on the grounds behind the museum, one can experience life in 19th century Norway, leaving a beloved family and homeland for America, and the immigrant’s life in their new home. Visiting a site such as this always puts me in awe of the fortitude of our ancestors. We owe them so much. Learning about their lives is one way to show our gratitude for their sacrifices.

This trunk came with Bertha Knuddt. Skaug to America in 1857. It belonged to my husband’s great-grandmother, immigrant from Norway. It is a treasured family heirloom. Many of these are on display in the Vesterheim Museum, along with hundreds, possibly thousands, of other finely-crafted items.

As I continue on this journey to certification, I am amazed by the many unexpected turns my path has taken. One of the staff at the museum, upon learning of my interest in genealogy, suggested I visit the Decorah Genealogical Society. This was not on my radar, but I was ecstatic to find a new repository of information. For anyone interested in researching ancestors from Winneshiek County, Iowa, Norwegian or otherwise, I highly recommend you visit the Decorah Genealogical Society.

The librarian/archivist on staff the day I visited was wonderful! She helped me find Norwegian emigration records and birth records I had not yet located on my own, taught me about Norwegian internet sites I had not used before, and took me on a tour of their society’s abundant resources. At least six rooms filled with books, microfilm, maps, and more. What a goldmine I stumbled into!

You just never know where and when you will find that one record, that one repository, that one person who will help break through a brick wall. The joy is in the journey!


Why Attend Genealogy Conferences?

I left Sacramento, CA, on Saturday, and arrived in Grand Rapids, MI, on Monday. That’s NINE states in THREE days! California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Thirty-two hours behind the wheel to travel about 2,400 miles. Some of you would probably call me crazy. I get it. Why would anyone travel so far, by car mind you, to spend four days sitting through genealogical lectures from 8:30 in the morning until 5:30 in the afternoon?  In one word: Passion.

I was having dinner in the hotel tonight with a fellow genealogist, who is also a friend and newfound cousin, when our waiter asked a similar question. What do you do at a genealogy conference? First, we talked about the passion genealogists have for learning about their ancestors. We explained that genealogy is much more than dates and places. It is about discovering the life lived in those places, between those dates. It’s about “the dash.”  A favorite song by Scotty McCreery explains this idea.

Genealogy conferences, such as the NGS Family History Conference, give those with a passion for genealogy an opportunity to learn from experts in the field, to improve their research techniques, to explore records they may never have heard about before, and to network with others in the genealogical community. Sometimes we find cousins we never knew we had. Other times we may find that elusive piece of the puzzle which could complete the picture of an ancestor’s life, allowing us to break through the brick wall in our research.

Ancestors are waiting for us to uncover their stories. I often feel like mine are guiding my research, leading me to the records they left behind. This week I will learn best practices and discover new resources. I can’t wait to get started!