Research, repositories and relaxation

Letter R: Eighteenth of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Wish me luck and please join me on the journey!

Research, repositories and relaxation are three words I often think of in combination, because just the idea of going to a repository to do some leisurely family history research brings on a deep sense of relaxation — like a form of meditation for the family historian.

By: mrgarethm
National Archives and Records Administration Building, Washington, D.C. Research, repositories and relaxation are three words I often think of in combination, because just the idea of going to a repository to do some leisurely family history research induces a deep sense of relaxation — sort of like meditation for the family historian By: mrgarethm

I began doing genealogy research in earnest when I was living in Washington, D.C., in the early 1990s.

Back then, the National Archives building on Pennsylvania Ave. was open most nights until 9:00 pm — so if I was having a hectic week and needed to unwind, I would head over there for a couple of hours.

Microfilm meditation

In those microfilm days, there would be researchers at readers all over the room meditatively scrolling along looking for ancestors — and once in a while, you would hear someone exclaim happily when they found a record they needed.

Sitting in that huge space, I found my maternal immigrant ancestors, who lived and worked in Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y., in census after census —  because once they settled there, they put down roots.

My paternal ancestors, who had been in the U.S. much longer, offered many more relaxing hours of research because they moved around quite a bit.

After a night at the archives, I sometimes called my dad for tips on where to look next — and one night surprised him with the news that we had Swiss ancestors.

“You know, I seem to remember hearing something about that,” he said thoughtfully after I read him the census entry from Forestport, Oneida County, N.Y.

“Really?” I asked. “Why didn’t you say something?” But in retrospect, I’m glad he didn’t — because it might have spoiled the relaxing evening I spent unearthing that discovery, which I will write about for Letter Z.

Brain-healthy browsing

Although many records are now digitized, with more coming online each day, most materials still exist in non-digital form at government offices, libraries, archives and other repositories.

It’s easy to bemoan this reality and feel frustrated that the ancestral records we want are not instantly available, or just an Internet search away.

But once you realize that research and repositories lead to relaxation, you can tap into the brain-healthy meditative state that accompanies your heritage search — and that can be a good thing!

Up next: Susquehanna River reflections. Please stop back.

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12 thoughts on “Research, repositories and relaxation”

  1. I like your attitude to onsite searching…it is relaxing and meditative and I especially enjoyed it in Friday night after a big week at work. Of course my eyesight would be better without all that microfilm reading. 😉

    1. I know what you mean! Digital images are often so much clearer…but then there is that insomnia-inducing blue light to contend with. It’s nice to balance it with mindful meandering of onsite records at a repository now and then. 🙂

  2. J here, of the #atozchallenge Arlee Bird’s A to Z Ambassador Team. Love from #azchat.
    How has the challenge been going for you so far? Are you meeting your goals of posting and hopping to other blogs? 3/4 of the way done!
    My blog’s giveaway is still going. I’m encouraging everyone to visit more stops.
    http://jlennidornerblog.what-are-they.com
    What a wonderful place to do your research! Very cool.

    1. Thanks, J, for the Ambassador/#azchat visit! Doing fine on my first challenge; keeping up with posts and commenting. One week to Letter Z and I am already visualizing myself crossing that finish line…and resuming a more leisurely blogging pace as I lounge around in my AtoZ Survivor tee shirt. Hope to do the Road Trip when this is over to keep in touch with A to Z peeps!

  3. Isn’t it so wonderful that we have so many different people in the world? The idea of family history research brings the opposite feeling of relaxation to me. Probably why I married a historian… he complements me!

    1. Not as long ago as you think! Many non digitized records are still on microfilm, which always works even when WiFi is down 🙂 But online browsing at a repository can also be relaxing if approached in a slow and steady way. Thanks for visiting!

  4. Hi Molly, With regard to watermarking. I use a plugin called Easy Watermark. I am on a WordPress self hosted site. You go into the media file, into the image you want watermarked, pick “Edit more details” link and Add Watermark button. You can also mark images as being watermarked if the image already has one. You need to set up the settings too for it to work. Fran

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