Join Our Leadership Team
January 10, 2016
If any of your New Year’s resolutions include volunteering, developing your leadership skills, getting to know more people in the genealogy community, or challenging yourself in a new role, the NextGen Genealogy Network is here to help you check those resolutions off your list.
With a new year comes new leadership, and there are several vacancies on our growing Leadership Team:
SECRETARY: This organized individual serves as the point of contact for inquiries and sends monthly meeting reminders, prepares the meeting agendas, and records the meeting minutes on Google Drive. The Secretary also mails any physical correspondence, including promotional materials, to volunteers, keeping detailed records.
MARKETING COORDINATOR: This creative individual designs promotional materials, including flyers, conference swag, and merchandise for the Zazzle store. The Marketing Coordinator also creates shareable graphics for social media to accompany blog posts and more, adhering to established branding guidelines and utilizing the free online software Canva.
EDUCATION CO-COORDINATOR: This individual should have strong communication skills and a willingness to collaborate with Education Coordinator Shannon Combs-Bennett in order to produce educational videos utilizing Hangouts on Air, create additional educational materials, and work with conference organizers to develop young professional and youth-centered activities.
Email email@example.com to share your qualifications and why you are interested in the role no later than 15 January 2016.
Interested candidates should be willing to attend monthly team meetings on Google Hangouts, typically held on a Wednesday evening, and should be prepared to embrace new ideas, new friends, and fun! The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, 20 January at 9:00 PM ET.
Faces of NextGen: Meet Mike Quackenbush
January 4, 2016
Mike Quackenbush, 25, Canada
What five words would you use to describe yourself? Ambitious, Charismatic, Giving, Sociable, Individualistic.
Why genealogy? When you’re born with the curiosity bug, what better than directing that into an activity that really never ends! I was eleven years old when I received a family history on my mother’s family which was prepared by my great-aunt. That book most certainly got my interest piqued! After a few years of delving into further research of the lives on my maternal family, I began to get even more curious of my father’s family. My dad never really knew his father growing up, which in turn left a generational gap of information not being passed down. Almost fifteen years later—I am so excited to share what I have found in my research with family and friends and connect with cousins all around the world!
What’s the coolest discovery you’ve made? Definitely finding out that my 2x great grandfather was imprisoned at HMP Wakefield in Yorkshire, England—not once, but sixteen times in twelve years – was a WOW moment for me! Following his medically unfit (nowadays referred to as PTSD) discharge from his twenty year career with the British Army, he was jailed for not providing for his family—keeping in mind that he literally just got booted from his job. After serving his first sentence, he was jailed fifteen more times in eleven years for reasons including: not providing for his family, begging for money, being homeless, and carrying unpaid civil debts. Putting the whole picture together really made me feel for this man whose life was turned upside down after putting his life on the line to fight numerous battles including the Boer Wars.
What are you working on this week? Following a presentation I made mid-November on British Home Children, I realized that I wanted to learn more about the 118 Middlemore Home Children who traveled on the same ship alongside my great-grandfather in 1913. So this week, I’ve been starting to gather the project framework to begin the multi-year process of researching all of the home children on the passenger list, so that I can then dedicate a database to these 118 children who left their families and roots behind in Great Britain to serve as indentured labour on farms in Canada.
What’s the number one secret to your success in genealogy? Organization. We handle a lot of files, both paper and digital, and you need to develop your own system for filing and managing data. Some people get data-overload—I crave it. Names, dates, places—I feel like I have an eidetic memory for these, which helps immensely when parsing through records and making connections.
What superpower would you want to help you uncover your family history? I think every genealogist on the face of the earth would say, at some point, that time travel would be an incredible super power to have. Just imagine.
What are we most likely to find you doing when you’re not researching family history? When I’m not researching family history, I first love to catch up on the sleep I’ve missed from those late-night binge research sessions in new databases online! After I’ve reenergized, I love to travel, spend time with friends, try new wine selections, and maybe sneak in some movies—or binge watch Netflix!
Anything else you’d like to share? Make yourself a New Year’s resolution you can actually keep and achieve for 2016! Simply get involved. A few minutes a day can help you to become part of a larger community, and help people around the world. As the great leadership speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
The NextGen Genealogy Network is made up of young genealogists with diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Faces of NextGen showcases a different member of our community each month. If you would like to be considered for an upcoming feature, simply complete our questionnaire and submit a selfie.
Faces of NextGen: Meet Lisa Chan
December 1, 2015
Lisa Chan, 40, Washington
What five words would you use to describe yourself? Curious. Independent. Dog lover. Transgendered. Musical.
Why genealogy? I love solving puzzles, a good mystery, the natural world, genetics, history, photography, anthropology, migration stories, and social and civil justice. Genealogy has it all!
What’s the coolest discovery you’ve made? Just one?
A fourth great grand uncle was the reason an entire village in Niedersachsen, Germany practically emptied due to a mass migration to Illinois inspired by his letter home. It had been copied 1,500 times and then distributed far and wide. Hundreds of Ostfriesen families got their good start in Illinois based on his detailed instructions for success.
With the help of genetic genealogy and segment analysis, I was able to solve a 7 decade-old brick wall and reconnect more than twenty curious descendants and project participants to colonial roots in Maryland in the 1700s.
After participating in a DNA test for a medical study, I discovered that I am the non-paternity-event in my generation. With the help of genetic genealogy and caring “Search Angels,” I have been reconnected with my paternal family. We are excited to get to know one another. It turns out my NEW GRANNY is a genealogy nut too.
What are you working on this week? I just discovered a cluster of shared segments associated with lots of recent Irish surnames and locations. It’s exciting because my admixture reports suggest a decent portion of Irish descent, but the only known Irish patriarch was from the late 1700s.
What’s the number one secret to your success in genealogy? Sleep on it.
What superpower would you want to help you uncover your family history? Time travel, of course!
What are we most likely to find you doing when you’re not researching family history? Playing the drums or walking our dogs. I love percussion and engage in music therapy to address a wide variety of emotional and physical health needs. Did you know that doing anything percussive helps to regulate digestion?! Feeling anxious? Sing a song and clap your hands. Can’t sleep? Forget counting sheep, count measures instead.
Anything else you’d like to share? I’d love to see the disregard for adoptees and persons with unknown paternity decreased in the genealogical community overall. We’re the fastest growing demographic in genealogy today. We comprise the majority of young genealogists entering the hobby. We spend a lot of money – testing at each of the big three and purchasing genetic genealogy workshops. We are eager to help others with triangulation projects, are generous with what we do know, and our motivation to get to the truth is unparalleled. It would be really great if we had more allies among the full-tree’d who could advocate for embracing us.
The NextGen Genealogy Network is made up of young genealogists with diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Faces of NextGen will showcase a different member of our community each month. If you would like to be considered for an upcoming feature, simply complete our questionnaire and submit a selfie.
Suit Up and Show Up
November 16, 2015
I am a young genealogist. True, there are days when the gray hair pokes through and I pop when I walk, but since I am not yet forty I am clinging to the fact that I am among the younger members of the field. Even when I may feel like I’m falling apart, I still suit up and show up making my presence known. Do you?
What do I mean by that? Well, I like to think that we are the future of this field. One day we will be the mentors, the establishment, I guess you could say “the man.” However, nothing happens overnight and many times becoming a trusted member of a community takes years. Are you working towards that goal?
If you are not actively working to safeguard the future of genealogy, why not? Many people tell me they are scared or do not know where to start. Some do not want to rock the boat of their local society. To that I say, sometimes you have to splash in the water to keep a community on course. Trust me, getting a little wet never hurt anyone. If you are interested in spreading those wings and trying to become a leader in your area, here are a few things you should think about.
Continuing education: We are primarily a self-taught community since there are only a few (when compared to other professions) degree programs or professional outlets. Genealogists have to make the commitment to themselves to suit up and show up to advance their knowledge in the field. Making yourself accountable to participate in whatever way possible will only help you be a better researcher and professional. Then try teaching what you learned to others.
Dress the part: While there is a time for jeans and grubby clothes (like in a cemetery), if you want to be taken seriously you should dress the part. If you are lecturing, wear a suit or something appropriate for the venue. If you are attending a conference, seminar, or society meeting, consider wearing business casual. You do not want people distracted by your appearance. You want them to think, “Yeah, he/she has it together.”
Smiling and manners: Did you know that smiling on the phone, even when the person can’t see you, still comes across in your tone? Being friendly, approachable, and easygoing are traits that people respond to. No one wants to be around a sourpuss, so even on my grumpiest days I put on that smile and save my smart aleck comments for my close friends and family. Frequently, I see genealogists with very bad manners and habits. You can be polite yet firm if you are upset, just like you can patiently sit through someone’s family brick wall without looking bored.
Stay focused: You have to hold yourself accountable. It’s the hardest thing to do, but the only one who can keep it all going is the person you see in the mirror every morning. Your success will not be handed to you. Work hard every day. Accomplish something (even if it is as simple as writing an email) every day. Lead by example in all things.
Learn from the mistakes: It is very hard for me to put myself out there. Many times I do not feel confident in my abilities. I have made mistakes and there are things that now I would have done differently. Working through the setbacks and learning from those mistakes, especially when I started my genealogy career, only made me better. If you can kick aside the failure when it happens and see the accomplishments along the way, you will find a better path. Your successes should be touted and your failures learned from.
How do you suit up and show up in the genealogy community?
Shannon Combs-Bennett is the owner of T2 Family History, Creative Director for The In-Depth Genealogist, and Education Coordinator for the NextGen Genealogy Network. Based in Virginia, she writes and lectures on a variety of topics from genetics to methodology and is a contributor to Family Tree Magazine / University.