In September 2020, my beloved Nonna, Giuseppa Mangani nèe Rapisarda, passed away. As the eldest grandchild I was tasked with giving a eulogy on behalf of all of her grandchildren. To prepare, I spent some time looking through my photos, diaries, and notes, trying to piece together 30 years worth of memories.
I’d always been interested in where my family came from and why my grandparents and parents had emigrated from Italy to Australia. Whenever I visited her house I would spend hours pouring over photo albums with her, watching old family videos and listening to stories about her childhood.
But it was only when preparing for her eulogy that I realized, too late, that I had never properly documented the information she had told me. The photos in the album didn’t have names written on the back of them. I’d spent hours and hours listening to stories about the old country, but never recorded my Nonna talking about it or formally interviewed her. My grief was compounded with regret for missed opportunities and eternally lost memories.
So, I vowed to do better with my living relatives. This was my new year’s resolution for 2021 and I’m happy to report that I was successful. I interviewed relatives, labeled photos, organized my research and even published years worth of work in a book about my mother’s paternal line.
This year my 2022 genealogy new year’s resolution is to conduct video interviews with my last living grandparent, and my parents. My son was born late last year and I want him to have a record of his grandparents’ stories as told by them – facial expressions and vocal inflections included.
I challenge each of you to set a genealogy new year’s resolution for 2022. If you’re struggling to think of one here is a list of ideas:
Prepare a research plan for the 1950 census release
The 1950 United States census is set to be released on April 1, 2022. It will take time for the records to be transcribed and for a name index to be available so you will need to plan for image searches via location. A useful new year’s resolution would be to prepare a list, before April, of who you want to locate first and where you think they lived in 1950.
Attend a genealogy conference
Thanks to the pandemic, organizations are making a greater effort to host virtual-friendly conferences. RootsTech will be completely virtual again this year, whilst the NGS Family History Conference will have an in-person event in California, along with online sessions for virtual attendees. Conferences offer the opportunity to hone your research skills, meet likeminded genealogists and learn about new features and updates to sites such as FamilySearch, Ancestry, 23andMe, and more.
Search an offline repository
It is easy to become reliant on online records but, as many archivists have reminded us over the years, there’s countless more records available offline than online. Here in Northwest Arkansas we are lucky to have an abundance of records available for browsing in our own collection at the Bentonville Public Library, and in the Fayetteville Public Library, Bentonville Family History Center, County Courthouses, and more. Learning how to access these records will broaden the scope of your research and potentially break down some brick walls in your tree.
Volunteer for an indexing or transcription project
We have all benefited from the indexing and transcription work of volunteers. If you’re interested in giving back there are countless projects needing volunteers like you. A noteworthy project is the Citizen Archivist program by the National Archives. You can sign up on their website and immediately begin tagging, transcribing and adding comments to their records. https://www.archives.gov/citizen-archivist
Publish your research
I think all of us have aspirations to finally put our hard work together and publish a family history book. It took my the better part of 10 years to publish the stories of just one line of my family tree. Make 2022 the year you finally publish at least some of your work. You can publish a book for free on Amazon, or print and bind your own copies at home and distribute them to family and friends.
What is your genealogy new year’s resolution for 2022? Let me know in the comments below!