The Benefits & Thoughts of Keeping a Journal

Last week I wrote about Notebooks, Inbox & Workflow and I planned that the next post I would write about keeping a notebook etc would be the Travelers Notebooks system that I use for my brain-dump and inbox. I wrote about my notebook journey HERE.

However, two people wrote to me early this week and asked if I could share in a bit more detail about my journal habits and practices. I also had an email several weeks ago asking if I would be running an “Morning Pages” groups – At this point it is very much depending on the interest of others, so if you are interested let me know. I see no harm in answering those questions by a blog post, as it might interest others.

The benefits of keeping a journal will depend on how you decide to use it and if you manage to perservier. I think of it as a discipline, just like taking my morning tablets whilst I boil the kettle or brushing my teeth, then again I have done this for so long it’s an automatic process for me.

The key questions are:

  • What does a journal mean to you?
  • Do you want to have journals for specific things?

I can share what I do, but that does necessarily mean that will be right for you, so I would say that you should work on finding a method and system that works for you and tweak it over time – there is no right or wrong way.

I keep the following:

  • A day to a page planner where I record appointments, meetings, speaking and teaching engagements and my to do list. Sometimes I have a lot of things and I need extra space, in which case I use some large post it notes and stick them in. I then tick as items are complete and use the arrow to show that an item has moved to another day. I also list what dose of a medication that I take, because it alternates and otherwise I would never remember! I also record any health symptoms etc.
  • Leuchtturm1917 Journal where I keep notes and research items. I scope out presentations, blog posts/series and articles. I also keep my professional development (CPD) in this notebook and create genealogical timelines
  • Travellers Notebook system where I keep a notebook which I can record random thoughts or things that I see online or in emails (or anywhere here for that matter).IMG_1284 I go through the notebook every day or so and either review the contents creating an action – it might be a website that I want to include in a handout or lecture syllabus or a recipe! This is the process I have shown here (see the first link above) in an attempt to stop the use of so many post it notes, but I will record random stuff on pretty much anything and keep those bits in the box shown here and go through the box at least every couple of weeks. (I will still write about the Travelers Notebook system in the weeks ahead).
  • Leuchtturm1917 Journal that I keep for my Morning Pages, where I write 4 pages of material every morning, totally without conscious thinking. I wrote about this HERE and HERE I have done this practice pretty much every morning for 11 years.
  • #50Before50 Notebook – this is a special notebook. My husband bought it for me for Christmas in 2017. I knew I wanted to use it for something special, so as my 50th birthday approaches I want to achieve 50 things. The notebook, is lined and has my name on the front and the word Journal. I wrote about #50Before50 HERE. As I achieve one of my 50 I make an entry on the page, add a photo of two using my HP Sprocket and add the date. It is quite fun and I enjoy it. We also celebrate a special wedding anniversary this year, so I dare say I will add to the back of this book a few photos and text about that. I am truly very lucky to have such a special hubby!

As you can see I use different systems for different things and that is OK with me. I do review all the notebooks above, with the exception of Morning Pages. Reviewing the notebooks and planner is useful, it helps me keep on track and not miss things (hopefully). Also with reviewing, that sometimes yields me to think of something else which in turn is added to one of the notebooks.

I like to handwrite my journals. As much as I love technology, the right pen and the right notebook is bliss! and a girl can never have too many of either! That said, I am very much a creature of habit and only recently made the change from the lined Leuchtturm1917 Journal that I use for research notes and scoping out articles to either dot grid or plain paper. If I want to record something special or specific I either write it in my planner or in my research notebook. The reasoning behind writing notes using a pen is it does help you retain the information. Furthermore, what a legacy for future generations?

The benefits of keeping journals and notebooks is actually a great contribution to Wellness & well being. The Morning Pages in particular help here. My view is that if you purchase a notebook that you really love and find a pen that feels right in your hand then you are more likely to write in it and perhaps add bit of ephemera, either with a HP Sprocket or similar of by using washi tape.

Leuchtturm1917 Journal have page numbers and pages at the front for an index. If I use a different book, such as a Moleskine, then I create an index by leaving the first four pages blank and adding page numbers as I write. I also date each page, every day that I use it.

There is one notebook that I have not mentioned and that is my Grief Journal/Memorial Log which I wrote about in 2011. There was a two year gap in the memorial log, that was until my Mum died in 2014. At that point I wrote and wrote and wrote. I captured as much as I could and when I felt calmer I devised a plan for a project in One-Note and I hope that will be published this year. This lives in the filing cabinet, along with all my completed journals, notebooks and planners, right the way back to that first homework log, many years ago.

In short, a journal, notebook and planner can be devised however you wish and they can contain whatever works for you. I would recommend that you make a decision on what you want to happen to your notebooks, planners and journals in the future. Do you want them destroyed or kept?

I hope that has answered the questions, but if not, please leave a comment or drop me an email.

Posted in Filofax, Journals & Notebooks | 4 Comments

Family Tree Magazine 2019 – Surname Research Series

FTMIn the July 2019 issue, the surname series continues with us looking at the Guild of One-Name Studies, fundamental principles of a study, the Seven Pillars.

Next month, (August) we focus on organising and developing a study before working our way through the individual pillars from the September issue.

Between now and September I will be writing a bit more about the seven pillars and focusing on several of the questions that I find I am asked the most by those at the start of their One-Name Study journey. If you don’t want to wait for those posts you can read my numerous surname research posts HERE

Family Tree Magazine (UK) is available from magazine themselves as a print or digital version.

The Pharos Introduction course to One-Name Studies starts at the end of June, and whilst the majority of focus is on surnames with a British background I am finding that more and more people are sharing their European genealogy and registering those surnames.

Posted in Art of One-Name Studies, Family Tree Magazine (UK) Surname Series (2019), Genealogy, One-Name Studies, Pharos - Introduction to One-Name Studies course | Leave a comment

Review of #FamilyTreeLive

IMG_E1092I had hoped to get this review published earlier, but other deadlines and domestics I am afraid played a part in the delay.

After a gap of a year in the UK without a significant genealogical show or event it was great to have one.

Personally I loved the show, it had a lovely comfortable fun feel about it in addition to the educational and network that was available. The venue was a good one, Alexandra Palace which is from the Victorian era and is a palace of the people – it was created that way as a venue where people could visit and explore. In the photograph above, which comes courtesy of Family Tree Magazine (UK) you can see the lovely stained glass window and I two close up photos below.

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IMG_4963

Copyright – Stuart Goucher, April 2019

There were a steady stream of lectures and presentations. Here in this photo you can see me in full flow as I delivered a presentation on surnames.

The previous day, I had delivered a workshop over 30 minutes with an additional 15 minutes for questions about researching European Ancestors. Anyone who has every heard me speak on that topic will know I always fail to get the presentation delivered in the allocated time and therefore a workshop in a short space of time was a true challenge! I managed it and think that the workshop idea was a great one and I hope they will be a bit longer next time!

The handouts from the lectures and some of the workshops can be found HERE for a limited time. Please remember they are copyrighted to the individual authors.

Below are a few random shots of the venue along with a glimpse of the London skyline.

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It was a great two days and I am delighted to say the show will be back in 2020, so keep those dates free!

FT Live Logo 2020

Courtesy of Family Tree Magazine 2019

Posted in #FamilyHistoryLive, European Ancestors, Genealogy, One-Name Studies, Presentations, Surnames | Leave a comment

Notebooks, Inbox and Workflow Review

I am a prolific note taker. I love stationary and have a supply of unopened notebooks ready and waiting. I am also a creature of habit and fussy with my notebooks. I like to be able to write with the notebook laying flat open and that fussiness often means that I write random notes on post it pads, scraps of paper, backs of envelopes – in short anything will do! I still use a variety of coloured pens and highlighters. It is the way my brain is wired! I have written about my notebooks and planners journey HERE

I recently took opportunity to review the way I work. My personal inbox is always full of emails and my desk is often littered with post it notes and ideas. I never chuck away receipts until I have checked them for notes I have jotted down. Why is my inbox always full? Simply because I often want to note something down from the email. Perhaps a link or site to check out or maybe I read something that sparked a thought and I subsequently considered writing an article or blog post.

I therefore devised a plan and whilst it is a layered approach to my email, planning and note system, it does seem to be working, therefore I thought I would share it here.

The process:

  1. Record – this is material I have come across and want to jot down somewhere. It can be anything, notes from an email, something from a blog post, newspaper or magazine.
  2. Access – Do I want to do something with this material?
  3. Organise – Add the material from the Record stage into the various elements that I have decided on. This might be
    1. Professional Development
    2. Blog post or presentation idea
    3. Project information
    4. An appointment or something that needs to be scheduled in my planner.
  4. Reflect – I have always reviewed my planner and to do list weekly and monthly. That way I can ensure nothing falls through the cracks, it is not foolproof, but it works for me and I have not had too many disasters!
    1. I assess material outstanding and note the details on a day when I will action it
    2. Review and perhaps decide that I no longer need it in which case I delete it or recycle the paper.
  5. Doing – Plan and achieve. Observe deadlines for work that is time specific or create a deadline for something I want to achieve by a particular date.

Achieving the process:

  • I designated a place in my office that would collect all the post it notes and other bits of paper that I had used to jot a note on. The place that I chose you can see here.  The box came from TK Max and whilst I didn’t need another storage box, this one was too good to miss!
  • I didn’t want to use a Leuchtturm1917 or my current notebook for this, I wanted to use something else entirely and opted for a Travelers Notebook (TN) system. I do still use my Leuchtturm1917 and planner as I outlined in the blog post above, the only change I have made is that I have switched to plain or dot grid rather than lined.
    • I empty the box in the image above at least weekly.
    • I use the Travelers Notebook to capture the contents of the post it notes etc and the information from blog posts, emails or articles that I want to use for other research etc.
      • In some cases the information from the post it goes straight into my Leuchtturm1917
    • I often suddenly think of something when I am doing something else, so that might be captured on random paper.
    • I date every page in the notebooks and likely did the post it note too!

This process is working for me and I have increased my productivity by at least 20%. Yes this is more fragmented, but does mean that instead of having my Gmail starred folder filled with emails that I want to read again at my desk rather than via iPhone or iPad I can jot the information down and then delete the email, visiting the site later in the week or scope out the article or presentation idea etc.

IMG_1282This blog post found its way from A6 post it note in the box above and in this case went from there to my Leuchtturm1917 then into this blog post, whereas other notes go straight into my TN. These post it notes are from B & M and cost under £2 for two pads (I always select orange & green!)

I will write in more detail about my TN journal and why I opted for that. Do you use one and why? – do leave a comment!

Posted in Filofax, Journals & Notebooks, Inbox and Emails, Notebooks, Organisation & Structure | 3 Comments

European Ancestors – Britain and the European Union

brexit_sc

Courtesy of the Brexit Newsroom – European Union Website

Firstly, this is NOT a political post. It is simply, (if only it was!) a time frame in the history of Europe. I have no intention of sharing my personal vote in the Referendum in 2016 or in the EU Elections of 2019. I merely write this post and share it here, because whilst it might be our present, at some point in the future it will be our history and that is important to note, especially if you have European Ancestors or you have a descendants that will have.

The structure of Europe was, in simplistic terms a way of Britain working with our nearest trading partners which is of course, geographically speaking is Europe. Importantly, we no longer had an “Empire” which we could fall back on and trade with exclusively. After the Second World War there was a great deal of devastation, Europeans displaced after six years at war, a brutal Nazi regime and the realisation of the tragic events of that regime and then the formation of what we then called the Eastern Bloc, essentially East Germany and pushed east to Russia.

Into the early 1970’s we began to feel more at ease with some of our European counterparts.  In 1973 the European Economic Community (EEC) enabled the movement of trade and people freely, with the appropriate documentations. Those who were classified “Aliens” no longer had to report to the Police and were free to live here subject to various regulations. In 1990 the Berlin Wall came down, Germany was unified and we, that is continental Europe and the UK looked forward to a new era.

The collapse of the Communist ruling across parts of Europe meant that there was a further set of developments in Europe. A way forward was to enable Countries in Europe to come together as the European Union. Some Countries did this straight away as soon as the possibility presented itself. Others, like the UK waited until Parliament made that decision, which happened without of a vote of the People.

The strategy of the European Union was actually common sense, one currency, one set of rules etc. Except that some countries did not want the one currency, the UK was one of those and there are others. The rule book was easy, well that is until a referendum vote produced a leave result and that opened the European box called Pandora and we realised, that we had allowed ourselves to be enshrined in 750 different pieces of European Legislation that would need to be written and put through Parliament.

Of course, this is a very highly simplified post about the formation of the EEC, EU and the result of the dismantling of that union with Europe, should we get to that point. There are a number of factors that I present here because at some point in the future they will bear historical and contextual relevance for those who are or will be researching European Ancestors:

  • The Referendum in 2016 was not split down into parties – there were those who wanted to remain in the EU and those who wanted to leave the EU in all political parties.
  • Political Parties each shared information, some truthful, some not, about what “we” would do with the money we pay to the EU.
  • No one was told what Article 50 meant and did not mean.
  • No one had a plan B, in case there was a leave vote.
  • No one considered what that would mean to the thousands of Brits who live in the EU.
  • No one considered what that would mean to the thousands of Europeans who live in the UK.
  • No one considered what that meant to the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and how that might affect other Legislation and Agreements.
  • No one considered what it would mean to the various sectors trading across the EU and UK.
  • No one considered what would happen if we could not get a “good deal” from the EU and if an extension would be needed. In fact there are some that would suggest that the option that we would have to negotiate that deal, rather we expected to be presented with a good deal.
  • No one considered what would happen if we did have an extension and then would be able to vote in the latest EU elections.
  • Moreover, what an extension meant and that was all member States had to agree to an extension.

….and that is just the start.

We were treading un-chartered waters here, with a member State wishing to leave the Union. It is okay to create the rule book, but without a test case no one really knows if it, whatever it is, is going to work or at the very least be fit for purpose.

Furthermore, I make the obvious statement that you don’t know what you don’t know. Essentially, Citizens do not know what questions that might ask or the implications of things. That is why with anything, whether that is casting a vote or buying a house, car etc, you generally do so with the ability of making an informed decision.

Meanwhile, the UK, the EU and the world looks on and watches, waiting for the next move by someone who may have considered something and has the ability to enable us, as members of the UK and citizens of a Country that resides within  the Continent of Europe to move forward in the best way we can.

At some point in the future we may find ourselves with a number of Europeans who are no longer allowed to be here unless there is a provision made and equally we may find ourselves with British citizens who reside in the UK suddenly finding themselves no longer allowed to reside there. In both cases there are likely to be form filling and bureaucracy  to understand and navigate.

That is a situation that has happened before and anyone who has heard me speak about Polish migrants in the UK at the end of the Second World War may recall the information I shared. If you did not hear that presentation, you can listen to it at Legacy Family Tree Webinars and stay tuned as I shall write about that in the coming week.

Whatever happens going forward it is going to be interesting and I wonder what future generations will make of it. Just as we might find historical elements such as the Ottoman Empire confusing, so shall folk in the future with this scenario.

This is  history in the making and for those with European Ancestors it is our history in the making.

Links of interest:

Please note – comments are moderated, so if you choose to leave a political response it will not appear here!

Posted in European Ancestors | Leave a comment

A Nostalgic Look back at Genealogy Shows

It is a month ago since the #FamilyHistoryLive show and what a month that has been! I thought it might be an opportunity to have an interlude from European Ancestors material!

I recently was searching in my office for something and came across something from one of the very first significant family history shows here in the UK. I subsequently placed said item in a safe place and then of course forgot where the safe place was only coming across it earlier today so this is a belated post.

In the days prior to the internet the focus was very much on the family history societies. In those days, there was mass transcriptions and then those made available by a look up service along with the sale of fiche or booklets of those indexes. Most family history societies held an open day or event and invited all to attend.

SOGThe Society of Genealogists (SOG) held genealogy shows and this image is of a carrier bag from what was likely to be the last show in that format, replaced by the Who Do You Think You Are? Live events, firstly held in London and then in Birmingham.

The events organised by the Society of Genealogists were low key and friendly, and took place at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London. I remember the first show, which was I think in 1999 and the queue to enter was going around the block. Those were the days!

There was no lectures or speakers, [incorrect – I was just reading The Genealogist, the journal of the SOG and it mentioned that there was indeed lectures, 27 of them!] it was a format that provided opportunity for Societies to recruit members, sell genealogical products and meet fellow enthusiasts. In fact, it was at the show in 2002 that the Anglo Italian Family History Society had their inaugural meeting and formed as a society

The tipping point came when WDYTYA was launched, first as a TV series and then a magazine. I guess it seemed a natural progression that the SOG event would become intricately linked with this new style of show that encouraged learning and speakers. Indeed, I spoke several times at the show when it was held at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre).

The internet explosion of course gave way to the commercial organisations, 1837.com became I think BrightSolid then morphed into FindMyPast. Ancestry became a leading organisation and FamilySearch has moved into the organisation it is now, with millions of records online and the amount is growing. FamilySearch recently celebrated it’s 20th Anniversary. Shows such as those organised by local societies began to fade into the past, although there are still a number around and they need to be supported by other societies and genealogists. If we do not, then they will fade into the past, much like our ancestors did.

We have moved from being a country that has had the purchasing of genealogical material at the heart of these events, to the shows being more of a learning experience with the ability to purchase and network with fellow genealogists.

The demise of WDYTYA? Live in 2017 was a shock to the genealogical community. No doubt because of the ability to balance the financial books. There is a fine line between making a profit, or breaking even whilst still attracting the public and being affordable to the genealogical groups. During the last year there were no shows in the UK, although there was Back to the Past in Ireland.

This year there are three events. Firstly, FamilyTreeLive hosted by Family Tree Magazine (UK) and the Federation of History Societies which took place at the end of April. I spoke at that event – a presentation and a workshop.

I have been selected as both an Ambassador and speaker for RootsTech London, when that takes place in late October, more on that in the coming weeks.

RootsTech London looks to be an interesting event and I am curious to see if it will have the draw that FamilyTreeLive did. I suspect the vibe will be quite different.

I shall be back later today with a much overdue review of #FamilyTreeLive.

Posted in #FamilyHistoryLive, Genealogy | Leave a comment

European Ancestors – Portuguese Surnames

255px-Flag_of_Portugal.svgRather similar to Spanish surnames, Portuguese ones are divided into:

  • First names – Nomes Proprios
  • Last names – Apelidos

Last names are formed from surnames representing the heritage from both sides of the family.

Such as:

  • First names – Jose Maria
  • Surnames –
    • Mothers side = Almelda
    • Fathers side = de Pais Vierra.

According to Portuguese law, there can be a maximum of two first names and up to four family names. Each name can be a simple one, such as Almelda or a Composite name, such as de Pais Vieria. An additional complication is that siblings may take on different surnames from their heritage, so a different surname does not necessarily mean step siblings or half siblings.

Women are not expected to change their surname upon marriage and if they do, they cannot drop their existing name. The married name “simply” tacks onto the existing name.

Men can legally change their name to that of their wife and have been able to do so since the 1970’s but in 2014, it was estimated that only 5% of men had actually done so.

Portugal has a list of “approved” names that must be adhered to when naming a child and some are listed as gender specific.

Posted in European Ancestors, Genealogy, Portugal, Surnames | Leave a comment

European Ancestors – Regions of Unified Italy

Continuing with the migration of the European Ancestors material. Italy is divided into 20 regions. Those marked with * indicate they have a degree of autonomy and can enable legislation at a local level. The Country is broken down further into 109 provinces and 8,101 municipalities.

italian_regions_provinces_white_no_labels-svg

Map courtesy of FamilySearch

 

  1. Abruzzo
  2. Aosta Valley *
  3. Apulia (Puglia)
  4. Basilicata
  5. Calabria
  6. Campania
  7. Emilia-Romagna
  8. Friuli-Venezia Giulia *
  9. Lazio
  10. Liguria
  11. Lombardy (Lombardia)
  12. Marche
  13. Molise
  14. Piedmont (Piemonte)
  15. Sardinia (Sardegna)
  16. Sicily (Sicilia) *
  17. Trentino-Alto Adige *
  18. Tuscany (Toscana)
  19. Umbria
  20. Veneto
Posted in European Ancestors, Italy | Leave a comment

European Ancestors – Spanish Surnames

spanish flagContinuing with the European Ancestors material.

In Spain children typically are given their first name followed by two surnames.

The first surname represents their father’s surname and the second represents their mother’s surname.

Since 1999, the gender equality laws have made a provision for some surname transposition and where parents are unable to agree the order of the surnames the decision is made by the official presiding over the birth registration.

Posted in European Ancestors, Spain, Surnames | Leave a comment

European Ancestors – Researching in Portugal

255px-Flag_of_Portugal.svg

courtesy of Wikipedia

The obligation to keep church parish records began on 11 November 1563 following a session of the Council of Trent.

There are three distinct phases of that researchers in Portugal should be aware of.

  • Between 16th and the end of 17th Centuries information recorded in Portuguese records was at the decision of the Priest. Some recorded more details, whilst others recorded just the minimum.
  • Late 17th Century to around 1860 we see an additional amount of information provided
    • Baptisms recorded the place of birth.
    • Marriage recorded parents of bride and groom
    • Deaths included the name of the widow or widower.
  • 1860-1911 there is the standardisation of records following a Royal Decree in August 1859.
    • Birth records included the occupation of the father, residence of the parents, Grandparents names and residences and the name and addresses of the witnesses.
    • Marriage records included Marital status of the bride and groom, name and residences of the parents of both bride and groom and the same of the witnesses, the age of bride and groom and their occupations from 1900.
    • Death records include the residence of the deceased, names of the deceased parents or spouse. On occasions the records also provide the details of the deceased Grandparents.

In Portugal there are the following archives:

  • National Archives
  • 17 District Archives
  • 4 Regional Archives
  • 3 Municipal Archives
  • 1 Diocesan Archives

The website tombo.pt is an amalgamation of material from all those archives, but does not necessarily mean that all the contents of an archive has been uploaded to the website.

Posted in European Ancestors, Genealogy, Portugal | Leave a comment