Archive for January, 2010

Thanks to Ginisology for the Happy 101 Award

Thanks to Gini of the Ginisology blog for awarding “Tricks of the Tree” with the “Happy 101 Award.”

This award requires that I list 10 things that make me happy.  So here goes… (not in order)

1.  My daughter, Mary Kathryn Hait, who turned four at the end of November, makes me more happy than anything else in the entire world.

2.  Obviously (if you know me at all), genealogy makes me happy – but specifically the feeling that you get when the records DO exist, you find them, and you make a breakthrough.  I also love the look, feel, and smell of old records, really digging into those pages from a hundred or two hundred years ago.  Microfilm just doesn’t have the same attraction (though my right arm – my “cranking” arm – certainly gets its fair share of exercise. 😉 )

3.  Writing is a real joy to me.  I started writing stories when I was a child, though fiction just isn’t really my bag anymore.  I was first published in a “real” magazine when I was twenty years old, and, with a few distractions, have been writing ever since.  The number of books sitting unfinished in my files could fill a library (as any writer could tell you), but I am particularly proud of my more recent genealogical writing (see #2 above).

4.  Helping others, especially with their genealogy.  In addition to my professional research, I will often try to help others with their research problems and brickwalls, by commenting on their blogs, or through email with people I have met on Twitter.  I also volunteer as a site administrator for Genealogy Trails.  This involves transcribing records for free access on their county websites.

5.  Good music – my favorites are hip-hop, R&B, blues, and (just to confuse everyone) the Beatles and some other “oldies,” and Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and all the old crooners.

6.  Good movies – it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I am a HUGE fan of the Star Wars movies.  The Godfather trilogy is also a favorite.  I’ll watch a good comedy any time, day or night.

7.  Reading.  I have read several thousand books over my lifetime – on all topics – fiction, nonfiction, poetry, history, science, sci-fi, you name it.  Except romance and fantasy (the “elves and dragons” variety) – those I just can’t get into.

8.  Talking about myself.  (Doesn’t everyone just love me?)  My wife says I’m the President of my own fan club.

9.  Peace.  Not in the sense of anti-war… in the sense of “peace of mind.”  I used to meditate, though I just don’t ever seem to have time to do so now.  Instead, I try to practice the kind of “active zen” expressed in Zen in the Art of Archery.  Doesn’t always work, though, because I still have to deal with people.

10.  Spending time with my favorite.  Most of my family has moved out of the area, but whenever possible we try to get together.

Just missed the list…

11.  Watching the Washington Redskins.  I love football, and am a third-generation die-hard ‘Skins fan.  But there was not much about this past season to make me happy.

Now I have to name 10 genealogy blogs that I would like to pass this award on to (not in any order):

1.  “Reclaiming Kin” by Robyn Smith

2.  “footnote Maven” by the Maven herself (Especially love the “citation geek” articles)

3.  “ThinkGenealogy” by Mark Tucker

4.  “Kick-Ass Genealogy” by Katrina McQuarrie

5.  ”GeneaBlogie” by Craig Manson

6.  “Family Matters” by Denise (moultrie creek)

7.  “” by Carolyn L. Barkely

8.  “Genealogy’s Star” by James Tanner

9.  “The ProGenealogists Genealogy Blog” by the ProGenealogists team

10.  “Genwriting” by Phyllis Matthews Ziller


Looking Back on ‘09, Forward to ‘10

This has been a rather momentous year for me, in terms of my writing and genealogy goals.  In no particular order (how could I choose my favorite?), here are my favorite parts of 2009:

1.  Presented my first lecture on 17 October 2009, at the Mid-Atlantic Family History Conference in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on researching your Civil War veteran ancestors.

2.  Began teaching a course in African-American genealogy for GenClass in April.  The course ran again in June and November.  Unfortunately, GenClass has closed its doors, but I have been accepted to present the same course for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (NIGS).  See for more details.

3.  Began writing the “African American Genealogy Examiner” column on  This column has been widely accepted by much of the “Geneablogging” community of genealogy bloggers, and was even nominated for Family Tree Magazine’s “40 Best Genealogy Blogs.”  The final list will be released in the May 2010 issue (the current issue is March), so keep your fingers crossed!

4.  Had three articles published in Family Chronicle magazine in 2009:  “Breaking the Chains: Researching Former Slaves” (Feb); “Sourcing Your Sources” (Jul/Aug); and “Small Worlds: Researching Social Networks” (Sep/Oct); and one article in Discovering Family History magazine:  “Social Networking: Unplugged” (Jan/Feb 2010, released this past Tuesday).

5.  Met many great new genealogy friends as I started attending local chapter meetings for the Association of Professional Genealogists (National Capital Area chapter) and the Afro-American Historical Genealogical Society (Baltimore chapter).

6.  “Met” and became acquainted with many great new online genealogy friends on the social networking sites Twitter and Facebook.

7.  Became the Coordinator of the Resource Library for the site Lowcountry Africana (  With a more specialized audience, I have been able to delve a little deeper into many of the research concepts that I have explored in my Examiner column.

8.  Published digital images of the 1867 Voters Registration Lists for all available Texas counties, as e-books on Scribd.

9.  Joined the ProGen Study Group (ProGen 5), and the NGSQ Study Group.  Both of these groups will challenge me to raise my level of research and professionalism, as well as acquainting me with many other aspiring genealogists like myself.

10.  Bought stock in (ACOM).  If I am going to give them so much of my money each year, it seems only fair. 😉

And now, for my goals for 2010:

1.  Continue to write more articles.  My goal will be to have at least ten articles accepted in 2010 (if not necessarily published during the year, due to editorial lead times).  You know what, why sell myself short?  Let’s make it twenty articles!

2.  Become a Certified Genealogist.  My “clock” is up at the end of February, and I am steadily working on my portfolio.  Hopefully, the results will come back in my favor, to demonstrate my commitment to the highest research standards.

3.  Present for local historical and genealogical societies, and local conferences.  I already have two presentations on African-American research coming up in New Jersey on 6 February, and in Kensington, Maryland, on 17 April.  Once I have a few more presentations designed, I will try to start shopping them around to other local societies.

4.  Publish a few books.  I currently have several books in various stages of planning and completion, including one on the Civil War draft in Maryland (containing the names of over 20,000 free and enslaved men) that will be published within the next month or so.

5.  Publish at least one article in a scholarly journal.

6.  Complete more research into my study on the slaves of Prince George’s County, Maryland.  My notes currently contain the names and final owners of over 6,000 slaves.  I want to flesh out the details of the lives of many of these people this year

7.  Publish my column more often.  Since 22 April 2009, when the first article was published, I have published 79 articles.  This is an average of 1 article every 3 or so days.  I will try to bring that average up to about 1 article every 2 or so days.

8.  Contribute more often to my Genealogy Trails websites for Maryland:  Prince George’s Co., Charles Co., and St. Mary’s Co.

9.  Find a good balance between professional/client research, and research for personal publishing projects.  In 2009, I cut down greatly on the number of client research projects that I accepted, in order to focus more on other projects, such as the above noted project (#6).  I would like to create

10.  Continue to explore new and innovative sources for revenue based in genealogical and historical research.  If my desire to become self-employed in this field, then I will have to be able to generate enough income to support myself and my family.

Assuming that I am still writing this blog this time next year, we’ll see how successful I have been at meeting these goals.

Happy New Year, and to everyone, have a great 2010!

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