Out on a Limb: Roots Resolutions

Out on a Limb: Roots Resolutions

Out with the old, in with the new.

Humans have been making—and breaking—New Year’s resolutions since ancient times. So as we kick off another annual round of declarations to get skinnier, wealthier, happier and better organized, I got to wondering what kind of resolutions our ancestors made.

Based on my research, I know a few mine didn’t make—but I wish they had. How differently my genealogical endeavors would be progressing had my progenitors dreamt up this list of objectives on a New Year’s Day of yore …

Resolutions for the year of our Lord 1806

1. We vow to standardize the spellings of our names. Not only shall we each select a single form for our own employ, we shall also keep a close eye on clerks, clergy and other record-keepers, lest they stray from our established orthography.

2. Should our impending immigration to the New World tempt us to modify those monikers, we shall not adopt translations, Americanizations or other alternations without officially recording those changes. Further, we promise not to blame our self-imposed identity transformations on innocent Ellis Island immigration inspectors.

3. We shall never entrust our neighbors to report information to the census taker.

4. In the interest of creating a true and complete record of our family’s history, we pledge not to publish or distribute genealogical works without meticulously documenting their contents. Nor shall we omit details we view with scorn, such as Great-great-uncle Lester’s conviction for stamp-tax evasion and the reason behind cousin Chelsea’s uncanny resemblance to the postmaster:

Alas, my ancestors didn’t oblige—and considering the historical evidence, I’m guessing yours didn’t either. But back here in 2006, the Family Tree Magazine staff is hard at work on a resolution of our own: making this publication a better family history resource. With that goal in mind, we’re kicking off the year with new content in several columns.

Go to our Everything’s Relative column for the debut of All in the Family, a reader—participation section. In each issue, we’ll challenge you to tickle our funny bones by responding to a family history prompt—with prizes as enticements.

In Preserving Memories, we’ve added regular “Safe Keeping” hints to help you protect your photos and heirlooms. And our Toolkit reviews now highlight a product’s “Vital Statistics” (including manufacturer, price, pitfalls and best features) at a glance.

Later this year, we’ll serve up a series of Special Reports that delve into issues affecting the genealogy world. These stories aim to demystify the genealogy industry, so you can be a better-informed family history researcher and consumer.

We’ve also vowed to complement our articles with faster, easier online access to the tools we cover. Beginning with this issue, we’ll post hyperlinks to every Web address featured in the magazine at <www.familytreemagazine.com>. Simply log on to me Web page listed in each issue’s table of contents, click on an article title and surf directly to the sites you want to visit—no typing required.

That includes the links listed in our State Research Guides, which we’re making available exclusively to Family Tree Magazine readers.
From the February 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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