Reflecting on a Year of Family Tree Firsts

Last December I became the second Family Tree Firsts Blogger, and boy has it been an amazing year.   I have shared my discoveries, thoughts, ideas and accomplishments with all of you.  At times I can’t believe that it has been nearly a year, let alone that I was the one selected.  Time flies when you’re having fun!

I can still remember the day my welcome package from Family Tree Magazine came in the mail.  Two weeks before Christmas and I had a box of goodies to start me on my ancestor quest.  There were books, CDs, magazines and guides.  Items that I used on a near daily basis and are now dog-eared, bookmarked and littered with Post-It notes.  Of course, in February I received a wonderful gift in the mail: the conference bag from RootsTech.  Yay, a tote bag!  I love bags (my husband calls it a problem).   It has gone with me to almost all of my outings, and it has become my go-to bag for genealogy research.  Someday I would like to make it to a national conference like RootsTech to see what it’s like (and to get another bag).

Thanks to the resources of Family Tree University, I was able to grow as a genealogist.  The instructors, experts and lecturers gave me a wonderful foundation from which I could build. It had a campus-feel, and I loved making connections with other students in my classes (we should have campus swag like slippers or sweats so we can wear them at home when researching). Sharing these discoveries with others through message boards, live chats and Q&A’s made this experience all the more special.  You became my community: unlike a lot of my family, you all understand why genealogy is exciting!

Writing this blog, as well as my personal blog, has given me more and more confidence in my abilities as a writer and genealogist.  It is true that the more you practice something the better you get.  Writing and researching on a near daily basis has sharpened my skills and made me realize that I truly do love this hobby I stumbled upon. Something that I never thought I would say. With my family history writing, I know that I’m still improving and that the goals I set for myself are just that much more in reach.

If you’d asked me a year ago what I wanted to do as a genealogist/family historian/keeper-of-the-family-lore, I would have told you that I wanted to document my family history for my kids and family: to show them our past and to celebrate our heritage.  While that is still true today, I would now add that I do it to share my stories with the world and educate others on the aspects I enjoy most.  It is now a goal of mine to become a certified genealogist, continue writing and to find any opportunity to teach others how much fun it is to indulge in genealogy.

Well, my time is almost at an end (never fear, you still have about a month of posts left before the next blogger will take over).  Do you know someone who has just started or wants to know more about their family, but has not started researching yet?  Tell them about this blog, because who knows, they could be the next Family Tree Firsts Blogger!

Click here to learn more about the Family Tree Firsts Blogger contest.

A picture of me brushing up before a blog post.


Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Shannon Bennett of Locust Grove, Va.


Want to learn how to document your own family history? Then check out our Independent Study Course ‘Writing Your Family Memoir’, now $25 off for a limited time!

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