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For all we do have

Like the rest of the world, The Legal Genealogist has been caught up in the news the past days with a sinking heart.

These surely are the “interesting times” of that old curse “May you live in interesting times.”

And yet things could be so much worse.

We could be our grandparents, two generations ago, dealing with the flu epidemic and not having either the access to information we have today or the ability to stay connected with loved ones easily and quickly.

So let’s be thankful for all we do have, even as we lose temporary access to things we’d like to have.


Me, I’m thankful first and foremost to FamilySearch. A vast array of original records and more, made available at the click of a button, absolutely free. Sure I’d like to have more, and I’d love to have the locked records opened up for the duration — who wouldn’t? — but I’m hardly going to look that gift horse in the mouth. I understand that even a fast-spreading virus can’t rewrite contracts overnight or secure permissions from records custodians who, themselves, are dealing with the virus and all of its concerns. I’m instead going to be so very grateful to have all we do have from FamilySearch.

I’m thankful to the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society which has launched a series of free webinars starting today. Read about them and sign up for them here — everything from a great presentation this afternoon by D. Joshua Taylor on research planning to a whole set of ethnic presentations: Jewish genealogy by Lara Diamond, Hispanic genealogy by Colleen Robledo Greene, African-American research by Kenyatta Berry. What a treat to find these among all we do have.

I’m thankful to all the individual genealogical societies that have moved their conferences into the virtual space during this emergency — check out the upcoming Massachusetts Genealogical Council Origins & Destinations virtual conference for example — and who have regular webinars that we can register for free in real time and that we can review even in our own time for the small price of a society membership. I can’t list all the societies that do this, but –just as examples — I’ve already presented this year for the Georgia Genealogical Society (membership $35) and the Minnesota Genealogical Society (membership $40).

I’m thankful to Ancestry for making the Ancestry Academy courses free online — everything from a primer in genealogical documentation by Thomas W. Jones to state-specific research. And to Legacy Family Tree Webinars for its collection of free resources — and the many more that are available for a small subscription fee. And to all the cousins who are willing to work collaboratively online to advance our research.

Yes, we are washing our hands. Staying home. Losing income and opportunities. Doing everything we can to flatten that curve.

Yes, these things will get more and more frustrating and painful and difficult as the days go by.

But let’s not lose sight for one minute of all we do have.

Including being part of this genealogical community. A group ready to reach out and help out whenever and wherever we can. To share joys and frustrations and, yes, fears. To lift each other up.

To remind us always that we stand on the shoulders of all those who’ve come before us. Who’ve lived through far far worse than anything we’re being asked to accept. And who made those sacrifices so that we might be here, today, sitting on our computers, looking at our phones and tablets, on our high-speed internet connections, able to stop for a minute, even in these “interesting times,” to think about all we do have.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Being thankful,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 17 Mar 2020).

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