Genealogical Research on the Weekend
I did genealogical research quite a lot in the 1980s when I was working on my book, A Godly Inheritance, to honour my Gr’ma Kroeker. That was all manually.Then, after Mom passed away in 1997, I had those long evenings at my computer desk in the living room, keeping Dad company, and so I spend many long Sunday evenings keying genealogical data into my Brother’s Keeper program. I even produced some printout books on different sides of our family lines and sold some of them. I put up a website, and even offered to translate old Gothic German documents into English.
Don’t laugh.The jobs that came were few and far between, but they did come in spurts of three at a time for a number of years.
But when Dad died I had to clean up the estate and move to the city and find enough paid work to make ends meet, so genealogy research fell into the background. I keep aware of things in this field through my work for the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan. But I usually say I don’t have time to do any more research for our own family lines.
Last week a man from the USA emailed, who has corresponded before and I helped him out with some data from our Neudorf line. This time he begged me to do some research for him as he was preparing for his father’s Memorial service, coming up this Saturday (21st). He was willing to pay me handsomely!
Well… my schedule is so full, but I inquired as to what exactly he had in mind. When i realized that he just wanted to show off some up-to-date ancestor charts and the like at the Memorial, I figured I could probably get that done on Saturday, if I gave up my domestic duties. (My filing system really needs revamping!) If I couldn’t get it all done, I’d be able to wrap it up on Sunday. So I agreed. The man was pleased.
I have this GRANDMA 7.1 database on my laptop, so at 12:30 pm. Saturday I opened it up and began to work out a number of reports.The program has added some new styles of spitting out data reports from what I have used in the past, so I did a little experimenting. In some cases it would only print out the reports, not create digital ones. So I had to print those, then scan them, and turn them back into digital documents on my desktop computer.
Already I had close to 20 charts and reports done, when going on about 4:30 I decided to give a command to create a file with ALL the descendants of Giesbrecht Neudorf, our earliest known ancestor, born in 1722. In the settings I asked for ALL the comments and source notes to be included. I’ve done this years before and it would create a book of about 200 pages plus an index. The computer would just burrr for a few minutes, and there it would be, ready to print out, adding coverstock front and back, and I could bind them with a cerlox comb.
However this time the computer kept “working” an awfully long time. So I got up and decided to at least sweep and wash my floors. My token Saturday housecleaning. Finally, about an hour later, it was done. So I tried open it in LibreOffice, my word processing program, so I could see how it looked and if it needed adjustments to the formatting.
Well! It took another hour to show up! I thought it showed, over 2000 pages, but I was tired and decided I needed a nap before I tried to wrap things up. I ate an apple for supper in the recliner, then hung my head and fell asleep.
Gasp! Until 10 PM! Well, I was refreshed, so I got back to work, and started transferring files via USB stick to the desktop, to check them out and prepare them for the client. I worked well past midnight, but didn’t get to checking that big BOOK file again. I decided I needed to get to bed for church in the morning, so I would have to leave it for Sunday afternoon.
Sunday afternoon I put in a few more hours, doing some of the smaller files over again, and discovering the circular, and also the one with the rainbow arches (which I like better), and finally trying to open that big Neudorf file again. My desktop is a whole lot faster, but – and I timed it – it took 50 minutes for that file to open. Then I discovered that it was 4,422 pages!
Yes, Yikes! what a book! I wasn’t even sure that my client would even want such a huge book. (It does show up the power of the Brother’s Keeper program and the GRANDMA database, which has over a million Mennonite names and genealogical info in it).
So I uploaded the files – except that huge one, to my website, prepared an invoice and sent an email to the client explaining what I had prepared for him, and gave him the link to collect his files, and offered to send him the book on a CD, and a few other printed files by mail.
A few hours later he wrote back ecstatic! Yes, he’d be glad for that book on a CD… and he was glad to pay me for those 10.5 hours on my invoice at the agreed rate.
I do not like to have such intensive work weekends very often, but I feel good about what I accomplished. And I’ve already been paid via PayPal.