Do you have a genealogy mentor? Someone you can turn to and have your questions answered? Someone who can guide you through the problems and pitfalls or help you break through brick walls?
The genealogy community worldwide has always been very helpful to newcomers.
Someone once asked me why genealogists were so friendly. My answer was that we never know if the next person to ask a question might hold the “missing link” to our own research!
We are also reminded of the concept of paying forward help we ourselves received in the past. As we are helped, so we attempt to help others.
My thinking on this was kicked to the forefront by a recent exchange on some obscure records for families in Belarus. My researcher friend – in a discussion on a Facebook group covering an entirely different subject – was someone I know rather well. It turned out that he had received help from a researcher who found records in a Krakow (Poland) archive for a group of families with branches in the Belarus town of Mogilev, and those records were very early (16th century).
Out of nowhere - all of a sudden - my thinking is now whether to search for my own family records in Krakow. I’m investigating that possibility now.
But back to mentoring.
What is a mentor? A genealogical mentor offers different ways to look at a problem and helps you find the answers yourself, while encouraging you and enjoying your success. Mentors serve as sounding boards for new possibilities.
As mentors, we can help others avoid the same mistakes we may have made – either long ago, or just yesterday!
Finding one is a process. So where do you look first? I recommend checking out your local genealogy or historical society, and seeing if someone there researches the same geo areas in which you are looking. You can ask other society members for their suggestions.
If you are researching a specific “place in space,” check out websites, genealogy discussion groups and forums where similar researchers congregate. Learn who the experts are and talk to them.
If you can, find someone who helps you view things differently, even if you are both searching common areas or names. You might even ask a person about their own mentors, if they had one.
Do you have a genealogy mentor? To whom do you turn for expert help? How have they helped you in your research? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.