30 January 2008

A million dollars for your research?

What would you do if an eccentric rich old uncle offered you a million dollars to do your family’s genealogy research? That's the question posed by Robert Ragan at Treasure Maps Genealogy.

Your uncle further specifies that "YOU have to do the research without hiring someone to do it for you. And, you have to keep it quiet so that other family members or friends don’t have any motive to help you any more excitedly than they normally would."

So you can't make it easy on yourself and hire someone. What steps would you take? Where do you go from here?

Use your imagination and be honest with yourself… It would be a safe bet to say that you would become known as "Mr./Mrs./Ms. Genealogy" very quickly. You would probably be motivated enough to develop a bounty hunter’s attitude towards your research.

Robert asks, seriously, what would you do differently than now? Would your approach to research change? Would you actually get going on your "to-do" list and get over your procrastination?

Do read the complete post and his suggestions here.

What would I do first?

Well, I'll assume I could use some of the million to pay household bills (and a gourmet home chef for my husband) while I'm travelling the world for research. I'd take those trips I've been putting off for years to Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine to visit my ancestral shtetls and visit archives I haven't accessed yet. I'd backtrack a bit and get either digital photos or photocopies of several rounds of research in these archives. I have the extensive reports but couldn't afford the photocopies then. These are the easy ones. There would be a trip to Poland to visit the Talalai still there and research archival records to attempt to find the connection between the Jewish and the Catholic branch.

I'd like to include Iran on this jaunt, but I'm not so sure at this time whether it's such a good idea, although many people do go back and forth easily. My husband says he hopes I have a back-up plan, as he's not going back to get me if there's trouble.

There are records to be copied in the Chief Rabbi's Office in Teheran, and I'd visit the Jewish cemeteries in Teheran (most of Beheshtieh has been photographed and is online now) and Isfahan. While I'm in Isfahan - my last trip was in 1976 - I would certainly photograph as many of the headstones in the Pir Bakran Jewish cemetery as possible for posterity.

I'd fund extensive Y-DNA and mt-DNA testing at Family Tree DNA for all my families of interest, as there are many individuals who either can't or don't want to pay for testing. I'd like to just give them the kit and get the results.

All of this is just a drop in the proverbial bucket, however.

What are your top three ideas?

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