Those who know me well know how much I have loved Star Trek since I watched the original series as a child. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was the final movie with the original cast. It was about remembering the past, but also looking forward to what comes next. Where else can you find a movie that starts with a quote from Hamlet and ends with one from Peter Pan? The subtitle of the movie is from Hamlet (Act 1, Scene 3); The Undiscovered Country is the future.
It is difficult to believe that I first crossed the threshold of 101 Newbury Street more than two decades ago. At the time I was a novice genealogist, having been researching for less than five years. The first librarian I met was Gary Boyd Roberts, sitting behind the old sixth floor desk, who, upon discovering my French-Canadian heritage, quickly turned me over to George Sanborn. In 1995, I was laid off from Fidelity Investments, and Maureen Taylor, then head of the library, asked me if I would be interested in doing some contract research work for the Society. Sixteen years later, I have decided that it is time for new adventures. All good things must come to an end, and I will be leaving the Society in a few days.
I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to work side by side with my colleagues at NEHGS, who are some of the best genealogists in the country, and probably the world. And these incredibly talented individuals would not be able to do what they do without the equally talented and hard-working staff in the supporting departments, from the accounting department that pays the bills (and our salaries) to technical services, without whom we would have no materials for the library to help us solve your problems (materials that eventually go on our website as well, to help those of you researching at a distance). I am so grateful to each of them for what they have taught me, and for the support they all have given me through the years.
Regular readers have heard me discuss my old band director, George Parks, and the lessons he taught me that have helped me in genealogy. He instructed us in the three stages of Santa Claus: “You believe in Santa Claus; You don’t believe in Santa Claus; You become Santa Claus.” As performers, the most important of these is the third stage, creating the excitement and joy for other people.
I like to think that this also applies to those of us who are genealogy educators. I have lost track of the number of conferences, seminars, workshops, tours, and other educational events I have spoken at through the years. But, even after all this time, there is no greater gift than seeing the joy in someone’s eyes when they use resources or methodology you have taught them to finally solve a genealogical puzzle. And make no mistake, we as professionals learn from you as well. I thank you for all that I have learned from you through the years.
I leave you with one last research recommendation. I encourage you to please take what you have learned and share it with others. I ask that you become Santa Claus for other genealogists and help them along their way. The feeling you get inside when you see them get results will be well worth it. And you will certainly learn things from them in return.
I will be continuing to work in the field of genealogy, and my affiliation with NEHGS will not end completely. I will be staying on as a consulting editor for the Register, and a contributing editor for American Ancestors magazine. And with the wonders of twenty-first century technology, any other activities will just be a Google search away. I hope that you will say hello when you see me at genealogy programs and repositories in the future.
Starting with next week’s issue, Lynn Betlock will succeed me as editor of The Weekly Genealogist, assisted by Jean Powers, Ginevra Morse, and, of course, Valerie Beaudrault. I wish them tremendous success. I’m certain they will do a wonderful job.
And so, dear readers, it is “time for us to say So Long.” I am off to follow Captain Kirk’s lead and explore The Undiscovered Country; “Second star to the right, and straight on 'til morning.”