Tag Archives: genealogy-do-over

Focus. Prioritize. My Ancestors Aren’t Going Anywhere

genealogy do-overI’m still here trudging through it all. I’m in limbo somewhere between week two, three, and maybe a little bit of four. I’m taking it slow and doing a lot of learning. Except for viewing a microfilm I ordered I haven’t done very much research. Ok, I still get distracted by shiny objects but I didn’t add anything to my database…well not the new database anyway. Shush! Old habits are hard to break. Really I’m trying to relax and remind myself – my ancestors will still be there.

Things I’ve done:

  • Filled out a family group-sheet for my family unit
  • Wrote an outline of events in my life
  • I have the documents for my family household in order, and with them have proved I was born and have parents.
  • Some simple goals have been set. I have the marriage documentation for my parents, but I know that they were actually married twice (to each other), so one goal is to find that other documentation and methodically work my way back in time. Some documents I’m simply not going to get access to, but I’m figuring out ways around this as practice. I need the practice for working on my maternal side. It’s not part of the “re-do” it’s a “never-done-it”. I have very little information on my maternal side. I have a couple uncles and a cousin feeding me information which is fantastic. As of now I only have approximations of the years my maternal grandparents were born and died. I did find a very promising marriage record though.
  • Emails outlining group-sheet information were sent out to various family members to look over and verify or change for their own family unit. I listed gaps that I have for some. I’ve only had two responses so far. I know some were busy or out-of-town, so I’m just waiting. Tap tap tap…maybe a bit impatiently, but waiting.
  • Not completely genealogy related, but I found a great website for hooking up with native Spanish speakers to help me learn/practice Spanish in exchange for helping them learn/practice English. My maternal family is mostly all in Mexico, so this will help me communicate with them and write to church parishes etc.
  • I’m really liking the DearMyrtle community. I tune in to her Beginning Genealogy hangout on Wednesdays, GenLaw Study Group on Fridays. On her YouTube channel I found two Mastering Genealogical Proof study groups from a year ago. I’m slowly watching those.

To do:

  • Set up an interview or maybe a series of interviews through Skype or Google+.
  • I have two different search tracking spreadsheets. I need to actually pick one, or meld them together. Either way I need to get into the habit of using one.

Genealogy Do-over: Establishing File System Foundations

genealogy do-over
Is anyone else hyperventilating a little bit? *breathing into a paper bag* I feel like I just left my first-born at daycare for the first time. Monday morning I was over on a web chat and mentioned that I was going to call my “do-over” more of a “spring cleaning” but the more I look at my cobbled-together database the more I see that I do need to just start fresh. I have sources that lead nowhere and sources that only show information was found in a census without a link to the online image containing said information.

I never bothered to learn how to properly do sources with my FamilyTreeMaker2010 software. The only two sources I cited were a book published by a genealogical society and a hand written genealogy book from my second great-grandmother, both are in my grandmother’s possession. I wrote those sources out in full bibliography style in the notes section of each person to which they applied. I had no idea how to cite birth, census, draft, or death records. Those types of sources were never covered in school.

For Christmas I bought myself RootsMagic7. Not that I think it’s better than other genealogy software, but I like that I can get “light bulbs” from FamilySearch and MyHeritage. I’ll keep FTM2010 for as long as it holds up just for another set of easy hints. Of course it’s all those hints that had me fall off the do-over wagon. I’ve been itching to research for the 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge. It’s probably a good thing that the ancestor I’m working on is such a challenge.

But I digress, I’m doing the full do-over. And I promise to be good from here on out. No research until it’s allowed.

Things I’ve done:

  • I have set up my digital file system. Inside my genealogy folder I have a Documents, Pictures, Resources, Templates, and Work in Progress folder. Documents and pictures are self-explanatory. The resources folder is for the digital books I’ve downloaded. Templates is for the untouched research log and census master log. The work in progress folder will have individual folders for each person within a group that I’m researching.
  • I have settled on a file naming convention for the records I’ve downloaded. This I picked up from Diana Ritchie at the do-over Facebook group, “Persons name then the year that person was born and then the year of the document and document type: LastFirstbxxxxYYYYDeathCert”. I’ll list females by their maiden name. One do-over group participant mentioned listing married names after the maiden name, but I have one person I’ve been told may have married 8 or 9 times. That would be one long file name! Not all the marriages were formal documented types, but still. For the people I don’t have a birth year listed I tend to have an approximate year so for those I instead of “b” I may do “bAbt” or I may use death date.
  • I also found a naming convention for photos that I like – suggested by another do-over group member, Emily Moore.
  • I bought a couple of file bins, hanging folders, plastic sleeves, and labels so that I may organize the minimal hard copy documents in my possession which currently live in the envelopes used to mail the items to me. I’m not color coding anything. I’ll go with the excuses – what if the descendant I leave this all to is color blind? The real excuse being that it would irritate me to no end if I chose colors that will become hard to find or discontinued and I wind up buying new colors that are close to the original but not close enough.

Work still in progress:

  • I’m learning my new database tool, RootsMagic7. Specifically watching a video called, “Sources, Citations and Documentation with RootsMagic”. It’s about an hour and a half and I seem to only get 15 minutes at a time to watch it, but that’s ok. It gives it time to gel.
  • I need to take a close look at the research log and census master logs as they were created by others for their needs and the census one is customized to England. I’ll probably keep that and label it for that country, and customize a copy for the United States.
  • I’m still stumped with how to handle a naming convention for census records. I really like the idea of going into a folder and being able to see, by the naming convention, all the records listed for a given person, but to make 12 copies of one digital file for a large family seems ridiculous. In my tree there is at least one instance of children from a family being split up between aunts and uncles. That makes it difficult to keep just one record under the head of household and still keep track of children separated from their parents.

Genealogy Deep Clean

Up until last year I was entirely self-taught. Though I never checked for sources within it, I thought the book I treasured and drew up my first family tree from was just as good as collecting birth and death records. I didn’t even see all the value in census records. I’ve already owned up to it, but as I said in my first blog post, I also downloaded other trees. Shameful, I know.

I had a grand idea of a “Genealogy Do-Over” before seeing Thomas MacEntee’s post. It began last year, that magical year, I discovered a genealogy conference hosted in my own little town. I learned so much about primary sources, citing sources, and just how much I was discarding when I only glance at census records. I kicked myself repeatedly over all of it.

The blog post of a paternal great-grandfather is my first attempt at using what I learned. That post alone had more sources cited than the rest of my entire database. You can’t see it, but I really am hanging my head in shame as I type this.

I’m not going to toss out my database, though I am considering a minty-fresh new database. I may use the old one as a guide of sorts. If I get some of the things I added to my Christmas list I may even do it with some new software. The move I’m going to make probably isn’t considered a “do-over” more like a deep cleaning. A very thorough scrubbing. But I’ll be following Genealogy Do-over. I’m very interested in learning new techniques. I tend to bounce from limb to limb of the tree, so setting goals and tracking research are of particular interest to me now.