Friday, January 1, 2016

A New Year means really thinking about my research

January 1, 2016

In October, through my FACEBOOK connections, I discovered the Genealogy Do-Over group, run by Thomas MacEntee.  I attempted to follow along, but with work and teaching 3 courses this past fall, I realized that there was just too much for me to do in 13 weeks. Then I realized he was creating a new book (The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook) designed to be done over one full year.  Yes - more my timeline.  So, let's begin the New Year!!

After reading the first couple of chapters, I realized that really what I need to do is a Genealogy Go-Over - not starting from scratch, but instead truly reviewing what I have, and where I need to go. For those that don't know my story, it is thanks to my mother
that I became passionate about genealogy.  I grew up at her side as she was working on family discoveries, often visiting relatives, cemeteries, court houses and historical societies helping to do some of the work.  The earliest records (letters) date from 1954, the year after I was born.

When she passed in 2006, she left me 4 filing cabinets and 40 boxes of genealogy stuff!  I was honored, but also taken aback with the amount of paper.  And please remember she did the majority of her research without the internet, and was scared she would lose something - so filed things in multiple places!  One of the things I have (that I've yet to decide what to do with) are the 1000+ letters - she made copies of everything she wrote and originals of the responses.

As a result of two moves in the past 3 years, I've already done the following.  The 4 filing cabinets of folders on family members were all scanned - however, these scans need to get organized.  I kept all original documents in folders called "birth certificates, death certificates, etc.)  As I scanned a file, I also set up the person on my tree in Ancestry and also synced that with FTM (more on that story later).  I did the files in order of the tree - checking citations and information on each.  This process took almost three years, to where I know have 1 filing drawer (yes ONE) of files that I'm still working on.

These files are ones where there is little documentation; or confusing documentation - and thus they are for people not listed on my public tree. I just refuse to put something up that doesn't have the right documentation.

The 40 boxes were a different story.  Among those boxes were 10 boxes of family pictures and bibles.  These have been scanned an attached to the appropriate person; however, I still have a one box of photos - unknown and/or not yet scanned.

The boxes also contained binders and more binders of information.  From these, I've started in 2015 to create my own binders, that now have the key documents in archival sheets with each individual.  However, I've only done 3 generations - so I have a long way to go.  Through this process, I've also discovered additional documentation that I need to obtain.

With the end of FTM, I made the decision to go to RootsMagic, and fortunately the import was reasonably easy.  However, one thing will be to double check Ancestry to RootsMagic to FTM to the binders to make sure that I have everything saying the same thing. Plus I'm learning RootsMagic as I go, so trying to find how to do something new is never easy.

Thus the Go-Over - versus the Do-Over. My goals for January?
l.  Review the last 2 boxes of paper I have yet to tackle. Scan what I can and know that later I'll have time to chase those leads.
2. Structure my work space so that the research I'm doing on my husbands tree can still continue, while I Go-Over my tree.  I started his tree search from scratch and know that the work I've done there has the sources and documentation I need.
3.  As requested, think about my current research habits, and how they can be improved.  I know that I have not used a to-do list; and that is something I will need to start to use, especially since I'm working on multiple trees.  In addition, most of my research now is pre-1850 and it just gets harder to do, thus more thought into what and where to research is necessary.
4.  Finally, I need to realize that the time I'm using to better organize will benefit me.

My hope is through this Go-Over project, the organization of genealogy will be easier for anyone else who picks it up in the future.