Monday, January 12, 2015

A Good Start: my Genealogy Do-Over, 2 weeks in...

I decided to jump into Thomas MacEntee's Geneablogger "GENEALOGY DO-OVER" hoping to learn - or re-learn - how to organize efficiently, research more efficiently, and start using Research Logs & To-Do lists.  I think I was hiding behind the door when organizational skills were being handed out, and this challenge has dogged me all through my life.  But I'm improving, and of course, these dead people aren't going anywhere so I'm hopeful.  I do virtually everything online, so I have very little in paper; instead, my disorganization shows up on my computer! Messy, messy, messy, with duplications.

Pre-Do-Over:  I once again watched a Legacy webinar about using EVERNOTE, with Lisa Louise Cooke.  I'm now using Evernote consistently, and rather than trying to make Notebooks (folders, in other words), I am tagging with several tags as necessary for me e.g., one document about a great-greatgrandfather's document: GENEALOGY SURNAMES, England, Ireland, GILLESPIE, Research  As you can probably see, I need every tag I can think of in order to find items without making my Evernote filing system as bad as my original digital files.

I made a new folder "2015 Genealogy Do-Over", inserting the following three folders, to start with:

Already there are 7 Surname folders tucked inside to date, and I'm adding as I go...
2015 Do-Over Resource sheets   These specific resources have come from Thomas as well as additional individuals on the Facebook page or, from previous webinars and other sources. I'm a bit of a packrat about resources!

I will likely need to add separate folders for Maps, Books, and perhaps other topics. I definitely do not want everything filed by surname, as I simply don't think that way - I need to know I'm looking for e.g., a Map, and go directly to one folder, not dig through various surname folders!

I downloaded FolderMarker, (free) which can colour folders, put icons on folders (including numbers), and do much more.  I am beginning to use a colouring system to help me navigate effectively. So far, so good.

I also made an entirely new family tree in Legacy software, titled "New File Do-Over".  Then I was ready to go!

First, I moved my (old) Genealogy folder (which includes everything) over to my GoogleDrive where I had a good amount of space. It's now called "HOLD - FOR DO-OVER - GENEALOGY". And it's marked with a red triangle warning me to not go into it except for rare, very specific documents.

Secondly, I took time to decide on a simplified but detailed document naming system for each document. Several professional genealogists and others on the Do-Over Facebook page highly recommended doing the following [but with no punctuation]:
SURNAME, Name - Date (I'm using YYYY MON DA) - Item, Place (City,Co,Shire/Prov/State, Country [if needed])
e.g., KING, George - 1626 Dec 7 - Burial, London, Middlesex, England
e.g., VASSALL, Anna - 1593 Jan 10 - Baptism, Stepney, Middlesex, England

Whew. That was a big decision! I've begun to use this modified system - although most people said there should be no punctuation, I need to see sections set off. We're all unique, and this is needed for me.

Thirdly, I pulled out Thomas' Research Log (an Excel version) which I had downloaded over a year ago and never used.  I'd looked at it and thought about it, but never tried using it.  What was I thinking! I took a problem I was having in proving a particular relationship between a woman and her father in the 1700s, filled in the details, the questions, the clues I thought I might have from specific documents found to date...

This practice research helped me see I would need to modify the log in a few ways - mainly back to my (a) vision issues, and (b) my organizational issues.  Everything needs to be totally visible all at once and clearly seen.  Luckily with two screens, (one of them a nice large one I received when I retired), I can work on one screen, while keeping a tree software program open on the other screen, to check back and forth.

I now have several Research Plans from the Logs I have written out. Nice. This will definitely be helpful. I already feel relieved and relaxed about using the Log. Thanks for the template, Thomas!

Fourthly, I have added myself to the new tree, adding all details of education, birth, marriage+divorce, children, surgeries, and little stories as I thought of them. Already I think I need to have a Folder, "My Story", for my children and grandchildren.  Where else will they learn about playing jacks, Red Rover, Kick the Can, or my favourite 1-2-3 a'larrio ball game I could play by myself or, about my favourite little kids' book, Miss Sniff, which had velvety texture on all the cats/kittens?  Or the odd jobs I had over the years?  Hmmm. This is looking like another separate project to work on - perhaps next year!!  But, first I need to continue the work on getting my tree (and my children's father's tree) in shape, plus have my documents etc. in good enough shape that they will make sense to others who follow me.  

I'm doing more than the above four items this week, continuing with learning more, carefully working with what I'm learning, and making this Do-Over work for me in my own particular way.  Every person doing genealogy has different experiences, skills, and talents, so I've seen how everyone is doing their own do-over, uniquely.  So far, I'm enjoying it immensely. Slow but steady - that's me!


Jenny Lanctot said...

Celia, I've made "slow and steady" my mantra for this do-over. I literally have to keep repeating it to myself. I've even written it on a small whiteboard I keep near my desk - in bold red - so I won't forget.

I don't have any pipe dreams that I'll have the perfect family tree at the end of 13 weeks. Heck, I'm not even sure I'll be done after 13 months. But at any given point, I want to be able to say "I have the best (read: most accurate/well-sourced/well-researched/etc) tree I've ever created." And that's enough for me.

Good luck to you!

Celia Lewis said...

Thanks Jenny! I'm surprised at how some people think they "have to" finish things in 13 weeks... I didn't get into this mess in 13 weeks, and it will definitely take time to get out of it, as well. Might as well have some fun as I go, eh?? Thanks for commenting - I really appreciate that I'm not alone with my flying fingers and distraction tendencies!

Anna Matthews said...

I really thought that I would be done reorganizing paper and computer files in a week, hahahaha, good one! And me too with the organizational skills, behind the door without a doubt! But, like you, I am determined to get things in order to help my research and those who come along as well.


Family, friends, and others - I hope you enjoy these pages about our ancestors and their lives. Genealogy has become somewhat of an obsession, more than a hobby, and definitely a wonderful mystery to dig into and discover. Enjoy my writing, and contact me at celia.winky at gmail dot com if you have anything to add to the stories. ... Celia Lewis