28 January 2015

My progress on the Genealogy Do-Over

Technically we are into week four of the do-over, but that is not where I am at yet. And that is ok with me because I know I need to get some basics in place before I get too deeply involved with working on research.

The first thing I have to do is make sure the space I am going to be working in is set up in such a way that I can function in it. That means I am taking some time to get my house in order, in between taking care of some health issues as well as watching my granddaughter while her mom is at work.

While I can work with some disorder around me, I know I will function better if part of my mind isn't worried about the dishes in the sink, or the laundry that needs doing. And I know I can make better progress if I don't have to stop and search for a pencil or pad of paper when I want to jot down a note.

So, I am going back to Step 0 as some have described it and getting my home in order.

I have managed to get my budget in order for the coming year.

I have set up a project management workbook in Excel to make sure I am getting life's to do thing taken care of (thank you Thomas MacEntee for sharing your knowledge and expertise).

I am working on getting some health issues taken care of.

I am working on getting the room that will be my office space clean up and organized so that I have a functionable space.

I have written a list of why I am doing genealogy (see previous post) and I have written a list of my short and long term goals for my research (see my post of 29 Dec 2014)

I am reading the posts in the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook group, as well as some of the blogs written by others that are undertaking this journey. I am learning lots from doing that.

This is all progress. And if it isn't as fast as some would do it (or even as fast as I would ideally like to be able to do it), it is getting done. After all slow and steady wins the race, and this is a marathon not a sprint! :)

Why do I do Genealogy?

So why do I do genealogy? Maybe that is where I need to start my do-over. Making a clear statement of the why behind the search. It will help me figure out what direction I am going and the steps I need to reach my destination, or goal.

I actually have a couple of base goals.

Goal One - to get to know who I came from. The names, dates and places are just a start. I also want to know the who the people are beyond the names. What shaped their lives? What were their daily lives like? What were their interests and beliefs?

Goal Two - to be able to share my discoveries with my family. And not just my immediate family, but the extended family of cousins as well as any 2nd and 3rd cousins I can locate, because it is a part of their family story too.

Goal Three - to be able to leave a record of me and who I am in my words, in my voice, so that my children, grandchildren and someday my great grandchildren can know the who I am beyond just a name.

Goal Four - To help others learn about their family by sharing my knowledge and skills in helping them find their roots.

If you are working on your genealogy, what is your why?

04 January 2015

Reorganizing my computer files

One of the things I am working on during this Genealogy Do-Over is getting the files on my computer a bit more organized. To do that I have been considering what would work best for ME. At the moment this is how I have decided to set things up....

I have used the program Folder Marker and used a tree icon for any folder dealing with genealogy. I have started a new folder for doing the Do-over which I have named Genealogy Do-Over

Within the Genealogy Do-Over Folder I have a Folder for my tree, and a Folder for my exhusband's family (he is the father of my children so they will want his side of the family too). I again used Folder Marker to change the color on the folders so that it is easier to see which folder is which.

In each of those folders I have added two folders which I named Places and Surnames. The folder named Places will be for general information about the places my families lived, but don't necessarily mention my families specifically. I will go from Larger to smaller, for example United States > California > Sierra County > Sierra City.

Within the Surnames folder I will make folders for each surname within my tree. Then within the individual surname folders I have a folder for Documents. (Notice I put an underscore before the name, this is so that folder will always be at the top of the list.) In the Documents folder I have 22 subfolders. This where I will put the various documents that have to do with that surname. The reason for this set up is that I have surname binders and those are the tabs I have in the binders. So to me it made sense to use the same set up on my computer.

I have those folders named: General Surname Info, Birth, Marriage, Death, Obituaries, Cemetery Records, Probate, Census, Church, City Directories, Court Records, Divorce Records, Family Correspondence, Land Records, Military Service Records, Military Pension Records, Naturalization Records, Newspaper Items, Passenger Lists, School Records, Tax Records, Voter Records. You will notice that I put a number at the beginning of each name, this is to force them to stay in the order I want them listed (which is the same order that I have the tabs in my binders) rather than reverting to Alphabetical Order.

Also in the individual surname's folders I will make a folder for each individual person. I will again use Folder Marker to change the color of the folders to make them more distinct from the Documents folder. In the individual person's folder I will put anything that deals specifically with them but doesn't belong in one of the documents folderss, for example the research plan for that person.

As time goes on and I am working with this set up I may end up changing things, but for now I think this set up will work. Remember when setting up your organizational ideas to consider how YOU work because it doesn't make any difference how things are set up if you don't use it because it doesn't make sense to you!

31 December 2014

Getting ready for Do-Over

Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over starts on Friday, January 2nd.

I have been doing some thinking about file naming (still haven't totally decided on how I will do that, need to really sit there and consider the options to decide which is most natural to the way I do things so I will be able to use it in a consistent manner).

I do know I am going to totally start over with a brand new tree using the same genealogy software, Family Tree Maker 2014.

I am starting a brand new tree because I have several trees due to computer/software glitches that wanted me to open the tree with a new name. Plus some of it is my mom's research from before she died in 1997 and some of it is my research. So for me it is easier to start new and go through every document, every note, one by one and make sure everything is correct and properly cited than to try and go back and just review and try and correct errors in the existing database(s). (And boy is that a terrible run on sentence, but hopefully you get the jest of what I mean.)

I just ordered some banker boxes (supposed to arrive on Friday). I will take out every folder, every notebook every scrap of paper relating to genealogy from my file cabinet drawers and put them in there. Then as I go through the folders I will put them back into the filing cabinet. That way I can be sure that I have looked at each piece of information.

I will be resubscribing to Ancestry.com on January 2nd, for now probably on a month to month basis for just the US because my generation, my children's generation, my grandchildren's generation and my parents' generation have all spent their entire lives in the US. Well, except for the year my son spent in Afghanistan and the year he spent in Cuba but since that was as a member of the US Army there shouldn't be any non-US records even for him.

I do have a subscription to Genealogy Bank. Need to check and see which other services I still have current subscriptions to...

I will be taking time to really work on my genealogy this year. I am determined to make it the priority in life like it is in my mind.

I am going to read at least 1 genealogy book per month to keep my knowledge growing.

I am going to read 1 genealogy magazine a month. I have a subscription to Family Tree Magazine and am ashamed to say that there have been many issues I have looked at the front cover, then set them aside and never actually read.

I am going to take my list of genealogy goals that I posted a couple of days ago and break them down into do-able steps with a do by date for each step to help keep me moving forward. And if that means I don't stay on the same schedule as Thomas' Do-Over schedule then that is ok, I will use his information as it is applicable to my research.

30 December 2014

Some new (to me) products

I am really enjoying being a part of Thomas MacEntee's facebook group
Genealogy Do-Over I have found a couple of new products that I have started using.

The first product is Evernote Free version. It is great for writing notes, you can organize your notes into notebooks so that like notes are together. It also allows you to tag your notes making them easier to search for specific topics. Another great feature is that you can clip webpages directly into a note. I have clipped a number of other people's blog posts about how they are working out organizational messes in preparation for the Do-Over. It is allowing me to go back and forth between different options without worrying about trying to locate the post on their blogs again. (This feature would work great for clipping those recipes from Facebook that you want to try someday too.) I have a couple of different notebooks set up already for different aspects of my life, the one I am using the most right now is the one I have set up for notes about the Genealogy Do-Over.

The second product I have found is called Folder Marker. Again there is a free version and it allows you to change the color of your folders on your computer, or to use an icon instead of a folder. I have changed all folders that have anything to do with genealogy to a tree making it easy to find those main folders

Example of how I have started to use Folder Marker on the file folders on my computer.

Another program I am considering checking out is Evidentia. It is supposed to help you compare and evaluate the facts found from different sources helping you prove or disprove a hypothesis, and I believe it does have a free trial period. But since I am not to the point of wanting to evaluate documents right now I am going to wait before downloading the trial version.

29 December 2014

Setting Genealogy Goals for 2015 (and further into the future)

One of the things that the Genealogy Do-Over has been doing for me and many others is forcing us to look at our goals and writing them down in the hopes that we can bring some order to the mess our research has become.  

Below are the goals that I have come up with so far. Yes the list is pretty extensive. No I do not think I can even come close to being able to accomplish this all in 2015. But by writing out the goals I can come up with a workable plan and can make progress in reaching those goals. I have learned from other areas to break things down into baby steps. When I just look at the big picture I can become discouraged and want to give up. When I say today I will spend 15 minutes going through 1 or 2 file folders that I can do. It is amazing how quickly those babysteps can start showing results! 
  1. Find 1 or 2 others also doing this to set up a personal accountability group to keep me honest and on track. 
  2. Take this list of goals and break it down to yearly, quarterly, monthly and weekly goals with some sort of checklist to help me stay on track. 
  3. Set specific time aside for working on my research at least a couple of times a week. If I say it is a priority, I need to show that by actually setting aside time to work on it! 
  4. Read magazines and books on the subject on a regular basis, participate in group discussions about Genealogy to keep learning new tips and tricks. 
  5. Become more familiar with source citation standards so using them is 2nd nature. 
  6. Set naming standards for folder and files, both digital and paper so that not only I can find what I want, but have my files organized in such a way that other will be able to use them. 
  7. Develop and USE a research log.... maybe an extension of my current research plan worksheet? 
  8. Create a physical file folder for each individual with an inventory sheet and a checklist of source to look for sheet. As research plans are made paper copies will also be placed into this folder. 
  9. Start a new tree for my ancestors beginning with myself. 
    1.  After entering name onto tree make a folder for that person on the computer and a physical file folder for that person so I can easily store all pertinent documents for that person 
    2. Write a research plan for that person, store a digital copy in the folder on the computer and a paper copy in the physical file folder 
    3. Locate all documentation I already have for that person, if already in digital form move to their folder. If I only have a paper copy of the documentation, either scan it or find a digital copy of the file online and place in the appropriate file. If I only have a digital copy, print out a paper copy and put into file folder. Goal is to have both a paper and digital copy of all important documents. 
    4. Have an offsite backup copy of all files, for when computer glitches or fails. 
    5.  Place paper copies of documents in the proper folder and put into the file cabinet, being sure to add the document to the inventory list at the front of the folder. 
    6.  Enter the information one document at a time into the tree being sure to properly document the source of the information. 
    7.  Only after I have reasonably exhausted all research on that individual, move on to the next individual.  
    8. Make sure all information is correct, as well as correctly connected to the appropriate people, and that the source of information is correctly cited. 
  10. Stay on top of filing. As I get each new document I need to file it away in its proper folder so things stay in order and don't get misplaced 
  11. Pay special attention to Shields/Doten line so I can apply for membership in Mayflower Society 
  12. Scan, label, file and share photos. 
  13. Write quarterly family newsletter for Newman cousins, consider a quarterly newsletter for Busch cousins. 
  14. Self-Publish a Busch family genealogy and submit to Family History Library in Salt Lake City, as well as a copy to the Modoc County Library and the Library is Sierra City, Sierra, California, in honor of my mother's work. Then work on self-publishing other lines and submit to the Family History Library and other libraries as appropriate to the family line. 
  15. Join pertinent lineage/family societies, such as the Stiles Family of America and the Association of American Boyers to be able to collaborate with others researching common lines 
  16. Finish outlining the Records of the Antrim Family in America book by Harriet Stockton Antrim to help me (and others) in researching that name since the book is not indexed, nor are individuals numbered in standardized genealogical fashion.
  17. Write in the journal I started to record my personal life story on a regular basis so my descendants have a part of me in my own words when I am no longer around.
Do you have a list of goals for the coming year? Spend a little time thinking about it. Write them down, then break those goals into bite size babysteps that you can feel good about accomplishing.