My genealogy has always been quite the chaotic mess. I am one of those people who tends to go off on "rabbit trails". I may be looking at records for one person, but something catches my eye for someone else....and off I go in another direction. I want to change that. It goes against my nature to do so, but it is needed. I need to create a set procedure for myself to follow in my research and inputting the results into a program or my paper files, until it becomes second nature.
Thomas MacEntee recently announced a "Genealogy Do-Over". I will be following along, as best I can, to redo my entire family tree. Yep, completely! I am setting aside my current GEDCOM, and starting fresh. I will keep my documents handy, so that I can pull them as I work through the new tree, but in an orderly way.
My files, both paper and digital, look much like my brain....scattered. I have notes written on post its, scrap pieces of paper, etc. Recently I spent two whole days taking every single piece of paper I had, and sorted it by surname. They will stay filed like that until they are needed for a particular person.
I will also be doing this with my digital files. I have items saved on my laptop and various files from backups, on my external hard drive...many of them duplicates. I will set up a main "holding folder" on my computer, with surname folders within that. I will then drop all those miscellaneous files in there to be used in my do-over. If I cannot find where I got the digital file from, then I MUST go back to research it again, so that I can provide a proper source citation.
I love my digital files, and my computer, but for me to analyze information properly, I need to have paper in front of me. Because of this, my first step to get ready for this do-over, is to set up a filing system. I have one plastic file box for each of my four main lines. I am using the color coding system created by Mary E. V. Hill. I really like the idea, and I think it will keep me more organized. To begin with, I will only be creating files for myself, my parents, and my grandparents. Once I have documented everything I can for them, I will then move onto the next generation in each line. I am determined to do the same steps that I have done for some pro-bono work I did for friends.
All of this will be going on while I am going through Dear Myrtle's MGP study group (archived on YouTube here). I bought my book with the intention of following along with the first study group she did, but life got in the way. Thank goodness she archives her stuff with Google Hangouts. Now I can work through it at my pace, and still ask questions in the community on Google+. Dear Myrtle has held two study groups so far on this book, and eventually I will go through both. I think I will gain a lot of information by doing both, because different people are involved in each study group. You can never have enough input.
So, for the genealogy do-over, my ultimate goals are:
-Set up a working system for filing, with clear instructions for finding information that will be useable by anyone who comes after me.
-Obtain actual documents for as many of my direct ancestors as possible, to back up my research. I have had a list of documents I want to get, but haven't had the budget for various reasons. I am going to set aside some money each month to work towards this goal, one record at a time.
-Set up proper research logs and analyzing procedures so that I stop missing vital information until many years down the road.
-Have a set procedure for what I do with the information I find...step by step, how do I deal with it before I add it to my tree, so that I am not making as many mistakes and my results are verifiable.
-Set up a schedule of sorts, so that even in the summer months, when I am busy with the farm, I can still work on the genealogy, and not have it be a seasonal thing. Even if that time is just spent reviewing information already found and writing reports, or continuing education.
Increase my skills, to work towards offering professional services
-Learn to properly use a research log
-Learn to cite sources properly, so my research can be backed up with obvious facts
-Learn to use my software to it's full potential. Currently I am using Family Tree Builder from My Heritage.
-Continue doing pro-bono cases to perfect my processes, skills, etc.
I will do my best to update this blog once a week to show the progress I am making. If you would like to follow along with Thomas' do-over, you can find his Facebook group here, and his blog posts related to it here.