Sunday, December 28, 2014

My Genealogy Do-Over

On December 15, 2014, Thomas MacEntee announced that he is putting aside 20 years worth of genealogy research and is doing a Genealogy Do-Over in 2015.  He put out a call for anyone interested to join him.  You can read his Original Announcement on why he's decided to do this after 20 years of research.  He's also posted a schedule of topics and he's set up a Facebook Group there we can gather and talk to the 700+ like-minded family researchers that are going to join in this massive undertaking.


To answer the above question...yes, yes, a thousand times yes!!!!!  All aspects of my genealogy, including this blog needs a Genealogy Do-Over.


You are probably asking yourself why would I, or anyone else for that matter, want to put aside all that they had done and start over from the very beginning.  Everyone who is joining in has their own reason(s).  For me, it's pretty simple....I know a lot more about researching one's family history than I did back in 2013 when I first started.  I'm not saying I know everything now, but I sure know and understand a heck of a lot more of what goes into doing proper research, and more importantly, citing the sources that are used to prove that who I say is an ancestor is actually an ancestor.

When I first started, I knew who my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents were.  I also had some basic information on my grandparents and great grandparents (i.e. birth dates, death dates, spouses and children).  That information I got from my parents.  I also had a report that a great aunt prepared for a family reunion we had back in 1993 on my paternal line.  My mom gave me all of that paperwork, along with all the paperwork that she had from her maternal and paternal side of the family.

So with great anticipation, I opened up an account at and started inputting names and dates from those files.  Pretty soon I had the beginnings of my first family tree.  It wasn't long before I was collecting all these names, following one shaky leaf after another, adding documents willy-nilly without taking a really good look at them and analyzing them.  I was excited by tree was growing by leaps and bounds.  I was following branches on the East Coast, up to Canada, across the Atlantic to Germany, England, Scotland, Switzerland.

Now so far, I've been pretty lucky with those I've put in my tree as I have yet to find records to disprove that I am related to them, except for one or two.  But because I didn't take the time to really analyze the records, I feel like I just have names in my tree.  Other than my close ancestors, who I knew growing up, I don't know them.  I don't know the reasons they came to America or settled where they did.  I know have any real knowledge to the area they settled.  What the times were really like back when they lived, what their occupation was.

This may sounds strange to most people in general, but I think other family researchers might understand this.  As much as the records will allow, I want to understand the lives and times my ancestors lived.  I want to get to know them as a person...not just as a name.  Then maybe, just maybe, I'll learn a bit more about myself and why I am like I am. I'll be able to see how these ancestors of mine who I've never met, in some small, intangible way, have shaped me into the person I am today.


So now that I've answered the question of Why? I'm doing this, the next question that needs to be answered is How? am I going to do this.

Well the first answer to this question, has been answered by me dusting off this blog and using it once again.  I started this blog back on March 31, 2013.  I was doing pretty good with blogging my research journey, but quit posting on July 23, 2013.

I now plan on not only using this blog to write about my ancestors, but to also write about my restarting my research based on the weekly schedule of topics that Thomas provided.  I haven't decided if I'll strictly follow them or adapt them more to my way of doing things.  I'll have to read them more closely.  I think I'll have a better answer once I have my process set up and start on January 2, 2015.

The second answer to this question has to do with my actual tree.  I have tried this Do-Over twice before, each with their own limited forms of success.  Each time I started over, I also started with a new tree.  Since neither tree has the same information, I've decided to keep them for research purposes.  Last night I started a new tree and titled it LusbySporie Family Tree - 2015.  Eventually those other "starter" trees will be deleted and I will then be left with one fully documented and sourced tree.

I don't have all the how's figured out, but I think I have a pretty good base to work from.  To help me be successful in this Genealogy Do-Over, I plan on utilizing the following tools:
  1. EverNote
  2. Microsoft OneNote
  3. Evidentia
  4. Family Tree Maker 2014
In another blog post, I will explain how I plan on using the above software in my Genealogy Do-Over and the step-by-step process that I plan on setting up.  Hopefully the process that I set up will keep me on task and prevent me from chasing all the shiny new objects that pop up that I end up chasing.

To supplement the above, I will also be using three new tools to aid me in correctly citing my sources and making sure I perform a completely exhaustive search on each ancestor.  Being the genealogy geek that I've proudly become, I had two of these tools on my Christmast list last year, and one was on my list for this year.
  1. Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills
  2. Research Quicksheets
  3. Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones
The Research Quicksheets include:
  • Citing Databases & ImagesCiting
  • Online Historical Resources
  • The Historical Biographer's Guide to Problem Analysis - A Strategic Plan
  • The Historical Biographer's Guide to the Research Process
  • The Historical Biographer's Guide to Finding People in Databases and Indexes

Again, this Genealogy Do-Over will be starting on January 2, 2015.  There is much to do to prepare for this.  I'm ready to start over...what about you?

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