Sunday, April 5, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over - Cycle 2: Wash, Rinse, and Repeat

way to start your genealogy research over.
At the same time,  you will learn how to build a solid
family tree with good, strong roots.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The last time I posted about my progress in the Genealogy Do-Over was back on February 28, 2015. I had just completed Week 4, and was getting ready to commence with Week 5.  This was about the time that we were in research mode, utilizing the tools that we had set up in the first three weeks.  I found that it's one thing to visualize your workflow and set up tools to aid you in your research and something totally different when you go to actually use them.  While everything worked pretty good, I found that some weren't working smoothly and were time suckers.  So I stopped researching and started tweaking everything.  Tried out those fixes, and tweaked again.  Wash, Rinse, and Repeat

So before I knew it, the 13 weeks were up, and it was over.  It wasn't long after I started this journey back in January, that I knew this Do-Over would take me longer than the 13 weeks prescribed by Thomas MacEntee, and I was perfectly okay with that.  As of Friday, April 3, 2015, Thomas started this process all over again.  Like me, he must be a glutton for punishment.  Signed up for this second cycle are those that lurked during the first go-round, those that participated and finished, and then there are those like me, who got behind but plodded along at their own speed.  Nothing has changed, it's the same topics as before, but now I think I'm a little wiser and am more aware of my shortcomings and where I need more work.  While the first four weeks should be a bit easier for me as those are the weeks that I've completed, it will be the other nine weeks that will present more of a challenge for me, but I think I'm up for the task.  My main goal this go-round is to stay on schedule, and to try and work on this at least one hour a night.  During the weekends, I can spend as much time as I want on this.  It's during the work week that is a challenge for me because of my schedule.  We will see how it goes.

So what's up for this first week of Cycle 2?  The same topics from Cycle 1:  1) Setting Previous Research Aside, 2) Preparing to Research, and 3) Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines.  If interested, you can read my post detailing what I did regarding these topics in Cycle 1.

Here is my plan for Week 1 of Cycle 2:

Set Previous Research Aside

On the first go-round of the Do-Over, I put all of my spiral notebooks and loose papers in a nightstand drawer that I have next to my computer desk.  I was hoping that out-of-sight-out-of-mind would work, and it did.  I didn't touch anything in there.

Then I tackled my electronic files.  I started working on my genealogy in April 2010, so almost everything I have is electronic.  I renamed my Genealogy folder to Genealogy Do-Over Hold File. I then created a new folder called Genealogy 2015 and created the following subfolders - !Surnames, Forms, Genealogy Do-Over Group Files, and Subfolder Master File.  I didn't move over any documents/files from my newly created Hold File.  I was truly going to start over with a total blank canvas to work from.

I also started a new database in Family Tree Maker and Evidentia, as well as creating new notebooks in Microsoft OneNote.

Prepare to Research

This time, I created some additional folders in my Genealogy 2015 folder, and they include: Calculators, Maps, Publications, and Research Tools.  Then I went into my Hold File, and moved over some files.  As I did this, I realized there were some things that I had more than one copy of.  Lots of duplicates and even some triplicates.  Below is a snapshot of my Genealogy 2015 folder along with the subfolders I've created so far.

Click to view full-sized image.
Since I'll be spending the majority of my time in my surname folder, I used the exclamation point as the first character of the folder name so that it is always at the top of the list of folders. As for how I have my surname folder set up, I'm starting with my four grandparents.

Click to view full-sized image.
You will notice that in front of each surname I have the following:  01_, 20_, 40_, and 60_.  I did this so they wouldn't sort alphabetically, but instead they sort in the order of my father's paternal and maternal lines and my mother's paternal and maternal lines.  I also colored the folders:  Blue for my father's paternal line, Green for my father's maternal line, Red for my mother's paternal line, and Yellow for my mother's maternal line.  As I continue on to my great grandparents, I can keep the different lines grouped together.  For example, my father's paternal line folders will be named:  01_Lusby, 02_Dameron, 03_Self and they will all have blue folders.  I'm hoping that having 01 - 19 will be enough for my paternal line.  I can always adjust the numbers as I need them, but will cross that bridge when I get to it.

With my paper and electronic files taken care of, I moved onto the two databases that I use in my research.  I have been using Family Tree Maker since 2012 and I'm not changing it.  I upgraded to the 2014 version when it came out.  I like the software and am quite comfortable using it.  I know I'm not using it to it's fullest capabilities, but that is something I can work on.  My original tree is synched to my Ancestry account and is a public tree.  I'll be keeping that tree up for now, and will use the information I have in it as clues for my new tree.  I created a new tree and named it LusbySporie Family Tree 2015.  The only people in that tree are myself, my parents (and sister), and my four grandparents.  It's a private tree right now, and I have it synched with Ancestry also.  Eventually it will be a public tree and will replace my original tree.

The other database that I use is Evidentia.  I've had the software for a while now, but only started to serious use it when I attempted my own version of the Genealogy Do-Over late last year with very little success.I haven't used used it very much as I'm still learning how best to use it.  This is a nifty piece of software, and it helps me tremendously in analyzing my records and creating solid citations (which is a major weakness of mine).  I started a new Evidentia database and called it Lusby_Sporie 2015.  I kept the old database as a reference.

I have used EverNote in the past.  I mainly used it as a catch-all for my genealogy and to track my research.  I was mostly unsuccessful as it just didn't work the same way as my brain does.  I will keep it, but use it to clip genealogy related information when I'm away from my desktop and on my phone/tablet.  Then I can access the information at home.  So I cleaned out all my Evernote files so that I could start with a blank slate.

Other than my FTM database, the other main piece of software that I'm using is Microsoft OneNote. I am using this software for my research plan and log.  I closed all my previous notebooks, and started over with all new notebooks.  This part required a lot tweaking as it's one things to set it up and another to actually use it and hope it works as you planned.  For the most part it did, but there were some things that weren't very efficient and required some rethinking.  Hence part of the reason I never advanced past Week 4 of the first Do-Over.

Establish Base Practices and Guidelines

These haven't changed from when I initially started back in January.

  1. Start with my direct line, and work on one ancestor at a time within each generation (i.e. finish with the grandparents before moving onto the great grandparents).
  2. Don't just collect data on my ancestors.  Get a feel for where they lived, what was going on at the time they were living.  Put them in historical context.  Help them to come alive.
  3. Do an exhaustive search...look into every nook and cranny I can think of to find information that will help me get to know my ancestors.  This includes both online and offline.
  4. Keep a research plan/log for ever ancestor.  Use a detailed research plan for my brick walls.
  5. Be consistent in the naming of my digital files and photos.  Use meta tags.
  6. Complete citations, using Evidence Explained, at the time I save the source record.
  7. No person will be added to my Family Tree Maker Database until I have proven they are my ancestor. This will also apply when I start researching my collateral ancestors.

So there you have it...what I did before and a few of the tweaks I made for this second cycle.  Please let me know if you have any questions or want some clarification.  I'm more than willing to help.  I remember when I first did this.  I was feeling very overwhelmed and had a lot of questions.  I also wasn't sure on how successful I'd actually be.  I just kept plodding along at my own pace, and will keep repeating this process until I have it the way I want it and it works for me.

Just remember, this process isn't a race to see who gets to the finish line first.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over - Week 4: Managing Projects & Tasks and Tracking Searches

A way to start your genealogy research over.
At the same time,  you will learn how to build a solid
family tree with good, strong roots.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

After taking last weekend and this past week off from genealogy, I’m now at Week 4 of my Genealogy Do-Over, and the topics for this week are 1) Managing Projects and 2) Tracking Searches.  I’m thinking that this post will be short and sweet, and not much prep work will be required to bring this into my research workflow.

Managing Projects and Tasks

I looked over the Project Management Template that Thomas MacEntee shared with us.  While quite impressive and detailed, I don’t have much of a use for it in my research workflow.  All of my Tasks and To Do’s will be kept and traced in OneNote.

Click to view full-sized image.

Tracking Searches

This was something that I have never done, and to be honest, never thought to do.  I think that I’ll actually find this quite helpful in my research workflow.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve search for the same information for a particular ancestor over, and over, and over again.  So much wasted research times online and in my local libraries.  As part of Week 3, I created a search log based on the Research Log workbook that Thomas shared with us.  When I started my research back up, I made a point to adding all the search parameters I did to the log.  Now all I have to do is review it each times I start to research, and I’ll know immediately where I left off.

Click to view full-sized image.

Well, that’s it for Week 4.  I told you it would be short and sweet.  Now I’m off to review the handout for Week 5, which includes 1) Building a Research Toolbox and 2) Citing Sources.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over - Week 3: Conducting Research

A way to start your genealogy research over.
At the same time,  you will learn how to build a solid
family tree with good, strong roots.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now that I have my research goals and a way to track them created, I am really excited to get to the second topic for Week 3, which is to actually conduct some research.  It feels like forever since I've been able to search for documents.  Below is my attempt to show how I overhauled my way of conducting research based on what I've learned so far from this Genealogy Do-Over.

Click to view full-sized image.
Beginning with my paternal grandfather, Clarence Wesley Lusby, I am starting with his death, and will then work backwards.  Using, I clicked on Search and selected Birth, Marriage & Death.  I typed in my search criteria, and hit enter.  Ancestry returned with 61 results.  Since I only wanted information on his death, I drilled the search down further by selecting Death, Burial, Cemetery & Obituaries.  This came back with 20 results in the following categories:  (1) U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current; (2) United States Obituary Collection; (3) Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage, & Death Announcements, 1851-2003; (4) District of Columbia, Select Deaths and Burials, 1840-1964; (5) Minnesota Cemetery Inscription Index, Select Counties; and (6) U.S. Cemetery and Funeral Home Collection. I took a look into each of these categories, and the only one that provided the information I wanted was #3, which came back with his Obituary that ran for two days in The Washington Post and a Notice of Deaths & Services by the funeral home.

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I opened the notebook I created for him in OneNote, and clicked on the page for Death Records. On the main Death Record page is where my research log is.  I decided to have a log for each research objective instead of one log for everything.  This log is based on the one that Thomas MacEntee developed for his use and shared with us.  I pulled from his log the items that I thought would be useful for me.  I left out the columns for evaluating and analyzing the documents since I'll be doing that in Evidentia.  The columns that I pulled from Thomas' research log are Item No., Date of Search, Proof Point, Repository, Record Type, Image Name, Image Link, and Notes.

I opened the first obituary and saved it to my computer, then I took a screenshot of it with the OneNote Clipper, and the obit went straight to the Obituary subpage.  When I clipped the image, OneNote automatically added the date and time that the screen clipping was made.  I copied the image URL to OneNote, and I also copied the pertinent information that I will use for a citation.  I repeated the same steps for the other obituary and the death/service notice from the funeral home.

I then went to a few other sites that I have access to and performed the same search, repeating the above as I found information relating to my grandfather's death and/or obituary.

As I researched and found documents, I added the search information to my Research Log that is housed on the main page of Death Records.  Below is a sample of my current Research Log for my grandfather's death.

Click to view full-sized image.

Also, as I performed my searched, I entered the information into my Search Log that I use to keep track of my searches so I that repeat them as I did in the past.  Below is a sample of my current Search Log that I'm using to track all the searches I made that pertained to the death of my grandfather.  You'll noticed that a few of the searches that I made yielded no results.  This isn't to say that I will never return to those sites and do another search.  As the sites are continuously updated, some day I might be able to find something there, so I plan to recheck them every couple of months.

Click to view full-sized image.

Since in all of my searches, I couldn't find his Death Certificate, the last thing I did was go to my To List and enter that into the table.  I left the last two columns (Date Started & Date Completed) blank.  Those will get filled in when I send off the order for the certificate and when I actually receive the certificate.  See below for a sample of my To Do List regarding my grandfather death records.

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And there you have it.  Since I didn't find a reference to his Social Security Death Index in my searching, I'll have to see how to go about getting it.  I'll add this to my To Do List, and research how to get my hands on it.  But this is basically how I plan to go about my search now.  Much more organized that how I was doing it before, and I am hopeful it will keep me on track and keep me from chasing those bright shiny objects I seem to love so much.

Next up is to continue my research on my grandfather, and to move on to Week 4 of the Genealogy Do-Over which covers Managing Projects and Tasks and Tracking Searches.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over - Week 3: Tracking Research

A way to start your genealogy research over.
At the same time,  you will learn how to build a solid
family tree with good, strong roots.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Next up on this Genealogy Do-Over journey is Week 3, which is where we start tracking our research and also start conducting research.  Because both of the topic for this week are going to be lengthy, I've decided that I will make two blog posts about the Week 3 topics.

So first up is tracking my research.  In the past, I have been very lackadaisical when it came to doing this.  Because of this, I can't tell how many times I've gone in search for documents, only to discover that I already had that document saved.  So many wasted hours tracking things down that I already had.  I read all the posts in the Facebook group, along with the blog posts that members posted about how they were setting themselves up to be successful at tracking their research.  So many good ideas to try out and see how they'd work for me.

Knowing myself how how my brain likes to work, I've decided to have all of my research in one place - Microsoft OneNote will become my research log.  That way, I don't have to have lots of different documents/spreadsheets for doing various things.  That is a good way for me to lose something, or just get frustrated and lose interest in using those tools.

Here is how I have OneNote set up.  I'm sure that as I actually get back to conducting actual research, I'll be doing some tweaking here and there.  The importing thing is that I have the basic structure set up, and I'd like to share that with all of you.  

I'm going to give you three separate screen shots of the main screen from OneNote to show you how I have my system set up.  Then I'll show you a shot of the entire mail page.

This first shot shows the individual notebooks I have set up so far.  What I have done is make a notebook for each direct line male ancestor.  The naming convention I've used for the notebooks is LAST NAME, First Name Middle Name (Birth Year-Death Year).  Since I'm starting with my paternal grandfather, his notebook would be LUSBY, Clarence Wesley (1913-1966).   Now you may be wondering why I'm only making a notebook for each male direct line ancestor, and that is a good question.  I know that some have one surname folder, and then individual folders for each ancestor with that surname, regardless if they are male or female.  I tried that, but it just got to be too much for me.  Hopefully as I continue showing you how I have this set up, it will make sense to you and answer any questions that may pop up.  After much trial and error, I found that this is the best way that works for me.

I have five notebooks made up already for my direct line ancestors.  I put them in order starting with my father, then going to my paternal grandfather, maternal grandfather, paternal great grandfather, and maternal great grandfather.  Since my dad is still alive, you will notice that I used "Xs" in place for the death date.  I can sort the notebooks anyway I want, so I decided to sort by generation starting with my dad.  I'll explain the Master Notebook Pages later in this post.

Click to view full-sized image.
This second screenshot is of the middle section of the notebook.  This shot is for my paternal grandfather's notebook (LUSBY, Clarence Wesley (1913-1966) so that I can show you how it is set-up.  In fact, all of my notebooks will be set up the same way. You will notice the five colored tabs.  These are like the tab section dividers in an actual notebook, and I have one for each member of this family unit.  When I named the individual tabs, I used First Name, Middle Name, Last Name, except for the wife.  For her tab, I used First Name, Middle Name, Maiden Name.  With regards to the order of the notebook tabs, I always start with the male direct line ancestor, then his wife, then the children in birth order.  To be consistent, the tabs will be colored as follows:  Husband - Silver, Wife - Red Chalk, and Direct Ancestor - Apple Green.  For the other children, I'll let the software select the tab color for now.  I opted to have all my direct ancestors' tab be Apple Green so that it stands out.  This will be helpful for my ancestors that had lots of children.  So by the color of the tabs, you can tell right away that Alan Franklin Lusby is my direct line ancestor.

In the first image, you may have noticed that I had a notebook titled Master Notebook Pages.  This is a notebook of all the individual pages that will be used for each person in a notebook.  I can copy them from the Master Notebook Pages Book to each tabbed person in a notebook. 

Since the list of notebook pages is long, I had to make two screen shots.  This first screen shot shows the page for Birth Records.  You'll notice that I have subpages under Birth Records - one for Church Records and Vital Records.  I wanted to keep records pertaining to a fact together.

Click to view
full-sized image.
Here is a screenshot of the rest of the pages in the Master Notebook.  I also have subpages for quite a few of these pages, and for the same reason as explained above.  Also, the subpages are collapsible.  I just click on the main category, like Birth Records, and the subpages are hidden.

I think I have a notebook page for ever possible records I could discover for my ancestors.  If not, then all I have to do is add another page to the Master Notebook and add that page to the ancestor.  The same goes for adding subpages.  For instance, under Military Records I may decide to add subpages for the following:  Draft Registration, Active Service, Pension.  This is a decision I don't need to make right now, but can make at a later time, then like a regular notebook page, I can add the subpage to the Master Notebook, and copy to the ancestor's notebook.
I really like the flexibility of this software. 

On thing I haven't decided on is whether or note I'll delete any pages that aren't pertinent to that ancestor.  Or should I just keep them knowing they don't/won't hold any information.

Since the title of this blog post is Tracking Research, I'm sure you are wondering where and how I'll be tracking my research using OneNote.  Well here is my plan...on the main page for each category, I have set up a table that is based on Thomas MacEntee's research log.  Since I'll be using Evidentia to evaluate and analyze the sources information gleamed from the document, I didn't need those categories in my research log.  Using the Birth Records notebook page, you can see how I have my research log set up.

Click to view full-sized image.
The categories that I'm using based on Thomas' log are:  Item No., Date of Search, Proof Point, Record Name, Respository, Record Type, Proven?, Image Name, Image Link, and Notes.  This table will adjust it's column widths automatically as I input the data.  

I decided to have individual logs for each research objective that I'm trying to prove because I thought that, for me, one research log for everything pertaining to that particular ancestor, would get to big and cumbersome for me.  I have this same research log on the main page of each notebook category.  It is the same regardless if you are looking at Census Records or Military records.

Click to view full-sized image.
I also copied Thomas' Search Log, and made a separate notebook page for it.  I never tracked my searches before, but maybe this will help keep me from making the same searches over and over, and over again.  I need all the help I can get to make the best use of my time as I can.

Click to view full-sized image.
As with the Search Log, I made a separate notebook page for a To Do List.  I have a To List that I made up that is in my genealogy database, Family Tree Maker 2014.  I quit using it as I didn't find it helpful, or I'd just forget about it.  I'm hoping with having the To Do List in with the rest of my research, it will work better for me.  I pretty much just copied what Thomas graciously shared with us. 

So there you have plan for tracking my research.  I'm hoping that it works that way I think it will, and that because of using this I'll be much more successful in keeping track of my research.  For the last image, here is a screenshot of the notebook for my paternal grandfather.

Click to view full-sized image.

If you have any questions about anything I've discussed in this blog post, please feel to ask and I'll answer.  I have made up other tables for some of the other notebook pages that I didn't show in this post (i.e. Neighborhood Worksheet, Value of Personal & Real Estate, Family Group Sheet, etc.).  If you are curious and want to know, please let me know.  I'm more than happy to share.

Next up is to start conducting some actual research and putting the above to use to see how it works and if some more tweaking is needed.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over - Week 2: Setting Research Goals & Family Interviews

A way to start your genealogy research over.
At the same time,  you will learn how to build a solid
family tree with good, strong roots.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

With my weekends freed up a bit more now that football season is over, I'm up to the task of continuing on with this Genealogy Do-Over.  With my work schedule, only the weekends provide me with big blocks to time to do this correctly.  Sure, I can try and spend an hour or two each night during the week working on this, but with leaving the house at 5am and getting home between 8pm and 9pm, I just don't think I'd have enough juice in my brain to work on it with a clear head.

The topics for the second week were 1) Setting Research Goals, 2) Conducting a Self Interview, and 3) Conducting Family Interviews.

Now that I'm finished with the Week 1 topic, I'm now ready to continue with Week 2.  The topics for the second week were 1) Setting Research Goals, 2) Conducting a Self Interview, and 3) Conducting Family Interviews.  I worked on these three topics out of order. Below is how I tackled these topics.

Conducting Family Interviews

Besides my parents and a cousin, along with his family, all of my other relatives are on the East Coast.  My sister, brother-in-law, and niece are in Colorado.  With my relatives spread out, doing a face-to-face interview is just about impossible.  So I did some research on what types of questions to ask when conducting this interview, and I made up a document that I will be emailing out to them.  When, and if, I get them back completed, I'll then compile their answers and record them.

Conducting a Self Interview

I did a self interview one night on the ferry going home last week.  Seemed like the perfect times and I did have 35 minutes to get a good start on it.  I pulled out my notebook and starting writing down everything I remembered from my life so far.  I included places I lived, places of employment, trips and vacations, and schools attended and graduated from.  I'm going to organize this information into chronological order and add it to my record in my genealogy database.

Setting Research Goals

I am starting with my grandparents.  Unfortunately, none of them are around any longer, so I missed out on the chance to interview them directly.  I'll have to rely on records and the memories of their children and grandchildren.

I plan on taking one grandparent at a time, and perform an exhaustive search on their life.  I won't move on to the next grandparent until I feel that I have gone as far as I can with what is currently available.

The first grandparent up is my paternal grandfather Clarence Wesley Lusby.  Then I'll move onto my paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Armistead Hennings.  Then it will be time for my maternal grandfather and grandmother, Carl Sporie and Isabella Sharp Tanton.

That is it for this second week.  Up next for Week 3 is 1) Tracking Research, and 2) Conducting Research.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over: Week 1 - Preparing to Research & Establishing Base Practices & Guidelines

As I sat down to read the handout that Thomas MacEntee shared with us that outlined the first week The Tortoise and the Hare.  Remember the story?  It's about a self-righteous, braggart of a rabbit who ridicules the slow-moving tortoise.  Tired of the constant harassment, the tortoise challenges the hare to a race.  As soon as the start flag is dropped, the hare is off, leaving the tortoise in the dust.  After a while, the hare looks back and sees how much of a lead he has and decides that the race is in the bag.  He stops for a snack, and with a full belly, he finds a nice, shady tree and takes a nap.  Meanwhile, the tortoise lumbers along slowly.  Eventually he catches up to the hare, still sleeping.  The tortoise continues on.  When the hare wakes up, he sees the tortoise up ahead close to the finish line.  He starts running, but by the time he catches up, the tortoise has crossed the finished line, winning the race.
of the Genealogy Do-Over, an old story from my childhood popped into my mind.  This is so going to age me, but oh well.  The story, an old Aesop's Fable actually, is

The moral of the story?  Slow and steady wins the race.

See, the hare is the old me.  While I wasn't napping, I was the one racing off all willy nilly into research mode with no plan of attack.  Now I want to be the tortoise, moving slowly, diligently, with a purpose so that when I do reach the finish line I have actually accomplished something.

Now I have accomplished something.  I've completed the first step of this do-over...putting my old research aside (paper and digital).  It's time to move onto the next steps...preparing myself to research and establishing some base practices and guidelines.  As you can probably tell, I'm moving at a tortoise's pace.  If I was on pace with the rest (or most of the group), I'd be in the middle of Week 4, but I'm not going to worry or stress out about being behind everyone else.

Prepare to Research

Who knew that I'd have to prepare myself to start the research process?  I certainly didn't.  In the past, I'd pick an ancestor I wanted to work on, and away I'd go down the rabbit hole for hours at a time.  By the time I took a break, the sun was no longer shining, the skies were dark, my tummy was grumbling with hunger, and not much had been accomplished.  I'd look at all the tabs that were open on my toolbar, and none of them would have anything to do with the ancestor I had originally selected to work on.  I was off chasing bright shiny objects that had nothing to do with my ancestor.

Then there is that record I find, I hit the save button to download a copy to my computer only to find that I already saved a copy of that document.  I certainly don't remember finding that record before, but it's obvious I did as there it is...saved to my computer.  Then I look at the date that it was saved.  Lo and behold, I had located it six months ago.

I have a problem....I admit it.  I'm easily distracted.  I'm sure if I started out with a real plan...a good plan...and willpower, it would help keep me on tract.  It certainly couldn't hurt, but it's going to require some major habit changes.  So I ask myself, where do I go from here?  How do I save myself hours of wasted research time and nothing to show for it?

First, and most importantly, I will have to create a Research Plan before I do anything else.  This means that before I go to, FamilySearch, Google, etc., I have to have something typed up that outlines what I want to accomplish during each research session.  I think for my brick walls, and I have a few, I'll be using a much more detailed research plan.  If I'm just trying to prove the birth, death, marriage, etc. of a specific ancestor, I'll just use a simple research log, with the research objective at the top.  All of this will be kept in OneNote (I'll outline how I have set up OneNote to act as my research log in a separate blog post).  In fact, I plan on using OneNote as one giant research log.  I have decided that when I restart my research, I'll start with my four grandparents.

For compiling my source documents, entering claims, analyzing the data, proving my research objectives, and creating citations, I will be using Evidentia.

Establish Base Practices and Guidelines

Here are a few base practices and guidelines that I have come up with.  I'm sure as I continue with this Genealogy Do-Over, this list will be tweaked and fine-tuned many times.  But for now...

  1. Start with my direct line, and work on one ancestor at a time within each generation (i.e. finish with the grandparents before moving onto the great grandparents).
  2. Don't just collect data on my ancestors.  Get a feel for where they lived, what was going on at the time they were living.  Put them in historical context.  Help them to come alive.
  3. Do an exhaustive search...look into every nook and cranny I can think of to find information that will help me get to know my ancestors.  This includes both online and offline.
  4. Keep a research plan/log for ever ancestor.  Use a detailed research plan for my brick walls.
  5. Be consistent in the naming of my digital files and photos.  Use meta tags.
  6. Complete citations, using Evidence Explained, at the time I save the source record.
  7. No person will be added to my Family Tree Maker Database until I have proven they are my ancestor.  This will also apply when I start research my collateral ancestors.

I am finally finished with Week 1.  I wasn't fast like the hare.  I did a pretty good job at staying on course, working as my schedule and the football playoffs allowed me to work, I stayed calm, and just plodded along, much like the tortoise.  If I keep this up, and I believe that I can win in the end.

I just need to keep with my new mantra...slow and steady...slow and steady.

Now it's onto Week 2.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over - Changing the Way I Plan on Accomplishing This Task

As Week 2 of Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy began (Jan 8, 2015), I find that I'm not even finished with Week 1.  The main culprit is my work and commute schedule.  Monday through Friday, I get up at 4am and leave the house by 5am.  I work 8am-5pm, then don't get home from work until 8 or 9pm.  After eating some dinner and feeding the cats, I don't have much time to do anything before trying to get to bed at 10pm.  I do have the weekends, but half of my Saturday (not every Saturday) is for running errands and grocery shopping.

So I made the decision that I'm just going to have to work the Genealogy Do-Over at my own pace and not get stressed out about not being on the same page as everyone else.  I posted my dilemma on the Facebook page, and someone came back with a great idea.  Instead of referring to it on a week by week basis.  It will be a step by step basis.  Hence, instead of me blogging about Week 1, I'm going to refer to it now as Step 1, then each topic will be a part of that step.

I think then I can keep with it, and actually accomplish something without getting frustrated and stressed.

Now off to re-title and finish my blog post that I started last Tuesday about Part 2 of Step one.  See what I did there.  Off to a good start  now.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over - Week 1: Setting Aside Previous Research

As mentioned in my previous post, there are a lot of us taking part in Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over that started January 2, 2015.  Knowing I had to work all day on the 2nd, I decided to get started early.  So on January 1st, I started my own Genealogy Do-Over.  I was able to get an early start because Thomas posted the Schedule of Topics for this 13 week endeavor.  Much to my surprise, I got quite a bit accomplished on my day off, but before I get into that, let me tell you what the objectives are for this first week.

Credit for image:  Chinie
at Fab After Forty
The first goal is to set aside all previous research.  While I haven't been doing family research quite as along as others, I still have managed to collect quite a bit in the four years I've been researching my ancestors.

The second goal is prepare to research.  What he meant by this was to think about how I researched in the past.  Well I would just research any chance I got, after work, the wee hours of the morning, all day on the weekends. He also suggested to make a list it items that I must have available to aid me in me in researching successfully.

The third goal for the first week is to establish base practices and guidelines.  He stressed that we spend time going over how we researched in the past, what was and wasn't successful.  The come up with step-by-step practices and guidelines on how we will conduct our research from here on out.  This includes file naming practices, where/how we are going to store our documents, how we are going to retrieve and analyze the information that is gleamed from these documents, what software we are going to use to build our tree and document all the information on our ancestors.  It's a lot to think about.  This last goal is probably, at least for me, the one that is going to require the most thought.

Setting Aside Previous Research

After reading the handout for Week 1, I didn't think the first goal would be a hard one to do, nor did I think it would take very long, it was still found it a bit daunting.  I mean, putting aside, and ignoring for now, all the previous information I had found on my ancestors.  I was wondering how was I going to be able to ignore it, knowing it was in a drawer next to me.  I'm the type of person that, in certain circumstances, when someone tells me not to do something, I want to do it anyways.

I had a decision to make.  It's like when you want to go swimming in a cold lake.  You either walk slowly in to the water, shivering all the way, thinking this is crazy and head back to dry land.  Or you can take off running into the water, and just dive in...completely submerging yourself.  I decided to just dive in and completely submerge myself in doing a complete make-over of how I conduct my family research.

I took a deep breath and got down to business.  The first thing I did was to take all of my spiral notebooks and loose papers and put them in a drawer.  I figured out-of-sight-out-of-mind.  Well see how that works. One think checked off  my To Do List.

Next up was my electronic files.  I have everything in a folder labeled Genealogy. In that folder is everything related to my research.  I moved this folder into another called Genealogy Do-Over Hold File, and made a new genealogy folder called Genealogy 2015.  Within this new genealogy folder, I set up the following subfolders:  !Family Tree Maker, !Group Files, Forms, Subfolder Master File, Surnames, and Techniques and Tools.  I'll get into these folders in another post.

Now that my electronic and paper files were taken care of, next up was the two databases that I use.  I use Family Tree Maker 2014 as my database, and I'm not changing it.  I like the software and am quite comfortable with it.  I know I'm not using it to it's fullest capabilities, but as I continue on this genealogy journey, I plan on learning about all that it can do.  I'm also not deleting my original tree.  It is synced with my online tree, and it has a lot of information in it that I can use as clues when I start my research up again.  Instead, I started a brand new tree called LusbySporie Family Tree - 2015.  I started with myself, then added my parents and both sets of my grandparents.

Next up was my Evidentia database.  I kept my previous database and started a new one called Lusby_Sporie 2015.  I've had the software for a while now, but I only started to seriously use it when I attempted my own version of a Genealogy Do-Over a few months ago with no success.  So it was no hardship to start over with a fresh one since I didn't have a lot of data entered yet.

After that I cleaned out EverNote.  I started to use this as a catch-all for my genealogy and to track my research.  But no matter what I tried, it just wouldn't work the way my brain does.  So instead, I use to to collect various things that I read on genealogy that I think could be helpful in the future.  Especially when I'm at work on my tablet.  I can clip it to EverNote and follow-up on it once I'm home.  For this first step, I went though all the notebooks and notes and decided what to save and what to trash.  Got rid of the notebooks and old tagging system.  The notes I did keep, I retagged with a new system I set up.

The last thing I did was close all my OneNote Notebooks and moved them over to Genealogy Do-Over Hold File.  I really like this software and it works well with my thought processes.  I set up a new Notebook with the Master Notebook Pages that will be used, and also set up a new notebook for the first person I will research once I get all my ducks in a row.  I plan on using OneNote as my research log.

Well, that is where I am at the moment.  My next post will be about preparing to start my research.  That will get more into my folder structure and how I plan to use EverNote, OneNote, and Family Tree Maker 2014.  This will go in tandem with setting up my base practices and guidelines.

Now it's back to work, catch you all on the flip side.
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