A few weeks ago Thomas MacEntee announced a new project on the Geneabloggers site. It’s the Genealogy Do Over and wow has it gathered a lot of attention in the genealogy community! There is even a Facebook group with over 1000 members.
The basic idea behind the Genealogy Do Over is to put aside ALL of your past work, excluding original documents that you’ve ordered in the past and start fresh for 13 weeks. This includes of course starting a new genealogy database in your program of choice. Then build up a research plan and properly start adding people and sources to your new database. You can read more about the Genealogy Do Over on the website.
When I first read this, I thought NO WAY! I’ve been researching my family history for a long time, I couldn’t possibly put all that time and effort aside and just forget about it, even for just 13 weeks. I tried to ignore it, but the project kept coming up over and over again in my genealogy Feedly list. The more I thought about it I liked the idea, sort of.
I have decided that I would do a modified version, more of a go over than a do over as some on the Facebook community are calling it.
I started working on my family history when I was 12 years old. I put a lot of work into my research for about 7 years after that. I used a combination of paper family trees and a DOS version of Brothers Keeper. I did try to source things as best I could. Most of my information came from work done in the local library. They had a wonderful collection of newspaper clippings organized by family and of course census records on microfilm for the local area. Back then I at least made a note of what binder the information was coming from. Then I got married, moved, had children and I was just to busy to spend much time on my research so I took a long break.
When I started working on my family history again about 8 years ago I started to build my tree all over again starting with my paper notes. At the time I was building it on Ancestry, not long later I started to look for software program to use. I tried all the free programs I could find and the free versions of paid programs to see what I liked the best. I finally settled on RootsMagic as my main program.
Why I’m doing a Genealogy
Although I’ve always tried my best to cite sources for my family history work I’ve changed formats over time. Since my “new” tree years ago was built on Ancestry then imported into other genealogy software programs the source templates were largely simple text templates. I prefer the nice templates that RootsMagic use. I find it easy to forget to add helpful information to sources if there isn’t a field that says ADD ME!
Do Over Go Over
Looking over my tree I was surprised to find close family members who I haven’t added proper sources for. I noticed that a lot have birth records cited, but no images for it. Why? Well because when I first built the tree on Ancestry when I downloaded the gedcom file it doesn’t include images. I thought I had gone back to download them, but I’ve obviously missed some.
Other branches of my family tree are very well sourced. I see no good reason to set them aside for now.
Over the years I’ve come up with a filing system on the computer that I love and a naming system for my files. I’ve posted about them before. This I’m not planning to change and I’m not going to set these files aside. After all they are all vital records and census records, named and filed the way I like them.
One thing I do want to improve on and I have mentioned in my past few New Years goals posts is keeping a research log. I have gone back and forth between using the research log in RootsMagic and using Evernote. I like both but to often forget to use either. I am getting better at it though! One thing I want to get in the habit of doing is recording negative searches by SOURCE not just under the person’s information. I think this will make it easier to know what families I’ve search for in record groups.
I want to make changes to my current workflow. I normally research, have way to many tabs open then download, name, file and transcribe the document into RootsMagic.
My biggest problem? I have genealogy ADD, I get very sidetracked by things when I’m researching. I can be reading a blog that reminds me of something I want to look for, so I open a tab and start that. Then I find a different family or possible family in that record and I’m off on that trail. But wait a minute! My original target was not accomplished! In some ways I’ve added a lot of good information to my database with this method and yes even broken down some brick walls. However I’ve also left holes, possibly missed records and just generally lost track of my original goals.
My overall goals for the Genealogy Do Over
I don’t know if I’m going to change my main program yet or not. I LOVE RootsMagic the data flow in it is just the way I think. However it really does bug me that you can not make a person or image privet! You can mark a person as living to hide them from export but that is the only way. You also can’t mark images as private and that really does bug me. Otherwise it love the software.
- Establish a better research plan. This will be outlining what I know about a person or family group, then outlining what I’m looking for. What sources have been used and where I need to search.
- Make better use of my analysis tools to extract every bit of data from each record possible. One of the tools I’m using for this is Evidentia. I owned the older version of this wonderful software but finally upgraded to the newest version this past week. I’m looking forward to putting it to good use!
- Get back in the habit of using good meta data. I use DigiKam to organize and edit most of my photos and documents. It has wonderful tools for editing meta data including image descriptions and tags. For record images I want to also add source citations to the meta data.
- I want to start working back over each person in my tree to fill in missing records. I also want to make sure that I’ve transcribed each source into the person notes and source research notes.
- I’m also testing out a few other genealogy programs that run on Linux my main operating system to see if I like them. I LOVE my RootsMagic and use it in a virtualbox install but I would prefer to eventually move to a program that is native to my OS. I’m currently testing out GRAMPS and RootsTrust
Are you joining in the Genealogy Do Over? What are your goals?
Labels: Genealogy Do Over, Organization, research