Several days ago, I decided to begin a “Genealogy Do-Over” and as part of that, I joined the group on Facebook started by Thomas MacEntee. Part of week one’s assignment was to “set previous research aside”. In order to really have a “Do-Over”, I intend to start from scratch – completely from scratch. But it seems to me that as I read the messages from the Facebook group, there are far more messages about re-naming files and organizing files than there are about starting from scratch.
This totally surprises me! I certainly understand the desire to be organized – especially as we begin a new year. We all have that desire to organize everything in our lives at the beginning of a year! But I see far more reward, and far less “overwhelmingness” (if there is such a word) in really going through with setting my previous research behind!
So my plan is this: I will continue to gather all of my digital records into cloud storage folders. At this point, it will just be a “dump it all in there” and since I will being trying to follow Thomas MacEntee’s advice to “resist the tempatation to automatically consult these items, I’m not going to bother with re-naming them at this time.
I will begin a new tree on Ancestry – which is honestly the only genealogy “software” I’ve used in years. I don’t do anything with reports and I can always download a GEDCOM from Ancestry if I decide that I want to use some software to create a report. Instead, I will attach all of my files to my tee on Ancestry and I will use Evidentia to create the citations, which I will copy into the notes section for each file on Ancestry as well as putting them into the footnotes of the notes I write for each ancestor. After that, I will put digital documents into folders on my laptop using a consistent naming pattern. These files will be backed up in the cloud storage files I have created and duplicate files (“previous research”) will be deleted.
For the “Prepare to Research” step and the “Establish Base Practices and Guidelines” step, I’ve started a checklist of things to do with each file that I collect. I will try to stay very diligent about completing each step of my checklist before collecting additional files.
Week 2 will officially be complete this Friday and I believe I have a couple of days yet this week with a lighter work-load so I’m going to try to complete those tasks by the end of the week-end. The first task is to conduct a self-interview. For this, I will add myself to my “Do-Over Tree” on Ancestry and I will scan and add my own birth and marriage documents and I will attempt to begin a mini-biography.
The 2nd task is to conduct family interviews. I am going to concentrate on information and files for my parents for now. All of my grandparents have passed away and my aunts and uncles have never been interested in sharing family stories, so for this, I will have to rely on stories I have already collected. My parents’ information will also be added to my “Do-Over” tree.
The final task is to set research goals based on the information collected from these “interviews”. I will be using my Excel Research Logs for this step. I will create Family Group Sheets for myself, my parents and my grandparents and I will begin to create a list of questions to research based on those.
I don’t believe I’ll be able to keep up this pace after this week, so I’m going to try to take advantage of my time now. It is a good feeling to have specific steps that I’m trying to accomplish rather than just saying “I’m going to do some genealogy” with a vague idea of an ancestor I’d like to find!