Now where was I…

It’s been months since I’ve been able to look at my genealogy, but I have a couple of days now with some free time and I’m looking forward to digging back into my research! But when I pulled out my binder of research, I find that I’m at a loss as to where to begin.

While I will push through this time to figure out what I was working on last (and waste a lot of time going over things that I’ve already tried to figure out), I’m thinking that it would be helpful to have a “hint” as to what I was thinking the last time I did research. If I had a short form to fill out at the end of a research session, I could write to my future self provide that “hint”. But I know that if it is too complicated, I won’t take the time to do it. So what would I like to know right now before I start re-reading through my binder?

  • What theory am I currently trying to prove/disprove?
  • What piece of information am I trying to find?
  • What was the last resource I looked at?
  • If I had more time, what resource would I look at next?
  • If I only have a small chunk of time, it would be helpful to… (find the address for _____, organize the list of _____, look at the library web site and make a list of books about ______, etc.)

I have an electronic research log that I use for each person, so maybe these 5 questions could be added near the top of the log or as a cover sheet for the log.

For most researchers, I’m sure this is a “duh!” idea, but I tend to go over the top trying to make everything PERFECT, so this time, I need to focus on quick and efficient!

Genealogy Do-Over week 2 update

It looks like I’m going to have a fairly rare week-end free from appointments and long “to do” lists, so I hereby declare this a Genealogy Week-End! (Except for some football – GO COLTS!)

I was able to begin this afternoon and here is what I have accomplished:

  • I have set up a new folder in Dropbox for all “Do-Over” documents.
  • I have decided on the naming convention for all of my documents.
  • I have set up file folders within Dropbox. Here, I must confess that I had to go ahead and name the folders with all of the male names that I have in my current tree.  I had to do this because of the way my documents will be filed. As a document is scanned, it is placed into a folder and then when the document is entered into my Evidentia software, I can link to the file in that software. I can change the names of the folders later if I find that I have an incorrect set of parents, but I decided I’d better set them up now to keep everything consistent.
  • I have updated my blank group sheet file to include “Genealogy Do-Over” in the footer so that I don’t get confused with former group sheets.
  • I created a group sheet for myself and my husband. (Funny, I never took the time to do that before!)
  • I scanned birth certificates for myself, my husband and each of our children. All of these files have been saved in Dropbox.
  • I am in the process of entering those documents into Evidentia (and using them to learn how the program works!) I am transcribing each document as I go.
  • As the information is entered into Evidentia, a citation is created (which I’m not certain is completely correct at this point) and a link to the digital Dropbox file is added so that the document can be found easily.
  • Using the citation created, I am adding endnotes to each fact that I have in my group sheet.
  • I am in the process of creating a short biography, but I need to find the list of places that we have lived that my mother gave me several years ago. I believe it also contains a list of all the jobs that my father has had, so I think that will help me with my biography because my memory is soooooooooooooooo bad!

This week-end, I plan to begin a brand new tree in Ancestry and expand my group sheet collection and document scanning back 1 generation to my parents and my in-laws. I have decided that I will not upload digital documents to Ancestry for any living family members as I’m just not willing to take a chance with those. I will start my Research Log for each family and use it to begin researching.

Week 3 is supposed to be a research week, so I’m hoping to get a good jump on that this week-end just with my immediate family. The goals are to find/use a research log that you are committed to and then to begin researching to prove the “facts” that you have for your family so far.

I’m happy that I don’t feel totally overwhelmed at this point and that I was able to get caught up! This may be the only time I can say that, so I just wanted to get it out there for the world to see!


Genealogy Do-Over…Musings

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!

My Genealogy “Do-Over”


Thomas MacEntee issued a challenge a few weeks ago to work through the steps of a “Genealogy Do-Over” with him. This is a 13 week (or 13 milestones) project in which he is going to begin his family tree research totally from scratch in order to create a tree without the mistakes that we all make as beginning genealogists.  I’m a week behind in beginning this challenge and I’m quite certain that with my work load, I won’t be able to complete a challenge each week, so I’m going to consider this a 13 milestones project.  He has blogged about the challenge and formed a Facebook group which I have joined. There have already been lots of ideas and forms posted that group members have uploaded to Facebook in order to help everyone with the journey.

I love the idea of beginning totally from scratch, but I’ve never had the guts to do it. This may be the kick in the pants that I need!

So the assignments for Milestone 1 are:

  • Setting Previous Research Aside. The idea for this step is to be willing to “put it all away” and not to refer to it as you begin to research. He says that the only exception would be documents that took significant time or money to collect. Those items are only to be considered as absolutely necessary, but when you DO look at those records, you are only to look at the data itself – no post-it notes or handwritten notes in the margins. All digital files are to be moved to 1 central location which he is calling a HOLD area – just get them all into 1 location.  That is what I have been working on for quite some time now and will be my focus for this goal.
  • Preparing to Research. Thomas is using this step as an opportunity to think about how he has done research in the past including late nights or short spurts which means he isn’t thinking as clearly or isn’t completing a thorough job on a research topic. He is encouraging us to think through how we have researched in the past and what we might change. We might think of some “warm up” exercises that we might use in the future or making a list of items that we want to have on hand each time we do research.
  • Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines. In this step, we are to make a list of self-imposed procedures that we will commit to following as the research portion of the challenge begins. For me, this will mean coming up with the best way for me to keep track of my research (I’ve GOT to use the log I’ve created!) and citing my sources. One of my Christmas gifts from my son was a copy of the Evidentia software. I will be watching the videos to learn more about how to use it and I will use that to help me create my sources. I also plan to learn more about using Evernote to keep track of things I find online.

So that’s my plan for this week. I’ll try to post my updates as I complete each goal! I would love to have a genealogy buddy who would be willing to work as a team to keep each other accountable and to bounce ideas off of every once in awhile. Anybody interested?

Quite an Incentive to Research!

A few weeks ago, my husband mentioned an interest in researching his family. We’ve gone to the library together once to do some research together, but we’ve done the majority of our research online. His family immigrated from Germany in the late 1800’s, so it didn’t take too long to find that we’ve got to do some research in a foreign language – a daunting task.

In the meantime, we are trying to understand WHY his family would decide to come to America and so that has been the focus of our research. His family came from Northern Schleswig. We’ve always thought of them as German, but that’s not really accurate. After putting together a boundaries history with as many maps as I could, we found that for all but the last 4 years of their history there, they were considered to be a part of Denmark.

Now for me, doing research has always been all about filling in the blanks and finding every document possible for a family. But for HIM, it seems to be more about experiencing the history as much as possible for himself – which I LOVE! So when he started talking about taking a trip next summer or fall to the area that his ancestors are from – well, that puts a whole new spark in the research!

While doing the research, I finally took a break from simply collecting information and took time to try to understand what I have…what did the place names mean? A “state”, a “county”, or a city? It’s easy to set information aside to figure out later because it doesn’t make sense at the moment, but after studying for a bit, I discovered that I had more specific information than I thought. I do have specific cities for 3 generations of his direct line so I used Google Earth to see the towns where ancestors were born, married or died. All of them are within a 20 mile circle.

Sounds like a nice potential vacation spot to me! And quite an incentive to keep on researching!

Gmail stands for Genealogy mail!

I’ve been way too busy with my job for the past several months, so when I can, I’ve been working on my “15 minute chunk” genealogy project. And that involves organization of all my digital files.

I’ve settled on using Google Drive to store all of my digital files. I love being able to access my files from any computer – and even on my tablet and phone. My goal is to only have files on a flashdrive if they are “fresh” files that I’ve just scanned from microfilm at the library. The flashdrive comes home, files are re-named and uploaded to Google Drive then deleted from the flash. And as files are uploaded, I’m able to make sure all files have the same naming convention – something that has already helped me to see duplicate files with different names. At the same time, I’m creating a list of what I’ve got so I don’t have to wonder if I’ve looked at a microfilm before. This list goes in my Genealogy Planner.

As I’ve been clearing flashdrives and external drives, I’ve found that I have saved files an embarrassing number of times – all in the name of “back-ups”. Which makes sense – to a degree. I had a file on my external drive called “Genealogy” which had all of my digital files for all 4 family lines (my maternal, my paternal, my husband’s maternal and my husband’s paternal) and within that folder, I found a folder called “flashdrive dump”. Within THAT folder, was a folder called “Genealogy” and it was a duplicate of the original “Genealogy” folder. So every file duplicated within the same folder. Would you be shocked to hear there was also a folder called “back-up” in which every file was duplicated AGAIN? And that was just on one external drive. That doesn’t include my other external drive or my computer desktop or on a handful of flashdrives.

Anyway, moving all of the files to Google Drive has allowed me to feel secure that I’m not going to lose any files by deleting files from any device. Whenever I find another “Genealogy” folder, I can take a look at the files, confirm that they are already on Google Drive (thank you Windows 7 and 8 split screens!) and delete them from the flash or external. I can’t believe how many copies of each file that I have! I’ve always been afraid to delete something that was on THIS flash because it might not be on THAT flash.

But last week – something magical happened. I never thought I’d see this day come! My husband said that he’d be interested in learning how to do family research for his family! (Hear the angels singing?) So of course, I need a way to get files and group sheets uploaded to a location that we can both access – Google Drive! BUT…..

I’ve already organized the files for my family by folder – a numbered folder for each of my great-grandparents. So how could I get his family files into Google Drive without messing up my system?  Enter Gmail.

Last night, I created 4 new Gmail accounts. Each one is named “Genealogy.(Surname)”. So if I find something new for one of his family lines, I can email those files to the Gmail account for that name. I can explain what the file proves and ask him to update the group sheet or suggest another resource to check out. I can keep files organized by surname without having to keep every file on a flashdrive – which I’ll feel compelled to back-up “just in case”.

But more importantly, each Gmail account gets 15 gigs of storage in Google Drive. To access each Drive, I have to sign into the account for that surname from the web. So I will now begin to upload HIS family files into the account with HIS surname. We can both access files, add new files and work together on adding information to group sheets or other databases.

Now, the biggest drawback to this plan is that you can only connect a laptop to sync with one specific account. So if I’m on MY laptop, I can see all of the Google Drive files for my mother’s family in my Windows Explorer in the same way I can see files saved on my computer, my Dropbox files or files on a flashdrive plugged into my laptop. If I work on a file and make any changes to it, it will automatically sync with the file stored in Google Drive. But to see files from any other account, I have to sign in to that account from my web browser. I can see a document with no problem just by clicking on it, but if I have a Word file or an Excel file (for example, my group sheets), I have to download it, do my work, then re-upload the file unless I’m willing to use the Google word processor or spreadsheet program. Not a horrible thing – but not as easy as working with the files in the account that is connected to my laptop.

So the uploading continues! Even if my husband never does a bit of genealogy research, at least I’ll know that files are safe, organized, and can be accessed from any computer.

And from now on, I’ll always think of Gmail as Genealogy Mail!

Map Revelation?

Have you ever looked at something “a million times” and feel like you REALLY know it, but then see something you’ve never considered before when you look at it from a different angle?

I think that John M. Smith is the only ancestor that I have that I know EXACTLY where his land was located.  I don’t just mean which county he was in, but exactly where within the county! Kentucky is a “metes and bounds” state, so when I look at land deeds, I read about hickory trees and stakes with initials carved into them. It’s a real puzzle to put together.

But John M. Smith’s land was partially in Russell County and partially in Wayne County. And there was a creek running through it. And although the land was originally bounded by the Cumberland River (an Ash on the river bank), this river was dammed in 1952 and most of his land is now under Lake Cumberland. But I can still find the location of his land by looking at a map of the county BEFORE the dam was built.

Before the dam:



After the dam:


I can tell exactly where the land was due to the River, Beaver Creek and the county boundary line.

And in the last few weeks, I’ve discovered that John M. Smith can be found in the Wayne County tax records before Russell County was formed. I’m confident it’s the correct man because he is listed in a group with the families of his future sons-in-law during 2 years of taxes that are organized by military district. But he owned no land, so I’m stumped on how to find him before 1826 when the tax lists were alphabetical for the entire county. (Of course, there are multiple John Smiths…)

So last night, I was searching for Wayne County maps for my binder as I build up my Wayne County resources and I found an interesting map from 1914 showing oil deposits.

1914 Wayne County (Munn)

And as I was looking at John M. Smith’s area, for the first time, I noticed how close it was to Clinton County! How had a never noticed that before? Should I be looking in Clinton County as well? I am quite certain that I could find a John Smith in every county of Kentucky, so how would I know if I was looking at the correct man?

Not sure that I’m willing to take that route just yet, but I thought it was interesting to see how seeing a map from a Wayne County point of view instead of a Russell County point of view made me see something I’d never noticed before.

Update: Further research reveals that Clinton County was not formed until 1836 – after John M. had died.


Inch by inch

My John M. Smith (@1775 – 1835) appeared in the records I have found at a most inconvenient time. Russell County was formed in 1826. John bought his first tract of land which was half in Russell County and half in Wayne County in April of 1827. John’s sons were not old enough to appear in tax records at this time and he left no will when he died in 1835. I am certain of 6 children based on land records when they each buy or sell the land that was their part of John’s estate. But how can you move backward in time when the first land owned by a man comes that close to the formation of a new county? Especially with a name like John Smith! I know of no brothers or parents to follow and his children were too young to be listed in any records at this time.

Recently, I found tax records for Wayne County from which John’s part of Russell County was formed. I am pretty confident that my John was in Wayne County in 1826 and 1827 because the tax records for those years are organized by military company and John was listed in between 2 families who would eventually become in-laws. Henry Hardin Payne married John’s daughter, Sarah, in Russell County in 1828. Henry’s father was Philemon Payne. Thomas Simpson married John’s other daughter, Mary Jane, in Russell County in 1838. Thomas’ father was Reuben Simpson Jr and Abington was Thomas’ brother.

1826 Wayne County Taxes

1826 Wayne Co Taxes

1827 Wayne County Taxes

1827 Wayne Co Taxes










Unfortunately, most of the county tax records are arranged “alphabetically” – based on the first letter of the last name. Luckily, Smith and Simpson both start with S! John M. owned no land at this time, but his future in-laws did – and it was on Beaver Creek where John would eventually settle.

Still guessing, but at least it’s a little more of an educated guess. Inching my way backward, I have found:

  • John Smiths listed in 1825, but none of them are close to a Simpson.
  • In 1824, the page is dark with lots of ink bleed through but I can see a John between Abington Simpson and an Edward Smith. It does not look to me like the John is a Smith, but it is so garbled, I can’t be sure.
  • I can not find a likely candidate in 1823.
  • In 1822, John is listed on the page 3 lines above a possible Reuben (hard to read the handwriting) with Abington on the next page.
  • A John Smith (with no land, of course) is nestled nicely around Abington and Reuben Simpson in 1821 and 1820.
  • No John Smith that looks like a match before 1820.

So could there be a potential 1820 census for John Smith in Wayne County? Yes, but only if I’m able to keep an open mind…

John should be about 45-50 years old in 1820. He should have around 4-5 boys and 2 girls at this time. I know that there are probably additional children who died before John died. At least 2 sons died before 1840 – but they received land when John died, so I know a little bit about them – but not the years they were born. I do not know when John’s wife died, but I have never seen a deed or a census record in which she was alive.

I can once again use the future in-laws as a finding aid. These images are the bottom of one page and the top of the next.

Page 1Page 2

Looking for my “normal suspects”, starting on the first page above, I see Abington and Reubin Simpson Sr and on the next page, I see 2 John Smiths followed by Reubin Simpson Jr. The top John Smith does not have enough children and the bottom John has too many girls.  (The 3 is the beginning of the females.) I don’t see a woman who is old enough to be John’s wife, so I’m wondering if perhaps his wife has passed away and some family members are living with him to help raise the children? Or if some of the youngest girls passed away before the next census.

So these are certainly possibilities, but what will my next step be? I’ve looked for all court records with a John Smith in Wayne County and I find none. Records for the others I’ve been following are only records for roadwork. I can’t think of any other records that can help me know for SURE that I have the correct John.

I think I’ll try looking for land records for the Paynes and the Simpsons. Perhaps John was a witness for a deed. Other future in-laws in the county at this time are Peter Ellis and Andrew Meadows, so I’ll look for their land records as well. I’m also going to try to research a couple of Smith names that I’ve seen near John in the tax records – Christian, James and Edward/Edmund. Perhaps these men are brothers that can give me some clues. These are not names that I recognize from my research in other potential counties, but they did own land in Wayne County, so I will try to find deeds for these men to see what I can discover. I could also try to go through the tax records again to create a list of names who live on Beaver Creek. Perhaps those are deeds to look for as well.

I do feel like this path is much more likely than any other path I’ve tried for John, so for now, I’ll rejoice in the records that I’ve found and try to think “outside of the box” for my next step.  Any ideas you’d like to share would be appreciated!

My head’s in a cloud…

I’ve been working on condensing all of my genealogy files into a central location that I can access from anywhere – in other words, I’ve been trying to put everything out on “the cloud”. Now, I’m no slouch when it comes to technology, but my goodness, I’m about ready to throw in the towel on this idea! And it all comes down to 2 basic things….storage space and the ability to access and update my files on my iPad or iPhone as well as any computer I happen to be using.

Here’s my dilemma. I have long been a user of Dropbox, and I love it because of the automatic syncing.  But my Dropbox has been taken over by my home business. I actually have 2 accounts – the business account is massive and the other account – which was originally created for my genealogy stuff – is pretty small. Plus, I have to keep the business Dropbox synced on my laptop, so to access files on the other account, I need to sign in online – not really what I’m looking for. And even though I have my iPad Dropbox account set to read my genealogy Dropbox files, I can’t edit files easily without opening them in different apps that don’t automatically save the changes in Dropbox. Too much of a hassle. I have pages and pages of apps that different people have recommended, but they don’t seem to keep the files updated the way that I’d expect them to. I’m looking for EASY – not more apps!

So, I’ve spent the last week putting every scanned file that I have into my Google Drive. My thinking was that I would put images into Google Drive, but put spreadsheets and word processing files into another cloud service because I’m not comfortable with the fact that editing a Word document in Google Drive means converting it to Google Docs. My formatting gets changed and on the iPad, you can’t see – not to mention add or edit – any of the footnotes. (Update – As I’ve continued to work o this project, I see that I am not totally correct. I CAN edit files in Word as long as I’m on a computer. But I can’t see any of the Word files in the “Docs” app on my iPad that connects to my Google Drive. They don’t even show up in the list of files. I can only see Google Docs files.I was so happy to discover that I could still edit files in Word on my laptop that I’ll have to think about what I want to do. Just keep the Word files and not convert them to Docs? Convert something to Docs before I take my iPad to the library so that I can see the files? I don’t want to have multiple copies always wondering if I’ve updated correctly….still thinking this through.)That’s a pretty important thing in genealogy research. Can I live without seeing footnotes on the iPad version? Probably. Will that feature be updated in the future? Most likely. Am I willing to take the total dive into Google Docs for all of my genealogy work? My mind says “yes”, but my heart is just not sure. It would mean uploading all of my Word documents, converting them to Google Docs and then deleting the Word docs – since I only want to keep the updated stuff.  No more, “which version is the most recent?” for me! And I would no longer be working in Word or Excel, but in Docs and Sheets. Hmmm….

I recently bought a new laptop for my son who is starting his senior year in college. He has never had a new laptop, he’s always had the hand-me-down laptops from his older brother. When we bought the laptop, we had to make the decision about the Office package he would have. We could have Office 2013 for one price – good forever, but on one laptop only and no updates for new features. If I know anything about software, it’s that updates are coming more often! Or he could get Office 365 for a student and have the automatic updates for 4 years and he could install it on up to 5 devices. (Just let me say that it is MUCH cheaper to get Office 365 as a student! Around $80 for 4 years compared to $100 a year for non-students. YIKES!) But with Office 365, everything is cloud based. Nothing to install. That’s the wave of the future and I can see that for sure! Why would I not be willing to use Google Docs to do the same type of thing – but for free?

Still uncertain, I’m looking at other options. I’ve had SkyDrive on my laptop for a long time and I have quite a few genealogy files on there. In fact, it has become my collection point during this organization process. My thinking has been that everything new I collect needs to be in one place so I can get in the habit of using my cloud storage and so that I can stop wondering if I’ve collected everything off of my various flashdrives.

For quite awhile, I’ve been expecting that the SkyDrive label in my Explorer list would automatically change names to OneDrive since that change was made by the company, but it hasn’t and today I have a big mystery on my hands! I have 2 different Outlook email accounts, 1 for personal email and 1 for genealogy email. They each have their own OneDrive account, but neither of them is the SkyDrive account on my computer! I have no idea how to access this SkyDrive account from a different computer and now I’m worried that if the SkyDrive DID automatically update to something else, everything will be gone. The scramble is on. Move everything to OneDrive?

So I opened the OneDrive app on my iPad and I can see all of the files attached to one of my Outlook emails. So far, so good. I can see that I have a nice set of genealogy notes on there that I must have saved awhile back. When I clicked on one of the sets of notes, it opened with the Microsoft Word app that I have on my iPad. Good! I like using Word – it’s what I’m used to and I should be able to keep all my formatting and I can see the footnotes on my iPad! But wait, while I can READ all of my notes in the Word app, I cannot WRITE or EDIT anything without the Office 365 account. Screeching halt! There’s no way that I’m going to pay that much money for an updated version of Microsoft Office while I’m perfectly happy with my 2010 version just so I can access and update files on my iPad. Especially while I have free access to something very similar using Google. Find an app that will open the file – sure. But does it automatically save the update in OneDrive – not that I can find. It would mean re-uploading and that’s something I’d rather avoid because I know that’s where my weakness is. I’m going for the KISS method, for sure and while I thought OneDrive was going to be the answer, I think I’m ruling that out.

But what about storage space? Is there a possibility that I could eventually use up all of the space that I’m giving with a Google Drive account? Probably. But you know what? Gmail is free – I can have all of the Gmail addresses that I want! To try this out, I set up a new Gmail account using a specific surname thinking that I could set up 4 accounts if I wanted – one for each grandparent’s line. Voila! 15 gb of storage! And I have a feeling that the amount of free storage given for email accounts will increase over time, but we’ll see. The biggest drawback to this method – I’d have to sign into a specific account to see those records. But that’s a problem for another day…

So what have I learned? I can’t continue to use flashdrives as my genealogy storage. They are too easy to lose and I’m sure I’ll experience a failure sooner or later. If I wasn’t worried about computer crashes or accessibility, I’d just keep everything on my laptop. That would be the easiest solution by far. To back up files, I like using flashdrives, but my “addiction” to them has turned my genealogy life into chaos. . Keeping files in the cloud makes the most sense. Training myself to ONLY work on with the files from the cloud will be the priority. No more, “I’ll put this on my flashdrive for now and find the proper place for it later”!

I’m so glad I decided to take today to figure out which cloud storage works best on my iPad, because THAT has been eye-opening. It has become the deciding factor as I want to become more portable in my genealogy work. Google Drive is the winner for me, but with reservations. We’ll see how this “experiment” works over time!


Progress Report

In my last post, I stated that I was pausing all record collection until I got my files, piles, folders and binders organized for at least 1 ancestor – John M. Smith. That project is going well, but I hit a wall when it came to the digital records.  Oh, I’ve been working on it, but I’m at a point where I’m paralyzed with fear!

I’ve written before about my love affair with flash drives: Confession of a Flash Addict. And I still haven’t been able to break the habit! Well, my problem is the great fear of deleting something that’s had information added that I didn’t add to the “master” file because I didn’t happen to have the “master flash” with me at that moment. So I’ve decided that using “THE CLOUD” as my master file has got to be the answer.  I can’t think of too many places I would be that I don’t have internet access except in my car and in certain hotels. In those cases, I’ll have to take only the files that I’ll be working on and put them on a flash drive and then replace all of the files in the cloud after a trip – and then delete them from the flash drive. If I’m missing a file that I need, then I’ll just have to find the nearest McDonald’s or Starbucks, get the file and then be back on my way.

So I’m taking a step – I’ve decided that during this organization phase,  as I put a file out on Sky Drive (I guess this is now actually called One Drive), I will find copies of that file on each flash drive and delete it.  I would never have the time to go through each file to compare, so I’m going to have to live with the consequences of my actions and choose the file that I think is most complete and get rid of the rest. Yes, get rid of them! That’s the only way to know that the file that I’m working on has all of the updated information.

Now, I’m not too worried about most of my files, but I know I’ve done more work on my Stephens family and my Smith family than any other family. So those notes and group sheets will be compared.  But everything else, I’m taking on faith. I’ve already started the process. All of my digital notes files have been uploaded except for Smiths and Stephens.  John M. Smith’s notes have been extensively updated as I’ve been going through organizing piles, so those are already on the cloud. I don’t believe I’ve updated any other Smith notes except John M, so the other family members should be easy to do a quick comparison and then upload and delete from the flash.  The Stephens family notes will have to wait for awhile, so those will remain on the flash.

Now I do have a small confession to make.  Yesterday was my birthday, so I did take a trip to the library and I collected a few tax records and deeds. Those have been properly labeled and today, will be uploaded directly to the cloud and then deleted from the flash that I had to put them on at the library. These records are for “possible connections”, so for the most part, they don’t affect any of the notes files I’ve got going with the exception of some expanded tax information that I didn’t have before. That info was added to my newly updated and uploaded master notes for John M. Smith.

So on with the organization! Or should I say, on with the deleting! (YIKES!)