Thursday, January 8, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week One

It has been an interesting first week of the Genealogy Do-Over. As I was starting to organize my digital files, my nine year old computer decided to call it quits. Problems had been cropping up but moving and merging files was too much for it, I guess. One new computer later and I am ready to begin.
There are three topics to work on this week. The following are the topics and the work I did on each one.

1.Set Previous Research Aside
The digital files are backed up and out of sight so that was the easy part, in my case. 
Now to tackle the paper files. These paper files go back to 1989. I found scraps of paper, sticky notes (no longer sticky), computer print outs, and several spiral notebooks. In looking through this mound of paper, I found the same research being done over and over.  I have found my biggest problem is not keeping track of my research.
At least I was organized enough to have everything filed in surname folders. Most of the paper was shredded and recycled. Various documents such as birth, death, marriage and other certificates will be in my new filing system. Folks in the Do-Over Facebook group have numerous ideas for filing systems, both digital and paper. I have found several ideas to fit my needs.

2. Preparing to Research

I had been using One Note to track my old research electronically. My notebook was really a mess. I decided to try Evernote after reading others suggestions and I am hooked. I am able to organize scanned documents and keep track of things better than I did in One Note. The tagging system alone is worth the switch.
After trying several genealogy programs over the years, I will stay with Roots Magic for my family tree. It works fine and after I upgraded, it suits my needs for now.
A more recent problem I have discovered is taking a spare 10 or 20 minutes to search surnames from my DNA matches. These searches weren't very productive and I wasn't confident of things I did find.
Taking care of this issue leads me to topic three.

3. Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines
  1. Schedule a specific time to do research.
  2. Have Evernote and Roots Magic open before starting.
  3. Establish goals on a research goal sheet.
  4. Always note all findings especially dead ends.
  5. Cite all sources in my new family tree.
Using these guidelines, will give me confidence in establishing my connection to ancestors. It will certainly make DNA research less harrowing.

Thanks to Thomas MacEntee and everyone on the Do-Over Facebook page for all the ideas and help.

Now on to Week Two!

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