Sunday, April 23, 2017

Clean Office!

I posted several weeks ago about the need to clean up my office as one of the warm-up exercises for the 2017 Genealogy Do-Over. I am excited to announce that my aunt came to visit this weekend and single-handedly cleaned the office for me! I can now research peacefully without stress about all the boxes sitting to the side. I still need to go through the boxes, as they contain various documents and photos from my paternal grandparents. But at least for now they are stacked neatly in the office closet and I can review the contents when I am ready. The closet is also a safer place for the old photos, as there is less light in the closet. Here are some pics of my new clean office (sorry, did not take any before photos, but just imagine two rows of boxes stacked all along the wall with the window).





The clean desk and the wall with the window are my favorite parts! Let's hope I can keep it this way...

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Genealogy Do-Over: Month 2 Goals


Well, considering it's technically Month 4 of the 2017 Genealogy Do-Over, and I am still working on Month 2 goals, I guess it is safe to say that the one thing I have learned from this is SLOOOOOOWWWWW DOOOOOWWWWNNN....and smell the roses. That's one of Thomas's main points of the do-over. He stresses that we often get ahead of ourselves. I am definitely guilty. 

Looking back at Month One, I still have some warm-up exercises that I need to implement. For instance, my desk is still messy. No fear. My auntie will be here in a little over a week to help me get my office organized. I also have not been researching with a glass of water. Oops. I guess that one is not extremely important to the research process itself, but I think I work better with it. And I have not been good at the timer thing. I think once the desk gets cleaned off, I can work with a timer better. But that is really not an excuse. I need to be timing myself to prevent getting too tired and frustrated doing my research.

On another note, I have been doing well with organizing my research into OneNote surname notebooks. I started with myself and then moved on to my parents and grandparents. Right now I am working on the OneNote folder for my paternal grandparents. I no longer just hop onto Ancestry.com and start searching for records and then entering the source citation into RootsMagic. I am actually transcribing my sources and copying images of them into OneNote and doing an analysis of each source document in Evidentia. This is definitely progress. I have even referred to ESM's Evidence Explained once or twice to make sure a citation was correct.

I was debating whether to do a research plan and log for those events that I have already researched and cited in RootsMagic, particularly for the ones that are pretty straightforward. I did a few at first, but then decided that it would be better to just analyze the source document in Evidentia, and then print a proof report for each event. For instance, my paternal grandfather's birth date is consistent among all sources (delayed birth record, death record, marriage record, military record, etc). They are already cited in my RootsMagic program. I will just put all of the records giving his date of birth into Evidentia and then run a proof report on his date of birth. I just don't think it makes sense to go backwards and create a research plan or research log for research already completed. Of course, that doesn't mean I can't continue to look for new documents that would prove his date of birth. For those, I will include them on a research log (and possibly research plan if there are multiple documents that I am still looking for). 

Actually, this kind of leads into Month 2 goals of setting base practices and guidelines. Below is what I came up with:



  1. Start with myself.
  2. Fill out research log and to-do list (or enter source documents into Evidentia and print proof report if research has already been completed and is well documented in RootsMagic).
  3. Use research log to determine who/what to research next.
  4. Use research plan worksheet to develop research plan (if necessary).
  5. Use to-do list to determine what records to search for.
  6. Check To-Be-Entered folders (paper and electronic) for records already obtained.
  7. Record search attempts in research log, even if negative.
  8. Use Evidentia to record and analyze findings for each source document.
  9. Save copy of source image to appropriate folder on computer.
  10. Record clippings, scanned images, and transcripts in surname notebook in OneNote. Follow guidelines of Chronological Surnames notebook (by Erin Williamson Klein).
  11. Print record and place it in paper file folder for couple or parents (if not married).
  12. Use OneNote to record clippings and scanned images of BSO's. Have an Inbox section in each surname notebook. This will be the holding/to be entered area of the notebook.
  13. Add research goals gleaned from BSO to research log.
  14. Add research conclusions gleaned from Evidentia into RootsMagic.


Thomas recommended coming up with 5 base practices and guidelines because more than that may get overwhelming. Obviously, I ignored his recommendation. I am an accountant and like to get very detailed. Some of these steps are only if necessary steps anyway and may not be used every time. A couple of them are steps that will only be used for Bright Shiny Objects (BSO). Actually, Step #1 is a step that I will only use in this do-over. Obviously, I will not start with myself every single time I start to research. Actually, I could probably sum some of these up a bit and make the list a little shorter. I might do that. 

The other goal for Month 2 is to establish research goals. As I have been adding info to my OneNote notebooks, I have added a few items to my to-do list. For instance, I realized that I have no idea where my grandparents lived when my grandfather was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, from 1954-1957 with the U.S. Navy. One of my goals is now to find out where they lived by consulting the city directories for Norfolk and Portsmouth from 1954-1957. I found that the city directories are located at the local library in Norfolk as well as at the Library of Virginia. 

However, I still need to fine tune my research goals. That is probably something I need to slow down and document. I did add the Norfolk city directories to my to-do list, but I don't think I added anything to my research log. I think I might backtrack a little and work on establishing my research goals before moving on to Month 3. Stay tuned for my next blog topic about research goals...

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Genealogy Do-Over: Month One Goals

The goals of the first month of the Genealogy Do-Over sound pretty simple: 

1) Set previous research aside.
2) Prepare to research.

Well, some of the work I have done already is actually solid research that has been cited. Remember, I have already done about 3 do-overs or go-overs since 2007. So to set all of it aside does not make sense to me, but I did set aside previous research when I started my last go-over back in 2013. Back then, I labeled four bankers' boxes with the surnames of my four grandparents. I then filed all of my documents by surname and put the surname folders in the applicable bankers box. I still have those bankers boxes sitting in my office. 

As I was doing my go-over in 2013, I gradually pulled documents, such as birth and death certificates, out of those boxes as I went through each person in my tree, beginning with myself. I reviewed the documents, cited them in my RootsMagic file, and then filed them in folders by couple. My couple file folders are in my filing cabinet in alphabetical order by surname and are color coded. The blue folders are for my paternal grandfather's lines, green folders are for my paternal grandmother's lines, red folders are for my maternal grandfather's lines, and purple folders are for my maternal grandmother's lines. I made sure the documents were digitized as well. My digital folders are organized similar to my paper files, using Folder Marker to color code my digital file folders.

So I guess setting aside research was not that hard for me since I have already done it. But I did not bother to go back and set aside research that I had completed during my last go-over I started in 2013. What I have decided to do is to go back over my research I did during that time and look for holes. As I stated in my previous post, I felt like I was rushing through things just to get everything documented. This time around, I am taking my time. I agree with Thomas that getting ahead of ourselves is a common problem in genealogy research. The adrenaline rush of the hunt makes it really easy to get ahead and miss key details.

The second goal is a little more difficult for me. I think preparing to research is where I could have used improvement in my last go-over. I didn't do anything back in 2013 to prepare for research. I just jumped right in. Thomas suggests coming up with some warm-up exercises for research. Here is what I came up with:


  1. Clean off desk in office.
  2. Have a glass of water or beverage available.
  3. Set timer for research (1-2 hours).
  4. Open surname notebook in OneNote, which contains Research Plan/Log and To-Do List.
  5. Open Evidentia.
  6. Open RootsMagic.
  7. Have Evidence Explained available.

Since I am currently in Houston and have been here away from my desk for 6 weeks, I'm not going to get to work on #1 until I get home later this week. But I have already talked to my aunt, who is going to come to my house in a few weeks and help me get started on organizing my office. I also have plans to call the electrician to get the light fixed in my office, hopefully by the end of this week. For some reason, it won't come on ever since we put in a new A/C unit. 

Water seems to help me stay focused and do better work. At work, I typically have a glass of water at my desk. So why not have one when I do my genealogy research?  Makes perfect sense to me.

Setting a timer is important. Sometimes I spend too much time on genealogy research and then get overwhelmed and frustrated. I think one or two hours at a time will keep me more productive. 

I have decided to use OneNote to organize my research digitally. I still have my digital file folders, but I am taking things a step further to document things in OneNote. I found a great webpage called OneNote A to Z by Erin Williamson Klein. She has some great templates for organizing your genealogy research in OneNote. Every time I start my research, I will have my surname notebook opened in OneNote. Each OneNote surname notebook has a page with a research plan and a research log and a section for the to-do list. I will consult these areas of the notebook to decide how to focus my research.


I will also make sure to have Evidentia open. I really like using Evidentia to examine source documents and analyze the evidence. Sometimes I forget that I have Evidentia, so I think making sure it is open every time I start to research will help me remember to use it. I was just blowing and going through my last go-over and did not use this resource when I should have.

Last but not least, I will also have Rootsmagic open and a copy of Evidence Explained handy. I probably need to invest in some of the EE Quicksheets that have been published over the last few years. I think I will buy a digital copy of the latest version of the book as well. That book is pretty hefty to transport around to libraries. I still have the first edition in hardback.

I hope that blogging about this well help keep me accountable. Putting it in writing helps to solidify it and gives me something to look back on to stay on track.I also find the Genealogy Do-Over Group at Facebook to be beneficial. It's a great place to ask questions and collaborate with others who are doing the Do-Over as well. There are also some great resources there, such as OneNote templates, timeline spreadsheets, etc.

Stay tuned for Month 2 goals!