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 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!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

SNGF: The Day Your Grandfather Was Born

The Saturday Night Genealogy Fun mission tonight is to blog about the day your grandfather was born. Randy's challenge is as follows:

1)  What day of the week was your Grandfather born (either one)? Tell us how you found out.

My paternal grandfather was Benford Maurice Trahan. He born on March 1, 1935. According to, he was born on a Friday.

2) What has happened in recorded history on your Grandfather's birth date (day and month)? Tell us how you found out, and list five events.

**In 1790, the first United States Census was authorized.
**In 1867, Nebraska became the 37th U.S. state.
**In 1872, Yellowstone National Park was established as the world's first national park.
 **In 1935, the Territory of the Saar Basin was formally returned to Germany. It had been held by France and England due to a League of Nations mandate in the Treaty of Versailles.
**In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps.

I found all of this out from Wikipedia

3)  What famous people have been born on your Grandfather's birth date?  Tell us how you found out, and list five of them.

**In 1810, Frederic Chopin, Polish pianist and composer
**In 1914, Ralph Ellison, American novelist and literary critic
**In 1922, Yitzhak Rabin, Israeli general and politician, Nobel Prize laureate
**In 1927, Harry Belafonte, American singer-songwriter and actor
**In 1947, Alan Thicke, Canadian-American actor and composer
**In 1954, Ron Howard, American actor, director, and producer
**In 1974, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, American actor (Zack in Saved by the Bell)
**In 1987, Kesha, American singer-songwriter and actress
**In 1994, Justin Bieber, Canadian singer-songwriter

I found all of this out from the same Wikipedia page as above.

It's been fun getting back into the groove of genealogy blogging! Can't wait until next Saturday! 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Genealogy Do-Over: Taking the Plunge

Well, I've decided to take the plunge and participate in Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over. What is the Genealogy Do-Over? For me, it's a commitment to look at my family tree with a fresh set of eyes and re-evaluate the way I have been doing research for the past 20 or so years. 

As I've posted previously on this blog, I started my research back in 1993 or 1994 with my paternal grandmother. Although everyone I met at the genealogical library told me I should cite my sources, I did not listen. Typical teenager. 

When I was in my early twenties, I decided to finally start citing those sources. I did my own Do-Over back in 2007 or so. I started a brand new family tree file in Legacy Family Tree. I had been using FTM and started to do source citations in there, but then decided I would rather use Legacy. When I switched, I decided just to start over, since most facts were not sourced in FTM. So that was actually my first do-over.

Then in 2010, I went on a cruise with RootsMagic and decided I liked their source templates better than Legacy's. RootsMagic had the ability to create source templates. In Legacy, I could only override each citation. There was not way to change an existing template or create a new template. At that point, I transferred all my data from Legacy to RootsMagic, instead of starting over again, since it was all sourced. However, the problem was that the coding between the two programs did not create pretty source citations upon transfer. I took that opportunity to go-over (rather than do-over) my previous research and correct the source citations. That took quite awhile. And in the meantime, several new record sets came available online at FamilySearch, so I also added new source citations as I fixed my old ones in RootsMagic. I finally finished the go-over in 2013. 

Once I finished that project, I decided to once again do another go-over. I decided to start with myself and review the research I had already done. For example, I made sure I had entered source citations for all the documents I had on myself (birth certificate, baptismal certificate, etc). Then I moved onto my parents, grandparents, etc. after I finished with myself and did the same thing. Also in this go-over, I decided to fully research the siblings and other collateral relatives of my ancestors. Previously, I had mostly researched my direct ancestors. My third goal in this go-over was to get more organized with both digital and paper files. 

Even with this third do-over/go-over, I realized that I still did not like something about the way I was researching. It seemed too rushed and did not feel like I was really keeping a good log of my research. I was doing great with source citations, expanding my research to include non-direct and collateral relatives, and organizing my digital and paper files. But I still felt there was room for improvement. I had made it to my second set of 2x-great-grandparents on my paternal grandmother's side when Thomas came out with the Genealogy Do-Over project. I decided that I might need to start over again. Well...maybe not completely start over, but definitely go-over my research methods again. However, it would be another year or two before I would actually buy the Genealogy Do-Over Workbook and  think seriously about doing another go-over or do-over. I was trying to get to a good stopping point in my current go-over, and my 2x-great-grandparents had 7 children, so that took awhile.

I purchased the workbook last August at the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2016 National Conference in Springfield, Illinois. That being said, I still did not start getting serious about it until last month. I have been off work for the past 6 weeks due to my husband's medical condition, so I figured I would have plenty of time to get the do-over started. I figured it was now or never.

In my next post, I will blog about what I have been doing so far in my Genealogy Do-Over, particularly as it relates to Thomas' Month One Goals. Stay tuned!