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!