Kristin's Do-Over - Week 3

The topics for the Genealogy Do-Over for Week 3 are:
  • Tracking research
  • Conducting research
But life happens. You get sick, you get busy — you get behind! And I am. As of 4 Feb, the official Genealogy Do-Over is in Week 5, almost to Week 6. Me, I am still noodling over tasks from the first two weeks. I still don’t have a handle on all the paper and digital files that I have, but maybe you can consider not knowing as being set aside. Maybe? (C'mon -- work with me here!)
One of the big tasks for this week is learning a new way to track one’s research. Yes, I confess that I have pulled the same record multiple times (and been excited each time!) just because I don’t know what I have already looked for and what I have. Similarly, I’ve looked in the same place with the same objective more than once without finding anything. (What’s that definition of insanity? “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”) I *know* I can benefit from a Research Log, so I spent a lot of time the past couple of weeks building on Thomas MacEntee’s Research Log — adding some columns and even some sheets that other Do-Over participants have shared. I came up with a master Excel spreadsheet that I've saved and am using for the basis for my individual logs. I've struggled with how many sheets to use. Do I want one giant one, or one for my mother’s family on back and a second for my father’s on back, or do I want one each for my grandparents’ families? At this point, I’m starting with one workbook for Mom and her ancestors and a second for Dad and his ancestors; it's not an irrevocable decision. Each workbook (spreadsheet) has multiple tabs/worksheets separated by family, and I've spent a fair amount of time putting in facts I need to research and what I currently *think* the information is as a starting point for proving. Now I need to go back (the rest of this week before FGS & RootsTech) and fill in the information for the facts/images that I do have. I do have a bit of a headstart on this because I just applied to and was accepted into the DAR. So I have images of some key documents that I now need to enter into the Research Log. I guess that falls under task #2 for week 3, Conducting Research -- so maybe I'm not so bad off after all. 
One step at a time...

Kristin's Do-Over - Week 2

OK, it's just about the official end of Genealogy Do-Over Week Two.  The topics this week are:

  • Setting Research Goals
  • Conducting Self Interview
  • Conducting Family Interviews

Thomas MacEntee suggests conducting the interviews before attempting to set research goals.  

In my journey, here's what I've done this week and why I'm currently on a slightly different timeline.

  • Set up "The Intentional Genealogist" blog for the first time with Bruce's help and added multiple articles.
  • Researched different genealogial database programs (though I haven't made a decision yet).
  • Read blogs of several others involved in the Do-Over. (Thomas MacEntee has links to over 3000 blogs from his Geneabloggers Blog Roll. Wow! I wish it were easier to scroll through them, though there are some sort capabilities.)

What I haven't done and why:

  • Self-interview:  I have done this previously by entries to my genealogical program. However, I need to get it out of that program and into a format that I can file, either as paper or in Evernote. (Yes, still trying to figure out the best storage format, if there is such a thing.) As part of my DAR application, I did assemble and scan my birth certificate and marriage license. I even came across my baby footprints taken at the hospital! There are other documents that can still be scanned (church confirmation, diplomas from various schools, and certainly photos. But I do have either the original or a certified copy of the key sources (birth, marriage) to be reviewed for primary and secondary information. Having said all that, those are just the bare facts. I do have as a long-term goal to write more of an autobiography as my parents-in-law did or even a less formal document like my mother did. My mother saw a lot of technological changes in her 92+ years (remembering their first electric light, for example), and so have we baby boomers.
  • Family interviews:  Sad to say, there's not much family to interview. Both my parents and grandparents are gone. Before she died, I was able to convince my mother to write down some memories, and I'm so grateful that she did. My father was an only child (as am I), and I don't know anyone from other branches of that family - yet!  The only person from my parents' generation still living is my mother's baby brother.  At age 94, he's almost totally deaf.  He can still look at and help identify photographs but, sadly, he lives about a seven hour drive away. The last time we visited, I did gather some information from his wife and his son (my cousin), but I think I've tapped that out. There are some of my mother's cousins still living and who have helped identify some photos, but again, none are nearby. My father did pass down some written family trees and histories, so those serve as a useful starting point, but all must be proven.
  • Research goals:  Hopefully some of these will become clearer as we progress through the Do-Over.  Here's what I've got so far...
    • I do have some brick walls that I know I want to work on as the Do-Over progresses.  But that's jumping the gun.
    • First I want to focus on my direct ancestors -- to obtain and cite the evidence for each of my direct ancestors, filling any gaps as needed.  I'm still puzzling over the best way to do this without jumping ahead in the Do-Over.
      • One of the possible tools is GenSmarts, which can run against existing trees to help identify gaps.  So far I've only downloaded the free trial and am evaluating.
      • Another possibility is ResearchTies, a web-based tool that I heard about at RootsTech 2014. It is designed to record research objectives and sources, as well as logs. It's online, so you have access to it wherever you connect to the internet. ResearchTies has an annual subscription.
      • Yet another tool is Clooz3. We purchased this at FGS 2014 in San Antonio, but I haven't explored it yet. There are video tutorials on their website and/or on YouTube.
      • Or there's a paper or electronic Research Plan and Research Log.  There are a number of these floating around in the Files section of the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook group. It's a closed group, meaning that you have to ask to join.

Looks like this is the first decision I should make.  Of course, it's not a permanent decision; I can always change my mind. I'm going to start with filling out a form for each immediate family member so I can see what I have and what I'm missing.

To be continued...


My main role in our family‘s history team is scanning and archiving images--my part of the do-over is to revisit some technology decisions and come up with some better ways to solve some problems. My on-going project of scanning photos and identifying people has stalled, as I don't know any of the people in the photos and can’t identify anyone. The main person for identifying people in photos is my mom, but when she moved to a smaller apartment and Windows XP went out of service for security fixes, we retired her computer. There wasn't space in the new apartment for a computer, and she was having increasing difficulty using email. How do you send an email with a photo to someone who has neither computer, cell phone nor tablet? Cloud printing in the form of an Epson WF-2540 has been the answer.

Some Epson printers can be configured to use Epson Connect, a service where your printer gets a special email address. To print a photo on my mom's printer, I just send an email to the printer‘s email address and attach the photograph; the email text and attached photo print on her printer. See the article Cloud Printing on my business web site for steps on how to configure Epson Connect.

The biggest problem is that if you copy siblings on the email, and someone does a reply-all to the email at midnight, the email will immediately print on the printer and will probably wake mom up. Not a good thing.

Setting up the cloud printer has made identifying people in photos much easier, and my mom‘s refrigerator is once again getting covered with photos of great grandchildren.

Kristin's Do-Over - Week 1

Here we are the end of the second week of Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over project, and I'm already behind!  A large part of that is that we were traveling for much of the first week of the Do-Over, so I was late getting started.  And getting the blog started, while fun, has involved more initial set-up than I realized.  (I suspect there's an article from that...).

The tasks for Do-Over week one were:

  • Set previous research aside
  • Prepare to research
  • Establish base practices and guidelines
What I've done so far:
  • For "Set previous research aside"
    • I have not yet looked at the various hardcopy documents to know what I have.  I know that I have multiple looseleaf notebooks where I've captured information on research trips that I've never entered into my computer -- with the result that I have copied some of this information more than once due to my lack of organization.  But at this point, I only want to locate and inventory the paper copies of censuses, vital records (birth, death, marriage), wills and military records that I have.  Still a daunting task.  
    • As far as digital holdings, we have historically stored our digital photos and most of the genealogy files on a shared network drive for ease of access from different systems.  However, since the online backup service we use (Backblaze) does not back up network drives, my tech support (i.e., husband) has migrated (copied) the files from the network drive to a new USB array.  This is still a work in progress, as some of the files were not copied due to permissions issues; this must be cleaned up.  (I'm not sure any of these files are genealogy related, but this still needs to be done.)  Then I need to move these to a HOLD folder as Thomas suggests so I start with a clean set of directories. 
  • For "Prepare to research"
    • Document what tools and platforms I'm currently using (and boy, do I have a lot!  What a mess!).  I have files on a Mac Mini, a few on the old MacBook we've traveled with, and files on a Lenovo Windows 7 laptop.  In terms of genealogy software, I've most recently been using Reunion on the Mac Mini after switching from Family Tree Maker on Windows to Family Tree Maker for the Mac.  Have I cleaned up all the old trees in FTM or on ancestry.com?  Of course not!  What a mess!
    • I earlier mentioned a MacBook that we've taken on the road.  Unfortunately, at this point the MacBook is old enough that it cannot be upgraded to a level of OS X that is supported; it's stuck at Lion.  That means no security updates, which means it's reached its end of life as a networked device.  In looking at new MacBooks (under the assumption that I wanted to keep using Reunion), although we knew they were expensive, we didn't know just quite how expensive they are.  My husband is also not terribly impressed with the configurations that are available.  Since I already have a Windows laptop, I started looking at Windows-based genealogy programs.  I have excluded FTM2014 because of a number of reasons -- one of which is that I no longer want to be seduced by the shaky leaves.  But more seriously, because of the data integrity problems I've had with FTM (with media, with TreeSync'ing, and others) and the problems I've heard that others have had, I'm looking currently at Legacy and RootsMagic.  I've got a whole 'nother article started on that.  There are things I like about both programs, and it's not a clear-cut decision which way to go.  Still working on this aspect.
    • I have a copy of Clooz3 on the Windows laptop, but haven't yet "clicked" with it as someone once described it.  However, I have not yet taken the time to go through their online tutorials, so that's a to-do.
    • I also signed up for a one-year subscription to ResearchTies (web-based, need to go through tutorials)
    • I've inventoried my genealogy-related books using a phone app called RedLaser which scans and resolves ISBN barcodes, uploading the results of that to LibraryThing and entering the other books without an ISBN barcode.
  • For "Establish base practices and guidelines"
    • On the drive back home from our travels, my husband and I discussed naming conventions for files.  I've read multiple posts from others in the Do-Over about their naming conventions, and mine are a bit different.  Only time will tell if they work for me.
    • Like "Your Cousin Caron" (http://yourcousincaron.blogspot.com)
      • I will start a completely new tree in whatever tool I choose to use.  (See below for some info on that dilemma.)  
      • I will add supporting media and documentation for each item added to the new tree at the time of adding it.
      • I will use standard source citation formats to document.  
      • I will decide which software to use by the end of the Do-Over.
      • I will follow the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS).
    • I will develop a plan on what to research.  Ideally, I'd like to have a set of research tasks already defined and saved in Evernote that are to be accomplished at different repositories so that I'm ready to go when the occasion arises.  (See ResearchTies.)
    • Cite both positive and negative findings.
    • Don't follow the shiny object. ("Squirrel!")
    • Document, document, document.
    • In the future, when I get home from a research trip, analyze and enter the data into the appropriate program with citations.  Don't leave it on paper or "in the phone" in the Scanner Mini app (though I do have that set up to automatically send to Evernote).
    • I still need to figure the best way to use Evernote notes and tags - and that's a different article altogether!

I'm sure I'll think of more guidelines as I get into this.  And that's the whole point, isn't it?  

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