My Genealogical Mess!

Oh my, I have really got a mess on my hands, and it's going to take a while to clean up. Here's my dilemma. First problem: I have an ancestry.com account with online trees - yes, plural. I actually have nine -- count 'em, nine! -- trees on ancestry. One of the reasons for multiple trees had to do with the fact that I was a beta tester for Family Tree Maker for the Mac V2 (FTMM2), and I wanted to have a different copy for each fix level in case something went wrong. (And that's a different story altogether.) I was not disciplined about only adding facts or sources to a single master tree -- oh no. I have the same people in multiple trees with different sources attached, and some trees have people that others don't. So that's the first mess to clean up. I need to have a single ancestry.com tree that I'm going to make public. It's not perfect, but the title even says it's not -- the title has the word "Unverified" in it. Hopefully others who find the tree will take its facts with a grain of salt and verify everything themselves. I also have a tree at MyHeritage and Find My Past. I *think* that's it for the online trees. Oops, nope! I forgot that I have one at FamilySearch.

Then there are the trees on my computers (yes, plural again). I have an Apple desktop and a Windows laptop. (No, I don't make things easy on myself.) Oh, and we started out with an Apple MacBook and have taken it on roadtrips, so I'm sure there's at least one tree over there. On the Apple desktop, I have multiple trees in FTM because of the beta testing I mentioned before. Again, lots of overlapping, but not 100%. And I used Reunion on the Mac for quite a while, so I have a tree there that definitely isn't synced with ancestry.com. Going forward, the Windows laptop is going to be my repository for my Do-Over. For a while I was undecided on whether to use Legacy or RootsMagic. As part of my decision process, I imported a GEDCOM of my big tree into each program so I could play around, so I have a couple of test trees in each as well as a Do-Over starter in each. While it was a tough choice (though not necessarily permanent), at this point I've decided to proceed with Legacy -- again a different post. (I'm not even going to mention - much - that I also tried running Legacy and RootsMagic on the Mac Mini under WINE or MacBridge and that I have trees in there. No point since I've settled on the Windows laptop.)

That's just the trees. Then there are the files and images. I have files and images scattered hither and yon, both hardcopy and softcopy. I have so much that I have no idea what I have, so I keep getting the same stuff over and over. Yes, I'm trying to work with a research log, but I have to figure out what I have before that's entirely useful. So where do I have files?

I have paper files in cabinets, notebooks, piles, bags, firesafes. I have digital files on all three computers in various directories and on thumb drives (though I believe [!] that I've copied those all to ownCloud (more on this later). Do I have a naming convention? No, I do not. I'll think I've settled on one, but then I either decide it's not working or I don't remember the convention and can't find where I wrote it down. (Evernote is calling!) And of course, there are media files in the online and local trees as well.

I have paper photos in albums and multiple boxes that need to be scanned. I have photos in Lightroom on the Mac Mini, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if there are some on the MacBook as well. I also have some scanned papers and photos in my ScanSnap organizer on the Lenovo laptop. Hmm, I also have a Flip-Pal mobile scanner that stores scans on an SD card. Yikes! Somewhere else to check.

I mentioned the "cloud". There's DropBox, Box, Google, and iCloud. We definitely don't care for some of the Terms & Conditions of services like Google and DropBox. So we've started using ownCloud on our own server as the standard storage location for genealogy files. Bruce will have to explain that in a blog post of his own.

And I guess Evernote qualifies as part of the "cloud". I've got a lot of files in Evernote. I use the WebClipper a lot to save web articles or images to Evernote, then tag them and put them in some broadly categorized Notebooks. If I get an interesting e-mail from someone, I can forward that e-mail to my Evernote account (since I have the Premium flavor of EN). And I use some iPhone apps for scanning that automatically sync to Evernote, particularly Scanner Pro. (Evernote now has its own scanner app, Scannable. But I got started with Scanner Mini, then moved to its paid sibling, Scanner Pro. I made some mistakes when I first started using it, but now love the capability to scan multi-page documents, make them OCR readable, specify if it's B&W or Color, and then edit for exposure, contrast, and skew. And love the auto-upload to Evernote! It also uploads to other cloud services.)

Just a few other places where I have stuff squirreled away:  Mac apps like Pages and Numbers, Windows apps like Word and Excel, Scrivener, and just a bit in Clooz 3 (which I really haven't learned to use yet).

I'm sure I've missed something. But at least in writing this I now have a master list in Evernote, and I have an idea of all the places I need to look. Now I need to figure out the best process and, oh yes, that pesky naming convention.


Paul Milner Speaks at DGS Spring Seminar

Paul Milner was the speaker for the Dallas Genealogical Society's Spring Seminar--"From Whence They Came" about research in the British Isles.  As I have yet to get out of the US on the lines that I'm researching, I wasn't expecting major revelations.  Boy was I wrong.  Of the four sessions he led, the second was on migration history from Ireland to the US, and where people entered during each period.  This hour really changed the research approach that I will take for the major line that we are pursueing.

Visit to Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, MO

On the way back from visiting relatives at Christmas, we stopped at the Midwest Genealogy Center, a part of the Mid-Continent Public Library in Independence, Missouri.  The library had a booth at the FGS/RootsTech conference and was on the way so we planned to arrive at 6:00 PM and spend an evening seeing what was there before proceeding with the rest of our drive the next day.  We ended up spending the evening and all of the next day at the library--the collection is quite good and we both found much good material.

The library specializes in the mid-west; I found a shelf on each of the counties in Illinois and Indianna in which I'm interested.  They have all of the major online resources; I spent several hours working on newspapers that I can't access from home or our local library.  It has full sets of training DVDs from several leaders in genealogy education.  Given that we make the trek to Minnesota a couple of times a year, we will start making Independence our overnight stop and may start spending a day there to break up the drive.

If we had been paying attention, we could have signed up for a library card while we were there, as that must be done in person.

Family Tree Maker End of Life

The Dallas Genealogical Society 2015 Awards Banquet on Saturday, December 12th was a fun luncheon held at the downtown Dallas Public Library.  During the networking time, there was much discussion of the recent Ancestry.com announcement that it will discontinue support for Family Tree Maker. The general consensus was that there is no need to do anything immediately. During 2016, it is likely that the other desktop software vendors will make updates to improve data import compatibility with FTM.

Although it does not make sense to purchase another software package immediately, there are a few things that are a good idea to start on now:

  • Look at your tree and start to clean up any data problems and inconsistencies. This is a good time to look at data issues to identify things that are broken now and will continue to be broken after a conversion:
    • People that are unconnected to anyone else in the database.
    • Identify death dates that preceed birth dates
    • Identify other dates that are impossible or unreasonable
    • Identify broken media links that will be broken after a conversion
  • Start reading on location name standardization and location name history; once you understand the issues for your region, begin to work on cleaning up and standardizing place names.
  • Consider downloading and installing the free version of a couple of packages and test the export from FTM and import into the other package; this will almost certainly identify special characters and corrupt data in your FTM database. It will also give you an idea of what data representations will work in an export and what won’t work.

Whatever you do, don’t update anything in the trial system; only do updates in FTM until you are ready to cut over. You do not want to have updates spread out across all of several different systems.

At some point, we will probably write reviews of some of the tools that we looked at about a year ago:

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