Genealogy Do Over-Week 1….

Genealogy Do-OverSince I am following Thomas MacEntee on his Genealogy Do Go Over, I thought I’d add my thoughts as to what I personally want to accomplish on this adventure. I got Thomas’ first email and decided that I would sit down and get my week one thoughts on paper monitor .

Here are the tasks that Thomas gave us this first week:

Setting Previous Research Aside: 

For me, my data is pretty cleaned up and I have a very good filing system both on my computer and in my filing cabinets (Surname-Document Type-person’s name)… So I didn’t really want to set those aside.  I am happy with The Master Genealogist 9.0 for now and didn’t see the need for new software at this time.  I have been using Evernote for the last few months as a research log and that has been working really well, so I decided to stay with that instead of a paper log.  I am trying to go MORE paperless in my genealogy, not LESS.  So what was I going to set aside?  Like Lent, I needed something and as a Southern Baptist, I was having trouble. 

Until today…. I was working in marriage records from Davidson County, TN and I searched for Gees.  George L. Gee moved to Davidson County between 1850 and 1860 and his wife, Sarah Jane had died there. He remarried there in 1861.  I had always ASSUMED that George went to Nashville to be closer to his in-laws while his wife recuperated, but what if he went  there to be closer to a Gee family member?  Could his siblings be one of those people marrying in Davidson County?  I have long felt that he was the son of David W. Gee of Williamson County, TN and David’s sister did marry in Davidson County, TN.  Yet I had never thought to look at Gees in Davidson County wills or deeds to see if George might be mentioned. Never once in 26 years.
So there you have it.  Part one:  I am going to put aside previous research assumptions, especially brick wall making ones.

Preparing to Research:

This one I had to laugh at. 🙂  I am always ready to research. I will research instead of eating. Though you can’t tell from looking at me.   What was there to prepare?  I have computer, internet connection, peace and quiet and several hours without a husband and child each day. Other than the fact that I do work several hours each day, since I do like my paycheck, nothing else stands in the way of my research.  I do feel ahead of the game a little here. I admit I hate clutter and I work mostly from my recliner in my living room. Very little to prepare.  But I understand. I need to be sure I am well fed, the house is clean, work has been done and I am not neglecting family.  THEN I can research….

Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines:

I have been researching and using computer genealogy programs since the very early 1990s. I have fairly good practices and guidelines set up over the years. I write out county, abbreviate state.  I realize someone reading my family history in Australia may not know that TN stands for Tennessee.  However, my cousins from there do not want a printed report to be 10% longer because I wrote out Tennessee 432 times in the report.  I use the microfilm roll or deed book as my repository.  It may not work with some software programs, but it does in The Master Genealogist and it works FAR to well for me to change now.  That may affect my ability to change programs at some point. I will deal with that then. 
The main thing I need to work on this year and I am really making an effort is Abstract Every Single Person With That Surname….

With modern databases, it so easy to search for the people we are related to, copy that one image and never actually use the collection of documents in front of us.  I realized this week that those TN marriages I have been working with at Family Search are the same microfilmed marriage books I use at the State Archives. Instead of searching for a person, I have started opening the book and going to the front or back of the film (image 1 or image last) and actually reading the index.  By doing this, I am finding a lot of people I would never have found with searching. Anyone want to guess how many spellings there are for the name Sirls?

As I stated earlier, I already use the microfilm roll as my repository in TMG.  By also using that to create Research Notes in Evernote, I can easily keep track of what documents I have reviewed before.  For me the biggest practice I want to start in 2015 is one greatly missing from my research in the past: Not Walking The Same Path Over and Over again. 

Doing the same research over and over costs me both time and money. In 2015, I want to stop doing that.  Having good research notes is hopefully going to help with that endeavor.  Especially when researching in a group of documents doesn’t result in finding an ancestor. Recording those negative findings is crucial in making sure I do a thorough and exhaustive search.

And finally, I looked over my source templates yesterday. When I moved to TMG 12 years ago from UFT, I had many source templates in UFT. TMG read those in and added them to theirs.  I had 185 source type templates that I had created, UFT had created, TMG had created. And I mainly use Deeds, Wills, Marriages, Births, Tombstones, Census.  Some of my templates are very specific to a certain repository and those I wanted to keep.  But some were left over from UFT or TMG and I had never once used them.  I decided it was time. Time to delete any source type template that I hadn’t used in 26 years.  I could always recreate it if I suddenly did find a ship’s manifest online.  It’s been a slow process, but as of today, I am down to 158! Progress for week one.

So there’s my goals for week one.  As of today I have managed to abstract my family from Marriage Books 1 and 2 of Davidson County, TN.  No brick walls fell yet, but who knows what tomorrow may bring.


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