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Archive for January, 2015

Goals for 2015

I am still developing my 2015 goals. I am a little stumped because I know that I will be back in the US for a couple of months and I would like to spend some time doing research on location, but I don’t know where I would like that to be. Originally, my plan was to focus on my ancestors who passed though Shenandoah, but I may or may not be visiting there.

So to begin:

1) Visit the National Archives and locate the Civil War ancestors that I have identified.

2) Participate in the Genealogy Do-Over.

3) Spend several days on location doing research.

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This week has been another fruitful week. The topic was Project Management and I watched the video attached to the blog post. I think that Thomas MacEntee has some excellent suggestions. If I were adopting his system, I would set my colors to change automatically so when you marked a project as complete it would go green automatically.

I have my own system based out of Evernote for managing and tracking tasks so I will be sticking with that. The one change I have made this year is making two notebooks for genealogy To-Do items. The first is “To-Do 2015” which has items for the project that I am currently working on and the second is “To-Do Future” which is tasks that I would like to accomplish in the future.

During the week, I organized, cited, and scanned the documents that relate to myself and my husband. I started a completely new Family Tree in Reunion and I added cited bio information about myself and my husband. Then I moved onto my parents and completed them. I also started a new ancestry tree. This tree is cousin bait and hopefully will lead to a helpful “shaky-leaf” or two. I don’t plan on adding the citations here, but the only information contained on the tree will be information properly cited in my reunion tree.

The next chunk will be difficult. My goal is to organize the information related to my paternal grandparents. My grandmother passed away at the end of 2014 and my parents asked me to go through her old papers while I was home. After going through them and getting rid of a lot of it, I scanned about half of the documents. This included all sorts of fascinating information like my grandmother’s baby book and hundreds of letters from her and her family. The most interesting are the ones that she wrote from South Sudan where she was serving as a missionary.

Next week’s topic includes the research toolbox which I’m excited about. I’m very interested in what other people are working on.

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I had a lot of back and forth with myself about developing a research log. I have tried a few logs in the past and nothing ever stuck. I googled Evernote Genealogy Research Logs and got a few examples that others were using. But nothing was really clicking for me. I decided that I would go back to determine why I needed a research log and from there determine how I would implement my research log. I came up with three possibilities

· To-Do Items

· Positive Searches

· Negative Searches

For me, I have a good system for capturing new To-Do Items. I add them to a new note in Evernote and save them in my Genealogy To Do notebook. For actions that are tied to particular places, I add a tag. For example @NARA indicates that it is a record that I would like to pull the next time that I am at the National Archives. This system has worked phenomenally for me.

I don’t really need a research log for positive searches because the items that I have found are usually cited and entered into Evernote. Although I have gone back and reviewed old research logs and the general time line of when I was searching for certain documents has helped. I do find myself wishing that I had a research log for negative searches. In order to capture this information, I am committing to using a research log for 2015 and then I will re-evaluate its usefulness and determine if I will continue its use in the future.

A lot of the example research logs were for each person in an excel spreadsheet. I’m leaning towards a running log – narrative style which captures the work I did in a given year. I chose narrative style because the spreadsheet function in Evernote is not great especially on mobile devices. I’ll play around with it this year and see where I end up in 2016.

Other Templates

While I was googling research logs, I came across a few other tracking systems that seem to mesh a bit better with my research style. One is a resource checklist, which lists various examples of potential sources. As I continue my genealogy do-over, I plan to create a checklist for every person starting with myself. I will use the “copy note link” function in Evernote so you would be able to click through to see the actual citation and the scan of the document.

Conducting Research

I like the idea of starting with myself. I’ve been chipping away at the 52 questions and capturing all sorts of stories about myself. It has been a great prompt. Using the source checklist, I created an Evernote document about myself. I have most my birth and marriage certificates scanned and cited, but I realized that there were a few other documents that I could add that would give my story more human interest so I plan to add scanned copies of my wedding invitation and programs and my school transcripts.

I will probably do this for my husband and then jump to my paternal grandparents who are deceased. I collect names and dates about living relatives as they come to me, but I do not collect vital records (publically available or otherwise) because I feel uncomfortable violating their privacy.

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I think a lot of people working in the project are feeling a bit overwhelmed, but I think that they are biting off more than they can chew. I feel really good about the progress that I have made.

For my self interview, downloaded a list of family history interview questions and saved them to Evernote. As I have a few minutes here and there, I go in and type a few responses. I also saved the 52 questions in 52 weeks. There is some overlap, but together they will provide a solid base for my family memories.

I also saved a question list one for each of my parents. I don’t plan on doing a formal interview, but to attempt to ask them a question or two when I see them and then jot notes in the Evernote question list. This was really successful for the first question with my dad and learned a bit about him.

I am lucky to have some other living family that I will interview at some point in the future.

I haven’t done much in my family tree software because I’m traveling, but my grandmother recently passed away and I’ve been going through her old papers and scanning anything genealogy related. My aunt would like the originals so I’m glad that I’ve had this opportunity.

My research goals relate to my grandmother’s things. My goal is to scan, cite, and tag in Evernote all the useful information.

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I’m addicted to checklists so for the first week of the geneaology do over, I developed a checklist of research tools I need and added it to Evernote. Evernote really is my primary organizing tool. All of the sources saved in Evernote are organized and cited.

I also drafted a research flow checklist which incorporates a number of suggestions that I’ve collected. When making a site visit I plan to develop draft citations before I leave. Then the details can be dropped in on site which will save time and ensure that I don’t miss a detail or two. 

Overall, it was a great exercise. I’ve been enjoying everyone’s Facebook posts and it has got me thinking on how I will rework my database. Over the past several months I’ve been working hard at cleaning things up so I plan to keep my current database but make sure that all of my citations are correctly entered. I don’t actively do research living relatives so I will start my citations with my paternal grandparents and then move onto my great grandparents. 

I will check back next week with progress.  

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