A New Year, A Do-Over!


Photo credit: ‘New Year’ by Sally Mahoney on Flickr

Wow! My blog officially turned one a few days ago and it is already week two of a new year! Initially my goal was to post weekly. Well, that was a high bar to set. My site stats tell me I have 12 published blog posts. I can live with having posted on a monthly basis! So, for 2015 my blogging-resolution is to post at least once a month. I have really come to enjoy blogging and have a lot of ideas for posts.

This is a genealogy blog, so I will look at my genealogy goals as well. Last year, I wanted to get more organized. I succeeded in at least starting to rename my digital files, using a system I found in one of my Facebook genealogy groups. I cancelled my Ancestry subscription, to minimize data-hoarding -and save money. In addition to that I was able to get three close relatives to test their DNA. In May, I traveled to my paternal, ancestral home. I talked to relatives and visited the community where my people lived after the Civil War. There, I took photos of about 100 gravestones and started making an Excel sheet to document the names on the stones. I acquired letters written from that time period about the community, downloaded Freedmen’s Bureau records, purchased a Civil War military record of a great-great-great-uncle and found oral history recordings of relatives from a university library online archive. Overall, that doesn’t sound too bad. What I have to admit though, is that a lot of these ‘projects’ have been started and abandoned. I have been all over the place! My number one goal this year is to follow through with whatever I am doing.

To this end I am participating in Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over. It will be a 13 week process, with weekly prompts to do-over your genealogy. There is a Facebook group, a Pinterest page and a resource page. Now, this do-over can be different for whomever takes part in it. For some, it means concentrating on one area that needs work, for others it means starting from scratch. Personally, I need a do-over! I have learned so much since I started this hobby, that I have realized my many mistakes and/or inaccuracies, due to bad organization, inconsistent citing and analyzing of information. I am sure I have loads of info that I have overlooked, due to my mess!

Week one tasks of the do-over were to put our old research aside, think about research warm-up habits and come up with base practices and research guidelines. I have cleared my workspace and piled everything into my bookshelf. By the way, I will NOT be throwing out previous research and especially not any original documents I have, but will rather be reexamining  it and them with the skills and knowledge I have today. I will be making cheat sheets for my research process and file naming standards, as well as for Google operators, since I am bad at remembering those. My research warm-up will consist of me actually having time to do it right. I will not Google an ancestor’s name five minutes before bedtime, in bed! Also, I will be at my desk, in our office, near my reference books and binders, when I decide to work on genealogy. Basically my goals and Base Practices/Guidelines are to plan, organize, track and cite in a manner that lets me pick up where I left off and keeps me from doing things twice. I will be using Evidentia software and my Family Tree Maker for Mac3 database and have started reading Elizabeth Shown Mills’ book Evidence!, which I have had -untouched- for quite some time.

I will do my best to accomplish what I have set out for myself and will not beat myself up if some thing just doesn’t work out. Hey, I have already reached my January blogging goal with this post!

Happy New Year!