Thursday, January 22, 2015

I'm "Doing the Do-Over"

I have to say, I was ecstatic when I heard about Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over. I have started a do-over many times and always got overwhelmed with the vastness of the information (I have "collected" over 2000 names) that I would have to find and enter again... and this time with proper analysis!! *cue ominous music* Since I am planning a research trip focused on my father's family, the Martins, in late spring/early summer, I am using this motivation combined with the Geneablogger prompts to finally do-over my do-over!

When I started my journey into family history, it was as a high school project. To my teacher's credit, she required at least 10 primary sources with citations. As a 16-year-old I still did not understand that I shouldn't automatically believe everything my relatives or those sources said. Upon completion of my year-long project, I took a break and didn't return to my genealogy until after my marriage when I discovered the amazing 2 week free trial. At this point I saved dozens and dozens of documents in a matter of only a few days. And of course wherever I found someone else researching one of my ancestors, I immediately merged our trees. *cringe*

A few years down the road, I began to understand how important this hobby really was to me, and I first considered getting certified as a professional genealogist. It was at this point when I truly realized how vital tracking my research and citing and analyzing my sources would be. It was important to me for several reasons.
#1... I was wasting a lot of time re-researching the same questions and the same records or forgetting which spelling variations I had searched.
#2... I suddenly had the desire to publish my research in one way or another.
#3... I needed practice following BCG guidelines if I was going to take on clients or get certified.

So here I go...

I'm definitely an "all in" participant, but I'm combining and overlapping some of my steps. To follow along more closely with the actual 13-week program, head straight to the Do-Over website. As of this writing, we're on week 3 of 13. The week 4 tasks come out tomorrow.

So here's a list of our tasks so far and how I've handled them...

Week #1:
-Setting Previous Research Aside
--This one was easy for me... Just don't look at it. I keep my tree in the cloud using ancestry. My trees at FamilySearch & FindMyPast are both clean slates, so as I prove names and facts using GPS, I can add them to a fresh, clean tree! Oh HAPPY Day! I have a brand new genealogy folder in my dropbox folder. I will be naming files "LAST, First (YYYY - YYYY) [Year of Record] [Type of Record]". This same format is what I will use for the titles of Evernote notes & clipped searches. In Evernote I will put cleaning up my current folders and tags on my To Do list. From now on tags will include surname, state, county, & record type. All genealogy research related notes will go into the "genealogy do-over" notebook.
-Preparing to Research
--This topic is really the flip side of the coin to the previous topic, so I've largely covered this. My main goal here is to be more self-aware as I move forward about what's working and what isn't and fix it IMMEDIATELY if it's not. By week 13 I hope to have really worked out the kinks of my "system". After all, organization only works if you'll actually keep doing it.
-Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines
--Again some of this was built into my previous topics. The major addition here is that I'm going to break down EVERY claim in EVERY source using Evidentia. This program incorporates the Genealogical Proof Standard of evidence evaluation. It walks you through the process of citing the source, entering the information, and evaluating the evidence and leaves you with almost ready-made proof reports that only require your brief (or not) written conclusion. While the interface and the process may not be too attractive... the results are breath-taking. #genealogywin

Week #2:
-Conducting Self Interview
--For this portion of the project I started by entering from scratch my family-group-sheet-type information into my new cloud tree. I will be continuing work on this topic by picking up where I left off on my Book of Me project (from Angler's Rest) with the goal to complete the project before my 10th wedding anniversary in May.
-Conducting Family Interviews
--I did reach out and make contact with four different relatives on my Martin side. Formal Interviews are written on my To Do list and scheduling is in the works. Yay!
-Setting Research Goals
--I set some broader 1st quarter goals for my Martin genealogy before beginning this do-over project, which I will post later. This topic, I believe, refers to more small-step goals which I am treating as tasks. Using Thomas's spreadsheet I have been adding goals/proof points/tasks as I go about entering information. This also serves as a brain dump to make sure I'm not constantly trying to remember what I'm supposed to do. (ADD much?)

Week #3:
-Tracking Research & Conducting Research
--I'm just going to lump these together, because I've already covered some of this. Plus, in this "new way" of doing genealogy... I can't actually do one without the other. I have now entered 16 sources and all the evidence from them WITH citation and analysis into my Evidentia program. I still have a handful more to go. These are all either original records or well-cited derivatives that came from an actual repository, not the internet. If I have a document without satisfactory source information, I am putting a task in my To Do list to RE-locate the source for proper citation and then enter it into Evidentia. I've already spotted several holes and added tasks to my log for each.

While this whole process is obviously very slow, I'm actually shocked at how quickly I'm making progress. My biggest problem at this point is my tendency to get bored. Already I've let myself (purposefully) follow rabbit trails and BSO's (bright, shiny objects) just for a change of pace. This wouldn't really be that big of a deal, except that I keep forgetting to log my searches!!! I'm thrilled that this is the next topic, because this is a huge time-drainer for me. I truly WANT to do it right, but I need practice. Looking forward to what Mr. MacEntee has for us all this week. Until next time!

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