Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Different Kind of Brick Wall - the hardest I have found.

When I first began my genealogy work I was looking for specific information about my dad's family, I was not very organized... actually organization was not in my thinking at all. Just started looking up names and adding them into Family Tree Maker. I found information about different members whenever/wherever I could and printed it out. Evan took notes on where I had found the information.  I had hoped that this hit and miss method would help me answer the one question I wanted to be able to answer.  The word 'citation' had not yet entered my vocabulary. In a very short time I had a lot of names on my tree, adding information I was certain was correct without looking for any records that would verify what I was so sure was correct information.

This period of exploration then led into a period of writing about the family for a Writing Family History Class  at the local Senior Center. Ahh, I thought this will help me get it all together. WRONG! Now I had the tree, some printed out 'proof', a new collection of digital photos to add to my stories.  How to keep these organized became a new questions. I had folders with the documents I had found. Should I put them in folders by family names? Good idea. This good idea meant I know had paper folders of the printed sheets; digital family name folders with the scanned papers safely inside, and photo folders, also by family name with the images used for each of the stories. Ahhh! I thought to myself, you have done a great job! Wrong again, I soon found out, as the information grew, as cousins entered that collection which got bigger and bigger. Along the way I started going to cemeteries to find family headstones. Another question for organization. Shall I put these in family folders, digital photo folders, specific cemetery folders? Better put them in each so I can find them. So that began to grow and grow and GROW. And suddenly I found I had a lot of info but could nothing that went together so that  could quickly find what I needed. AHHH! but a new collection began to come along... the census collection. Now I had many census pages printed for each family; different years, different places as families moved, grew, and married.

Suddenly new problems appeared as I tried to learn more about this new world of genealogy; subscribing to genealogy blogs, attending genealogy workshops and organization meetings, and discovered the power of the webinar world. How to keep these handouts organized so I would know how to refer back to each as needed.  Being an early techie-user I was interested in all the resources available online. Think that helped? You know the answer, I think. The answer is yes and no.

I had already created my own organization. Now I also had Evernote. I was trying to keep the blogs and other genealogy online resources in their own folders in my email AND begin to get things I needed into Evernote. At this moment that Evernote is on the way to being the most organized. I have created a new email address and have almost caught up with getting everything moved to that new address. Whew!  But the rest........

Folders Under Genealogy
Family Folder

In January of 2016 I thought I had found a solution. I started Thomas MacEntee's 2016 Do-Over. It was indeed the beginning of the right track. The first month assignment was to truly start over. I began by checking every piece of information I had to find what was missing.  I have really not gotten beyond that point and am still moving forward, bit by bit,  I have found all the 'official' documents I have collected. As part of the process Thomas provided an outstanding spreadsheet we could use to show what documents we already have.  I was horrified by the duplicates I had. Clearly I had not kept careful records and often re-searched for information I had already found. Believe me, that is NOT the meaning of research!!   I am placing hard copies into notebooks, but only after entering them in the spreadsheet.  This has been very time consuming. Especially because I have also continued searching. I know. I know. Not the way to do it. But at least I am moving forward. 

I am at a standstill moment right now. I have new information to put into the spreadsheet. I am committed to getting caught up with what I have. I am committed to being a better researcher; one with a plan and clear direction. One of the ways I hope to stay on track is to keep you readers informed of my progress. It is almost the end of April, 2017. During May I am going to make filling in the spreadsheet my main goal. I hope be the end of May I can give you a positive report on catching up. Hope you all have found good ways to stay on track. Perhaps you will even share a few those ideas with me.


Jo Henn said...

Good Luck on getting straightened out and organized. I'm planning to try the do-over after I can retire too! I was citation obsessed from the beginning -- but they aren't in genealogical form. And in terms of organized research, well, I feel like I have I have Genealogical ADHD.;)

Jo Henn said...

PS - I've added you to my Feedly blog reader thingie.

Celia Lewis said...

I started Thomas' Do-Over in 2015, and am still only 80% finished re-organizing my genealogy folders. However, those which are organized are wonderful, very easy to find, easy to see timelines for individuals at a glance, photos are tagged appropriately and have metadata as well. Keep on working on it. Sometimes I take one hour and do it. Other times, I'll take an evening and see how much I can finish. So worth it. There's no rush, and it will take you as long as it takes - no competition here.