Saturday, February 28, 2015

Week 8 — Rambles Through an Unexciting Week

I am taking a medication that seems to be helping a persistant infection, but has a side effect of making me feel dragged down and listless; this makes genealogy difficult. When feeling like that, mistakes are all too easy to make and much too easy to overlook. In the past, when I feel this way, I have tended to put aside both genealogy and this blog; but I don’t want to “fall behind” during this 13-week do-over period.

Week 8’s topics contained two goals.

Goal 1: Conducting Collateral Research. This happens to be familiar territory for me. I have always assembled as complete a picture of the household in which a direct line ancestor lived. Parents, siblings, and the spouses of those children are the fabric of my direct ancestors' lives. As a child visiting my grandmother in Wabash County, Indiana, I went with my father on visits to various first and second cousins. Those visits, playing with fourth cousins (they’re also fifth cousins), and watching the village blacksmith shoe horses and mend wagon tires (his trees were sycamores rather than chestnuts) are among my fondest memories of my father’s hometown. When I began working with genealogy, I had a strong bias toward seeing individuals within a setting of greater family, and I began researching the siblings in each generation. For me, Goal 1 was just Thomas saying “Keep up the good work — and cite your sources!”

Goal 2: Reviewing Offline Education. The list that Thomas posted mentioned eight entries. I have always used Cyndi's list (although I’m not sure that I use it to best advantage). We will be going to the NGS conference in St Charles this year. Not specifically listed by Thomas are local and state genealogy societies. We belong to the Genealogy Society of Central Missouri, The St. Louis Genealogy Society, and MoSGA (Missouri State Genealogy Association). All three of these have regularly presentations. Both GSCM and MoSGA have programs here in Columbia and are more easy for us to attend than the programs of the St. Louis Genealogy Society.

Attendance at large conventions such as Roots Tech, FGS, and NGS are probably mostly beyond my physical strength these days. At St. Charles (NGS), I plan to attend only selected sessions. I can make that choice at other conferences also, but the further away from home, the longer the conference session, and the larger the conference track, the more difficult such a decision will be for me. I think that the “big" conferences like Roots Tech won't bring in enough positive value to outweigh the health issues (there’s no value in attending a presentation only to sleep through it because you are exhausted). I will see how I fare physically at NGS this May and make further plans after that experience.

Similarly, learning programs like Samford (IGHR), GRIP, and SLIG are probably beyond my physical grasp. I am envious of those who can attend, but believe that I should take my education in smaller bites. I WILL be keeping my eyes open for educational opportunities which are on a smaller scale and also closer to home.

As with Goal 1, I feel that Goal 2 is saying to me “keep up with the good work.”

So what DID I do this week? Well, I went back to my narrative-style research logs, to see if I could improve on them; keep them more focused while remaining cohesive. Looking through the proof points for my marriages, I realized that I had forgotten about doing a research log for my first husband. The MARRIAGE to my first husband is a valid research item in the research log for MY entries; proving his birth belongs in HIS folder, which didn’t exist! Oops! New habits may be difficult to form, but they are beginning to develop.

I had done some entry into my basic software program showing the birth of my first husband, along with three sources which had been found and documented on my Family Tree at FamilySearch. So I prepared and filled in that portion of a Research Log for my first husband, and documented the research done to this point. Not as efficient as it would have been had I done this at the time I was examining and re-entering the information, but doing this within the week of entry is a big improvement over attempting to reconstruct my research months or even years after the work was done. I have also entered all the “facts" located on these three sources and catalogued those claims in Evidentia. The Evidentia work has also been entered into the log, with the dates of the work included. And finally, I made some future research suggestions which are also documented in my To Do List and my research log.

Next steps are to complete the Research plans/Research log records for my first husband as completely as these planning stages will allow and then move on to do the same planing and research activities for my current husband.

I then need to duplicate the preparation of Research plans/Research logs records for all three direct lines my research is following.

The information stored in my primary genealogy software is actually research on three direct lines: my families, the families of my first husband (who is the father of my children), and the families of my current husband (their stepfather, but more of a family member than their birth father chose to be). I am doing genealogy for my own curiosity, but also for the interest of my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

I have three base entry points, me and the two men who married me, with male and female parental lines branching out from each of them. They are kept in the same database for convenience of consultation and entry (and for easy access to overlapping sources) but are easily differentiated because of the Dollarhide numbering system which has been assigned to each person on the combined tree. I have a word-processor index of the main-line numbers for each family; there are comfortable “holes" in this list where I can manage the collateral lines for each of the three basic families. This index was created prior to my joining the Do-Over, but is continuing to work well as I redo the research for my new, improved Do-Over tree.

All this means that my Do-Over tree grows slowly, but with research that is more complete and more carefully documented. My two older children have agreed to work together as my genealogy heirs. Therefore my current task should focus on handing them good research rather than highly populated, inaccurate trees. The paper files as well as the electronic files need to be in good order. Sources, attached citations, evidence evaluation all need to be prepared so that my heirs can understand my work. The older messy work remains in separate files, clearly labeled as incomplete and less to be trusted than the Do-Over files. I see no need for them to retrace my false trails. They can continue to pick them up and evaluate them in the same manner that I am doing. Whatever is completed when I turn my work over to them will be well-done and well documented. The older, poorer work will be better labeled and better organized than the unlabeled boxes many of us were blessed (and cursed) with when older members left the genealogy job to us.

Thank you, Thomas.

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