Monday, July 31, 2017

Musing and Lessons from the July tasks for Genealogy Do-Over 2017

I began the 2017 Genealogy Do-Over with discussions of how to handle genealogy work when chronic illness strikes. My next tasks were organizing the information I currently hold on the direct lines in my three trees and in synchronizing that data between two databases. I also initiated some plans to ensure that my jobs: consistency checks; research; reentering older research; and learning tasks would continue to advance in an orderly manner.

This month these techniques have continued to work fairly well. The last two weeks in July were plagued by those allergy attacks. Some days I have slept almost all the time; on those days all I managed was a simple consistency check. On other days, I could work, but I couldn't concentrate; some jobs were just too large. On those days I would stop working on the "difficult" jobs and turn to simpler jobs. Some days I was limited to questions and answers on the internet (some of my learning tasks are solved by consulting one of the genealogy orientated groups on Facebook, for example). In this way I have managed to achieve at least one of my stated objectives on almost every working day; and I was able to turn most days into a working day.

Some of my learnings have been surprising. I discovered that I was using my rotation checklist as my To-Do list. The rotation list was developed as a check list, to ensure that I keep tasks going in as even a manner as possible. It became a ToDo list because it was easier for me to reach it on my computer. I feel my To-Do list should have consist of stated goals as to where I am going and what I hope to accomplish, and that the check list should simply keep those goals proceeding in a timely manner. It has become my habit to make a running comment on what I am doing as I work with the check list. As a temporary notation, this is fine. But each day, I need to transfer the comments to the relevant research log. After all, that is why we have research logs.

Since my very earliest work in genealogy, I have tried to keep research logs. I understand why they exist. But I fail to find a form that fits my personal working habits. This is another example of that problem. This morning I began an attempt to fix this situation. Today has been one of those "difficult jobs" days; I didn't get very far today. But I will continue to work with this until I manage to understand how to make this work. I have been "misusing" my checklist; but, on the affirmative side, I do have data that can be moved to the appropriate spots of my genealogy files, and I have recognized a problem and have started to work with it.

When a blogged about where I was planning to go in July, I assumed that I would return to "keeping up" with the Genealogy Do-Over assignments; that didn't happen. My DoOver notebook (which contains Thomas's monthly suggestions, various teaching materials that support those suggestions, and my related blogs — and sometimes Facebook discussions from the Do-Over group there) is up-to-date and in proper order. It remains a good source for quick review of learning goals and learning plans and achievements.

But I find that I haven't touched the June and July goals; I am still actively setting up my Research Toolbox, an assignment from May. (I know that a Toolbox is never static; some links will prove unhelpful and will be discarded; new links will be found and added. But something fairly comprehensive must be set up before I even have a Research Toolbox.)

WHEN I achieve goals isn't important to me. But I have been attempting to keep my early month and end-of-month blogs in step with the assignments of the month. That is no longer my blogging goal. I will continue with the two blogs a month entries, recording my monthly progress; but I will no longer be concerned with keeping up. I will take all the time I need on an assignment, before I move on the the next one.

My active research goals show the least advancement. I believe that this will usually be the case. The physical search of my house has been stalled because of allergies. I have emptied the four file drawers I mentioned in an earlier blog, but have not yet finished disposing of their content. My next step will be to expand the search to some recycled legal-size hanging file folder boxes and the the many "look at these later" plastic bags in hidden corners of the house. My query about a possible cradle-roll connection to the Methodist church is waiting for an answer. (I will give them a slightly longer curtesy wait, before I attempt to convince them that I am asking serious questions.)

I did use an "easy access" tool which found some new documentation for my children's father. Using the hints at Ancestry led me to some documents I hadn't known about. This not only allowed me to add some information to Joe's profile, it provided some new search locations to be added to my Research Toolbox.

Although I'm "stuck" in months five and six, all in all, I feel that month seven has been pretty productive.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Halfway Through July

— And I a very happy camper! I'm feeling truly productive because something positive has been happening almost every day. Nothing huge has occurred — no brick walls have fallen in and I am still mainly involved in clean-up work.

There are over 3500 names in my original database; almost everyone of these names has at least one source attached (a very few are currently memory only); and most of the sources are more"valuable" than the three "springboard" sources that built the core of that database when I began serious work in genealogy almost 10 years ago. About 100 of these names have been copied into my newer, companion database. This leaves a long list of un-transferred data.

Now that the framework of basic procedures is in place, transfer of information is done smoothly and with reasonable speed. The instructions on procedures are clear to my genealogy heirs; if I don't finish this task, they will be able to do so — if they wish to follow up on all these people. As to "reasonable" speed: I'm not wasting time on statistics, but my worksheet indicates that I am transferring from one to three people most days.

 I transfer each person "by hand" — copying each data set by direct keyboarding into the newer database. I proofread the data in each database to be sure that they agree with each other and to remove any typing mistakes. (A review of some early correspondence indicated that this was attitude from the very beginning of my work; I still feel that it has served me well.) This "hands-on" approach also frees the creative side of me to come up with new suggestions as to areas of approach. It is a slow approach, but I feel that accuracy is more important than speed.

The first half of 2017 was devoted to organization: I did no research and I was not active in learning experiences. Now I am freeing up time for both these activities: life has some added sparkle to it. At this time, most of my learning is solo work. There are finer points concerning the use of both databases. I need to learn about these. And there are those areas Thomas MacEntee has us working on. So I'm reading the on-line manuals for both databases and viewing presentations about these techniques. And I'm following various discussion groups that are centered around the data bases and others that are centered around the more general techniques. I am LEARNING NEW techniques (she says, skipping around the room).

As to advancing my research: in the course of working on my first self-appointed task, I am making GREAT advances — in cleaning house! Somewhere in this house I am saving a copy of my original birth certificate (long form, no longer being issued by the state), a copy of my college transcript, and a large photo-portrait of my father's parents which was created before I was born. I know where these were originally stored, but they appear to have been moved — WHERE are they now?

I went to those two two-drawer files where I had originally stored these important papers. One file drawer at a time, I am emptying all the contents, piling the hanging-file folders in a stack on the guest bed beside a plastic bag of the loose materials found in that drawer. The contents of one drawer have been sorted, mostly discarded, and the few "keepers" have been filed. I am now about halfway through the second drawer.

What I am finding is financial records from the 1980s: checks, bills, account statements. I have found between 5 and 10 papers worth saving, either for nostalgic value or for genealogy purpose. Not much research here, but it IS a good housekeeping move. I have two more drawers to clear in this part of the house. If I am still missing the papers, my husband and I will scour the rest of the house looking for those "check these out later" boxes and bags that procrastinators are so fond of. We shall probably have recycled tons of paper (a hundred pounds?) by the time I do find these missing materials.

I work on relatively small tasks at each sitting, but there is variety in my work which makes me feel better. Tiny steps, but they add up to jobs having been struck off my ToDo lists (and they also add new ideas to those ToDo lists for later action). Some jobs are "on hold" but no area feels "stuck"; I know that I am making progress and I know what next thing to do in order to keep things moving.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Goals for Month 6 (and I hope, the final make-up post for 2017)

Evaluating Evidence — "Go-Over" Style
If you are reviewing your existing research, it may be difficult to evaluate evidence if you haven't cited sources. In addition some genealogy database software programs make it difficult to evaluate evidence. Determine the best method for your current data; it may actually help to use a program suc as Evidentia, Clooze, or one of the other evidence evaluation software packages.

I am on fairly firm ground here, because I DO have source citations and I already use Evidentia. I do need to learn to be sensitive as to the correct time to use this skill. My research logs may point me toward the correct time; I just need to stay alert to the need for this skill.

As an aside, I use Evidentia because of my tendency to become bogged down in details. This particular program helps me to extract each available detail and at the same times keeps the information organized in a manner that avoids information overload.

Reviewing Online Education Options — "Do-Over" Style
Review the "RESOURCES Free Online Educational Resources" (opens in PDF) and consider creating an Educational Plan. Start with small goals for this year and then look for webinars, videos, and other online resources that can help you to achieve your goals.

Again, I have always practiced Online Education, but not in a planned manner. I am able to name many of my early mentors (and I am very grateful to them). My current goal is to study the above resource list and create my plans.

Month Five Goals

In May I was so involved in the work on clearing up my direct lines that I neglected to study and write up the goals for Month 5. Now that I am allowing myself to engage in other activities, I have been going over my Do-Over notebook. I have printed up and inserted materials that I had neglected to add to the notebook, and in this way discovered this neglected task.

To-Do List for Month 5
Citing Sources: If you own a copy of Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, read Chapters 1 and 2. Doing so will help you understand how source citations are constructed and they are important to genealogy research.

Even though I have used citations from the start of my work with our genealogies, I have chosen to quote and work with the "Do-Over" assignment, rather than the "Go-Over" form. I don't have an in-depth understanding of how source citations are created. I understand the need for source citations, but I seem to be "tone-deaf" to the construction theory.

The citation template that I currently use is based on the "Practical Citation" developed by Ben Sayer. When I read his article, I realized that I could follow his guidelines and create a citation that I could understand. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I recently added some fields suggested by one of the genealogy software databases I was testing. The additional fields seem to be a good idea; they are a part of my citation template — AND I do not use them, because I do not understand them.

Practical Citations fill the basic needs of using source citations. They leave a record as to where you have been and what you found that can be retraced by you and be people who may be following your work. They do not cover the fine details which appear in Elizabeth Shown Mills examples and they have only one format, which is used wherever a citation appears.

They will do for now, but they are not scholarly. They would not do for use in a publication such as those appearing in the NGS publications.

I plan to continue to study chapters 1 and 2 from Evidence Explained until I have reached an understanding. Then I can gradually reformat each type of citation and use the new template to upgrade my current citations.

I see this as a matter of growth rather than as a duplication of effort. Without Practical Citations, my work would be unsourced. When I learn how to understand and construct more scholarly forms, my work will have become better sourced. This way I can build on what knowledge I have and develop future skills.

Building a Research Toolbox: If you don't already  have a research toolbox, download and read the Building a Research Toolbox handout here: hjttp://www.geneabloggers. com/genrestools

Once again I have chosen the Do-Over assignment as opposed to the Go-Over form. I know that I acted upon this in 2015, but I have no record of it. Did I file the download? Did I make any plans? I do know that I never wrote up a blog about it. I also know that I haven't used such a toolkit during 2016 or the first half of 2017.

Therefore I am a beginner at using this skill. So I shall follow the directive above. I will download the article, add it to my Do-Over notebook, and continue to study it and work with it until I have built a toolbox that fits my style and that has become second nature to me.

Monday, July 3, 2017


My sister was born in August, when I was 3 years and 48 weeks old. I knew that this was so. Why did I sometimes remember seeing a Christmas tree when Aunt Olive told me there was a new baby?

One rainy springtime afternoon (probably in 1931, for this is a clear memory) I was sitting on my mother's lap in the apartment sunroom. My mother had been singing songs to me from a book called "Songs of a Child Year" — a book based on Pestalozzi's theories of early education. My mother had been asking me for my favorite songs. I soon asked for one about civic duty and a young boy being called away from home. She had often sung this song to me, so I was startled when she suddenly started crying and couldn't finish the song. She held me closely and told me that his was her problem; I had done nothing wrong. In later years she often shared this song with me — and with my sister after she became part of the family. But I did wonder sometimes why she had cried.

My mother had an uncanny way of knowing the gender of an unborn child. The only time I ever knew of her being in error was in the case of my sister —who was supposed to have been a boy; the selected name for the baby was Robert Ray.
I wasn't  aware that this fact bothered me until after I had learned the answer.

In 1942 we were staying with my grandmother in Northern Indiana — my mother, my sister, Aunt Ida and I — while my father and his brother (Aunt Ida's husband) stayed in Chicago for the second term of Summer School.

One day Aunt Ida went to the town cemetery with my 11-year-old sister. In the course of the conversation, Aunt Ida asked my sister where our baby brother was buried. Rae's "what brother?" reaction told Aunt Ida that she had erred, so she said it was mother's story to tell.

Rae came to me to find out, but I didn't know either. When we got home to St. Louis, we asked Aunt Olive (my mother's sister). And from Aunt Olive we learned that there had been a boy born Christmas eve who didn't live for even 24 hours. And we learned that mother didn't talk about it — so we never did.

V: Coda
So now I knew that I wasn't wrong about the Christmas tree and now I kew why my mother cried over the boy who left his family and now Rae and I knew why mother thought she'd be a boy.

Very early in my working with genealogy the state of Missouri began to place vital statistics records on line. My reporter son (who lives in Jefferson City) learned about the site. In his explorations, he discovered the existence of baby Strickler"s death certificate. Now we have the document of his story.

VI: Musings

My mother was born in 1891; she grew up with Victorian/Edwardian principles guiding her social learnings. Although she became a modern woman, I believe her silence about the loss was based o those earlier teachings. I wonder if she would have been more happy if she had been able to talk about her hurt.

And — as I was composing this blog, I wonder what my life would have been like had I been big sister to a  boy, instead of the sister I fell in love with the day she came home from the hospital.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

(Dim) LIGHT at the end of the tunnel.

Well month 6 is ending. In March, April, May, and June I have been reorganizing early entries in my original database, creating "exact"* copies of each entry in my secondary database, and generally seeking to give my heirs some ordered information with which work. *"exact" as in the same information, stated as close to the same way as is possible given the obvious existence of different styles between the databases.

This is the only genealogy activity I allowed myself (aside from hanging out with some of the Facebook genealogy groups I belong to). I have been working on the direct line only, I haven't allowed myself to spend time on learning — unless that was required in order to record these ancestors. I haven't allowed myself to do any research. I am "dying of withdrawal".

I have reached the point where there are fewer than 12 "earliest ancestors" to be recorded. The pattern for working with this people is clearly defined for my heirs. I need to go back to the tree, generation by generation, and add the collateral lines. I need to solidify and extend the research needed to keep my tree growing.

I have decided that from now on I can reasonably alternate my tasks. One day I will take up a research task which will be worked on to the next good stopping place. The next time I will pick up the next collateral line. The next time I will work on some organization task I have been leaving a trail of notes to. The next time I will finish the work on one of those early ancestors that still need to be synchronized in both databases. And I will add a learning task as I am attracted to one.

And then I will repeat the cycle. Any time that any of these tasks results in a database entry, both databases will be edited for synchronization. Two databases provide different reporting abilities, different ways of reaching internet information, and so on. If you keep them in sync, you have a strong listing. If you let them differ, you are creating a mess (SWM Genealogy Philosophy 201).

I feel gratified in that a necessary task has been successfully dealt with. I feel liberated — I work better when I vary my tasks as described above.

And finally — in the learning department, I really need to go back over Months 3, 4, 5, and 6 of the Genealogy Do-Over and make sure that I didn't lose out on a learning opportunity there. Don't be surprised if I send out a catch-up post or two.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Where Did Month Five Go?

Unless you are looking for me in posts within the Facebook group, you have heard nothing from me in May. And, other than those posts, I have done nothing with the Do-Over/Go-Over in that month.

And — I'm so happy; I'm so proud of what DID happen in May.

If you are following this journey, you know that early this year I realized that I must clean house and have my genealogy materials ready for my heirs (my two older children) in order that they have reasonable records and documentation whenever they take over the genealogy job.

So I set out to choose a second database to accompany my original one and I set about to organize my data, organize my sources and my source citations, and also generally clean up my electronic organization of all this work.

Absolutely NO research is happening right now. Also no deep analysis of what I have already achieved. Just making sure that whatever information I have on "person (Dollarhide number 72.0)" is easily available. And that whatever known holes in that data are clearly documented also.

In general, I have gathered my information generation by generation (i.e, me and my siblings; spouse(s) and siblings; parents and siblings; and so on). But for this organization I am concentrating on the direct lines for me and for both spouses. (All are in one tree.) This gives a clear framework to which I will add the collateral lines.

Since I had never used my second database before this year, it began with just 3 people; my 10-year-companion database has over 3500. Although I could look up dates of documents to find out, I don't think anyone cares (especially me) so I don't know how many people were in the new database on May first, but it wasn't very many. At least 30 of those 64 people were added in May, and I believe that it was more likely 40 of them.

I have found my method (which is no longer being reworked from scratch — even though there are refinements). I have found intuitive-to-me ways to handle data (such as census reports and marriage dates) that belong to both partners in a marriage, so that I don't need to consult the source materials twice for each person. In the process I am revisiting FamilySearch, Ancestry, and so on to fill in missing source documentation and I am also eliminating source documentation that has been found and stored on more that one occasion in the past. Each of those 64 people have clean records, with source documents noted, and citations and storage locations attached to each person. Each of those 64 people has a person sheet (individual summary) generated from each database and filed in the appropriate files. I have proof-read and edited these individual summaries. Neither report exists with the original wording (I have always done this), and both reports are almost identical in the way the same facts are reported.

I am so thrilled! This is a happy dance nearly as joyful as breaking down a brick wall.

I  haven't examined what the June goals are (although I have printed them out and added them to my notebook); but I expect that I will put those goals on hold until all members in the direct lines have reached the place where I add the notation that this is the earliest ancestor I have researched.

Then I will return to my generation, and add all the collateral generations. I expect that somewhere in that process, where my information is thin on the ground, I will feel ready to resume my active research (I'm full of ideas and to-do notes for that, but organization is the main goal and research is currently a rabbit hole full of BSOs). I don't know how fast the work on the direct line will be (naturally, most of the 3500+ people are collaterals), but as long as I can move this efficiently, I am a very happy genealogist.

Today, "Frustrated Sue" aka the "Frustrated Genealogist" is considerably less frustrated than she has been!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Examining Month Four

  • So here I am with my monthly musing about the Go-Over assignments for Month 4:

    Assignment 1: Tracking Research: If you have never used a research log before, consider using the format above or creating your own. Another option is to see if your preferred genealogy database software has a way of tracking research; some have a To Do List option, others have something similar to a Research Log.

    I have mentioned my narrative style log several times this year in various discussion in the Facebook Do-Over group. Each time I say that I emphatically DO NOT recommend it for others. It is complicated and cumbersome; but it satisfies some internal need for me and it frees me to concentrate on research.

    The template for this log has been on my computer since 2015. It has continued to work well for  me. I expect that, with continuing refinements, this will be the style of log that I follow for the rest of my life in genealogy.

    Assignment 2: Conducting Research: With your current research, start with yourself. Check to see that all information is accurate, based on your self interview, and make sure each point of data can be tied to at least one record. If something is missing a corresponding record — like a birth location — then mark it as "unsourced" and add it to your To Do List for further research.

    As I have discussed before, I am not doing research at this time; instead I am reorganizing my present research and making my discoveries clear so that my heirs will receive organized findings, instead of the electronic version of those cardboard boxes found in the attic. As I review my research, I do take note of any unsourced findings, and transfer those missing-source areas to the appropriate research log.
  • To accomplish this organization I created three new logs, based loosely on my research log template. I have been adjusting these new logs throughout my work in March and continuing through the first week in April.

  • This journey through reorganization has helped me to understand something about myself. I have always known that I tend to obsess over details. In my professional life as a copy editor, this trait was a strength. A copy editor's job is just that: keeping track of galleys, art, author discussions; observing deadlines; and ensuring that it all comes together. Thirty-plus years at that job has strengthened my habit of listing step-by-step processes and turning them into check lists. Thus my natural trait has been reinforced by on-the-job-training.

  • The reorganization logs are set up so that each log has a checklist of procedures that I use to ensure that the data for each person on my tree has been properly organized. I actually add a checkmark and a date at the end of each procedure when I have accomplished a task.

  • Below the work area on these logs is a diary area where I record what I have accomplished for each individual. At first this area was a repeat (a cut-and-paste type of repetition) of the check list. Soon I realized that such an exact repetition is unnecessary. Instead I now have a summation that states that I followed all the steps for Person xy and have completed the work by such-and-such a date.

  • I have somewhat complicated this process by choosing to compare four database software programs. I had been somewhat unhappy with the program I've been using for 9 years, so I decided to compare it with three other programs. (I  usually use a main program and an auxiliary program in order to widen my reporting options). During my first three months of working with the Genealogy Do-Over, I have eliminated one of the three programs from my list.

  • The name of the program that I eliminated isn't important; the problem with it is that this program doesn't work well with me. I want to do things this this way; the program does them that way. There is no one true way to do things; but a user and a program should mesh, not live in conflict. That program is no longer on my check list.

  • The one process that I thoroughly liked about the discarded program was its source template. In fact, I liked this template so much that I added the fields I hadn't been using to my own program(s), choosing my order of entry. Source work will be easier from now on and so will database synching.

  • In March I worked on Person 1 (me) across the four databases. I also worked on developing my working procedures for the reorganization tasks, as mentioned above. This work includes developing and indexing the Dollarhide numbering system and applying the Dollarhide numbers to each person on my tree. I am also developing and Index/listing of all the sources I use and all the usages of each source, from sources with a single attachment to sources with more than 100 attachments. It took me a month, but I got it all done. I signed off on the work for Carolin [Carolyn] Sue Strickler (Dollarhide 5./0) as of 31 March 2017.

  • Work on Joseph Walter Watson (Dollarhide 6.0) {my first husband} started 1 April 2017. I signed off on Joe on 7 April, 2017.

  • Work on Joe took 1/4 of the time I spent on me? I think that shows that the time spend on developing  the processes has paid off. It is true that I know more about me than about anyone else on the tree, so his entry will be shorter. But, when I went through Joe's database entries, I knew what my tasks were and I knew where the information was to be stored.

  • My work during 2015 on the Do-Over assignments for Month 4 has transferred very nicely into my plans for achieving my new task. And my development work in March was successful. I am now ready to tackle Robert Francis McCormick (Dollarhide 4.0) (my current husband}.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Month Three Review

Usually I write out a draft and compose from that. Earlier today, I composed this blog in "thin air." After much proof-reading and correcting, with many, many saves, I hit publish. The blog vanished into thin air! I hope this wasn't an omen! Anyway, here we go again.

Early this year, I mentioned printer problems. The final solution, one new Canon to replace the former two printers, is now sitting in a new position next to my desk, and has been set up since about March 24. All the backlog of printing from months 2 and 3 are now printed out and in my Do-Over notebook (except this blog). There are a few auxiliary documents I wish to print out, but they are not of calendar importance. I can print them as I get to them.

As to the rest of the month: I lost lots of time to spring pollen; allergies sent me to bed and nothing got done. I also spent a week on the physical reorganization and electronic cataloging of the nearly 400 hundred books in my cookbook collection. Not a genealogy problem (until I get to my genealogy books) but when you own over 7000 titles, book housekeeping is a major task in the household. And a very time consuming one.

The rest of the time? I think it went well. I continued to follow up on the work I have been doing for the root person on my tree — Carolin (Carolyn) Sue Strickler {me}. As I checked entries and research logs in my primary database and worked to synchronize that data across the three other databases I am examining, I found more logs to develop, more prepare-for-the-heirs steps to be taken. So I developed them and wrote up the processes in the relevant logs.

Later today (or early tomorrow) I will examine the data on Sue; if I find that all the preparation steps have been taken and all the processes have been properly described for my heirs to follow, I will sign off the work on Sue, and continue to the next Dollarhide numbered person in my database(s). In spite of the obstacles, Month Three has been productive.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

No Homework for Month Three!

Well, almost no homework. There are some clerical jobs, but the Self Interview was correctly written up back in 2015. I reread my 2015 self-interview and found that I had been thorough in my writeup.

It's a good thing that I did reread this document. All of my proof points have been entered into my research log; but I found that at the bottom of many of my paragraphs, I had placed a list of words {name story, tornado story, Una story / picture on St. Mary's roof} for one example. This apparent gibberish is a string of key words that remind me of family stories and a photo connected with my birth. I had forgotten that I had included these clues. Obviously, I must locate the photo and include it with my other genealogy media. As for the stories, we must decide whether I will write them up or whether my husband will interview me in a series of digital retellings, but we will begin to get those stories on record.

Family Interviews: I skipped this task back in 2015. When I started doing serious genealogy, I was already the oldest living person in my family, my husband was the oldest living person in his family, and my former husband was dead, his remaining siblings the oldest members of that family and not in my reach. There was no one to interview — right?

Well no. I can do a reminiscence write up for each person, as I study that person's entry. Somewhat like the Self Interview, but on the order of "I remember Grandma Strickler's garden …," "I remember mother telling about the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904 …". These "remembrance interviews"  will help me fill out proof points and will point to possible source searches. I do feel that it's too large a job to do immediately. I will do an ancestor at a time in reasonable order.

If you have been following these blogs, you will remember that at the end of February I began to created "task logs" in order to conduct my genealogy-storage overhaul. My Family Interview homework then, list of create an "Ancestor's Log" where I record these "remembrance interviews" with the necessary details so that my heirs can locate what I have done.

The analysis for Month 3 is now complete. There's lots of work ahead!

I mentioned clerical work. This isn't related to the Month 3 homework. All printouts are on hold. This family currently has two wireless multipurpose printers (from two different companies) which aren't working. Therefore I have a backup up of print jobs that need to be completed and added to my Genealogy Do-Over Workbook notebook and to other of my paper files.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Light Bulbs Shine Over My Head

Early in February, I wrote up my Month 2 Do-Over homework assignments in two prior blogs. What happened after that? Well, my previously mentioned iffy help gave me several bad days, so most of the month I wasn't doing "real" genealogy. Instead I was playing in the Bright Shiny Object sandbox. I was also following posts in various of my Facebook genealogy groups. At least I was doing something about genealogy!

It turns out that I was doing much more than playing with BSOs. I was working on two related organization jobs; jobs that I considered necessary, but dull routine, NOT genealogy work. In Month 12 of the Genealogy Do-Over Workbook, there is a discussion about your genealogy heirs.

Back in 2015, when I was first working with these Do-Over concepts I discussed the heir problem with my two oldest children, who agreed to work together on my materials when the time comes that I can no longer work with my trees.

That's fine –– I have my heirs so I should get on with my research. Right? This past week as I was doing those organization jobs it occurred to me how wrong that attitude is! What I now have on my computer is the electronic equivalent of the unsorted boxes some of us have been lucky enough to receive from relatives. Lucky, because they are a potential treasure trove. But almost more trouble than help. Unsorted facts don't add up; they don't allow you to do organized work; since they are unorganized, the data is incomplete –– even though by some miracle every fact you need is included.

So this is Light Bulb #1. At my age of 89-1/2, my primary job is to organize my data so that my heirs know what I have; so they can follow my research trails; and so that they can find my materials and my conclusions. Research Logs will show my research trails; I have a good start on research logs.

But how do I describe my organization? Light Bulb #2: I have started an organization log that tracks my work with sources. Normalizing sources has moved from being dull routine, to being a focused task, complete with Logs that show what has been done and with Future Action plans (ToDo lists). This project is my gift to my heirs; they can now find any source attached to a particular person in my database(s) as far back in the database(s) as my reorganization has traveled. And this information is accompanied by a log which tells what I happened as I met with problems and made decisions.

Many of my previously created sources had media attached. I had already started to reorder the storage of my genealogy media. As I located the various source-connected media files, disconnected them from the sources, and placed them in a new filing system, I realized that Media work also needs a log. So I created that one.

I am currently comparing four genealogy programs: two programs that are native to my Mac and two Windows programs that run on my Mac using Crossover. When I determine which database(s) will become my main and subsidiary programs my media log and my sources log will help show how I made my decisions.

I'm sure I will need some additional organization logs as I work to present my heirs with facts they can build on.

So I am concentrating on the new organizations as my main tasks, my "real" genealogy. Does this mean that my trees will stop growing? I hope not. Whenever a task gets stymied –– whenever you cannot answer "What do I do next?" (or feel unable to write up any future actions), a good technique is to look at something else for a while. I will still be looking to complete work on individuals, to finding the answers to the unanswered questions that I have on that person.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Month 2 Blog 2 Research Goals

Last night I read this assignment again. At that reading, I realized that I was "hearing" something that Thomas wasn't saying.

Ten years ago, at the start of my working with genealogy, I was at a genealogy Chat Room; Dae Powell asked what we wished to accomplish. I replied that I wanted to know everything that I could about my family and to record it in as professional manner as I could. As Thomas does here, Dae said that my goal was too large and too vague. Yet, as I read the question in 2017, my instinctive answer remains the same. I have learned lots in those ten years, so why haven't I learned what Dae and Thomas are telling me.

Because of my interpretation of the question; when someone asks my goals, I seem to hear "Why are you doing genealogy?" My answer fits THAT question very well.

Dae and Thomas are asking, "When you start to 'do' genealogy today, what do you hope to accomplish?" (Or at least this is my new interpretation of the question.)

I can answer that question also, with some built-in flexibility. I usually start to work at genealogy with a "real genealogy" goal in mind — a proof point that needs more research or a proof statement that needs to be prepared, and so on. Sometimes that session runs into a snag. I write up the research log: what I did, what the problem was, what the next steps should be, then temporarily "close the books" on this particular goal. I find that it is better for me to wait a day or so before I return to a point of frustration. I am more relaxed that way when I try again. After closing the troubled task, I turn to something else.

This is where the flexibility factor comes into play. If I have used up most of my allotted genealogy time or if I have used most of my available energy, the "something else" is one of those activities a genealogist turns to when denied genealogy. Working in a rush, or working when you are sure to make mistakes is a waste. You can return to genealogy later. But if I still have time, but my energy level is slipping, I turn to one of my "BSO" goals. Finally, if the snag occurs with usable amounts of time and energy remaining,  I select a different proof point, or turn to some essential organizing/reorganizing task, or … .

By following this pattern (especially the flexibility part), I have accomplished more genealogy work in the last seven days than I was able to achieve in illness-laden 2016.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Month 2 Blog 1 Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines

I believe I have a blog. This started out as a writeup of my thought processes, but by the time I had finished, I decided that I should share this in my Genealogy Do-Over Blog entries.

I tend to read very quickly with no loss of comprehension; this is a job skill developed by proofreaders and copy editors. But occasionally my mind disengages; I see the words but fail to register the sense of the paragraph.

This disengagement has been happening to me as I start Month 2 of my Genealogy Go-Over. As soon as I realized this, I set out to remedy the problem. After some thought, I decided to reread Thomas MacEntee's Golden Rules of Genealogy and to "argue" with them on paper.

By "argue" I am not intending to say the Thomas is wrong. Instead, I wish to record where Thomas' statements may be "wrong" for me. Entries where a statement he has made disturbs me. When I find such an entry, it will be my task to define the difference and to understand what effect that difference might have on the way I work at genealogy.

1. There is No Easy Button in Genealogy.
I do agree with this. I guess I'm surprised that it was listed. This has been part of my very first attempts at genealogy (or even when at 16 I disproved a family legend — and kept the facts to myself; why should I make my mother and my aunts unhappy?) I think this is so intrinsic to me, that I don't need the reminder. I agree with Thomas; I would certainly tell this to a beginner.

2. Research from a place of "I Don't Know."
This also seems to be intrinsic to me. Note the 16-year-old demolishment of a family legend. (Also note that as I began serious work on genealogy, I worked much harder at attempting to prove or to disprove this legend.)
In my very first efforts, 10 years ago, I didn't always know how to let go of preconceptions, but the problems caused by NOT letting go quickly taught me my error. I use "sources" such as family stories, printed genealogies and "mug" books, hints and "shaky leaves" as what I call spring-board sources, hints at possible research areas. Nothing gets entered into my "official" computer-based genealogy database(s) until I have enough documentation to establish working research; everything entered in the "official tree(s) is flagged "In Progress" until I have formed a proof statement.

3. Track Your Work and Cite Your Sources.
I began this way; I have kept to this pattern; and I continue to learn about ways to improve my working habits in this area.

4. Ask for help.
Another step I have "always" taken. I was lucky in finding mentors like Dae Powell, Pat Richley-Erickson, Gina Philibert-Ortega, and Thomas MacEntee during my early years (names listed in in the order in which I met them.)

5. You Can't Edit a Blank Page.
This hasn't been a problem for me. Mind you, I can procrastinate with the best of you (and I admit to postponing research on some of my genealogical uncertainties); but I work on my research OR I work on improving my methods on a daily basis.

6. Work and Think Like Your Ancestors.
I suppose I also do this. My plan may be too vague (to be addressed later in Month 2), but I work on data, accepting facts the way they are presented (after verification), I try new approaches, and I network regularly.

7. You Do Not Own Your Ancestors.
Right on! I have learned much from cousins. I have shared with those who asked. I have met very few genealogists who weren't generous. (When I do meet someone who won't share, I ignore them and go elsewhere. I don't have time or energy to waste in fruitless fussing with loners.)

8. Be Nice. The Genealogy Community is a Small Place.
Of course!

9. Give and be abundant.
Again, of course!

So there you are. Thomas has worded his Golden Rules as if they were tailor-made for me. I didn't find a single quibble. Now I see why I have been skimming over this information. It appears to be mine on an intuitive level. What isn't from my instincts comes from early learning, some on jobs I did BEFORE I tried "doing" genealogy, and the rest from teachers like the MoSGA president who taught a beginning genealogy class in our school system's adult education program, and the fourth cousin who shared source information so I could see how to build and attach sources, to "today" when someone in the Facebook group posts just the right question or just the right answer, to give me a new jump start.

My remaining problem is: Am I being "smug" and careless, because this is mine at a deeper level than verbalization?  It feels to me like putting these ideas in my own words is like describing how to walk or how to breath. But it is very easy to be complacent and stay in one's comfort zone, instead of working to advance. So please chastise me if I am not working hard enough.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Month 1 — Musings and Conclusions

We are coming to the end of Month One of my 2017 Genealogy Go-Over. As I have remarked before, my work this year is a continuation of the work I did through the four quarters of 2015. The homework Assignment 1 for Month 1 concerning organization was simple for me — because the file structure and the included files established in 2015 are working well for me.

But Assignment 2 "Preparing for Research"? I've been thinking about this all month without getting anywhere! (There have been interruptions — aren't there always interruptions?) I got a new laptop in December; the keyboard has new features I've never seen before. The computer comes with the most recent operating system, and osSierra has BIG changes, so there is a large learning curve. (I AM learning, but it eats up time.)

So here I am, at the end of the month: "I don't have the answer!" "What will I do?!" "I have to make up my mind!"

WHOA. Thomas MacEntee keeps telling up to have fun when we're doing genealogy. He also says that everyone is an an individual and we are to tailor our studies to fit our respective individualities — and the panic recedes.

Earlier this January, I started a three-part discussion on how aging and its attendant illnesses and lowered energy levels affect "doing" Genealogy. I received lots of insight from my fellow "Do-Over-ers" and "Go-Over-ers." What I learned during that discussion is a factor in my input for the rest of this blog.

I'm still not sure I'm doing what Thomas expected, but as I said above — this is Sue (with her own quirks) and not someone else (with different quirks). I am mentioning this in order to encourage readers to add suggestions by commenting on the blog or on the Genealogy Do-Over Group Page on Facebook.

The assignment says "Make a list of your current research habits… ." This is what I wrote:
"I begin a research session by opening my 'ToDoList' database and my 'ResearchLog' document(s); I then pick a task for this session. (I prioritize very lightly — the reasoning behind this is discussed below.) I work on the selected task, write up the ResearchLog on that session's activities, and record the next steps to be taken. I don't have a special time of day or week for research." (The reasons for not having a scheduled time is also discussed below.)

After considering the above statement, I am pretty well satisfied. I could acquire more records if I were more disciplined in my work. But my aim is for improving quality not quantity; this pattern gives me a pattern for improving the quality of my work. And why don't I apply more discipline in setting up my work times? There are two factors behind this attitude: my age and my former employment.

Please understand that I loved my job. But I spent 30 years working to meet a constantly shrinking time frame alternating with periods of finger-tapping waiting for materials to work with. Scheduling!

The front end held the waiting times. A text-book series was in the works but the various manuscripts were slow to arrive. This wasn't some ploy on the authors' parts to annoy their editors. If you write, you know that writing is a process of refinement and the process takes as long as it takes. The shortened time frames came from marketing. "I know we said March, but there's a large adoption coming up in February, can you move up the publishing date?"

We always made the deadline, without sacrificing the quality of the books, but frequently at the expense of 16-hour workdays. When I became fully retired, I chose a more relaxed life style. I'm happier now that I don't have dreaded deadlines ahead of me.

As to my aging: I'm 89; the next age is 90. I'm becoming a very senior Senior Citizen. I get sick more easily and more often. My sleep patterns are erratic — I'll sleep for 20 hours, then I can't get to sleep. So I must choose my research times to match my strength and my alertness, rather than to match the clock.

And finally, I have decided that if I am not alert enough to do "real" genealogy, I will spend some time on some support tasks which interest me: explore hints and/or shaky leaves, prepare some indexes that I want to have, and so on. I've lined up several activities of this type. The discipline I will apply to these activities is to spread them out; to do one type, then the next, etc., — falling into shallow rabbit holes instead of deep ones.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Genealogy (Do-Over) Go-Over 2017 — Blog 1 January Goals

I was an active participant in the Genealogy Do-Over during all four quarters of 2015 (the first year). I had expected to continue working with the group in 2016, but ill-health interfered with me throughout the year. About the only thing I accomplished in 2016 was to purchase and to download my electronic copy of the Genealogy Do-Over Workbook.

Last month I began thinking about following the group again during 2017. I felt I could safely review my 2015 experiences without getting ahead of myself. I found the workbook in my files, studied the introduction and the entry for Month One. I am engaging in a Go-Over rather than a complete Do-Over, which is basically what I have been doing since I started these activities two years ago.

Month One has two activities. The remainder of this blog addressed the first of these as noted in the workbook: "Work on organizing files, both digital and paper. Then locate essential documents that prove a relationship, and either set them aside or provide an Index … sort of like a Top 20 or Top 50 list."

I reviewed the steps I had taken in 2015 and found them to be basically sound. I could locate my data; my planning and my research records are easily found and understood. I anticipate changes (refinements) as I use these documents. If these changes don't develop, I will know that I have stopped growing. But since these changes will probably be refinements, rather than major changes in plans, they will become part of my ongoing genealogy activities, rather than something I need to address in Month One.

I will mention this blog to the Do-Over group on Facebook. I would like to have your feedback — either on Facebook or directly to the blog. Do I sound like I have made a reasonable and considered assessment? Or do I sound smug. (I am quite serious about the smugness. My mother NEVER needed to change and grow, she had decided about life and everything else should bow before her decisions  — including the weather! I began fighting this, as soon as I recognized this trait in her; but early example is the hardest life lesson to change!)

I am hoping I have met the goals in Activity One. I am going to need all the time I can find for Activity Two.