Ruth's Genealogy

“I don't know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” -Abraham Lincoln

red buttonGenealogy Do-Over

the 2015 educational initiative at GeneaBloggers – where you do get to go home again . . .

and start over with your genealogy research.


Wow! The Genealogy Do-Over 2015 project has entered it’s seventh week. Thomas MacEntee has presented us with quite a challenge, but he has also provided us with many tools that will enable us to meet that challenge.

So, where am I after 6 weeks?

Week 1 – 2-8 January 2015

  • Setting Previous Research Aside
  • Preparing to Research
  • Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines

I have not physically moved any files, whether paper or electronic. But I did create a new database using my RootsMagic software and a new location on my computer’s hard drive to save documents and photos, and as I research each ancestor, I will go to that person’s data in my metal filing cabinet and in my computer and place relevant items in the appropriate place. In an effort to go as paperless as possible in my research, I am keeping only original documents and photos.

Base practices and guidelines include being as thorough and meticulous as possible with each ancestor, scanning/identifying/saving and creating citations for each source immediately as it is entered into the database, thinking outside the box and being creative, and HAVING FUN!

Week 2 – 9-15 January 2015

  • Setting Research Goals
  • Conducting Self Interview
  • Conducting Family Interviews

I originally started this Do-Over with my Mom’s data, but then changed when I realized that I really needed to start with myself. So I conducted my self-interview in the form of a 2-3 page biography. Then I organized and reviewed all of the papers and photographs that I have that document my life, and set up research goals to “fill in the blanks” (ex: I don’t have my marriage license, only my wedding announcement. So I need that document.)

Week 3 – 16-22 January 2015

  • Tracking Research
  • Conducting Research

I downloaded and began using Thomas’s Research Log to manage the research goals and track the research that I am doing on myself. While I have decided to use the Research Log that is included with RootsMagic rather than Thomas’s Log when I move on the the next ancestor, I have learned some very valuable lessons from using his log and the importance of thoroughly examining, evaluating and documenting each source in an organized and systematic fashion. It took me several days to scan, rename, and create citations for each document and photograph in my personal file.

Week 4 – 23-29 January 2015

  • Managing Projects and Tasks
  • Tracking Searches

I downloaded Thomas’s Project Management spreadsheet and have saved it for another day. And I have started tracking searches, again using RootsMagic’s research log and to-do list.

Week 5 – 30 January-5 February 2015

  • Building a Research Toolbox
  • Citing Sources

I have previously used Pinterest to manage my genealogy links and there they will remain. And I have used Evernote for my research notes, but haven’t really been satisfied with either system. So I downloaded and set-up Microsoft OneNote, and have been begun to copy my links to it. I have also set up sections by surname and for how-to’s.

Using RootsMagic’s source and citation templates, I have created citations for every event in my personal database. I have almost “completed” research into my own life, pending the arrival of several documents that have been requested in the past few weeks. I also have a copy of Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence! and refer to it as needed, and purchased and downloaded the Legacy QuickGuide Citing Your Sources, written by Thomas MacEntee.

Week 6 – 6-12 February 2015

  • Evaluating Evidence
  • Reviewing Online Education Options

Using the Genealogical Proof Standard (a reasonably exhaustive search; complete and accurate source citations; analysis and correlation of the collected information; resolution of any conflicting evidence; and a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion), I have evaluated the data and sources in my personal file. Of note, there’s not much controversy or confusion in my personal database, as I have lived those events and know them to be true. Obviously, I don’t remember my own birth and other such early events in my own lifetime, so those I have paid special attention to. Still, evaluating the evidence of my life has been a good primer for future determinations. I also purchased and downloaded another Legacy QuickGuide, Establishing Genealogical Proof, to aid in evaluating evidence.

As for online education options, I have watched several RootsMagic training webinars this past week, in an effort to learn to use RootsMagic more effectively to manage my genealogical research.

Ok, I think I’m ready for Week 7… are you?

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