Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week - 2: Research Goals, Self Interviews & Family Interviews

Our goals for the second week of the Genealogy Do-Over are to set research goals, conduct a self interview and conduct family interviews. Genealogy has been a part of me since was old enough to listen to my parents, aunts and uncles playing cards in my Grandma's kitchen. I am self taught and never took a class or webinar until 2010.

Research Goals:

I've been thinking a lot about my research goals. However, I am feeling overwhelmed at all the information being discussed on the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook page. All the discussions of filing systems, software, paper vs. paperless and even hashtags has my head spinning! I know just enough about computers to be dangerous and I am not nearly as tech savvy as most of our group seems to be. Last night I saw that Thomas had re-posted his article about slowing down which I re-read. What I realized is that I don't have to keep up with "the Joneses". Whatever filing system, software, and method I choose is what will be best for me.

All of that being said, I am not exactly sure what my goals are for any specific family or individual. Since I am "all in" for this Genealogy Do-Over, I am building new trees  from the documents I already had on hand. Another thought crossed my mind, how do I keep track of all the documents, what are my specific goals and what is my plan to reach those goals? That is when I realized that perhaps I missed something and that old habits never truly go away! 

In another life I was a corporate travel agent. Along with booking business trips I also had to plan meetings, luncheons, dinners, retreats and activities for the spouses. To be able to coordinate all of these activities I used a research planner that allowed me to plan, set immediate and long term goals as well execute these goals. What I need for my genealogy research was a planner! 

The purpose of research logs is to help you narrow down what information you have, where you found it, when you found it, citing the source, abstracting the information, the type of source and/or the type of evidence and our analysis of this information. What steps did you take? and how did you get this point? You had to have a plan right? 

The purpose of a research planner is to help me determine what steps I've taken, what steps I still need to take and to keep me focused on the topic at hand. It will help me to analyze the information I have and what information I still need to find. Here are some things I need to keep in mind as I form a plan for further research:
  • Separate the truth from fiction (what is real and what is family lore)
  • Don't bounce from one generation to the next - You might miss something important
  • Documentation, documentation, documentation! Gather as much as I can within reason
  • Keep a list of all the sources that you have searched - record the good and the bad
  • Plan my next steps using a research planner
By analyzing the records I have for each individual, I can then determine what my goals are. For each new goal, I will use a separate research planner so that I do not lose focus or get side tracked and fall down the rabbit hole. Once I have completed each goal I will review the information and determine what action or goal should be next. 

I am detail oriented person. I need to be able to see what I have and what I don't. I prefer paper over spreadsheets, sorry Thomas MacEntee!  Here is an example of the research log I have been working on. It is simple and will likely need additional revisions as I go along.

Page 1

Page 2

 Page 3

I have combined my favorite elements from different free forms I have found on the internet and incorporated them into the pages above. It probably seems too  long but by printing on both sides of the paper it is only two pages. It can be attached to the subject's file and used to tell you "at a glance" what documents you have and don't have.

My Self-Interview:

I have never considered interviewing myself. I guess because I have been a witness to my own life with the exception of my birth and early childhood. I can see that it will be necessary to do but I am not sure how I want to proceed. So for now I am just going to bullet point the highlights. 
  • Name: Dawn Marie Williams
  • Date Of Birth: 21 July 1962 
  • Place Of Birth: Miami, FL
  • Baptism: August 1962 at
  • 1st Holy Communion: St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, Miramar, FL
  • Confirmation: 1976 at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, Greensboro, NC
  • 1st Marriage: 
    • Married on 21 March 1980 to Marc Kitts in Greensboro, NC
    • Children: 
      • Kenneth G Kitts (10 October 1980 AL- 9 February 2000 NC)
      • David N Kitts (1 November 1981 - )
    • Separated: May 1984 in Greensboro, NC
    • Divorced: 11 June 1984 in Greensboro, NC

  •  2nd Marriage: 
    • Married on 4 July 1987 to L.W. Lovings, Jr in Greensboro, NC
    • No Children
    • Separated April 1988 in Greensboro, NC
    • Divorced: 13 November 1989 in High Point, NC
  •  3rd Marriage:
    • Married on 27 March 1998 to Thomas K Kogutkiewicz 

    • What documents am I missing for myself?
      • Order a copy of Baptismal, Holy Communion and Confirmation certificates
      • Find my divorce records which are currently packed up in the garage
    • What documents are in my possession for me?
      • Birth Certificate
      • Marriage Certificates - all 3
    Conducting Family Interviews:

    When I set aside my research I also set aside my family interviews. I wanted to start from scratch. In hope of getting my cousins more involved, I am using the 52 Questions in 52 Weeks originally posted by Steve Anderson in the FamilySearch blog on August 26, 2013. You can find it at I have set up Facebook pages for both my maternal and paternal cousins.

    I plan to do family interviews over the summer. I will use the standard genealogy questions and I want to develop specific questions based on who I will be interviewing. The websites listed below have some great questions. 

    Copyright © Dawning Genealogy/Dawn M Kogutkiewicz 2014-2015, All rights reserved.  

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