Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over ~ Cycle 4 ~ Week 2 : Research Goals, Self-Interviews & Family Interviews

This week we our covering research goals, self-interviews and family interviews. I will be going over the goals I set for myself in the original Genealogy Do-Over (GDO) and tweaking my self-interview.

When I started the in the original GDO, I really didn't have any specific research goals that pertained to any family or individual in my genealogy research. At least I didn't think so then. Yes, I did have goals for my genealogy when I started the GDO. I just didn't realize that my "wishes" were really goals. I was more preoccupied with the bright shiny objects (BSO) discussions of filing systems, software, paper vs. paperless that my head spinning and I wasn't paying close attention to the assignment for the second week. Let's hope I do a better job the second time around!

Research Goals 

If you don't have a research goal what's the point of doing all of the work? Research goals are important and they keep you focused on the big picture. Research goals can even keep you focused on the little things too. Everybody has different goals for different reasons. When the first cycle of GDO ended I took one look at my "working" tree and thought to myself, how am I ever going to do this? I realized then that some of my goals were just too narrow or specific. I needed to start with broader goals and then turn to the smaller, more detailed goals.

Now my research goals seem more attainable. As I work my through each generation I am asking more questions. These questions, along with my notes, now help me to formulate better research goals and questions, making it easier for to handle as I work my back into the past. It is easier to put my goals into categories similar to a card catalog but with broader subjects. Immigration and naturalization records for specific ancestors is one of my top goals on the maternal side of my tree.

An example of this would be my immigrant ancestor William Rueff. I know he was born either in France or Germany according records I have found at Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. I also know that he immigrated with at least one child, Charles, so why can't I find them on a passenger list? Naturalization records for at least one of them? My goal is to find that passenger list and/or some type of documentation as to when they arrived. They didn't just appear out of nowhere now did they?

My Self Interview

Here is the self interview I did for myself back in January in the GDO cycle.

None of the information above has changed however, except that I now have all of the certificates/records for my birth, my Catholic records of annulment (for my first marriage), baptism, communion and confirmation, my marriage and my divorce records. All have been scanned into my computer and added to my genealogical database with proper source citations.

I now know that my self-interview is one of the most important interviews I will ever have or do because it is the story of me and my life. It is the story that will be handed down to my descendants. I want that story to mean something to my descendants and I don't know what that is yet. However, I hope that when my name is said and my story is told that it will show that I was a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister and friend. A woman who stood strong but was also tender, a woman who was tough but loving and nurturing, a woman who made mistakes and learned from them (hopefully!) but more importantly a woman who loved with all of her heart and soul. That is the legacy I want to leave to leave for the next generations to come.

Conducting Family Interviews

I had hoped to do a few family interviews before repeating the GDO but life moved to fast over the summer and I have pushed the interviews to back burner for now. I know, shame on me! 

In hope of getting my cousins more involved, I set up a Facebook page/group for both my maternal and paternal cousins. My goal was to post questions from Steve Anderson's blog post, 52 Questions in 52 Weeks which was originally posted at the FamilySearch blog on August 26, 2013 and then record everyone's answers as a group interview. The feedback was not what I was hoping for and my own life got in the way of my original idea for how I wanted these pages to work. I have since deleted these pages/groups and I will have to come up with a brilliant plan that will keep my cousins coming back for more information on our families and participation! 

Here are some of my favorite sites to find questions for family interviews, "20 Questions for Interviewing Relatives", by Family Tree Magazine"Family History Sample Outline and Questions", UCLA Center for Oral History Research,  and "Fifty Questions for Family History Interviews", by Kimberly Powell. Here is a list of my favorite questions to ask during an interview:


Anderson, Steve, "52 Questions in 52 Weeks: Writing Your Life Story Has Never Been Easier", FamilySearch, 26 August 2013, Web, (https://familysearch.org/blog/en/52-questions-52-weeks/ : 12 October 2015). 

Powell, Kimberly, "Fifty Questions for Family History Interviews: What to Ask Relatives", About.com, Web, (http://genealogy.about.com/cs/oralhistory/a/interview.htm : 12 October 2015).

Family Tree Magazine.com, "20 Questions for Interviewing Relatives", Family Tree Magazine, 21 July 2010, Web (http://www.familytreemagazine.com/article/20-questions : 12 October 2015).

UCLA Library - Center for Oral History Research, "Family History Sample Outline and Questions", UCLA, Web (http://oralhistory.library.ucla.edu/familyHistory.html : 12 October 2015).

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