Monday, December 28, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over ~ Cycle 4, Week 13

This is it, the final week of Cycle 4 and the 2015 Genealogy Do-Over which began on January 2nd of this year. Beginning Friday, the Genealogy Do-Over will begin again however, the format has changed. With some modifications, Thomas MacEntee has taken the class and made it so that it is now in a yearly format and a workbook is currently available for Amazon Kindle and PDF format and a printed version is also in the works. Please see Thomas's announcement for further information.

This week we will be discussing securing our research data and reviewing our journey. Though I think my journey is a little different since I chose to repeat it twice and I am very glad that I did!

Securing our Research Data

I began my research back in 1980, in Montgomery, Alabama while I was waiting for the birth of my first child. I have moved several times since 1980. I have lost files along the way and rebuilt them but I didn't always cite my sources. When this "Do-Over" was announced In December 2014, I jumped at the chance to learn the proper techniques of genealogical research. There were many who found it hard to set aside their research but it was fairly easy for me to do. I kept only the necessary documents and papers I felt I would I need and set aside what was left. 

At the end of the original cycle of the Do-Over, I wasn't at all sure about how I wanted to proceed with preserving my genealogical research, my notes and any other data that would need to be preserved. I am still not sure that I have the right method for me but time will tell.  

Here is what I have been doing to preserve my research for the future: 

I took advantage of the great deal that Thomas was able to get for this group right at the beginning with I-drive, an online storage company. I have my settings to back up every other week and as of this week every document and photo on my computer has been backed up to my external hard drive. I am going though each of my research notebooks/pads and have begun scanning the pages. Then I attach them to the file of that person in my genealogy software which is currently, FTM but I am looking for a new one. I also scan my handwritten pedigree charts, cemetery charts, family group sheets any documents generated by me whether via handwriting or computer is backed up and attached to the software program. I also use flash drives and I am contemplating downloading photographs to CD's by family surname but this is a time consuming task and I feel that it will be redundant however I am still considering my options. 

Future Proofing my Genealogical Research

If I were to lose all of my genealogy research today, I would most likely be able to recreate most of the families in my research with the help of my notebooks, blog posts handwritten pedigrees. I would simply begin with our grandson and go backwards from there. I also have my big master tree is still on Ancestry and would be able to use it as well if it were available to access. 

In the original cycle of the Do-Over I had stated that I was going to start new trees but my spring, summer and fall were pretty busy with life and I never got around to it. As I have been working my way through this second time around I have decided to build much smaller trees and I am trying to decide if I should do only the main surnames for each family or perhaps by surname alone or possibly divide them into maternal and paternal lines. However, with Ancestry's announcement of the discontinuation of Family Tree Maker, I am now trying out new software to see which one I truly like and one I can stick with!

Backing Up Your Genealogy Data

  • Creating a Back Up Plan - Right now my back up plan is probably short sighted because I am not seeing "the big picture" but for right now it does work. 
    • My I-Drive account/hard drive is automatically backed up every other week.
    • I have emailed myself every blog piece I have written and they are now backed up to my external hard drive and to flash drives.
    • All of my photos from my cell phone and tablet were automatically stored to my Drop Box account on daily basis. 
    • The new Google photos app also backs up my photos from my cell and tablet and dates them so I know have an extra place to where my photo's are saved and it is private.
    • I am striving to make both a hard copy (expense is something I need to consider even though I will print it myself) and a flash drive with ALL of my research that I can give to certain people in case of an emergency.  
    • After reading my friend, Cathy Meder-Dempsey's post on, "How to Upload Your Family Tree to Rootsweb's World Connect" (click here.) I have decided that once I have my new basic tree done I will be adding it to World Connect.
  •  Identify Data for Back Up & Identify a Back Up Plan That Works for Me - I am not sure that I have actually identified what my must haves for back up are but here is what I have been backing up:
    • I-Drive - my entire computer hard drive
    • Drop Box - photos and files
    • Polaris - pdf files a feature offered through my cell phone
    • Google Photos - photos via my cell but can upload photos as well
    • Hard copies - notebooks, printouts, pedigrees, family group sheets and all paperwork generated from a person and/or family will be
      • Scanned and attached to each person and/or family as I determine. For instance I may not include a spouse's entire line but I have his parents, siblings and grandparent's information in my files, so I will attach it to the spouse and any children from that marriage but I won't show them in my software and/or online tree.
  • Test Your Back Up Plan -I will let you know how things go in a future post from my blog.
  •  Future Proof Your Technology - I am technically challenged without question so I will have to rely on those who do through reviews to keep up with newest, latest and greatest ways to do this. Hint! Hint! Thomas!
Future Proofing Your Genealogy Now

I never realized that my genealogical research should be added to my will until recently when I saw a post on Facebook by a man who was in his 90's. He wanted to know what he should do with all of his research now that no one in his family seemed to care. I believe his questions were should he throw it away? donate it? and was asking what the genea-community for suggestions. I don't the outcome of this story and did not think to save the link.

As I create new trees with documented evidence, my research in all forms and correct source citations (I hope), I will make a inventory. I am not sure if I should do this by surname or by family and welcome your suggestions. In the meantime here is my working list thus far:
  • Inventory! Inventory! Inventory! 
    • Original Birth, Marriage, Divorce and Death Records
    • Mass Cards
    • Bibles
    • Baptismal, Holy Communion and other Church documents
    • Photographs
      • Actual photos
      • Digital photos
      • Photo albums/scrapbooks
    • Announcements
      • Birth
      • Engagement/Wedding
      • Graduation
      • Obituaries
      • Diplomas
      • Funeral Programs
      • Wedding Programs
      • Commencement Programs
    • Military 
      • Discharge papers
      • Pension records
      • Awards (medals and ribbons)
    • Handwritten Documents
      • Diaries
      • Letters
      • Calendars
      • Ledgers
      • Christmas Cards 
      • Guest registers for funerals, weddings and anniversaries, if available
    • Newspapers
      • Articles
        • Birth 
        • Engagement
        • Weddings
        • Obituaries
        • Write ups on families
        • Major news events 
    • Immigration/Naturalization
      • Passenger lists
      • Shipping manifests
      • Citizenship
      • Passports
  • An index of the inventory by
    • Main Surnames
      • Individual families with that surname 
In my original post I mentioned getting a codicil for my will but I never got around to it but I need to update my will anyway in the coming year so I will be adding my genealogical research and writing to the list of items I want to include in the new will. Of course, it is my hope that I have at least another 40 or 50 years on this earth however that decision is in God's hands. 

I do know that my niece, Kaitlyn is interested in genealogy and once I have things the way I want them I will be sending her a copy of everything. I will also be giving a copy to my son as well as my siblings should they or one of their children ever decide to follow in my footsteps. I will also give my husband Tommy a copy as well as his own copy for his family tree. I will also pass it on to his siblings too. Once I have added each of cousins and their families I will provide them with a copies if they would like them. Who knows, maybe one of them will pick up my research in the future.

Blogging about your family history is a great way to share your family history, research and adventures in the world of genealogy. I began my blog, Dawning Genealogy in June 2014. The responses have been very good and the support from my genea-community overwhelming. I will also be starting a new blog, The Other Side of Scarlet in January 2016.

I have some other ways on my list of how to preserve my family history and share it as well. Some of these are ideas are putting my blog posts into a yearly book of say the top 25 posts or the top 25 that are meaningful to me and my family. Self printing small chapters on each family and giving them to my family as gifts. As time and money allow, I will do each project that I can.

Reviewing my Journey with the Genealogy Do-Over of 2015

As I said during the first cycle of the Genealogy Do-Over and during this fourth cycle, I taught myself the genealogy research basics and I have never been afraid to ask questions. I was so overwhelmed during the first cycle trying to make sure that I soaked up every conversation and/or discussion on the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook page, learning from Thomas and other well known genealogy mentors and speakers that I just didn't think I could remember everything. I have learned so much more than I thought possible in both sessions of the Do-Over.  I realize now more than ever that genealogy is so important for the present generations but also for the generations that will come after me. I owe it to them and myself to be sure that my genealogy research is on a solid foundation, one that they can build upon proudly and one to be proud of too.

I have been shoring up my research foundation with all the new techniques and information I have learned during this journey. I am diligently following the outline provided by Thomas, taking my time and doing it right. I am trying my best to cite my sources properly, thank you to Elizabeth Shown Mills and her book, Evidence Explained Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd Edition, and who has helped our group by commenting with her wisdom, feedback and suggestions. Thank you to all of the wonderful professionals who gave their feedback and encouragement to this project.

I love the environment that our teacher, Thomas MacEntee has given us to ask questions, admit our mistakes and allow us collaborate in a forum that gives us the freedom to exchange and share our ideas about genealogy. I have formed a network that has grown by leaps and bounds in 2015. A network that I might not have discovered had I not asked a question about blogging at Thomas's, Geneablogger's page on Facebook in 2014. I am honored to be part of this amazing network of people known as genealogist's! Thank you Thomas for such a wonderful project and allowing me to be part of it.

I have come to realize that genealogy is a continual journey and genealogy allows me to go back in time and get to know who my ancestors. Who they were and what they did by the records that they kept such as diaries and ledgers, census records, vital records, court records and newspapers accounts. Where else can I go and visit the 18th & 19th centuries and never leave home? Genealogy allows me to to honor my ancestors and gives me the privilege of telling their stories which I can only hope would make them proud to have me as their descendant. 

Editor's Note: Portions of this post are from my original Do-Over post for week 13. 


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