Ruth's Genealogy

“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”

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.

***

But first… WHERE HAVE I BEEN and what have I been doing…?

I have been monitoring the Genealogy Do-Over topics, week by week, though not always completing each week’s assignment.

In a nutshell (large nutshell!), this is where I am:

Week 1 – 2-8 January 2015

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

Week 2 – 9-15 January 2015

  • Setting Research Goals
  • Conducting Self Interview
  • Conducting Family Interviews (I finally interviewed my Dad and Aunt Kathy, with some interesting findings…*)

Week 3 – 16-22 January 2015

  • Tracking Research
  • Conducting Research

Week 4 – 23-29 January 2015

  • Managing Projects and Tasks
  • Tracking Searches

Week 5 – 30 January-5 February 2015

  • Building a Research Toolbox
  • Citing Sources

Week 6 – 6-12 February 2015

  • Evaluating Evidence
  • Reviewing Online Education Options

Week 7 – 13-19 February 2015

  • Reviewing Genealogy Database Software
  • Digitizing Photos and Documents (I’m now saving scanned photos and documents in .tff format, at 600 dpi. My scanner will do OCR, barely (plain, simple text), but I have also used Free Online OCR, seems to work better. Or, there’s always Transcript.)

Week 8 – 20-26 February 2015

  • Conducting Collateral Research (As my Dad and my Aunt Kathy are the only survivors of that generation, I have been talking to them about some of my Mom’s history.)
  • Reviewing Offline Education Options (On the back-burner for now. I work 6 days/week, so I’m happy with webinars and other online education options. :) )

Week 9 – 27 February-5 March 2015

  • Conducting Cluster Research- (I haven’t really gotten to that point in my do-over yet. I’ve completed the “preliminary” (will it ever be “final”?) research on me, my parents, one deceased brother and a deceased teenage cousin, so I actually have a lot of info with no major mysteries to solve.)
  • Organizing Research Materials – Documents and Photos

Week 10 – 6-12 March 2015

  • Reviewing DNA Testing Options (This is one area of genealogy that I freely admit that I know nothing of. Not. Any. Thing. I need to do some serious studying on this subject!)
  • Organizing Research Materials-Digital (While I scan as much as possible and upload those images to OneDrive and save other copies of the originals to an external hard, I also take extra-good care of any original photos and documents that I have. I place all in archive-quality, acid-free storage. Hopefully, they will survive as long as possible. I adapted Diana Ritchie’s naming scheme earlier in this project and it is working quite well. And as for metadata, what a great idea to “hide” the source citation within the metadata! It would never have occurred to me…)

 

So this is my research/documentation “method of madness” today:

  • I started with myself, then moved to both parents. Here I halted my backward progress and picked up some deceased family members from recent years (my brother and my cousin.) I still have an another cousin who died last year to research, then I move on to my grandparents. Right or wrong, I’m focusing on deceased ancestors at this time, with the exception of my Dad. I guess I’ll research my surviving sibling and other living cousins when the time comes…
  • I return to the scene of the crime, my old genealogy database folders, and copy/rename all relevant photos and documents to my new database folders
  • I also go through my genealogy filing cabinet, evaluate what I have for the person being researched and then move the relevant items to a new file folder. The new folders then go together into a separate drawer of the filing cabinet
  • I then enter and create citations in my RootsMagic database for each fact supported by these “old” images
  • When that has been completed, I begin a new internet search to find any more relevant data
  • When I feel like I have found all I can online from home, I make a trip my local library to check Ancestry.com
  • Finally, after I have completed “reasonably exhaustive search” for online data, I return to my current RootsMagic database, analyze what I have and don’t have, and then add to my shopping list for my next trip to the downtown Fort Worth library, which has a great genealogy department. Or start sending emails and letters, depending on what I still need.
  • A couple of local places that I’ve never visited are the local Family History Library and the Fort Worth branch of the National Archives. I know, pretty sad. Just gotta make the time and go!

So that’s where I’m at with the 2015 Genealogy Do-Over project. Getting there, getting there…

* I’ve been doing genealogy since 2003 and just found out some basic yet important facts about my parents. But that will be for a later post… ;)

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.

***

In Week 6 of The 2015 Genealogy Do-Over project, Thomas encouraged us to consider online genealogical educational opportunities.

logo_subFor many years, I have wanted to enroll in the “American Genealogy: Home Study Course”, presented by the National Genealogical Society. The 3-CD course was available at a cost of $495 to NGS members and $585 for non-members. Outa my budget on both counts! Or maybe not…

With the release of the American Genealogical Studies series, NGS is moving its training offerings to the cloud.

Online Courses are reinventing and reinvigorating adult learning. With online learning, individuals can take better advantage of learning updated genealogical information, new resources, or better methods whenever their schedules allows. Rather than traveling through inclement weather or across long distances, people can now take advantage of learning opportunities by just going to their computer and enrolling in an online course.

To help genealogists learn, NGS has selected the learning management system called Canvas by Instructure.

In an online learning management system, the learning revolves around the lessons or modules. Within these, students see pages with examples, articles, videos, glossaries, and URLs to valuable websites as well as additional references.

Learning requires communication. Some of the courses have their own private message board on which students and staff may post. Students can use these boards to begin a discussion or post a question about the course material. This communication helps students develop a community while expanding their knowledge base.

Learning also requires some type of evaluation and feedback. Each course has a variety of quizzes or assignments where students can test and apply what they learned.

Each of the courses within American Genealogical Studies is designed for independent learning rather than for a group meeting.

The American Genealogical Studies series consists of:

The cost of each of the first 2 courses of the series, The Basics and Guide to Documentation and Source Citation, is $30 per course for NGS members and $45 per course for non-members. The third part of the series, Beyond the Basics, Part 1, at a cost of $175/$200, is not yet available. Syllabi for both courses are available for download prior to sign-up.

Wow! Now I can afford this!

 

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?

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.

***

Week 4’s assignments:

  • Managing Projects and Tasks
  • Tracking Searches

Managing Projects and Tasks

For this task, I simply downloaded Thomas’ Project Management template and filed it away for another day. Right now, I don’t think I need to use it.

Tracking Searches

Again, I read over the material presented by Thomas, and, using his Research Log, on the Search Attempts page, I documented a couple of simple searches that I did:

search attempts

(click to enlarge)

Definitely a useful exercise! Now I know exactly what I need to do to locate the documents in question. I actually conducted these searches last week, but haven’t acted further on them. When I do act on them, here’s everything that I’ve already done, so no repeating myself. :)

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.

***

Week 3’s assignments:

  • Tracking Research
  • Conducting Research

This has been a busy week!

Tracking research

Let’s see, using Thomas’ Original Research Log, I sorted through the 217 images (photographs and documents) that I have scanned that pertain to my life. I selected 46 that best prove my life events, such as birth, marriage, school, college, voter registration and religion. These 46 I then entered in the Research Log.

This was a tedious process, as I don’t type very quickly. But I finally got everything added.

Conducting Research

My next step was to go to the To Do List in the Research Log and create a list of what I still needed to prove. Included here is the necessity of a copy of my marriage license and also a copy of my divorce decree. Many years ago, long before I got into genealogy and long after my marriage was over, I threw these documents away (DUMB!). At the time, I saw no need to keep them.

On the side, a couple of things:

As I’ve stated, I don’t type very quickly. I never took a typing class in school, never saw a need for it at the time (AND DUMBER!). So, yesterday, as I was running errands, I stopped by HalfPrice Books. In their close-out area, I found a keyboarding textbook and bought it for $1. Now I have started to “officially” learn to keyboard!

I also found a book with Excel tips and tricks, also bought it for $1.

So, in my spare time, I’m learning to type and also how to use Excel.

P. S. A Facebook post by one of  the Do-Over participants (Thanks Sheri Ownbey McNary!) pointed to a YouTube video that shows how to change the default Excel date format to a genealogy date format. It was very easy to do!

 

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.

***

A quick review of the Genealogy Do-Over 2015 Week 2 assignments:

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

I have spend the past several days getting caught up with Week 2, although my methodology is a bit different from what Thomas is doing. I originally wanted to start my Do-Over with my Mom, but as this project has progressed, it became clear to me WHY it needed to start with me. So I had to go back and process my own “life”:

  • Write my biography- about 3 pages, written in OneNote
  • Assemble all available original docs, photos then scan/rescan and add to Do-Over scans folder- these are all of the original photos and documents that I am in possession of that pertain to my life (208 images so far)
  • Edit, rename images, then to Hall, Ruth Anne 1958 folder in OneDrive
  • Using these original photos and documents, enter unsourced facts into RootsMagic- such as date & location of birth, schools attended, occupations, residences, etc
  • Create Family Group Sheet and Individual Report- print out both from RootsMagic as “working copies” to scribble on as needed
  • Create Research Goals- for the unsourced facts in my RootMagic database that I need to prove, using RootsMagic’s Research Log feature

So that’s where I’m at today.

I had signed up to view Thomas’ Genealogy Do-Over webinar, but couldn’t make the live show, so last night when I got home from work, I watched the replay video (free until Jan 28), then watched it again this morning, this time taking notes, again in OneNote.

I also downloaded Thomas’ Research Log spreadsheet, and opened it cleanly in LibreOffice Calc (I don’t have Excel).

By the way, I found a really good tutorial, Excel for Genealogy. I’m not a spreadsheet person, so I need a little help here… :)

Now I am (finally) ready to begin the Genealogy Do-Over Week 3 assignments:

  • Tracking Research
  • Conducting Research

Now let’s see… how does this darned spreadsheet-thing work…

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.

***

Genealogy D0-Over 2015 Week 2 ASSIGNMENTS (no longer topics in my mind, but that’s ok!):

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

As this week began, I was feeling frustrated and stressed. You know: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men…”

  • I discovered that OneNote 2013 is now free. As I have never been totally comfortable with EverNote, I quickly downloaded the PC, Chromebook and iOs versions. I googled “OneNote tutorials”, found a couple of good ones, and spent an afternoon learning how to use OneNote and setting up my genealogy notebook, sections and pages. Cool.
  • Then I tried to sync some stuff that I added to the Chromebook version and it wouldn’t sync to the desktop. About ready to give up and go back to Evernote! So I posted my problem on the OneNote for Genealogy Facebook page and got some help and finally got it figured out. So I’ll stay with OneNote. Great.
  • I had originally planned to start this Do-Over with my Mom, and had done a lot of work with her database, but then today I realized why Thomas wants to start with the participant’s database. I probably have more data and knowledge about myself, obviously, than anyone else, so this is a great exercise to learn to research, document and prove facts. Neat!
  • This morning Thomas uploaded an example of how to write your own biography page, and also posted on his progress so far. Both very helpful and both reinforcing the need to start with ones’ self. Gotcha!

So, I’m feeling better now, although I have a lot of work ahead of me to get my own files up to date.

A couple of thoughts: although I have been working toward a paper-free genealogy existence (except for original docs and photos), I now see where a few papers lying about are a good thing, especially a Family Group Sheet. Also, for those of us rapidly discovering that there are not enough hours in the day, Thomas posted a link to a free (TODAY ONLY) Project Management e-book.

My only problem now is coming up with a good 2-day illness so I can play hooky at work this weekend… ;)

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.

***

Before I get into Week 2:

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

A quick review of my Week 1 activities: System in place

  • RootsMagic- a new database created
  • OneNote- changed from Evernote, better suits my style
  • OneDrive- database and document storage
  • CamScanner- for items that can’t be scanned with my printer/scanner

A quick review of my Week 1 activities: Methodology

  • File naming- LASTFirstMiddle_bYYYY_YYYY  File Name.jpg
  • OneNote- Notebooks for toolbox, Surnames

Also, I set aside (in spirit only) my previous research, dug out all of my Mom’s photos and original docs and re-scanned and edited them as needed and uploaded them to her OneDrive folder.

Now, for Week 2:

Setting Research Goals– I am starting with my Mom. My general goal is to be as thorough and meticulous as possible, enter all data into her RootsMagic database, upload all images to OneDrive, with sources to be done later as they are covered in the Genealogy Do-Over 2015 project. Only after this is done can I set more specific research goals to “fill in the blanks” in her file.

Conducting Self Interview– my plan here is to interview myself using The Complete Guide to The Family History Interview, written by Lynn Palermo and available as a free download for joining the mailing list of her blog, The Armchair Genealogist.

Conducting Family Interviews– again using Lynn’s ebook, I plan to interview my Dad and my Aunt Kathy, who are the only living family members who grew up with or knew my Mom as a child/young adult (basically before my memory of her begins).

This is all probably gonna take more than a week to get done…

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.

***

I know, it’s Week 2, but I’ve spend all morning doing something to goes back to Week 1: Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines.

A few days ago, Diana Ritchie posted on our Genealogy Do-Over Facebook page about a method that she uses to name her genealogy files (File Naming Convention for Genealogy Records).

Well, I have spent the morning editing images and renaming files from my Mom’s file. I am starting with her on my Do-Over. This is the result:

Genealogy files

(click to enlarge)

A few of specifics:

  • surnames are capitalized
  • since the first part of the file name is identical for every image in this folder (STANLEYMarylandSue_b1935_), I just copy/pasted to each image, a great time-saver
  • all files that are original or scanned photographs are labeled with “pic” at the end of the files to distinguish them from documents
  • all images are saved as .png .jpg files

I am tickled to death over Diana’s system! This method is super-simple to do and I can easily find exactly which file I want from the list view, where as using my old system, I would actually have to view the image itself to be able to find what I wanted.

And if I did a search of this folder only for the term “pic”, I would have a fantastic slideshow of photos of my Mom throughout her life!

Thanks, Diana!!!

 

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.

***

As this first week seems to be mostly about preparation, here’s a census helper:

Rather than transcribe a census sheet by hand to an empty census form than can be downloaded for free from FamilySearch and many other sites, wouldn’t it be easier to be able to transcribe the data into a blank pdf census form and then quickly save it to your database?

Here’s how:

  1. Download the free census forms from FamilySearch
  2. Download the free program PDF-XChange Viewer
  3. Open the census form in PDF-XChange Viewer
  4. Select Tools>Comment and Markup Tools>Typewriter Tool
  5. Type the data into the pdf census form
  6. If the census form needs to be rotated to be able to type the data: select Document>Rotate Pages (as needed)

I have used PDF-XChange Viewer for years. It is a wonderful tool to work with pdf’s. You can also save a pdf as an image file if you want. I do this frequently with newspaper clippings downloaded from GenealogyBank and other such sites.

The program is completely free and can be downloaded safely from CNET.com, a very reputable site. For downloads, you will be moved over to Download.com, which is a CNET.com site. I have also used CNET.com for many years. It is safe and trustworthy.

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