Sunday, June 26, 2011

Why am I doing genealogy?

   And, what direction should my future efforts take?
   An excellent post, "Organizing Those Documents and Photos" by Lorine McGinnis Schultze at Olive Tree Genealogy Blog, and some wonderful comments, particularly one by The Grandmother Here, really got me to thinking.
   I started to add a comment, but realized two things.  I needed to mull over the ideas first, and what I wanted to say might not fit in that little comment box.
   I had just finished a three-month project organizing my research notes (see I've GOT to get organized -- DONE!).  Yes, my notes are now in order.  If I need to find one, I think my chances are pretty good at being successful. 
   I didn't voice it, but in the beginning I thought if I organized my notes some repository, some place, some day would perhaps not want them, but take them.  Three months later, after looking at every single page -- from 45-year-old hand-scrawled notes to recent printouts of online digital records -- I don't think that any more.
   Other than the few one-of-a-kind "family archive" records, a good genealogist should be able to take my sources to a computer or a good library and reproduce them.
   Think about the transcripts of census records taken from scratched-up microfilm before the days of online digital records. Would you trust those? Wouldn't you go to the source and look at the original, a better original than I looked at 30 years ago?  

   Naw!  When I'm done with them, these file drawers are full of dumpster fodder.   And when I'm done with them will be when I quit doing genealogy (read that senile or dead).
   So I'm back to what Lorine is pondering, finding a way "To ensure that my research into my ancestry is passed on."  I am not going to throw away 45 years (and counting) of work. 
    So what's the answer?
   Lorine's current plan is binders for her ancestral lines only. She has children and grandchildren to pass them to.
   I have two wonderful children who have, to date, only shown mild interest in their ancestry.  That's probably my fault in not working to develop that interest.  I only have two step grandchildren, wonderful young people, but they have their own ancestry and it's not mine.

   There are always options.
   The first I've been doing for several years -- a web page --  But personal web pages are not permanent.  When I go, it will go.
   Online tree services.  But how permanent are they?
   I really like the look and feel of WeRelate, but I wonder if it will survive.  I only have time to do this once.
   I've recently been granted access to but haven't had the time to do more than read Randy Seaver's posts on Genea-Musings and experiment.  Data-wise, I suspect it's about as permanent as any could be, but there are problems.  For me those problems include no pictures, limited sources and wading through the morass of unsourced documents.  In all fairness, my first post connected me with a cousin I didn't know I had. 

   So what's the answer?
  For me, I think it will be paper -- not that I won't upload my whole RootsMagic database some day.  RM has created a very nice interface to new.familysearch making it, I suspect, about as easy as it can get.
   I'm not sure how I'm going to do it yet, but I will be investigating what I can do with RootsMagic and my recently upgraded version of  Serif PagePlus X5.  Between the two of them I should be able to produce pages of genealogy and pages of pictures that can be printed in multiple copies for family and interested libraries.
   I will keep you posted on my progress.

   As a final note, I was delighted to read the comment by The Grandmother Here who wrote, "The joy is in the journey.  Searching and finding is what I enjoy."
   Yes!!!  So do I!
   Maybe that's why I have so many green folders in my file drawers -- sources I've found but never entered into my RootsMagic.
   Without doubt, I'd rather be searching any day.
   Although . . . I've got to get that information into RootsMagic.  I can't go online with it or to paper if I don't. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

I've GOT to get organized -- DONE!

   Yes! Hallelujah!
   And, it only took three months.
   Five file drawers full of research notes are now in proper order. Notes are in color-coded folders. All notes for which sources could be even remotely identified are entered in my List of Sources Searched (LSS) database.
   I didn't plan on this step, but any obituaries or documents such as birth records, death records etc. have been scanned and the original records put into sheet protectors and sorted by family into three-ring binders. Prints of the documents are in the notes folders.

   Some final statistics: 108 ancestral names and 8,045 sources in my LSS.
   This project has been a humbling experience. My file drawers are a sea of green folders. Those are the ones with the notes that have not been entered into my RootsMagic. I enjoy research and I think I'm pretty good at finding information. But . . . that doesn't make me a good genealogist.
   That's one of the next projects -- entering that mass of data into my RootsMagic, turning the green folders into blue folders (sources entered). That may take years!
   I'll also review my families in RM. Some of the sources are from previous generations of database programs tracing back to PAF. They need to be corrected to EE style.
   I also need to send for official birth, marriage and death records to replace my abstracts and transcriptions.

   The other next project is pictures. We have hundreds, maybe thousands of albums, prints and slides from our families. They need to be culled, organized, scanned etc. A new CanoScan 8800F scanner sits on my desk and archival supplies are in-house from Gaylord to make a good start. I have to give a tip of the hat to Gaylord. I've had two orders with them recently and their service was exceptional -- delivery in 2-3 days.
   I think I'll focus on pictures for a while.
   Although . . . there is that roll of microfilm on order of Montgomery County, Ohio, tax records.
   What can I say, I'm addicted.