Better genealogy: Know what you don’t know

… “What you don’t know can’t hurt you” = FAIL in the genealogy world.

Since I stumbled upon Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over blog and Facebook page several weeks ago, I’ve gotten a glimpse into what I don’t know about doing genealogy well. That peek awakened my native curiosity and left me craving more. And, I know just where to get it.

There’s an active community of genealogists online, many of whom are more than willing to share their secrets of success with others, who like me, don’t know what we don’t know.

Take Christine Sisko Svircev’s recent post on the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook page, where she has shared her workflow for handling new records and how she incorporates OneNote into this part of her research. (You may need to request to join the group page to view the post.) After I checked it out, I realized my workflow was full of holes.

Or, Jessica Kaylor Morgan’s “Personal Collection Log” spreadsheet that she shared on The Organized Genealogist Facebook page. This spreadsheet could serve as not only a log of records collected, but a repository log, cost tracker and contact sheet. Best of all, Jessica has made the file available for download.

Before I found “Genealogy Do-Over,” I knew I had a mess of paper records that would make a hoarder drool, a file naming crisis and no suitable genealogy database to run on my iMac. But, I didn’t realize how many other holes there were in my research process, or what great solutions are within reach.

Data is hypothetical only
Data is hypothetical only

Gone are the days when genealogists connected primarily through Ancestry.com, Genealogy.com or USGenWeb. I confess that I miss the active message boards of the late ’90s, but today we have new options and ways to connect with other genealogists that offer to change the way we do genealogy.

Better research starts by knowing what you don’t know, so I’m excited about the opportunity to create my own improved research system. And, I’m stoked about participating in the upcoming third cycle of Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over that begins Friday, July 3.

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