Confessions of a messy genealogist

… why I need a genealogy do-over

My frustration over not being able to find a good (IMHO) family tree program to run on my new iMac led to my decision to do a genealogy do-over. But, it was my many years of sloppy record keeping that necessitated the do-over in the first place.

In the late 90s, I was ecstatic to find a wealth of information on Ancestry.com. I connected with other researchers and we added branches by the bunches to our family trees. I was so eager to see it all in my The Master Genealogist database, that I entered many individuals without proper source data.

Sure, I jotted my sources down somewhere, in an abbreviated form. I mean, why not just come back and add those pesky sources later?

I was surrounded by scribbled notes.
I was surrounded by scribbled notes.

About a year in, I realized how important the source information was, and I began the painstaking process of going back to add the source data. Then life got in the way. I packed up all of my work and moved across the country. A couple of years later when I picked it back up, I had a data crash and hadn’t backed up my system.

Since I had all of my hard copy information and hastily scrawled notes, I began the process of re-creating my family history file, this time in RootsMagic. I armed myself with “Evidence” by Elizabeth Shown Mills, and started over, sort of.

"Evidence," by Elizabeth Shown Mills
“Evidence,” by Elizabeth Shown Mills

I managed to trace one line to a Daughters of the American Revolution patriot ancestor and was accepted into DAR membership.

But, I’m the sort of person who learns best by doing. Doing it wrong the first few times, actually. I didn’t back up my data — AGAIN. I had uploaded my GEDCOM to GenCircles and thought that was good enough. I hadn’t gotten all of my old information re-entered when my computer crashed without warning.

Life came calling again and I packed my genealogy work away. By the time I decided to try again, GenCircles had been taken over by My Heritage, who wanted to charge me for access to my own family history. Family history that I soon realized had been edited to contain errors by others.

Since then, I’ve pecked away at adding data to my Legacy 7.5 database on a small laptop. My eyesight isn’t good enough to do too much data entry on that small screen, and I have a lovely iMac for work purposes. My hope was to be able to run Legacy on my laptop and use the iMac as an external screen. Not happening. And, probably this is for the best.

Now, I can focus on building a system, and recording and BACKING UP my family history research from the get-go, as I embark on my “genealogy do-over.”

 

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