… This is the stepping-off point for revitalized research!
At the start of Genealogy Do-Over Week 1, I came up with my top five base practices for family research. I decided to further develop my second research practice:
I will develop a workflow that works for me, and follow it. I will update it when I find it’s not working. (This will likely include trial and error attempts.) It will include a research plan, sharing with others and efficiently working with documents — from collection, to analysis and data entry to producing reports.
Throughout the week, I evaluated my former research habits and came up with some things that didn’t work, some that did and others that worked, but could work much better.
I studied charts and research logs and best practices others had shared.
Here’s what I came up with:
- I’m a bit ADD. I’m good at finding things, but not so great at processing them. I need to allow myself the occasional freedom of spontaneous research, but follow-up with disciplined tracking and data entry.
- I had no research plan. Sure, I started looking for a certain thing. But then, I followed every BSO that came along. Oh, the stories I could tell about the rabbit holes I’ve been down. Most didn’t result in good research, however. So, I need a plan. An overall plan, and project plans, to direct my research.
- I had no finished package. I had been organizing digital material and throwing hard copies into boxes to sort out later. No more. My workflow will include printed reports that I can share with family, who will enjoy it today. I was inspired by several posts on The Organized Genealogist Facebook page.
- I have very few family photos. I’ve been trying for several years to get access to them, but relatives across the country have them. Correcting this may require a cross-country trip.
- My research and to-do logs kind of work, when I remember to enter data into them. Post do-over, this won’t be the case. I’m looking forward to developing research, to-do and tracking logs that work with my unique workflow and get updated consistently.
- Legacy Family Tree worked for me. I came to love its integral notes, robust Evidence Explained compatible source templates and scalable fonts and dialog boxes. This sounds like a good thing, right? Not so much. I switched from Windows to a MAC in January 2015. I’ve yet to find a comparable program for MACs.
- My census naming system worked. Unfortunately, I had no naming system for other files. This is about to change.
- I was anal about documenting sources, but not properly recording the data. This means I have scribbled notes written sideways across pages that reference sources and analyze data. No more. My new base practices require that I cite sources according to Evidence Explained, and that I analyze data according to the Genealogical Proof Standard.
Grandma Smith (nee Van Lue) walked along an Indiana ditch with me, pointing out edible wild berries and sassafras leaves. She bent and pulled the weeds away from the sassafras plant and gently dug it from the ground, showing me its reddish bark. Her mother was part Native American, she told me.
She had taught her about plants to use for healing and to be a caretaker of the environment — before environmentalism was a thing.
This grandma’s genes, mingled with those of countless other ancestors make me who I am today. I’m participating in Genealogy Do-Over to honor them, and to help tell their stories to generations to come.