Back to Basics 1: First Quarter 2015

tiger's tailI nearly let myself get dragged along by the tiger’s tail again with all the enthusiasm Thomas MacEntee has generated around the geneaglobe with his Genealogy Do-Over (GDO) Project.

The GDO Facebook site has been abuzz with ideas, strategies and new software suggestions. Anyone with genealogy interests can join in – you just need to ask to join the group. I’m certainly going to use some of these suggestions along with Thomas’s GDO activities.

However, as I said on my blogiversary post, I also want to go about things a slightly different way. Further reflection made me realise that some of my planned activities need to be deferred until April as they don’t fit with my commitments and priorities this quarter.family-history-back-to-basics

So MY GOALS for January to March 2015 will be:

DNA

I’ve had my autosomal test done quite a while ago and Mum gave permission for hers in 2014. My goal from testing was to learn more about my problem Irish ancestors: the McSherry/Sherry/McSharry family (northern Ireland?), the Gavins and Murphys (Kildare & Wicklow), the Furlongs (Offaly) and Callaghans (Wexford).

Recently there have been close cousin DNA matches, which certainly helps triangulate the data. However, I still feel I’m wandering in the forest with Red Riding Hood, trying to identify how to take my matches further. It may be scientifically true that we are cousins, but I want to know in which line! Not to mention the wild-card that has two cousins on my mother’s side also matching my husband’s DNA….now that’s tricky!

Objective: I’ve pencilled in lots of DNA presentations at the combined Roots Tech/FGS conferences Salt Lake City in February 2015, so I’m hoping that after that I’ll be able to move forward more accurately, and confidently.

EDUCATION and RESEARCH

There’s lots of learning opportunities ahead for me with RootsTech and FGS then only a month later is the Aussie version of FGS with Congress 2015. There’s going to be lots of new speakers to listen to, genimates to meet, and information and stories to swap, as well as research opportunities.

En route to Salt Lake I’ll be taking a couple of days to pop up to Toowoomba and Murphys Creek for just a little more research about the place where the Kunkel family settled.Revisit record revise

In Salt Lake, pre-conferences, I’ll be focusing on the books section of the Family History Library. I’ve been in the habit of hiring in microfilms for many years, and I can continue to do that any time. What I can’t do in Australia is read any of the books that are in the library. Helen Smith has posted an excellent article on how to approach your research at the FH Library.

In Canberra, for Congress 2015, I’ve allowed some extra days and will be following up some archive sources for Duncan McCorkindale who helped build the nation’s capital, as well as visiting the War Memorial, National Library etc. I know there’s going to be far more to do than time will permit.

After Canberra I’m heading to Sydney for a few days but that’s mainly a holiday event to celebrate our anniversary. If something pressing comes up I may sneak out to Kingswood but will try to stick with the living not the dead. (I’m sure himself will be pleased, and amazed, to hear this!)

CONGRESS 2015

Congress 2015Blogging: As you know I’m an official Congress blogger, along with Jill Ball (Geniaus) and Shauna Hicks. We still have some exciting speaker interviews to bring you, and during Congress we’ll also be blogging about what we’re seeing, learning, and doing.

Presentations: I am doing two presentations at Congress and both papers have already been submitted to the conference organisers. However I also have the Powerpoint slides, as well as my on-the-day content, ahead of me. I really want to get these away before heading off to Salt Lake in February.

SOFTWARE

Family Historian 6: I’ve downloaded the update to version 6, and will be trying to learn a little more about it so I can pick Jill’s brains while I’m in Canberra.

Evidentia has been getting lots of kudos on the GDO Facebook page so I downloaded it and will give it a whirl.

Folder Marker is a program which lets you colour code your computer folders. I hadn’t known about it before but thanks to the FB poster who mentioned it, I’ve downloaded it and will see what I think and whether it helps.

RECORDING RESEARCH

BAck to Basics flow diagramI am still ambivalent about how much data I want to store in a genie program (Family Historian) vs a Narrative document/blog posts.

Blogging suits my preference for narrative family history and also lets me tell stories of the families for whom I have no plans of writing a published family history or of updating my finds on the Kunkel family. I write my blog posts in Word initially then cut and paste. A simple change I’ll make is to save the file with a surname leader, and save to that family’s folder.

In my hard-copy files I sort by family (where I’m not inundated in paper) and by generation (when I have heaps of info, eg the Kunkels). Within this I sort by “topic” or theme eg legal matters, petitions, certificates, church, military. That’s how my brain works, so I’m happy with that system.

Blogging has given me a community of like-minded friends who are supportive and interested. Unfortunately in recent months I’ve been a poor genie-friend myself and not supported others nearly well enough. Time to go back to commenting more.

Outcome 1: If I get to the end of 2015 with my electronic files in better, more systematic order, and tagged, I’ll be happy.

Outcome 2: Meanwhile there’s going to be a whole lot of scanning going on. Plus I plan to get back to commenting on blog posts.

Outcome 3: I have a suite of oral histories about Murphy’s Creek that I want to transcribe and also digitise. This is a project which will occur across 2015.

ANCIENT HISTORY

Another GDO Facebook person, Lynn, linked this story which suggests ways to manage our data. I like the idea that our initial research should be by surname rather than with a focus on families as entities, and I particularly empathised with the content. When I started all those years ago, pre-personal computers, I kept my research findings on A4 paper by person’s name and didn’t collate into families until I’d established the links. Whether it’s a natural style for me, or just habit I don’t know.

FAMILY BUSINESS

Lots of family events coming up in the next few months, as always, means this quarter is a busy one every year. On top of that retirement is looming for my other half (I’ve been retired for a couple of years), plus downsizing and packing up an inordinate amount of “stuff”.

WHERE TO?

Over the weeks and months, I’ll be reporting in on what I’m achieving and where I’ve gone astray. Thoughts, tips and support will be much appreciated. Like Geniaus I won’t be completely foregoing tangential genealogy – after all, that early morning inspiration may be an ancestor whispering in my ear.

How are you going with your 2015 planning?

5th Blogiversary: Reflections and Goals

fifth birthday candlesIt’s hard to believe, but today is this blog’s 5th anniversary.  Perhaps it’s why I’ve been feeling something of a five-year itch with it.  Over recent months, in a scattered way, I’ve been reflecting on where I’m at with both my research and blogging. My prevailing sense has been that my blogs, and my research, have got away from me – another way to say I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, despite chewing furiously.

tiger's tailWhen I bought a large mobile whiteboard about a year ago, I wrote at the top “Beware of the tiger’s tail”. What I meant by that, was to be strategic in my blogging rather than catching hold of the tiger’s tail and having it drag me along willy-nilly. Sure, I’ve written lots of stories relevant to my research but I’m equally sure I’ve not been strategic in my approach. I’ve been tempted to take myself off to Kakadu for a couple of days sans technology and take the chance to step back and decide what’s important to my family history research, my blog and what I want to achieve in the future.

So where do I go from here…other than Kakadu?

STRATEGY 1

In the past my practice has been to write up my family history in narrative form – partly because I started in the pre-computer age, and partly because it suited my style, following an example demonstrated by two academic researchers I met.

Genealogy programs tend to make me feel claustrophobic and for a long time I felt that the Australian program, Relatively Yours, solved my needs best. However the time has come to jump ship and make the move to another program, probably Family Historian. I definitely want one that permits more than a restrictive view of what constitutes “family”. After all I’m interested in my ancestors’ broad life experiences, not just the hatches, matches and despatches. I want to know the nuances of their lives, the place, siblings, neighbours and former neighbours etc as they so often break down brick walls.Revisit record revise

I have published my Kunkel family history but with so much coming online, especially via Trove, there are always new additions. Similarly I have unpublished narratives for several of my other lines: McCorkindale, Melvin, Gavin.

Project: Transfer my RY data to Family Historian. Because of the particular aspect of Relatively Yours I don’t find the gedcom works as well as it might.

Project: Prepare a spreadsheet which lets me check which certificates and records I’ve explored, hold or am still missing. Work on timelines for my tricky ancestors.

STRATEGY 2

A couple of months ago I wrote a post for the Worldwide Genealogy blog called My Three Rs of Genealogy Research: Review, Record, Revise. It certainly seems pertinent within this context.

family-history-back-to-basicsOverall I feel my genealogy (the structure of who’s who) is accurate: I’m a Doubting Thomas and will worry at something like a bone until I find the answer. If it’s not certain, then I will only add it as an hypothesis in my narrative, clearly stated as such…another advantage of the narrative model.

A month or so ago I added this note to my whiteboard as I wrestled with the “where to from here” question: Back to Basics.

Project: Review my many notes in over 50 notebooks from archive and library visits, LDS microfilms etc (and continue to digitise them). Incorporate the information into my narratives and genealogy program. I will also focus on whether my assumptions have been correct or whether I need more data.

STRATEGY 3

red-do-over-button - smallThomas MacEntee’s new Genealogy Do-Over Program is opportunely timed for me, as I think it will be complementary to what I’m trying to do here. However, I won’t be packing away my 28 years of research as I don’t think I need to…after all my data doesn’t come from online trees or other’s research. In (almost?) every case I’ve started with the basics and gone from there.

However, I will be going back to revisit my basics as mentioned above, and putting the research microscope over the conclusions I’ve reached, the gaps in my research, and where I can pursue further information. In short, be more strategic. I’m confident there’ll be lots of tips in the Genealogy Do-Over Program that will help me with what I want to achieve.

Project: Follow along with the Geneabloggers’ Genealogy Do-Over Program and implement strategies as appropriate.

SUMMARY

I’m expecting 2015 to be a big year for the Cassmob clan as a lot is planned. Hopefully I’ll be able to tackle these tasks along with the family goals.

BAck to Basics flow diagramMy over-arching goals:

Be Strategic 

Back to Basics

Reflect, Review, Revise and Record.

There are also other decisions to be made about my Dorfprozelten blog, which has been languishing unattended, and my East Clare Emigrants blog.

THANKS

starsAs this fifth year draws to a close I’d like to thank you all for reading. Blogging may have sometimes taken me off-track research but it’s given me a wonderful world-wide community of friends, some I’ve already met, and some I hope to meet at Roots Tech and the FGS Conference in February.

Thanks so much for reading my blog posts, commenting and being supportive!! You’re all stars!