Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Genealogy Do-Over

Basically my research plan.
Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers has come up with a challenge of sorts, which is exactly what I need: a Genealogy Do-Over. The idea is to start over with your genealogy research, and do it right this time, rather than continuing to build off of old, bad research.

Because of the way I do genealogy, my Genealogy Do-Over is going to look a little different from most people's, I think. I use WikiTree as my primary (read: only) genealogy software. So obviously I can't just wipe the slate and begin again, since my research is integrated with that of countless other people. I may, however, start using a desktop program just to track my progress in this endeavour. (Alternatively, I could just keep track in a spreadsheet of the WikiTree IDs I've covered so far.)

My reason for wanting to do this is primarily source citations. I'm confident in my facts. Like many genealogists, I went through a phase of thinking I could trust everything in an online tree. But after learning that lesson, I joined WikiTree and started my tree for scratch there, so in a way I've already done one of these do-overs. In the three years since, I'm confident that all my information has come from decent quality sources, such as vital records, censuses, tombstones, obituaries, etc. None of it was blindly taken from another tree. But, often I look at my research and I can't tell where I got a fact from. I'm sure I got it somewhere good, but where is a mystery.

Basically, I'm rushed. I find a census record, add a whole bunch of information from it, use it to add a bunch of family members, and then just throw the link to the census in the sources section of each profile. Only recently have I started really using a lot of footnotes to specify where I got each fact. And I'm still not formatting my sources in any formal way.

Additionally, I don't keep track of my research at all. I just go where the wind takes me. I know that probably means I'm being inefficient, and I've probably lost track of a lot of leads I should have followed. I have a few things on to do lists here and there, but no semblance of a research plan.

So, it's time to go over it all again! I'm sure I'll make some great improvements to my WikiTree profiles, and maybe I'll even find some hidden doors through those pesky brick walls of mine.

More posts to come, once the challenge begins!