Sunday, January 31, 2016

Family Events ~ January 31 - February 7

[Yes, I know - February 6th should be the last day...but I have a special reason for including it here!]

January 31st ~ On this day in 1901 in Edinburgh, Scotland William Hannan RITCHIE, my 2nd cousin twice removed is born. He will only live for 4 days.

February 2nd ~ On this day in 1838, marriage banns are read for David RITCHIE and Agnes GOURLAY in Ceres, Fife, Scotland. They are my 3x great-grandparents. This day in
1993 is also marked by the death of my granduncle, Windsor Benzie RITCHIE in Ohio.
February 3rd ~ This day is marked by the death of James KIRK, my 5x great-grandfather in 1829 in St. Andrews, Scotland. I am fortunate that there is a marker for him in St. Andrews, erected by his son and that I got to see and photograph it.

This day is also marked by the death of Selma EICKELBERG, my great-grandaunt in Denver, Colorado in 1913. She was just 5 days shy of her 19th birthday.
February 4th ~ On this day in 1897 Edna SAURER is born in Dalton, Wayne County, Ohio. She will become the wife of my great-granduncle Raymond GRABER. She will also cause be no end of problems early in my genealogical "career" as she was born Edna SAURER and became Edna GRABER while her sister-in-law, Raymond's sister, is born Edna GRABER and becomes on marriage Edna SAURER!!! Even when people noted names on the backs of pictures it all depended on who was doing the labeling as even after marriage both women might be noted by a maiden name.

And now for the most special days of this week:
February 6th AND February 7th ~ On these days, some years ago, right before and right after midnight my twin nephew and niece were born. My niece, the one born on the 7th used to say that the 6th was always, "the worst day of the year for me" because on that day her brother would tell her, and anyone who would listen, that HE was a year older! "I'm already x but you are NOT" I'm sure any of you with brothers can imagine. While they are grownup now, I just couldn't resist using their one-year old birthday party pictures.

Happy Birthday Twins!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

FINALLY Get Organized! Jan 3rd-9th 2016

[If you'd like more information on Dear Myrtle's Finally Getting Organized  - click on the picture to the right]

Here are our marching order for this week along with my progress.  I'm pretty good for this week because I spent my Christmas break time cleaning my genealogy room:

1. Clear off the computer desk and make piles for everything.

Done as far as clearing off my computer desk.  I don't have piles for everything instead I have project boxes where I grouped things by large category.  Sometimes it was surname, sometimes type of project.  For instance I have a box with a large number of my grandfather's negatives to scan.  These boxes are all arranged in the closet.

2. Check your office supplies, and replace any missing or lost items.

Done.  As a matter of fact I think I have enough office supplies for many years to come. I made a box to store the extras so they aren't cluttering things up.

3. Setup your computer desk and office the way you really want it! 

Done with a gold star!  My brother-in-law helped me set up my computer to accommodate a third monitor.  That's been my dream arrangement for a couple of years now and I'm so happy to have this set up.

4. Designate a special red clipboard as the "When Computer Help Arrives" clipboard.

I'm passing on this one.  I AM the computer help in my family, or, if I have an issue I can't tackle, I ask the above mentioned brother-in-law.

5. Designate a special green clipboard as the "Genealogy Challenges" clipboard.

This fits in so well with advice in the Genealogy Do-Over workbook about BSOs [Bright, Shiny Objects]  Basically it's the same concept - write it down and move on, don't follow the bunny trail.  I've found this works well in many ways.  When my mind is like that browser with waaay too many tabs open it helps me to write some things down and then I can concentrate on the one thing I should be working on.  So in this case my "green clipboard" is a note in Evernote called, "To research later."  I'm not sure right now if I'll divide that up into separate note for surnames or just use tags to do the work.  So, I'm considering this one done as well.

Pretty good for week one - but they I had a huge head-start on this one!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Welcome 2016

It’s a bright, sparkly New Year full of resolutions that I haven’t yet broken and goals that I haven’t yet failed to meet. When it comes to goals I find I’m rather like Jane Austen’s heroine, Emma, "Emma has been meaning to read more ever since she was twelve years old. I have seen a great many lists of her drawing-up at various times of books that she meant to read regularly through—and very good lists they were—very well chosen, and very neatly arranged—sometimes alphabetically, and sometimes by some other rule. The list she drew up when only fourteen—I remember thinking it did her judgment so much credit, that I preserved it some time; and I dare say she may have made out a very good list now. But I have done with expecting any course of steady reading from Emma."

I’m great at writing goals. Thanks to my current work environment, I understand all about SMART goals. (If you don’t know that that means, take a look at Amy Johnson Crow’s wonderful blog post on the subject.) My goals are set up in ways that I could achieve them, but then I don't.  I think one reason is that I like to make grand goals for the whole year. 

So, instead of my usual detailed list of the numerous things I intend to accomplish in all of 2016 I’m taking my cue from Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over and I’m slowing down. I started participating in the Do-Over last year and, as you can see by grand total of 3 related posts, I didn't get too far.  Then life intervened in various ways so I’m going to try again this year. I’m liking the idea of a monthly vs a weekly format. While I’m more of a Go-Over vs Do-Over type, that’s what I appreciate about this adventure. It’s totally customizable.

In conjunction with that I’m Finally Getting Organized with Dear Myrt. I think the two ideas go well together and after reviewing the first week’s checklist I like the additional suggestions geared toward those of us trying to be more digital.

My idea for goals this year is to look no farther than the month I’m in. For January I intend to:

  • Participate in the January portion of the Do-Over
  • Work through each of the Finally Getting Organized weekly checklists
  • Attend SLIG and learn tons of cool things about DNA
  • NOT buy any genealogy related book or product

That's it.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Genealogy Do-Over Part 3 – Organize

Back in December, Thomas MacEntee announced the Genealogy Do-Over. Since then the big red button above has been popping up all over! There is also a related Facebook group that has generated a ton of good ideas.

I decided to join in for a couple of reasons so I will have a post outlining a goal for each of those reasons. This is my third and final "getting ready" post.

Today – it’s all about organization & consistency! 

I remember reading something – not sure when or where, but it might have been one of those cute Facebook poster thingies – something like, “Being organized is not a goal, it’s what helps you achieve your goals.”   I want this Do-Over to get me to that point of organization.  I need to have simple, straight-forward methods that make it easy for me to stay organized so that my DIS-organization doesn't get in the way of my progress.  If I had a resolution for 2015 it would something along the lines of, "This will be the year that I DON'T re-download a record that I already have (or re-copy or re-aquired.)"  Organization should be the process that is always running in the background to make my research and writing happen more smoothly.

As a start, I took the plunge yesterday and moved all of my genealogy folders into one folder titled “!Archive_Enter_at_Your_Own_Risk.”  When we get to the research part, I will be accessing this folder to pull out documents I already have but that won't be my first stop.  I don't have much in the way of paper files, but they are currently in tubs and will stay there until I get ready to move on to researching.  For me part of this Do-Over will be to re-evaluate what I DO have.  I want to do that in an orderly and focused way - one person at a time.

What I will need the most throughout this Do-Over is discipline to avoid those BSOs - Bright, Shiny Objects.  I will also need discipline to not take short-cuts and tell myself that "I'll come back later and clean that up" because looking at my hard drive and database, clearly I won't!

In terms of not taking short-cuts, I thought this was great.  I remembered that Amy Coffin, of the We Tree Genealogy Blog, had done a Do-Over of her own a number of years ago.  So, I went back and found her first blog post about that.  My favorite quote from that post has to be, “I am so serious about this that I didn't start building the tree until I could find my own birth certificate in order to make a proper source citation.” I need that sort of dedication and commitment to my own Do-Over - Amy, you are my Do-Over hero!

The bottom line is to get started moving in the right direction and then continue on that path consistently, every time I sit down to research. Not earth-shattering but important.

The Goal: Have a “readme file” for the major areas of my data input and filing (either paper or electronic.)  At minimum, one for my “Documents” folder, one for data entry into RM or Legacy starting with place naming conventions, and one for paper filing. I’m already half way through with the first.

While my system needs to be simple it's not something I do every single day so little inconsistencies can appear if I don't take time to remind myself of the standards I put in place.   As an inducement to open that file, I'm putting in things I can cut and paste - because I' lazy and I really like to cut and paste! 

Time: By the end of the Do-Over (13 weeks)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Genealogy Do-Over Part 2– Analyze

Back in December, Thomas MacEntee announced the Genealogy Do-Over. Since then the big red button above has been popping up all over! There is also a related Facebook group that has generated a ton of good ideas.

I decided to join in for a couple of reasons so I will have a post outlining a goal for each of those reasons.

Today – it’s all about analyzing!

Many people who are participating in the Genealogy Do-Over mention the regret of not documenting where they found information, especially back when they were getting started. When I look back at my very first visit to a courthouse - my first real research - I have very nicely written on each page where I got the information, book, volume, page.  I think I did a pretty good job because there is enough information there to allow me to craft a source citation.

My problem is not so much with that very early research, but with what I do (or don't do) once I have information. I am so thrilled with finding things that I don't stop, take a deep breath, and analyze what the information is telling me.  I don't spend time correlating things.  Pieces of information tend to live in isolation in my mind because I'm rushing on down the trail to the next piece of information.

Here are two posts pointing out rather embarrassing oversights on my part.  The first is a Tombstone Tuesday post which shows how I discovered that my great-great-grandmother did NOT die in Colorado.  The second post is a record of my discovery of information contained in a divorce file - a file that I had in my possession.  The piece of information was a huge break though in tracing a line I felt was a dead-end.  This was information I had all along but had overlooked because, at the time, I was looking for something else in that file.

I need to slow down as one of Thomas's recent posts suggest.  If I only have people back through my grandparent's generation when we get to the end of week 13, I'm OK with that.  I want to take time - not just to do this correctly, but to really THINK about what I have and what it means.

This is a real issue for me. When I first received the divorce file it enabled me to finally find my great-grandmother in the 1910 census.  I was then able to track her through 1920 and 1930 with different husbands in each.  That lead me to other marriage and divorce records.  But I never really read that first file and thought about EVERYTHING it was telling me.  I just pulled out a fact or two that I needed and I was off to the races. 

The Goal: Spend time as I add people to my new database to truly analyze the data. "Analyze" has many synonyms including:examine, study, investigate, scrutinize, evaluate, consider, question, and explore.  I need to think about all of those as I analyze my data.

This also includes understanding the time period and place these people occupied.  I need to do more reading.  It's great that Wayne County, Ohio birth records are online, but all the pages I download will not tell me as much as reading "Sonnenberg, a Haven and a Heritage", a history of the early settlement of the area in Wayne County where my ancestors lived. 

Time: Ongoing, but since I've decided that screen time right before I sleep is not good, I'll commit to devoting the last 30 minutes of my day to genealogy reading.