Friday, April 24, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Cycle 2, Week 3

We have just concluded week 3 of Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over, cycle 2. There were two tasks for this week.

Tracking Research

I spent a good part of my free time this week playing with software to track research and I still haven't concluded what tool I want to use. Quite a bit of my time was spent looking at OneNote. There are some good genealogy templates for OneNote as a research log.  I spent some time with Thomas' Excel Spreadsheet. And I also browsed quite a few Evernote templates.And lastly, my genealogy program, RootsMagic, also has a research log. Right now I'm leaning toward a Research Log posted by Colleen Greene on her blog.  But I'm still debating between and additional software versus RootsMagic.

Conducting Research

I did do some additional research on Vine Hankinson, one of my ancestors from England. I found his death date from some parish registers online at that weren't there the last time I researched him.  Since I wasn't using a research log, I also re-researched some things about him.
I need to order some films from the Family History Center. I entered those to-do's in RootsMagic.

I still have not started a totally new tree. I like the idea until I think of all the work I will need to re-do. So for now I'm using my old tree with a new QuickGroup of "Do-Over".

On to week 4.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Cycle 2, Week 2

1963 Plymouth Valiant

Week 2 of the Genealogy Do-Over had 3 parts.

Part 2: Self Interview

I started with the self interview.  I already have my personal genealogy in good shape as far as my *old* genealogy database. I have all the essential documents, and many others.  I'm doing two things for the self interview. I downloaded the trial of Scrivener (again) and started writing a mini-biography. I am amazed at what I remember when I start writing.  When it's finished, I'll give it to my son, but have no plans to make it public.  I also answered the questions in from  the "When I was Young" Genememe from Lone Tester HQ's blog.

1. Do you (or your parents) have any memorabilia from when you were a baby? (ie. baby book, lock of hair, first shoes etc.)

I have a baby book about me that my mother kept. I also have a little red fire engine toy that meant a lot to her. And several paintings that she painted.

2. Do you know if you were named after anyone?

I was born in the Kennedy era, and I'm named Jackie. But I'm not sure if I was named after Jacqueline Kennedy.

3. And do you know of any other names your parents might have named you?

No, but my father called me Sam for many years. Until I became a teenager and put a stop to it. I'm not sure why.

4. What is your earliest memory?

I have a couple.  We often picked my dad up after work at Chanute Air Force base and I remember sitting in various parking lots with my mom waiting for him. And I remember sometimes he would be gone in the evenings (college classes, I think) and my mother would roll a portable TV into my bedroom and we would watch Carol Burnett together.

5. Did your parent/s (or older siblings) read, sing or tell stories to you? Do you remember any of these?

I remember my mom singing "Rock a Bye Baby" to me.  I'm sure we read as well, but I don't recall specifics.

6. When you were young, do you remember what it was that you wanted to grow up to be?

I wanted to be a teacher. I had a playhouse in the back yard, and sometimes had school for my dolls and stuffed animals.

7. Did you have a favourite teacher at school?

In high school my favourite teacher was Mr. Embry who taught math.  I'm not sure why. He was a great teacher, maybe that was the reason.

8. How did you get to school?  

My elementary school was close, so depending on my health I either walked or my parents drove me.  I was forever getting bronchitis or pneumonia as a child.  In junior high I sometimes rode my bike, or was driven.  In high school, the same until I as 16. Then I would drive, or I'd ride with a friend from down the street.

9. What games did playtime involve?

Red light green light. Bike riding and sometimes bike riding pretending we were cowboys on horses. Basketball because their were mostly boys in my neighborhood, but I didn't like it. Small swimming pools in the summertime.

10. Did you have a cubby house?

Yes, as mentioned in #6.

11. What was something you remember from an early family holiday?

I remember our aluminum Christmas tree with the color wheel on it. And my mother always made a cherry Coke salad with marshmallows and pecans. I didn't like it then, but I have the recipe and like it now.

12. What is a memory from one of your childhood birthday's or Christmas? 

I remember getting a cardboard Barbie house that my father had to put together. And it was a bear.

13. What childhood injuries do you remember?

No injuries that I can recall.

14. What was your first pet?

The first pet I remember was Licorice, a black dachshund. Once we moved from a one story house to a two story.  The back door of the one story went straight out and down one step and he'd always dash out. The two story had about a 5 foot drop and the stairs went to the right.No one thought about this, and the first time he went out he went flying through the air. Fortunately he didn't get hurt.

15. Did your grandparents, or older relatives tell you stories of "when I was young ..?"

Most of my grandparents passed away before I ever knew them. And I don't recall any stories from my remaining grandmother. She did give me a black lioness figure that she kept on her fireplace mantel. I still have it.

16. What was entertainment when you were young?

In my family we watched TV together. Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Star Trek, I Love Lucy. We very rarely ate out. And vacations were once a year to visit my grandmother.

17. Do you remember what it was it like when your family got a new fangled invention? (ie. telephone, TV, VCR, microwave, computer?)

I remember when we got our first color TV. I think I was about 8.  And a little later we got a microwave. That was amazing. It was also a big event when we got our first dishwasher.

18. Did your family have a TV? Was it b&w or colour? And how many channels did you get? 

When I was younger we had two black and white TV's. Then we got a color set. At first we only got 2 channels (or maybe 3 with PBS.)  The second season of Star Trek (about 1967) we got NBC and got to watch Star Trek. I started my geekdom young.  Funny thing, I would have sworn Star Trek was on ABC, but I just googled it, and it was NBC.

19. Did your family move house when you were young? Do you remember it?

Yes, we moved from a one story to a larger two story. Our next door neighbors moved next door to us in the new neighborhood, about a mile away. There goes that FAN club thing again. We used a pickup truck to move, and I remember a desk (I think) falling out the back of it.

20. Was your family involved in any natural disasters happening during your childhood (, flood, cyclone, earthquake etc)

There was a mild tornado, or maybe a big wind shear when I was about 5. We went into the spider filled crawl-space. I remember the next door neighbor coming to check on us. I don't think my dad was home. He was probably at work. It messed up our garage and maybe some shingles, but there was no major damage.

21. Is there any particular music that when you hear it, sparks a childhood memory?

A lot of songs spark high school memories, but I guess the only one from my childhood was Big Bad John. I remember they played the radio for me at bedtime and I'd lay there waiting to hear it.

22. What is something that an older family member taught you to do?

My dad taught me a lot of home handyman skills. My mom tried to teach me to cook. Both parents taught me how to crochet and do embroidery. I still have afghan's that we crocheted and a tablecloth that we embroidered.

23. What are brands that you remember from when you were a kid?

I remember a lot of brands that are still around. I googled some of the brands that are gone that I now remember. Kenner toys, TWA, Woolworth, Polaroid, Texaco, Zenith, Blockbuster Video.

24. Did you used to collect anything? (ie. rocks, shells, stickers ... etc.)

I had a penny collection. It's still around on a shelf. Last time I looked there was nothing of any monetary value.

25. Share your favourite childhood memory.

I wouldn't have said it at the time, but working on home improvement projects with my dad.

26. I'll add this one. What was your first car?

I got to drive a Plymouth Valiant, I think it was a 1963. It started out life blue, but ended up being repaint beige. I drove it in high school and college. Good car.

Part 3: Conducting Family Interviews

Fortunately I have been doing this for years, and have my notes.  Very little of my family is left. So I will refer to my notes when I enter this data in my database the next time.

Part 1: Setting Research Goals

I am having a tough time with this one.  I feel like my goals should include my research log, maybe using Evidentia, scanning and storing files, etc. The problem is, we are not that far along in the Do-Over for me to have decided about those details. So for this week I will start a new database, and enter my data for myself, my ex, and my son.  If I have time, I will also work on my parents and my in-laws.

Thomas had asked "What resource do you use for a family group sheet?"  I feel my genealogy program, RootsMagic, does a fine job, so I use it. I feel no need to reinvent the wheel.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over, Cycle 2, Week 1

As you can see from my last post, I intended to do the Do-Over as a modified participant. However, life handed me a job opportunity and the Do-Over got put off. Now that I've settled into new routines I'm going to try the Do-Over again, even though I'm a week behind. But I think I can catch up.

I have been reading Thomas's posts as well as the Facebook page and have decided that this time I'm going to go all in.  I've evaluated what I've done in the past 13 weeks just working on my genealogy.  I have made some good finds, but I've also strayed down some side roads, both with my genealogy and my other Bright Shiny Object, Farmville 2.  I hate to admit it, but I'm a farmer. And while I enjoy it, I really do think it is even a worse time waster than the TV set.

On to week 1:

Setting Previous Research Aside

Most of my documents are digital and in one place. So I will just ignore them. I have a few paper odds and ends in a file cabinet and on a shelf, but I know where they are, so I will leave them until I need them.

Preparing to Research

I'm in fairly good shape here. I have an office; my files and desk are organized, I have the resources I need.  I may order an updated copy of Evidence Explained, I still have the first edition. If I do, it will be digital.  I have the first version in both hardback and digital, and I never touch the hardback. But I use the digital copy all the time.

I also have printers, scanners and even a StandScan. So it shouldn't be hard for me to digitize the few documents that I still have in paper format.

Establish Base Practices and Guidelines

This is a hard one.  For now, I will do as Thomas suggested and list the top 5 that I might be able to stick with.

1) I'm already good about documenting my sources in my genealogy software. However, I need to document the digitized documents sitting on my hard drive and in Dropbox. I have tried using Photoshop and pasting the citation into the image. And I realize that is probably the best method, but I don't think it's one I'd stay with.  So instead I'm going to start making a text file with the same name that contains the citation.

2) Someday I may write a book or publish a branch of my tree online. Some of my photos were passed down to me, but I don't think that gives me copyright. From now on when I find a picture I will also add to the text file if I have permission to use the photo, or at least note where I obtained it and who owns the copyright, if possible. If I ever do write that book, it will be a little easier to obtain copyright permissions.

3) I've collected a lot of people. Most of it is relatively well documented, but none of them are really family history.They are more of a list of facts.  I hope to re-do my tree, initially sticking to ancestors and their immediate FAN club which help document the ancestor. I do not really need to have all their children's children's children at this time.  Maybe later, but not now.

4) Research by generation, not by family line.  I want to start with my son.  Then myself and my former husband. Then his grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.  I want this research to include more than the facts and figures.  I want to research where they lived, what they did, etc. I was in the Beta for History Lines. I liked what I saw, but wish I had used it more. I may get a subscription and see. And of course, there are many other resources for this type of information.  I just need to research those as well.  But for the most part my ancestors stayed in small areas of West Virginia and Pennsylvania, so this shouldn't be too hard.

5) Start posting about my ancestors, a la Amy Crow's 52-ancestors-in-52-weeks.  Except I may not follow the themes since I will probably post in research order.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Genealogy Do-Over

Like many other genealogists, I am excited about Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over. And like many others, I am giving this project a lot of thought. This will not be my first do-over. I confess, I like to experiment with software. I used The Master Genealogist as my primary database for many years, but at some point, I came to the conclusion that while it had many advanced features, it didn't keep up with the times in some areas.  Since then I have gone back and forth between Legacy Family Tree and Roots Magic. I like many features of both of them.

So one decision I need to make, and stick with, is which software I want to use

Next is Evidentia.  I first heard about Evidentia from a Dear Myrtle "Wacky Wednesday" presentation. I tried the free trial and there were many things I liked about it. Evidentia makes you look at the document, before you look at the people. It helps you wring every last fact out of a document. It has great citation templates.  But it takes more time to analyze your document. That isn't a bad thing. I'm just not sure it's something I will stick with. I should. I certainly should.  

So another decision I need to make is if I am going to purchase and use Evidentia. I should decide as it's on sale until the end of the year.

Then there is transcribing a document. Part of me knows I should transcribe every document because it makes me look at it. But again, I tend to only transcribe handwritten documents.

Will I make transcribing documents part of my process?

There is the entire, huge, topic of organization. I'm mostly digital, but I'm not sure that is a good thing.

Do I want to stay mostly digital (except a few original documents) or do I want paper as well? And either way, how do I organize it? I've tried Mary Hill's system. I've tried Karen Clifford's method. On the computer I've tried nested surnames and filing by document type. Currently I'm playing around with an idea I saw on Facebook to organize by decade.  Nothing makes me happy! One thing  I do like. Within whatever folder structure I use, I like to name the files YYYY Surname Firstname Description, where YYYY is the event year.  Then if I look in the folder, I get a quick timeline view.

How will I organize my documents?

Like many I have collected many ancestors.  One problem is that I don't really have a goal for them. Do I want to find ancestors as far back as I can? (Well,yes.)  Do I want to concentrate on descendants from one line, perhaps with the goal of publishing my information?  Do I just want basic facts? Do I want a rich history of each person? (Of course, but is it realistic?) This is probably the most important question of all.

Who do I want to research? And why?

I need procedures. I need to write them. I need to follow them.  What will I use for my research log? My genealogy software? Excel? Evernote? Something else? Yikes.  Do I plan to write a research report for each person? And of course everything will be cited, closely to Evidence Explained. I have decided to give up on citation perfection. Close enough is going to have to be good enough or I'll never research anyone.

What are my procedures?

And there is the big first step. Set aside my previous research. First I have to find it. It's in file cabinets. It's in multiple folders on my hard drive. It's in my email. It's in browser links. What a mess.

Can I do it?

I'm not sure I can. Or if I want to do so. I may adapt and 'just' revisit my tree, One person at a time, Follow the processes I set up for each person and family.

I've also been lax about blogging.  Hopefully I'll be posting more on these topics as I think them through.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

My father, the handyman

This post is inspired by Dear Myrtle's Share a Memory Contest.  If I win, I'm hoping for 3rd prize,

My dad passed away in the year 2000. He was many things to many people, but around the house he was our handyman.  And I'm eternally grateful that he passed those skills down to me. And from me to my son.

His first big project that I'm aware of was well before I was born. He bought a beat up house that literally had holes through the walls, and repaired it for my parents first house:

When I was four or five, he built a playhouse for me in the back yard. As I recall, it was pink. In the winter it also was used for extra storage. Here we are in front of it:
I don't have an 'after' picture, but before we moved from this house, he built this carport into a full garage. He also built a covered patio on the back:
I guess this one was good practice, because when we moved to our next house, it didn't have a garage either. But it did a year or so after we moved in:

He put up that ugly TV antenna, too. This was before cable TV.
There were many projects at this house, and I remember helping, and learning, with many of them. He bought a mixed batch of inexpensive ceramic tile and we spend a lot of time laying out a pattern until we found one we liked:

He also built a breakfast bar:

And he finished off a full basement including a built in bookcase:

He also added a large terrace off the back:

This is one of two fireplaces he (and I) added to the house:

 That's my mom. Love the '70's plaid pants. I wore them too. This is the other fireplace. I remember climbing on the roof helping with this one:
An he's sleeping here. A well earned rest.

I was a young adult when we moved to Texas. Here he put in an above ground swimming pool that my son eventually swam in. With the cover you could swim year round:

And I don't have a picture, but he put a hot tub in a spare bedroom.

Thanks Dad!

Happy Thanksgiving and genealogy progress (or lack of).

I haven't posted in almost two years, and thought it was time I started again. My genealogy has been fairly stalled for the past couple years. I decided to change genealogy programs (more than once) and my database is far from being in good shape. I've decided to stick with one main program, but perhaps use other's for reports. I'm still working on organizing things on my hard drive, and may post about that later.

I have two concerns I'm still considering.

1) I love using source the templates that major programs provide, and I enjoy making my own templates. The problem with this approach is that the sources won't gedcom appropriately to other programs that I may wish to use for reports. There are workarounds, but they all will require more time to do. I feel I am so behind on my genealogy that I'm not sure I want to spend that time.

2) This problem is almost the same. I love that my program lets me "share" events among the participants. Again, this saves me time, but won't gedcom well.

The bottom line question is what do I plan to do with my genealogy and reports, and sadly I don't know the answer at this point. I just do it because I enjoy it.  Will I write a book on one of my lines someday? It's possible.  Will I use my database to teach genealogy ot others some day? Perhaps. I've considered it more than once. Will I publish to the web? Another maybe.

Stay tuned. Maybe one of these days I'll figure it out.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Week 3 – Free Online Genealogy Tools

Free online genealogy tools are like gifts from above. Which one are you most thankful for? How has it helped your family history experience? 

It is difficult to pick my favorite free online genealogy tool. But since many, many of my ancestors are from West Virginia, I'll chose the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. The main tools I use there are the databases at the West Virginia Archives and History section.  Mostly the birth, marriage and death records, although I definitely need to explore the other resources as well, including the West Virginia Memory Project.  I believe most of these records are indexed at the Family History Library now, but I often have better luck searching from the West Virginia site. If I can't find someone in one index, I'll try the other.