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Letting my filing fall behind again

21 Mar

I have another confession to make. I have let my filing fall behind again. It is not a big deal really but I really would like to get things back in order. My filing backlog consists of a plastic folder which contains the notes from various archive visits that I have made over the last couple of months.

I have a pretty good (or so I think) system for dealing with them. I record the details in two places, my family history software and also on Excel spreadsheets and then throw away the notes. In theory this means I am covered if one or other of the files get corrupted, hopefully I will only lose one copy (there are multiple backups as well).

This system works well for me if I am disciplined enough to stick to it. For some reason over the last couple of months I have not been sticking to it, and this week I really need to focus on clearing folder.

It shouldn’t take long. It is should only be a couple of evening’s work, but these things usually take longer because I can’t stick to just entering the new data. I always end up going online and trying to find more information.

For example if I enter a baptism record I will then go off in search of a birth registration, and if it is an uncommon name then I might also look for a marriage or death registration. Then I might look for an army service record or a probate record and what should have taken a minute or two ends up taking nearer half an hour.

Discipline is once again the key here, rather than getting distracted and heading off at a tangent I need to do the obvious thing and record them as to-do items so that I can follow them up at a later date.

This is a perfect job for me this week, whilst I wait for a copy of the marriage certificate of Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER and ponder over what to do next with Ann HARMES. Hopefully by this time next week I will have it done, and will be proudly telling you how pleased I am to be organised again.

I need another to-do list

17 Feb

One of the outcomes of my visit to two archives last week was that I needed to tweak my to-do list a little bit, but more than that I decided to answer the question that I posed a few weeks ago.

I have decided to tackle my concern with the old IGI citations in two ways. My original intention had always been to replace these entries once I had viewed the original record, so I will bring that forward and view as many of the original records as I can. For any that I can’t access (those records physically further away) I will update the source to reflect the new FamilySearch website.

Whilst I am at it, it occurred to me that there are several other indexes and transcriptions that I have used in a similar manner as the IGI, in that they would do until I could view the original records and verify them. These are mostly from the wonderful indexes and transcriptions produced by the Sussex Family History Group and the Parish Register Transcription Society and shouldn’t be a problem to verify.

The problem has been that I haven’t really worried about doing it until now. In addition to my normal to-do list I now need to create a second list, the priorty is not so high (it is after all just going back over old ground) but every time I visit an archive I should be able to cross a few more off the list. Given that I have dates and places for all these records it should be very easy to find them.

Going forward I need to remember to keep adding new entries to this second list as and when I add a new citation for one of these indexes to my family tree.

My Genealogy Goals for 2010 – How did I do?

30 Dec

About this time last year I wrote a few blog posts about what I wanted to achieve in 2010 and as we are almost at the end of 2010 (and it is a bit late to do any more about it now) I thought I ought to face the music and see if I actually achieved anything I set out to do.

The first post was 2010 to do list – sort my photos and postcards in which I described my wish to get all my photos and postcards organised and integrated into my genealogy software Family Historian.

Pass or fail? Fail – my old photos are slightly more organised on my hard drive now and I now have a process in place for recording and scanning my postcards (but only as new ones arrive) but none of the photos or postcards have been added to Family Historian.

Next up was 2010 to do list – identify my photos and my desire to put some names to the many unidentified photos in my collection and if not names then at least some dates and places.

Pass or fail? Fail – I spent a couple of months looking at one photo, which I don’t think I ever wrote about and didn’t come to any real conclusions, and that was about it. If anything I have probably added more unidentified photos to my collection, although I did manage to discover the location of one postcard this year with the help of Google Street View.

Then was 2010 to do list – spring clean my database which described several goals that I wished to achieve when it came to my database. This was largely about tidying things up, checking for errors and filling in some missing details.

Pass or fail? Undecided – I am actually still working on this at the moment, progress is slow but I am getting there.

After that came 2010 to do list – what to do with wills? in which I described the problems I have with recording all the information that can be found in a will and how I intended to overcome this.

Pass or fail? Fail – Most of the wills I have in my collection have not been fully mined for data, usually I pick out the information that interests me (names of children) and then move on to something else.

With a little irony the next post was 2010 to do list – create a proper to-do list which described my plans to create a ‘super’ to-do list, which would record everything I wanted to do with my family history.

Pass or fail? Pass – I am still using a simple text file as my to-do list and to be honest I am finding this is perfectly adequate for my needs and so simple to use and update.

Then things got specific with 2010 to do list – some actual research goals which listed several of the individuals that I wanted to pursue in 2010, this was quite a mixed bag of relatives and ancestors, all of whom seem to have had an interesting story to tell.

Pass or fail? Fail – Although I did do some work on most of these individuals I never really followed any of these stories through to their conclusion.

Finally came My New Year’s Resolution itself, to start researching my wife’s Italian ancestry. Somewhat predictably this was a major fail. I did buy a book on researching Italian family history and a kit for learning some basic Italian, but these have sat on my shelf largely untouched all year, no progress whatsoever.

In 2011 I think I will keep things a little simpler and more achievable. Most of these goals from last year are still ones I would like to achieve in 2011, but above all I need to be realistic and recognise that I don’t have the time or money (but mostly time) to do everything I want to.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 52

26 Dec

Week 52 by my reckoning must mean we are at the end of the year. I think I will save my review of the year for next weekend, but this week I will have a look at how I failed to achieve any of the goals I set out at the beginning of the year, but try not to beat myself up too much about it!

I had hoped I could get down to some serious family history last week, but that didn’t really materialise. Like the week before, I did a lot of thinking about family history but never really got around to doing anything about it. I did get the death certificate for John FAIRS ordered and received it by the end of the week, but that was about the limit of my family history.

Much of my thinking has been around what I am doing next and in the future. At the moment my research is lacking focus, I am really only working on one project at the moment (the housekeeping of my database) and that is not particularly exciting at the moment. My to-do list is growing, but I am not getting chance to explore much further. I feel I should be digging deeper and making opportunities to do more research.

This week, as well as looking back, I need to decide what I am going to try to accomplish in 2011. One plan has already had to be set back because Carlisle Record Office is now due to open in April next year, not January. I think my plan will be to continue with my housekeeping and see where that leads, but try to schedule in at least one day a month to visit an archive and clear some items off my to-do list.

With a couple of days off this week I hope I can get some more research done, but in reality I ought to be spending a large proportion of that time sorting out other non-genealogy stuff, but I will see how it goes.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 51

19 Dec

Virtually no family history took place last week, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about family history but did really get down to doing much work.

Really the only bit of work I did was on the LEWRY family of Bolney, Sussex investigating the relationship to a probable new distant cousin, who contacted me. The good news is that we are all most certainly related (probably 5th cousins) but I don’t have enough evidence to hand to prove it conclusively. This week I will try to get together the evidence I do have and put together a reasonable argument for the relationship.

I did spend a little time on the housekeeping of my database, looking to fill in some gaps on the first two wives of Thomas KINGHORN, but didn’t really spend much time on them. I found a couple of records on the Ancestry.co.uk London Parish Register Collections, but haven’t saved them yet or entered the details in my database. It must try to do that this week.

As everyone was talking about it I thought I ought to take a look at the new familysearch website, but having previously checked out the pilot/beta versions of the site I didn’t really spend much time there. I will probably write-up my thoughts in a blog post this week. It will probably prove useful in the future, but at the moment it doesn’t seem to have the content I need, nor do I have the time to investigate the site fully at the moment.

I am going to have to blame Christmas and the cold weather for my lack of family history research this week. With most of my Christmas preparations sorted out now I hope that I can get back down to some family history this week. I also want to try put together a couple of new pages on my blog both of which will act as an index, one for my ancestral profile posts and the other for the sections of the two long distance paths I have walked (the South Downs Way and Capital Ring).

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