Tag Archives: database

2010 to do list – create a proper to-do list

30 Dec

Between now and the new year I will be writing about some of the things I want to achieve with my family history in 2010.

I have attempted in the past to create an all encompassing to-do list, most of these attempts have either been far too simplistic or far too complicated.

The simple ones don’t hold enough detail, so for example they don’t make it easy for me to find all the things I have to find at a particular archive. The complex ones just take too long to update, so they generally don’t get updated often enough. What I need is something that is going to capture everything, quickly and easily.

I did have the idea of borrowing some ideas from David Allen’s Getting Things Done, where I would set a goal for each individual in my database, and deciding what the next step would be on the road to achieving that, and where I would need to be to carry out that step.

I thought this may be too complicated to track, but I did wonder if I might actually be able to create custom tags in my database which would hold the information within Family Historian itself. With a few reports I might be able to create a report of what to do at various archives or for a specific family name. It may however be simpler to keep this data in a separate spreadsheet, which could be filtered in many different ways.

At the moment I have gone back to a simple text file to capture everything (rather than risk losing the thing I have to do), which is much more portable than a spreadsheet or database, but not so easy to search. It is clearly something I am going to have to think about carefully before implementing any major changes.

2010 to do list – spring clean my database

28 Dec

Between now and the new year I will be writing about some of the things I want to achieve with my family history in 2010.

I did go through my database (Family Historian) earlier this year and clear up some loose ends, but as a result of the rush to get my family tree chart printed I have messed things up again.

It is not really messed up, just that I have a lot of loose ends that need further research which I didn’t have time to do.

Wives with no maiden names: Currently there are 21 women whose maiden names I do not know. A fair few of these are my 5x great-grandmothers, so it would be really good to find them. Along the same lines I also have a husband with no first name.

Orphans: I have a number of individuals and families who are not connected to the rest of my family tree, or rather where the connection is not known. These are mostly grandchildren of one of my ancestors, but the parents of the child is not known. There are a couple of families that are almost certainly related, they come from the same village and have the same surname as my ancestors, but again their exact connection is not known.

Missing parents: I have several individuals where the identity of one of the parents is not known. In many cases this is due to illegitimacy, and the identity may never be known, but in some cases it is just because one or other of the parents died early and doesn’t appear on a census return.

Living individuals: Now would be a good time to run through my database and make sure that all my ancestors and relations that are living are flagged as such, so their data is not shared.

Sanity checks: It would also be a good time to perform some sanity checks on my data, such as: age at marriage, age at death, duplicate children of the same name, correct gender based on first name. Of course there will be anomalies in the data, but once highlighted they can be checked on an individual basis.

Birth and death dates: As if that is not enough to keep me busy for the whole of 2010, I would also like to make sure everyone in my database has a birth date (estimated if needed) and any individual that is not marked as living should have a death date (again estimated if needed).

United Kingdom & Ireland Historical Postcards on Ancestry.co.uk at last

8 Dec

According to Ancestry’s Genealogy Databases Posted or Updated Recently page, the United Kingdom & Ireland Historical Postcards were added to the site on the 30th October 2009. However today is the first day that I have been able to get any search results.

I have been trying on and off since the beginning of November, searching for the keyword London, which I was sure would get some hits, and finally today it did. I can only assume there was some sort of technical glitch that was stopping them being available sooner, as I don’t think there has been an official announcement yet.

Once I knew there was something there I switched to searching for places in Sussex, there are quite a few images of Brighton and Worthing, but I was unable to find any smaller places, although I am sure there probably are a few more rural locations.

The image quality of the cards I have looked at seems very good, and the backs of the cards have also been included (which are sometimes more interesting than the picture on the  front).

As a postcard collector I would have to say that it is not quite the same as holding the original postcard in your hand, although I will certainly be exploring this database further.

This database was part of the Ancestry World Archives Project which is rapidly expanding the available databases on the site, through the hard work of volunteer transcribers.

Weekly genealogy preview (for week 38)

13 Sep

Last week was quite relaxed, I didn’t get much work done but I did spend quite a while thinking about which direction my research is heading in the next few months. There are a couple of things I definitely want to get done this week, and three or four others that I would like to complete.

  • I need to get my organising finished this week, it is almost there so I should manage it. I am finding that I am missing sitting down to some serious research rather than the quick adding bits here and there as I go through my files, so I am aiming to get all my paper files sorted this week.
  • It has been a while since I went to an archive, so next weekend I want to make a visit. I’m not sure which one, the West Sussex Record Office looks favourite at the moment, but maybe the London Family History Centre (not strictly an archive I know but close enough), the Hampshire Record Office or the Surrey History Centre. So I need to decide which one and put together a research plan.

Those are the two most important ones, but if I get time (that if should really be in bold and capitals) I also have the following I would like to do:

  • I still need to finish updating the appearance of my blog, tidy up the sidebar and update my blogroll.
  • I have a number of blog posts I want to write, and if I am not careful they are going to fall by the wayside and won’t be timely anymore, so not worth doing.
  • I still need to find a database to record my postcards, something that will deal with several different collections and handle the images and descriptions all in one package. My biggest worry is that I will enter all my data into one program and find that I am stuck with that program forever, so I may try and just use Microsoft Access.
  • Having had a look at prezi.com last week (probably too much effort to set up each family), I am going to investigate using TiddlyWiki for presenting aspects of my family history. I particularly like the fact that all you need is a web browser to run it, and that it doesn’t need to be online (but could be).

Weekly genealogy preview (for week 37)

6 Sep

I am looking for a quiet week this week, time to put my feet up and take it easy, or at least easier. I didn’t get much research or organising done last week, I did seem to get a lot of certificates scanned but that was about it. So this week I will try and focus on filing and get most of my organising finished this week.

  • I still need to get the TROWER folder emptied and all the other lose paperwork filed. I need to set up a current projects folder for all my work in progress. So by the end of this week I want just four folders: original documents, general research material, current projects and stuff still to sort/transcribe/scan.
  • You may have noticed some changes to the sidebar of this blog, well I still have more work to do, so this week I want to try and get that finished and tidied up.
  • I want to investigate prezi.com and see if that is going to be practical solution for presenting parts of my family tree or if it is going to take too much time to set up.
  • I need to try and find a database that will store details of my postcards. I would like to scan my entire collection and be able to add notes and research to them. Maybe I can just do this with tagging, but I suspect I need a database that will handle images (fronts and backs of cards) as well as text (transcripts of messages, addresses, details of the subject etc).

Genealogy Database Cleansing

30 Jun

Instead of actually getting on with any proper research last night I got sidetracked into some genealogy database cleansing.

There are two issues with my family tree that had been bugging me for a while, they are individuals in my tree with incomplete names and individuals who are not related to me and my ancestors.

The first category contained 15 individuals, the majority (nine) with no surname (mostly wives whose maiden names have so far eluded me), five individuals had no name at all (mostly fathers of illegitimate children) and one individual with just a surname (the husband of a relation who married, where I know her married name but no other details about the marriage).

There are a number of ways I can tackle these, for instance the fathers of illegitimate children can probably be deleted for now if I have no information about them. None of them are my direct ancestors so I probably won’t be investing much (if any) time and money into finding them. So long as I make a note of the children’s names I can always add them back in at a later date.

The wives’ surnames will probably need researching because some of them are ancestors. That will mean birth or marriage certificates need ordering unless I can find the information elsewhere.

The second category of unlinked individuals contains 15 individuals, or more correctly three individuals, one family of seven and one of five. These are mostly people with the same surname as my ancestors and in the same parish as my ancestors, so probably related in some way. This also includes at least one grandchild living with (or visiting) grandparents in the census and whose parents are not yet clear.

I could remove these individuals until I know for certain how they fit in, but I think I will try and make an effort to find out how they fit in first. As a rule I don’t normally add individuals until I know how they are related, but these must have slipped through in the early days!

Chances are I am not going to be able to resolve all these problems straight away, but I still need to make sure that they are all captured on a to-do list and are all recorded in a standard format.

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