Tag Archives: to-do list

My Family History Week: Sunday 29th April 2012

29 Apr

It was another reasonably good week, nothing really new, mainly re-visiting various parts of my family tree inspired by going through my to-do list.

Challenging times: Updating my to-do list

I am now pretty happy with the state of my to-do list, I am also aware that it still has some short-comings. Although I have cleared some duplicates and even completed a few items, however there is still a lot to be done.

I think a lot of the items don’t really need to be on the list at all. By that I mean that I ought to be in a position to run selected queries on my Family Historian software to give me lists of individuals for whom I still need to find births, baptisms, burials etc. for a particular place.

Various parts of my family tree

I put in a fair bit of work on Edward Gasson and his wife’s first family and this brought my thoughts back around to my 3x great-grandfather Thomas Gasson and his brief time with the Metropolitan Police. I must order Edward’s birth certificate this coming week.

A little bit of creative searching has uncovered a missing baptism record for the son of another of my 3x great-grandfathers, Thomas Kinghorn. John Kinghorn’s baptism in London had eluded me for several years. It turned out he had been baptised in Holborn, rather than Westminster where his siblings had been, this still leaves me two more children to find, but every little nugget of information helps.

Future Challenges

I am still finding my weekly challenge to be a helpful motivational tool, but with so many things that I could do it is getting hard deciding what to do next. I may take the opportunity to go through my to-do list again this week and try to clear a few more entries.

It still has over 140 entries so there is no shortage of things to do, however there is a shortage of things that I can do without visiting a record office, and that is not likely to happen this week.

There are several people where I have more information to be entered into my database (Patrick Vaughan and William Joseph Henry Bateman are two examples) so I might get around to updating them.

One thing that did surprise me when I was looking through my to-do list was the number of men whose First World War service was not properly recorded. I have copies of their service records or in some cases just a medal index card, but I haven’t really recorded all that data anywhere.

On the same theme there must be many more men in my family tree who served in the First World War, but whose records I haven’t found (or looked for) yet. I owe it to them to make sure I have at least checked to see what was recorded.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Challenging times: Updating my to-do list

23 Apr

This week I am going to set myself the goal of updating my to-do list. I have written about the short-comings of my to-do list and what I would like to do with it, but never actually got around to doing anything about it.

So what do I actually want to do to the list this week?

  1. Make sure there is nothing on the list that has already been done
  2. Make sure there are no duplicates on the list
  3. Make sure everything on the list is still relevant and needed
  4. Make sure everything has some indication of where it is to be carried out
  5. Make sure everything has enough detail to enable it to be carried out

Then if I have time I would like to start working through and seeing if there are any that I can quickly complete, there is a lot of stuff that needs an archive, but some material may well be online since I originally added them to the list.

I don’t really want to be adding any more items to my list just yet (there are already 165 items on the list) but I suspect one or two more will be added along the way and some existing entries may well need to expanded.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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So, what is wrong with my to-do list?

26 Mar

I’ve shown you a section of my to-do list, I told you how it should work, and now it is time to explain why it doesn’t work.

When I was preparing to visit the East Sussex Record Office last week I realised that my to-do list wasn’t doing its job properly. I identified several issues with it that concerned me.

  1. Not enough information – some entries lacked the background information needed to complete them
  2. New items not added – I was surprised to find there was nothing about Finding Minnie on my to-do list
  3. Completed items not removed – As I went through the list I could see several items that had already been completed
  4. Entries with no “where” indication – Many entries on the list had no indication of where they were to be completed
  5. No record of partially completed tasks – Some entires had no indication of which sources I have searched

In short my to-do list was incomplete and of course there is only one person to blame. Me.

I really need to take better care of my to-do list if it is going to actually help me do my family history. I suppose it has been too easy to just add things onto the list without really thinking about what I actually need to do to complete them.

I have tried to keep my to-do list as simple as possible, so that it doesn’t take up too much time. There is no point in having a to-do list that takes more time maintain than it does to actually carry out the tasks upon it. Perhaps it is still not simple enough, but I can’t see how I can make it much simpler.

Perhaps it is becoming too big. Perhaps I need to split it into smaller more manageable chunks, but that does defeat the object of having everything in one place where I can easily lay my hands on it.

For now the format of my to-do list is not going to change, however I am going to have to re-visit each and every entry and make sure that it is still needed and that it has all the information that is needed to carry it out.

In the future I promise I will do my best to look after my to-do list better, to nurture it, to feed it with all the information it needs and hopefully not let it get out of hand.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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What should my to-do list do?

23 Mar

I was going to write about the problems I have with my to-do list, but first I think it might be helpful to explain what I am trying to achieve with to-do list.

The idea is that my to-do list is a list of everything I need to do in my family history. Of course there are lots of things to be done and they are not all just straightforward things such as find the baptism record of John Smith.

The way my to-do list currently works is that each entry have three parts:

  1. What I need to do
  2. Where I need to be to do it
  3. All the information I need to do it

1.  What I need to do

This could be almost anything, but some examples are:

  • Find a particular fact about a person
  • Organise some data that I have already discovered
  • Transcribe a particular record I have found
  • Order a GRO certificate
  • Photograph an ancestor’s gravestone

The list could go on and on. Also it doesn’t need to be a single task (find the baptism of John Smith), it could be many tasks combined into one task in the form of a project (find out what happened to the children of John Smith).

Initially the project would be one entry, more as a method of holding that project as an idea, until it is ready to be worked on, when it would then be split into several single tasks.

2.  Where I need to be to do it

Again this could be almost anywhere, either in the physical world or in the online world.

  • An archive of record office
  • On a particular website or dataset
  • In a town, village or churchyard
  • Sat at my computer

This is the part that enables me to know what things I have to do when I am at a particular record office, or when a particular website has a special offer/free access.

3.  All the information needed to do it

Basically this is enough information to enable me to complete the task without having to go back to my database/notes to find out what I am supposed to be looking for.

In the case of find the baptism of John Smith I would want to summarise what I already know, so in this case his parent’s names and the date and place of his birth.

If the baptism isn’t where I would expect it then that fact would be added to the entry and I would to try elsewhere (or eventually accept that there wasn’t a baptism or it wasn’t recorded).

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Introducing … my to-do list

22 Mar

Here is my to-do list, or part of it …

As you can see it is a simple text file, giving me the most flexibility for viewing and editing. I don’t need an internet connection or dedicated program to use it, I just need to keep it synchronised and backed up. In most cases when I visit an archive I will be working from a printed copy.

The four letter code at the beginning is a way of identifying similar tasks, such as all those that need to be carried out at a particular archive (ESRO for East Sussex Record Office) or they are GRO certificates that need ordering (GROC for General Register Office Certificate).

It is meant to be comma seperated so that I can open it in a spreadsheet and sort it if I need to (so that all the entries for a particular archives are together), but as you can see at least one other comma has found its way in. In practice it is usually quicker for me to cut and paste to re-arrange the list.

On the whole it works well, but preparations for my recent trip to the East Sussex Record Office highlighted a few issues with my current system, which need to be addressed to make my system even better. I will tell you about them in my next to-do list post.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
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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.

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