Genealogy Do Over – Week 1

Research is the course of action I undertake in order to find and gather my family stories. Research is the process I use to find Sources from which I extract my family stories.
There have been ground shifting changes since I began researching my family stories.  Most notably I now use digital means for gathering and storing my source material in preference to pen and paper. Also, a lot of material is far more accessible now, particularly online, than when I began searching for family stories. Along the way I have often tweaked my research process as a consequence of my experience.

The Genealogy Do Over is an opportunity to stop and take stock. The Do Over is an opportunity to set aside my current research process. It’s an opportunity to blow away the dust that lurks in the corners of my current research process. The Do Over is an opportunity to rebuild a research process that will serve me well going forward.
Setting previous research aside does not mean casting aside all the results of my previous research. It doesn’t mean I abandon all my results. Setting previous research aside does mean, though, that I shall set aside previous research results until required as part of this Do Over.
Genealogical research is an iterative process. It just so happens that in this particular iteration of my research process I hope that I shall be more open and conscious to adopting significant changes.
I believe that preparing for a research task accounts for 50% or more of the time taken for the research task overall. So here are some of my thoughts about preparing to research.

  1. Searching for my family stories mustn’t take over the rest of my life. This is indeed a point I must consciously practice during the Genealogy Do Over.
  2. I am a morning person. Therefore any initial research conducted after 9.30 pm is really a waste as I shall just have to repeat it at a later stage. Another point I should practice over the next thirteen weeks.
  3. I should complete my current research task before commencing another.
  4. I shall leave my notebook at home on field trips to archives. Instead I shall use my android tablet loaded with Families complete with appropriately formulated To-Do Items and a clear pencil case containing a pencil for completing forms, a usb drive, my small camera and mobile phone. The clear pencil case is a requirement of the Public Record Office Victoria where I expect to be spending some time this year. This set up seems to meet requirements of other repositories I have visited.
  5. I shall consider how I can use my research, where appropriate, for other obligations such as for:
  • inclusion in presentations and in articles I write for the Victorian GUM newsletter and
  • creating examples of outputs from my Legacy Family Tree database for display at user group meetings and, in particular, at Victorian GUM’s stand at Congress 2015a late in March.

Let me begin with two rules I shall continue to observe while conducting my genealogy:

  1. Enjoy searching for family stories. It has been my passion for most of my life. May my search for family stories continue to be a joy.
  2. Share my research and stories with others. Not only is this fair but it is also a delight (and a source of many more stories). Many, many more people than I’ll ever remember have shared their stories with us.

There are also three rules I am introducing in 2015:

  1. My Legacy database contains information I have gathered about my family over the years. That is, in 2015 I shall no longer regard my family database as a glorified card file but as a properly and appropriately structured database.
  2. Sources first. Immediately on finding some family information I shall capture that information into my family database by linking the Source to the relevant To-Do Item.
  3. Focus on output. After all, the very reason I search for family stories is to share them with others. Focusing on output also implies my research is an iterative process.
    “Begin at the beginning”, The King said very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop” (Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll).
    Rather than follow the King of Hearts advice to stop at the end I often go back to the beginning and repeat my research. Generally more than once.


Ships and Drays

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How’s school going? This was a question I was often asked as a child. I generally mumbled “alright” in reply. But I remember one time particularly – when Grandpa Learmonth asked me about school. I had a great deal of respect for him and he deserved a considered reply. So I asked him how was it that the Hamilton students could catch the morning train whereas the Warrnambool students had to catch the evening Warrnambool train – long after school had finished and every other student had left for home.

Yes he said. His ships had to tack all the way home to Portland against the sou-westerlies. Those same sou-westerlies blew him back but it could be days after the beginning of term before the Wimmera boys finally arrived back at school. There always seemed to be some problem with the drays that delayed them.

While this story mentions neither paddocks or land selections it does define loosely the fences or boundaries (Portland – Hamilton – Warrnambool) within which my Baulch and Learmonth ancestors held land and where many of my paddock stories originate.

Why join Genealogy Do Over

WHY have I joined Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do Over?
Most of us have a process for researching our family tree, a process for how we go about finding and gathering our family stories.
Technology resources have changed in ways quite unimaginable when many of us started our genealogical research. Consequently, our family stories are far more accessible than they have ever been.
Yet many of us have not taken the time to review our genealogical research process.
Thomas MacEntee encapsulates this quite well when he says
“I know a lot more about the “process” of genealogical research and I want to put it to use. I want to head out from the same starting point and see where the journey takes me this time.”
2015 is also the year that I am starting a Genealogy Do Over by implementing a new process for capturing information into my Legacy Family Tree database. During the Genealogy Do Over I shall implement and test a new process of adding Sources first to my family database. I have never been completely happy with my Legacy Family Tree database as a glorified card file. This is mostly because processing Sources came at the end of that process. Consequently, Sources have generally not made it into my family database.
So, during the Genealogy Do Over my desk and table will be clutter free. I shall apply my new process to just a very few Individuals in my family database. The rest I shall put aside for the time being.
The company along the way will be most welcome. Indeed, already some good ideas worth some serious consideration have been posted.
During the Genealogy Do Over I am implementing a major change to my family database – something akin to a major service on my car. One of those very big ones that only comes along once in a while between many minor services. This is not a once only Genealogy Do Over. I often make small changes to portion of my family database. I regard honing the WHAT I do as part of gathering and sharing my family stories or my research process as an iterative process.
Which is fortunate. I remember when one of our cats was “done over.” He came home very sore and lay in front of the open fire for days. We gradually removed the mud as it dried. I don’t think my family database could survive equivalent treatment. I shall merely be doing a major overhaul of my research process.