Genealogy Do Over – Reflection

 

Reflection
Reflection

Great success requires long term patience
Gideon Haigh about successful Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglu,
ABC Offsiders 1 Feb 2015.

BACKGROUND
I had such plans for my retirement. Or so I thought. Finally, I would be able to tell some of the family stories I have gathered over the years.
No so. It just hasn’t happened. My family database is a mess. And I continue to be beguiled by every bright shiny object that passes before me.
So what can I do? How can I optimize my ability to gather and tell my family stories? I started last year by jettisoning my pen and notebook in favour of a tablet, camera and USB drive. But that wasn’t enough. I hadn’t considered applying to my quest for family stories the research model I had honed in my studies and practiced in my employment.
I hadn’t considered a comprehensive review of my research model until I read of Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do Over.
Now, in Week 6 it’s not the results of my research that I have set aside but the methodology I have used for my genealogical research. If I ever had one that is. After a lifetime of gathering family stories, it is only now, as part of the Genealogy Do Over, that I am having a serious look at tweaking my trusty research methodology and incorporating the Genealogy Do Over principles to build a genealogy research methodology for myself. A genealogy research methodology that, hopefully, optimizes the chances of achieving my goal of writing my family stories.
I am looking for better ways of storing my family stories in the one place –with their associated sources included and the relevant media files linked. And let’s hope that the bad habits have already been banished forever.
MY GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH MODEL
INTRODUCTION
We all want to belong one way or another. I belong to the Geelong Football Club. I also belong to my Baulch family. And just as I listened to stories my father and grandparents told me I want to share my family stories with those who shared their stories with me as well as with those to come.
But how can I share my family stories if I haven’t been able to over the past few years? This is where the Genealogy do Over is helping – particularly in showing me how to create my Genealogical Research Model with the aim of optimizing my chances of gathering family stories and helping me find time to focus on telling those stories.
On reflection my Genealogy Do Over began well with the consideration of my Genealogy Golden Rules.
From my Genealogy Golden Rules everything seems to have fallen into place. So far. Articulating and, more importantly, writing down my Research Goals for the period of the Do Over is helping me keep those Bright Shiny Objects parked and in abeyance for possible consideration later on.
I have also given some more thought about managing my projects or Research Goals. About recording my Research Goals in my genealogy software. For, as my sister agreed, keeping everything in the one place is preferable to having numerous documents, spreadsheets and the like elsewhere. I just lose track of anything not linked to my family database.
I have been revisiting my use of Legacy’s To-Do List as a research log. Now, as part of the Genealogy Do Over, I think there is more I can do with it – Including exporting it as a CSV file should I ever wish to look at it in spreadsheet form!
I have had considerable trouble distinguishing between conducting the research and tracking searches only to realise that, for me, they are one and the same. However, the improvement I can make is to ensure that information for both is captured completely in the relevant To-Do Item in my family database.
A little tweaking of the naming of my master Sources, the naming of my top level media folder and the naming of my research log categories has resulted in an unexpected concordance between the three based on subject.
I prefer to evaluate evidence with my Legacy Events (Disproved or Not Proven for example) and, finally, I have consigned investigating further education options to Bright Shiny Objects for the time being.
MY REVISED GENEALOGY GOLDEN RULES
Right at the top of my genealogy model are my Genealogy Golden Rules. These define the landscape, the environment or the paddock in which my genealogy model operates.

  1. I shall continue to enjoy searching for family stories. Gathering and sharing stories has been a passion for most of my life. May my search for family stories continue to be a joy.
  2. I shall continue to share my research and stories with others. Many, many more people than I shall ever remember have shared their stories with us. So it’s a delight to share our family stories in return. Moreover, sharing is often a source of many more stories as well.
  3. “Well begun is half done” attributed to Aristotle.
  4. “The secret of success is consistency of purpose” Benjamin Disraeli
  5. Focus on output. The very reason I search for family stories is to share them with others. The corollary to this rules is that Gathering and telling my family stories is an iterative process. When I start a search I don’t know until the end whether I have the information I require to tell a story. I may have to do further research. I may need to reconsider how that information is stored in my family database. Certainly it is my goal to do it right the first time. But that rarely happens. Generally I have to return to the beginning and review what I have gathered. Research is an iterative process.
  6. Sources first. Immediately on finding some family information I shall capture that information into my family database by linking the Source to the relevant Research Log item and by, so I can find the information easily, including the media file name in the relevant Research Log.
  7. My Legacy database contains information I have gathered about my family over the years. In 2015 viewing my family database as a properly and appropriately structured database is cool. There is nothing preventing me using a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet but these documents must be linked to my family database in some way.
  8. Apply the KISS principle. In this instance I am defining this principle as Keep It Small and Simple.
  9. That I haven’t found something doesn’t mean it isn’t to be found at all.

CONCLUSION
I shall omit consideration of my model, together with screenshots as appropriate, for next time but has the Genealogy Do Over been worthwhile?
Yes.
Yes, if for nothing else just in starting over my search for my three greats grandfather George Watts I found his death certificate as well as that of his wife Mary Watts.
Yes, in that I have revised my initially overly ambitious Research Goal into small manageable bits that are achievable and, therefore, should conclude with a sense of achievement.
Yes, for all the improvements to my research process going forward.
Yes, most of all, for alerting me to Bright Shiny Objects. I shall be most mindful of them as I search for the story of my first home in the archives of the Public Record Office of Victoria. PROV is just awash with Bright Shiny Objects.