Genealogy Do Over Cycle 1

Thank You
Thank You
Thank You

It was serendipity.

Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do Over arrived in December 2014. Just when I had bedded down using Legacy Family Tree‘s To-Do Lists, my tablet, my camera and a USB drive instead of my trusty pen and notebook. When I was despondent. When all I seemed to have were insurmountable brick walls. Just when I was considering my projects for 2015.

Thank you Thomas MacEntee for addressing a gaping hole in my genealogical research practices. More than 6,000 Facebook members suggests I am not alone.

So are you considering doing the Genealogy Do Over in Cycle 2? I know that many of you who I spoke to at Congress 2015 were watching from the sidelines. Here are three suggestions:

  •  Just go for it. A job started is a job half finished. You don’t have to set aside the next thirteen weeks for the Genealogy Do Over. It is a matter of personal judgement whether time away is absolutely necessary for your peace of mind and well being or whether you are being distracted by some Bright Shiny Object.
  • Set your own pace. By the end of Week 4 my mind was in a whirl. This was exciting stuff. I needed time out to take stock (I had another time out at the end of Week 9).
  • The Genealogy Do Over doesn’t need to be completed in just the one 13 week block. In Cycle 2, now that I have the flavour of the Genealogy Do Over, I hope to tweak my new work practices and consolidate my new work practices. I set aside implementing any use of spreadsheets in Cycle 1 but in Cycle 2 I shall give more consideration to using some of Thomas’s spreadsheets – particularly for project management (I still employ the student mentality of doing all the project the night before the deadline date). I shall also look further at the role of social media in my genealogy research. The social media aspect totalled overwhelmed me in Cycle 1. And consideration of my Research Toolbox might creep into Cycle 2.

Thank you Thomas for identifying that my genealogical work practices should no longer be confined to remembering those stories spoken of whenever and wherever my family gathers. These days my work practices should focus on managing my time economically while maximising my chances of extracting family stories from the overabundance of information available in newspapers, books, archives and online. That is, I should be focusing not on the WHAT I find but on the HOW I go about finding my family stories. It is there at the beginning of the Genealogy Do Over:

“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.”

Now just in case you think applying a new set of work practices has brought all those brick walls tumbling down and all my family stories have been revealed let me assure you that this hasn’t been the case. Yes, when I set aside my previous results for my three greats grandfather George Watts and started over I found that accepting a death certificate I had previously rejected was far more relevant than the Census results I had been relying on for so many years. No wonder I had a brick wall! While I still know nothing about his wife I now have George’s Army life to pursue. I see lots of seemingly tedious searching ahead of me. But I have a plan. The possibility of understanding why George joined the Army and what life in his home town of Nottingham was like at the time the leaders in the Luddite rioters were tried and transported to Tasmania.

Just like searching in those pre computer days really.

My enthusiasm for genealogy research has returned.

Thank you Thomas.

Genealogy Do Over – Week 10

Victor Hallett's 1954 Letter
Victor Hallett’s 1954 Letter

Firstly, I was really proud to receive an invitation to include the GeneaBloggers badge on my blog site. It is nice to have this recognition as part of the Genealogy Do Over.

Because it is well overdue to do so and because it is preparation for DNA next week here is my Charles Baulch Family Tree created about four years ago. I include it here for the benefit of our Baulch family and because my sister Kathy suggested that I should.

It is so overdue. In 1954 when Victor Hallett asked his Baulch family for information he promised to share his results. Unfortunately, the task took a little longer than he expected and has only been put together with the help of many other members of the Baulch family. In particular a lot of the work has been done by my sister Kathy Baulch.

With many of us now five generation or more descendants of Charles Baulch and Ann Biddlecombe some of our relationships are more distant than can be found with any certainty using an autosomal test. Indeed why undertake an autosomal test when we already have a family tree? Firstly, it is a nice conformation that the autosomal test does provide valid results. Secondly, my family tree does contain more family than just Baulchs believe it or not.

I can’t emphasise enough the necessity to check sources and information should you use our tree.

My tree contains information I’ve not necessarily checked in recent years so may contain errors. Indeed, two particular errors are shared with the 326 Baulch family trees I found on Ancestry.com this evening for Charles Baulch and Ann Biddlecombe who married in Muchelney, Somerset in 1799.

The errors related to this Charles Baulch at the top of the tree. Certainly there was a Charles Baulch, the son Roger and Betsey Baulch baptised in Muchelney, Somerset on 25 January 1767 and as advised by the Somerset Record Office to a family member many, many years ago. However, two entries further down in the parish register the burial of a Charles Baulch is recorded on 8 March 1767. The infant Charles?

We found no burial for Charles Baulch in the civil records. So, as a marker for this research, it was recorded that Charles Baulch died BEFORE 1837. But no burial for Charles has been found in the Pitney parish registers either. However, there are two entries in the Pitney churchwarden records that suggest that Charles may have died about 1816 – a period when no burials at all were recorded in Pitney.

I haven’t altogether dismissed the notion that our Charles Baulch was a son of Roger Baulch. Roger had a son Henry and a Henry Baulch was a witness to the marriage of Charles Baulch and Ann Biddlecombe. Coincidence?

Just because I haven’t found the information yet doesn’t mean that it isn’t there to be found. There are still registers for parishes close to Pitney and Muchelney for which we have found no online indexes – including FreeREG, and the Somerset Online Parish Clerk indexes – so there is still quite a deal of sources to be searched.

Genealogy Do Over and Legacy

Ancestors of Donald George Baulch

Thank you to those of you who asked how I envisage using Legacy’s To-Do Items as part of my Genealogy Do Over research log.

Here is my view of my April Article for VicGUM’s newsletter. The article was written in response to questions I have been asked about how I use Legacy’s To-Do List as my research log. For this month only my mailing list version of the article is given here with screenshots. Next month I shall revert to m

Legacy mailing list. As usual, a version with screen shots will be published in VicGUM’s newsletter.

In looking back on my Genealogy Do Over experience so far I have included some consideration of how I envisage using Legacy’s To-Do List for recording my research plan or goals as well as use Legacy’s To-Do List after the manner of Geoff Rasmussen in his book Legacy Family Tree Unlocked!

For some I hope it answers your questions. For others I hope that it encourages you to look at Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do Over.

y usual practice of publishing a text only version on the Aus-

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.

 

Genealogy Do Over – Week 2

In my interviews for Genealogy Do Over Week 2 I returned to when I started collecting my family stories.  I went back to my first official family history visit which, coincidentally, involved going back to my first home, Squattleseamere. For my second interview I went back to the time of big shearing teams at Dunmore. I looked again at the transcript of an interview about shearing at the Dunmore shed when the shed was run by my Grandpa Baulch.

In setting my research goals I have tried to select some goals which should be achievable in the time of the Do Over while, at the same time, giving me time to test my new research process as set out in my Genealogy Golden Rules.

CONDUCTING SELF INTERVIEW

For my self interview I reflected upon my first family interview. This interview marks the time when I changed from just listening and absorbing family stories to consciously setting out to answer the question I am always asked but could rarely answer before this visit – You’re a Baulch are you?

CONDUCTING FAMILY INTERVIEW

As a child I absorbed the atmosphere in the Dunmore shed at shearing time and listened, engrossed, to the many stories Grandpa Baulch told me about the men who shore there. This interview is not with my grandfather but with one of the shearers, Bill Meade. It was to be about Grandpa in the Dunmore shed. Or that is what I thought on my way to Port Fairy for an afternoon’s chat.

FAMILY GROUP SHEETS

I rarely use Family Group Sheets. Rather I use Legacy’s Family Group Report in the List Style format. Why I do so means I need to add another rule to my Genealogy Golden Rules:

Keep it simple. I have ONE place, my Legacy database, which contains ALL the information I have gathered about my family.

SETTING RESEARCH GOALS

In setting my research goals I have looked at what reports and/or output I hope to produce by the completion of the Genealogy Do Over, how I plan to go about this and the limitations that might prevent me achieving my research goals. Consequently, I have tried to keep my goals simple and achievable within the duration of the Do Over.

My focus on output will be confined to:

  • Reviewing a Family Group Report for my three greats grandfather Private George Watts (1792-1845).
  • Reviewing my Family Group Report for my four greats grandfather John Bourke Ryan Esquire (1760 – 1835).
  • Creating a timeline for Squattleseamere Pastoral Run.
  • Substantiating my connection to John Bourke Ryan and George Watts. After all, this is a genealogical Do Over.
  • Creating some charts as I go.
  • Maintaining a weekly blog for at least the duration of the Genealogy Do Over.

My research process, or how I am I going to achieve my research goals, is as follows:

  • I shall start each piece of research by creating a To-Do Item.
  • The completed To-Do Item will then become part of my Research Log.
  • To comply with my Golden Rule of Sources First Sources will be attached to my To-Do Item in the first instance.
  • I shall set aside some time each day in order to achieve my research goals.

Of course, because family history is my hobby there are many things that may prevent me from achieving my research goals. These are my boundary fences:

  • My research should be confined to producing the output given above. In particular my research goals will set aside for the duration of the Do Over for those Individuals who sparkle and say come hither. This applies in particular to two of my great grandfathers, Samuel Baulch and J R Learmonth.
  • I have a time limit. I plan to have completed my research by Congress 2015 (to be held in Canberra 26-30 March). This ties in quite nicely with the duration of the Do Over.
  • I shall remain involved and committed to my genealogical and computer groups.
  • I shall take time out. Often.

Genealogy Do Over – Week 1

SETTING RESEARCH ASIDE
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.
PREPARING TO RESEARCH
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.

MY GENEALOGY RULES
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.