As I mentioned in a previous post, I am embarking on a Genealogy Do-Over in 2016, following Thomas MacEntee‘s process. In the first month of this 12-month process, we are asked to set aside our previous research and get some preparatory work done.
Because I am using this process to switch to new software, and because I am reasonably focussed and evidence-based in the rest of my life, I am planning to simply access my paper and electronic records as I need them going forward. Many of them were purchased, and some were obtained during my trip to Salt Lake City last year so it is unreasonable to have to re-generate them.
In thinking about my research practices and looking at some lists of “golden rules” published by MacEntee and Alona Tester, I have come up with three areas that I want to focus on (and improve) as well as some research tools that I need to learn more about.
Janet’s Best Practices (going forward, at least):
Have a plan: keep a research log and to-do list.
Capture now. Curate later.
New tools: RootsMagic, Evernote
Find at least 2 sources for every fact. Don’t believe every family story or everything in a certificate.
Read all documents thoroughly, scraping every piece of pertinent data.
Have a consistent method of recording data and sources.
New tools: The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, RootsMagic
Look for stories, not just people, places, and dates.
Learn about the social history of the the places my ancestors lived.
Visit as many living relatives as possible.
Capture the stories of my ancestors on my blog or elsewhere.
Evernote is a very popular tool used to capture and organize stuff. It’s a great place to drop photos, articles, snippets of information that you can then tag. I have used it sporadically but I know that there is a lot more power available there. In the next month, I plan to get more familiar with it using online tutorials and will set it up so that it can become an integral part of my research tool box.
The Genealogical Standards book mentioned above was published by the Board of Certification of Genealogists and contains valuable guidance for ensuring that genealogical work is accurate. I purchased this book a few years ago but have not dived into it yet. Bedside reading.