Today I’m making a big announcement: Me and genealogy are parting ways. Done. Finished. Game over.
Have you ever said to yourself, “That’s it! I’ve had it and it just isn’t worth it anymore!” Well, have you? Sort of like the character Howard Beale in Network when he says, live on air, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
My Past Genealogy Research Frustrates Me!
Before you think that I’m leaving the genealogy community or closing down my genealogy business, let me clarify what I mean by leaving: Starting January 2nd, I’m setting my 20+ years of genealogy research aside and starting over. From scratch.
Seriously. How many times have you thought about doing the same thing? Did you start your research the same way I did, by just collecting names, grabbing stuff from other online trees, or pasting text into your genealogy software? Lately, has the prospect of going back and citing sources and proving facts and evidence brought you down and ruined your genealogy buzz? Do you throw up your hands and say, “I give up!” only to return to the same review and edit process days or weeks later?
If you’re like me, you need a genealogy makeover. Better yet, a Genealogy Do-Over. That’s what I’m calling this journey upon which I’m embarking in 2015. And I want you to come along.
Genealogy Do-Over: A New Journey of Genealogical Discovery
Here is the short summary of Genealogy Do-Over: I set aside everything* related to my genealogy research including notebooks, papers, and even digitized files and my genealogy database files and START OVER. I’m hitting the reset button. I’m allowing myself to have a do-over! (* certain items such as vital records ordered and paid for or research gathered on long-distance trips can be retained).
Since I started my initial research, much has changed in the areas of genealogy research methodology and education. I now realize the need to collect facts and track them properly, including the use of source citations. I now understand the process of analyzing evidence and proving facts to reach a conclusion. In essence, I know a lot more about the “process” of genealogical research and I want to put it to use.
This is not to say that I haven’t been following proven guidelines when it comes to finding family history. For my research clients (mostly pro bono), I actually employ all the methods advocated by many in the genealogy community. However, when it comes to my own research from years ago, I’m not walking the walk . . . I’m just talking the talk.
It isn’t always easy to “walk backwards” and review each and every bit of information gathered over the years. Instead, I want to do more than re-walk a trodden path: I want to head out from the same starting point and see where the journey takes me this time. I’ll have better tools, better knowledge and be better equipped for each twist and turn. And again, I encourage you to join me on this journey.
The Genealogy Do-Over journey is constructed of 13 mileposts or journey markers which are laid out over 13 weeks. You can choose to pace yourself differently. You can even decide to drop some of the less important tasks and add your own. Do whatever it takes to ensure that you are on a firm footing to finding your ancestors.
A short synopsis of my planned route (a full schedule will be announced soon):
- Take inventory of what I have, box up the physical items and set them aside.
- Move all digital genealogy files into a HOLD folder.
- Gather tools to research.
- Set research goals.
- Start with my own knowledge and write it down.
- Start tracking research.
- Interview family members.
- And more!
And then, week by week, continue with my research, add more skills and areas of focus including citing sources, tracking searches, building a research toolbox, creating an educational plan, researching offline as well as online, and more.
By the end of the 13 weeks I hope to have completed a review of a firm foundation in genealogy and family history research skill building. I realize that some focus areas may differ; anyone along for the journey has the freedom to add or remove content. This program has to work for you and should not be something that you dread each week or that you find you are working against.
How Much is a Ticket?
There is no price. A journey that could very well revolutionize the way you’ve been doing genealogy research is priceless.
The fact is that there is no cost to using the Genealogy Do-Over program. There will be weekly blog posts here at GeneaBloggers outlining each week’s tasks and I’ll post my own personal progress as well. In addition, there will be free webinars (like this one at Legacy Family Tree), a boot camp on using a research log, and even incentives such as prizes related to a specific week’s topic. I may even publish another free e-book!
You’re Invited – You Get a Genealogy Do-Over Too
What I want most is a collaborative community effort to re-examine the way in which each of us has personally pursued our genealogical research. I intend to be honest with myself without beating myself up. I want to feel the joy of looking at one small fact and perhaps realizing that I never looked at it from all angles. I want the discipline of not following a possible lead just because it shakes or makes more noise than other leads.
Most of all, I want to be open to all possibilities on my journey of genealogical self-discovery and to enjoy that journey. This means researching with a plan, with a purpose, with sound practices and with the support of my fellow researchers. I don’t intend to make this journey again. Genealogy Do-Over is my chance to get it right.
So stay tuned, watch for a new domain – http://www.genealogydo-over.com – and look for more announcements before the January 2, 2015 start date!
©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee