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Genealogy Do-Over: Week 2 – My Own Progress So Far

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers describes his own Week 2 progress for the Genealogy Do-Over.

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers describes his own Week 2 progress for the Genealogy Do-Over.

So in Week 2 of the Genealogy Do-Over, we have the tasks of collecting information about our own lives, interviewing other family members about the family history, and setting research goals. Again, like almost everything in the Genealogy Do-Over, while it may look easy on the surface, each topic does require some effort, some thinking and quite a bit of work. I prefer to look at it all as an “investment” and I’m taking the time to “do it right” if I’m going to actually succeed in this do-over!

A Family Group Sheet Issue – Removing the Bias

As I stated over at the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook Group, I am partial to a set of fillable PDF forms produced by the folks at Family Tree Magazine. Called Essential Family Tree Forms CD, there is a great family group sheet form that is easy to use.

But because I want to look at other types of forms, I tried using one that I found on the Internet. Let’s just say I realized there was a definite bias when I opened the form:

biased family group sheet

  • The Husband is listed at the top of the form and it is the only person with an Occupation field available. I guess women don’t have occupations.
  • The Wife is listed under the Husband.

So I’ve reconfigured this family group sheet so that the Husband is now listed as Person and the Wife is listed as Spouse. And both of them are allowed to have occupations.

family group sheet

Download the Biased Family Group Sheet and compare it to the Reconfigured Family Group Sheet.

My Week 2 Progress

So far, this is what I’ve done:

  • Self Interview – Family Group Sheet: I filled out a family group sheet for myself and named it using my preferred file naming convention.
  • Biography: I also did a quick one page biography outlining my major life events and where I have lived over the past fifty plus years.
  • Other Family Group Sheets: Having been told the birth dates and places of my parents and when they got married, I also created separate family group sheets for each of my parents, listing myself and my younger brother Michael as the children.
  • Family Member Interviews: I don’t have many older relatives left and some just don’t want to discuss family history. When my great uncle Gregory Austin died in December 2013, he was the last of that generation and I regret not interviewing him years ago about family history. I do remember the stories that my great grandparents John Ralph Austin and Therese Austin told, and I’ve constructed family group sheets based on my recall. In addition, my aunt Patricia Larsen May produced rudimentary family group sheets for a family reunion in 1991. So I set those aside last week and I will use them to populate other family group sheets and generate more research goals.
  • Set Research Goals: Once my family group sheets were finished, I created a Microsoft Word document listing my research goals:Prove birth date of Thomas MacEntee.
    Prove birth location of Thomas MacEntee.
    Prove baptism date of Thomas MacEntee.
    Prove baptism location of Thomas MacEntee.
    Prove father name of Thomas MacEntee.
    Prove mother name of Thomas MacEntee.
    Prove marriage date of Richard MacEntee and Jacqueline Austin.
    Prove marriage location of Richard MacEntee and Jacqueline Austin.
    Etc.
  • File Management: Since I moved all my original research to a HOLD Genealogy folder on my C drive of my desktop, I’ve created a new Genealogy folder and then this week created two sub-folders: Templates and Family Group Sheets.– Templates is where I will story any form-type documents that I use over and over again such as a research log, a to do list, a family group sheet. This is where I go for those forms and I create a copy that I place in another sub-folder as needed.genealogy folder– Family Group Sheets is where I store all family group sheets for my research. These serve as my “intake” forms and from them I populate my research goals and try to prove data points (such as a birth date or location) or relationships. Since I am trying to remove what I see as a bias in family group sheets (where the husband is the main focus), I will need to create two for each family: one where the husband is the primary person and one where the wife is the primary person.

family group sheets

* * *

Are you ready for Week 3? I am and I’ll post the topics, information and resources for Week 3 of the Genealogy Do-Over at GeneaBloggers on Friday 16 January 2015.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

6 thoughts on “Genealogy Do-Over: Week 2 – My Own Progress So Far

  1. Aren’t you duplicating your efforts by making a family group sheet for both the “person” and the “spouse”? And doesn’t re-entering the same information increase the potential for introducing errors? Also, are you including information on the family group sheets only after each data point is proven, or are you adding information to the FGS and proving it afterwards?

  2. Yes, Kay there is always the potential of introducing errors with having what seems to be a duplicate Family Group Sheet – but there may be times when one person remarries and there is another set of children from that marriage.

    The Family Group Sheet, for me, is an intake form – it is not a place where data is only entered when it is proven. The Research Log is where I analyze data and prove data as true or false. The genealogy database and/or online family tree is the place where I store proven data.

    Again, this is just how I operate and a system that works for me – other researchers will have their own variations.

  3. I appreciate your blog today. You look at the family group sheet in a way that I haven’t before. It makes sense to keep your notes there, including what you need to verify before putting the information into your genealogy database. While I have misc. notes and papers all over the desk, yours are confined to the group sheet. Thanks, again.

  4. Hi Thomas. I’m going to try it your way…putting together a Family Group Sheet beforehand. I’ve never done it that way, but since I’m starting over, I decided to give it a try. Thank you for sharing.

  5. It is a brilliantly simple idea to do the family group sheet before entering the members to your database. One of the participants had an example that included a research checklist. I think I may have to customize a sheet that works for the peculiarities of my Eastern-European family research.

    I think the greatest benefit of the Do-Over project is looking at the whole process with different eyes. Thanks Thomas! 🙂

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