Genealogy Do-Over – Month 3 – March 2017

The Genealogy Do-Over - Month 3 Topics: 1) Conducting Self Interview and 2) Conducting Family Interviews

Click here for a list of ALL The Genealogy Do-Over Topics for 2017.

Topics: 1) Conducting Self Interview and 2) Conducting Family Interviews

Conducting Self-Interview

There are many different formats to use for your personal interview including a simple written narrative, a bullet point list of dates and places, or a family group sheet. Make sure you take your time and record the important data related to:

  • Birth
  • Marriage(s) and Divorce(s)
  • Religious events including bar/bat mitzvahs, baptisms, confirmations, etc.
  • Children

An additional option is to actually write out your own mini-biography in your own “voice.” You can then extract the data (next month) for your research log and you will have a nice memento to pass on to your family.

For my own Do-Over, I created both a personal interview and a family group sheet for my parents and myself. The interview is important; it is a “brain dump” of what I know in terms of dates, places etc.

Conducting Family Interviews

Once your interview is done, create a list of aunts, uncles, cousins and other relations who would have information about your parents, grandparents and other extended family members. Again, the format and method of interviewing is up to you. Some options:

  • Family Group Sheet: If you have a fillable form (print or online) have your family members complete as much information as possible about their own immediate families.
  • Record an Interview: With today’s technology, it is easier than ever to record an interview. Consider using Skype and one of the several Skype recording programs. Alternatively, download an app for your iPhone or Android device. Yes, you will have to transcribe or record the information, but what can compare to preserving the voice of a family member as they describe their family’s history?

Month 3 To Do List – Full Do-Over Participants

  • Conducting Self-Interview: Select an interview format that works for you and enables you to extract the necessary information to launch your initial research next month.
  • Conducting Family Interviews: Create a family group sheet for your parents and your siblings. One way to source these data points is to record an interview with each person and then complete the sheet, or have the interview subject complete the sheet and return it to you.

Month 3 To Do List – Review or “Go-Over” Participants

  • Conducting Self-Interview: Consider conducting an interview of yourself based on your memories of important life events.
  • Conducting Family Interviews: Review any copies of family group sheets in your files and check them for accuracy.

©2017, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 2 – February 2017

The Genealogy Do-Over - Month 2 Topics: 1) Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines and 2) Setting Research Goals

Click here for a list of ALL The Genealogy Do-Over Topics for 2017.

Topics: 1) Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines and 2) Setting Research Goals

As we move into the second month of the Genealogy Do-Over, and since we’ve tackled the first week’s topics, I want you to take yourself back to when you first became interested in genealogy and family history. Were you a teenager like me who watched the mini-series Roots on television? Did you have a family history related assignment in high school or Sunday school? Or did you just hear others in your family discuss ancestors and you decided to do some research?

This month you are back at square one. Back where you started. But you have more knowledge and access to more tools than that first time. And you’re going to heed the same advice you would give any other newcomer to genealogy: start with yourself.

Sit down and record what you know about your own history (birth, marriage, children, religious rites and sacraments, etc.). Then move on to your parents and siblings. And once you’ve recorded information, you’ll set your initial research goals based on that information.

Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines

This topic offers lots of room for trying different approaches; however, most genealogists who have been researching for the past few years will likely have the same concerns and the same common practices.

I have already outlined many of my self-imposed guidelines in the Golden Rules of Genealogy. If I had to prioritize the areas and procedures, the list would include: 1) track all work, even dead ends, negative evidence and non-productive searches; 2) cite sources, even if in a rudimentary manner to note the “what, where and when” information about a record; 3) make the “first pass the only pass” which means slow down and spend as much time as needed on a document or source and wring every bit of information out of it. Later on in The Genealogy Do-Over process, I will have to decide on a file naming convention and a genealogy database software program.

Setting Research Goals

While I have listed this topic first in this month’s series of topics, you really need some initial data before you can set research goals. Very often people set goals such as “trace my family’s Irish roots” that are too broad or are based on family lore or assumptions.

Set goals based on information from personal knowledge; do not worry if you believe some information is incorrect. Next month we will create research goals to prove or disprove data points. Create a simple list such as “verify birth location for _________” or “determine parents of _________.” Next month these goals will form the start of your research plan.

Month 2 To Do List – Full Do-Over Participants

  • Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines: Do not gloss over this topic! Spend some serious time outlining what procedures you will use to research, both online and offline. If a process is too cumbersome, you will not stick with it. Come up with a list of five (5) top procedures that you can handle during The Genealogy Do-Over.
  • Setting Research Goals: Use paper, Evernote, OneNote, Microsoft Word or any program to track your research goals.

Month 2 To Do List – Review or “Go-Over” Participants

  • Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines: Review the procedures that other participants will be using; a good source is The Genealogy Do-Over resource page at If you feel you already have solid research procedures, keep using them. If you need to change your research habits, write down the changes and commit to them over the course of The Genealogy Do-Over.
  • Setting Research Goals: If you have existing lists of research goals, verify that they are in line with any family group sheet data. Create new goals based on new insights after reviewing the data.

©2017, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Oh Say Can You “C”? Navigating the Seven Cs of Genealogy

Are you navigating the themes of Clean, Collect, Curate, Create, Connect, Conserve and Continue into your genealogy research?

Oh Say Can You “C”? Navigating the Seven Cs of Genealogy

Lately, with the New Year upon us, I’ve been contemplating whether or not to adopt the usual “genealogy resolutions” such as “getting organized” etc. Since I started The Genealogy Do-Over in 2015, I’ve focused more on “themes” than actual resolutions. Themes don’t feel as constricting as making often unobtainable promises to myself.

I’ve developed a list of seven “themes” to guide me this year and hopefully I can institute these as general “rules to do genealogy by” over the next few years. I think the themes cover most areas of concern for every family historian, whether you’ve been at this for some time or you are just getting started.

  • Clean: Take inventory of what is in my genea-cave, get organized and make it easier to find what I need. This also means cleaning up and organizing digital files and folders as well as Internet favorites and bookmarks. Why should I spend time searching for stuff to get ready to research when I could better spend that time searching for ancestors?
  • Collect: Create a solid system for capturing information including digital images as well as paper-based document. Become disciplined in saving images and documents IMMEDIATELY and renaming the file to accurately describe the item. Work as if I only have “one pass” on using a source; wring out as much information as possible!
  • Curate: Review source material to see how it proves or disproves a fact. Write a source citation RIGHT AWAY and don’t put it off. Use proven evidence evaluation techniques to determine the reliability of the source. Document, document, document in my research log!
  • Create: Write a concise proof for specific facts as well as specific ancestral relationships. Write ancestor character sketches based on proven facts. Carry this info over to family history books, photo books, blog posts, calendars and other items to share with family members as well as other researchers.
  • Connect: Don’t become isolated especially with a dependency on online resources. Get out and connect with archives and repositories. Connect with other genealogists at conferences and institutes. Use online resources such as Facebook groups, DNA matching communities and more to keep connecting.
  • Conserve: Don’t forget to focus on preserving my work for future generations. This includes creating backup copies of data, scanning and digitizing images as well as videos, slides and audio tapes. Create a “successorship” plan so that a family member, another researcher or a genealogy society can inherit my work and carry the torch forward.
  • Continue: Basically the “rinse and repeat” cycle. Continue following the C’s especially when it comes to education. Stay on top of the latest technologies, apps and programs. Take time to build a reading list of journals and books related to my research. Attend a genealogy conference or online webinars.

Navigating the Genealogy Cs

The Genealogy Do-Over is one of the better ways to learn how to use the Genealogy Cs and incorporate the practices in your own research. Remember that we all approach our family history with different experiences and skill sets; what works for one researcher may not be the best fit for another. Working through The Genealogy Do-Over is a way of finding out the best navigation route for your genealogy research.

Click here to learn more about The Genealogy Do-Over for 2017 – it’s FREE and sign up today!

©2017, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.