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.


Genealogy Do-Over – Month 1 – January 2017

The Genealogy Do-Over - Month 1 January 2017 Topics: 1) Setting Previous Research Aside, 2) Preparing to Research

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

Topics: 1) Setting Previous Research Aside, and 2) Preparing to Research

Before we review the Month 1 topics, I want to provide a little pep talk since many participants may feel discouraged and overwhelmed. Remember: while The Genealogy Do-Over is a project-based learning initiative to improve genealogy research skills, you should be having fun. You should look forward to trying new approaches each month.

  • “When are we going to start research?” has been a common question during The Genealogy Do-Over. Some participants wanted to dive right in and get online and look for stuff. My belief is that we need to lay a firm foundation and take our time before we set out on our search. A solid base of goals, procedure and tools will carry us through to the end and should not be improvised as we go along.
  • “There’s too much information; I’m drowning!” is also something I see posted on The Genealogy Do-Over Facebook Group. That is why you are here at The Genealogy Do-Over: to gain skills to better manage the flood of data. Keep in mind that Big Data is something we as genealogists will continue to deal with in the future and the amount of data increases each month and each year. Learn to work smarter and determine the best data for your research.

Finally, remember that what I have put together for The Genealogy Do-Over is based on my discoveries in changing my research habits over the past year. Your mileage may vary which means that what works for me might not necessarily work for you. Feel free to make changes to the program by using different tools and different procedures. Just be true to your Base Practices and Guidelines (we will cover this next month) and we will all likely arrive at the same destination: better genealogical research.

Setting Previous Research Aside

For many participants in The Genealogy Do-Over this can be the most difficult step in the entire journey: breaking with previous research materials and with previous practices. Remember that how you decide to “break up” with your research is your decision. Here are some guidelines:

  • Binders, folders and papers: If it is not feasible to set them aside, you will need to be on your best behavior and resist the temptation to automatically consult these items.
  • Reserving specific items: It makes no sense whatsoever to spend money (and waiting time) on records that you acquired previously. Make sure they are easily accessible and, when using them, you only refer to the actual data in the record . . . and do not look at any post it notes or notes you have written in the margins.
  • Digital holdings: These files are the easiest to handle and move to a holding area, but at the same time their ease-of-access make them prime candidates for a “research crutch.” Do not be tempted to go back to old research in these online files, if possible. Trust in the process and that starting from scratch and looking at records from a new perspective will bring success in your research.

Easy-peasy, right? More like “easier said than done” . . .

When I started doing my own genealogy research over again, I moved all my paper files into banker’s boxes (a cardboard box used for document storage). I did hold on to several paper copies of vital records as well as some photos. In addition, I placed all digital files into a HOLD folder that, I am proud to say, I was not tempted to use!

Preparing to Research

It may sound odd for many of us to do “prep work” before researching. However, I found that if I took time to prepare my workspace and my mind for research, I had much better results.

For me, this means I will no longer research at 2:00 am if I am tired or half-asleep. It also means that I will no longer say to myself, “Oh I have 15 minutes before the roast in the oven is done, I’ll look for Grandpa some more.” One of my biggest problems in the past was not starting or finishing the research process properly. Moreover, the finish turned out to be just as important for me: with a good ending to a research session, I would know exactly where to pick up the next time I started.

So over the next month, think about how you have researched in the past in terms of time, location, tools used, etc. Consider making some changes. Write down some research “warm up” exercises and try them once we get to the research phase. Make a list of items that you must have available when you are researching (a copy of Evidence Explained, a spiral notebook, your copy of Evernote open on screen, etc.).

Month 1 To Do List – Full Do-Over Participants

  • Setting Previous Research Aside: If you are sitting on a considerable amount of paper files and binders, try to sort through them and quickly pull those records that took considerable time, effort and money to order or collect. Another option is to simply put everything aside and then when you reach a point in your research where they are needed, place the task of locating that record on your To Do list. For digital files, try the same approach of moving them to a HOLD area. If you do not feel confident in your tech skills (and fear losing items or causing an error with your database software), simply commit yourself to not accessing these files unless absolutely necessary.
  • Preparing to Research: Think about how you have researched in the past in terms of time, location, tools used, etc. Consider making some changes. Write down some research “warm up” exercises and try them once we get to the research phase. Make a list of items that you must have available when you are researching (a copy of Evidence Explained, a spiral notebook, your copy of Evernote open on screen, etc.)

Month 1 To Do List – Review or “Go-Over” Participants

  • Setting Previous Research Aside: Work on organizing files, both digital and paper. Then locate essential documents that prove a relationship and either set them aside for future review or create an index . . . sort of like a Top 20 or Top 50 Document list.
  • Preparing to Research: Make a list of you current research habits including when you research (time of day or week), the processes you use, etc. Review your list and determine if there are areas you would like to improve.

©2017, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

The Genealogy Do-Over Returns for 2017!

The Genealogy Do-Over returns again in 2016 using a monthly format for topics - here is the lineup. Are you ready to jump start your genealogy?

The Genealogy Do-Over 2016 Topics

The Genealogy Do-Over started in January 2015 as a weekly program lasting 13-weeks. In January 2016, the format switched to one using monthly topics. I’m pleased to announce that due to popular demand, we’ll be running another cycle of monthly topics for 2017 over at the The Genealogy Do-Over Facebook group.

The Genealogy Do-Over will start on Monday, 2 January 2017, with Month 1, and the topics will be Setting Previous Research Aside and Preparing to Research. Here is the complete list of monthly topics:

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 1

  • Setting Previous Research Aside
  • Preparing to Research

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 2

  • Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines
  • Setting Research Goals

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 3

  • Conducting Self Interview
  • Conducting Family Interviews

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 4

  • Tracking Research
  • Conducting Research

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 5

  • Citing Sources
  • Building a Research Toolbox

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 6

  • Evaluating Evidence
  • Reviewing Online Education Options

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 7

  • Reviewing Genealogy Database Software
  • Digitizing Photos and Documents

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 8

  • Conducting Collateral Research
  • Reviewing Offline Education Options

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 9

  • Conducting Cluster Research
  • Organizing Research Materials – Documents and Photos

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 10

  • Reviewing DNA Testing Options
  • Organizing Research Materials – Digital

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 11

  • Reviewing Social Media Options
  • Building a Research Network
  • Reviewing Research Travel Options

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 12

  • Sharing research
  • Securing research data

Join the Genealogy Do-Over Mailing List and Facebook Group

Want to be notified each month about the new topic as well as other updates involving the Genealogy Do-Over?  Click here to sign up for The Genealogy Do-Over Mailing List (you can unsubscribed at any time and we never sell or share our mailing list contact info!)

In addition, if you are on Facebook, click here to visit The Genealogy Do-Over Facebook group and click Join to work with over 12,000 other participants in various do-over discussions.

The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook

Here is a listing of chapters for The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook which is now available in three formats:  Print format for $6.99 (click here), Amazon Kindle format (click here) $2.99 and in PDF format (click here) for only $3.99. Get a jump start on your genealogy research for 2017 with the Genealogy Do-Over!

  • Introduction
  • The Golden Rules of Genealogy
  • The Genealogy Do-Over 2017 Monthly Topics
  • A Genealogy Go-Over Instead of a Do-Over
  • The Genealogy Do-Over for Genealogy Societies
  • Resources
  • Tools and Templates
  • Appendix

©2016, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.