The Christmas goodies are eaten, the gifts are put away, thank you cards are written, and my office is clean and organized for the time being. Now, I need to decide if I am going to participate in the Genealogy Do-Over journey announced by Thomas MacEntee here.
Thomas has decided that he is going to set aside his previous research and start from scratch with new tasks to complete each week. I believe this is quite an undertaking. I have been thinking about my own research process since Thomas announced this. I have been analyzing the reasons for and against a do-over of my own research. My first thought is "Oh, my gosh! Is he crazy?" and then I thought about how much work I have done on my research and do I really want to start over. It scares me to think about setting aside eight years of work. Here is my thought process as I come to a decision about a genealogy do-over.
- I started my research eight years ago, in 2007. I have visited many repositories, but much of my research has been conducted online through the databases of Family Search and Ancestry. My research is still very much a work in progress and I have many ancestors to research yet. Do I need a do-over?
- The teacher in me is always looking for knowledge about new things. Genealogy research was no different. I wanted to know the best way to do genealogy research and headed to my local library for any books on the subject. I searched online for information and forms to use. I attended a class at my local library to learn more. I am still learning through magazine articles, genealogy related blogs, webinars, conferences, seminars and more. I use the principles from these resources and apply it to my research as I go. Do I need a do-over?
- My software when I started was the free PAF program. I wasn't sure I would stick with this new hobby and I didn't want to invest a lot of money if I was only going to give up after a few months. Ha! Little did I know I would become addicted to genealogy. Someone should have told me. It wasn't long before I was asking for software recommendations on Twitter and the number one suggestion was Roots Magic. I started using Roots Magic and have never looked back. My biggest transition from PAF to Roots Magic was in the area of sources. Roots Magic has better ways of sourcing than PAF and it took me months to convert my sources to the Roots Magic format. Luckily, I made the switch early in my research and didn't have a ton to do, but I had many facts that were not sourced at the time. Do I need a do-over?
- One of the best things about Roots Magic is their report feature. A couple of years ago I decided it was time to take a hard look at my sources. I ran a report on all the facts that did not have sources attached to them. I had four pages of unsourced facts for my ancestry. I went line by line of the report and sourced each one, many times having to re-research and find a source for the fact. Currently, I do not have any facts that are not sourced. Are they all primary sources? No Are there more sources I could research and find? Yes Do I need a do-over?
- My research is far from complete. I have a few incomplete research plans. I have many generations waiting to be discovered. I have many collateral lines to explore. Maybe this would be a good time to set aside all that I have done and start fresh. I wonder if I am at the point where a genealogy do-over is warranted. Do I need a do-over?
- Blogging has made me a better researcher. I do not want to put information online if it is not thoroughly researched and sourced. During the writing process I will conduct further research and make sure that what I am putting out there is accurate. Am I perfect? No, but I give it 100% each time I write a new blog post. Researching is always a work in progress and new information is found or old information is discredited. I will go back to earlier blog posts and update any information or write a new blog post with the updated information. Do I need a do-over?
Do I need a do-over? That is the question. My answer is Yes! Genealogy is evolving and changing daily and to not take a second look at your research process is short changing yourself. We are all lifelong learners. I plan to learn with others in the genealogical community as I participate in this journey.
Of course, this is an individual question and one that has to be analyzed by each researcher. First, you need to read Thomas' blog, thoroughly. I think I got hung up on the 'set aside all research' part. I gasped when I first read it. There is so much more to this journey and it only lasts thirteen weeks. I plan on following and participating as I can. I plan on making the do-over work for me. Will I complete each step in the journey? No As Thomas states, "anyone along for the journey has the freedom to add or remove content." I will complete tasks that I feel improve my research skills and help me produce quality research. That is a goal we all can agree on.
I look forward to reading more about Thomas' process and others as we strive to become better genealogists and leave our research for others to enjoy in the years to come. Will you join me?