Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - True Confessions about Genea-Assets

Hello there, genea-collectors - it's SATURDAY NIGHT, time for more GENEALOGY FUN.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  Think about this:  Is all of your genealogical material, which you've gathered over the years, well organized?  Do you have papers, certificates, photographs and other ephemera squirreled away somewhere in your genealogy cave center?  Do you have forgotten digital files, including documents, photographs and notes hiding in your computer file folders?  It's Saturday night, do you know where ALL of your family history information is?

2)  Give yourself a grade (from A to F) on how well you've done with your filing of tangible and digital genealogical assets (two grades, one for each).  Brag about your organizational prowess if you deserve it - you can be a good example to the rest of us.  Bemoan your situation if your files are like mine.

3)  Look through your tangible or digital genea-assets and find something you've "lost," forgotten or overlooked that might add to your knowledge about one or more families.  Tell us what you found, how will it help you, and will you commit to analyze it, source it, and use it? 

4)  Write a blog post of your own, make a comment on this blog post, or enter a Facebook Status or Google Plus Stream item concerning your "find" and what you're going to do about it.

Here's mine:

I truly have too much information in both my tangible and digital family history files.  The paper I collected between 1988 and 1999 are in surname notebooks, and, in general, have not been looked at for a long time.  Then there's the tangible assets collected since 1999, which are not in the surname notebooks.  They are in piles on my bookcase shelves and my desktop.  The family photographs are in a big box on top of a file cabinet, under other stuff.  For tangible assets - my grade is a C-minus, I think.

I have my digital genea-assets in file folders with labels of Clients, Correspondence, Education, Forms, Funnies, Localities, Randy's Ancestry, Reports,  Societies, Software, Surnames, Talks and Websites.  My family photograph images are in the My Pictures folder, with the historic photos in an "Old Photos" folder.  Each file folder mentioned above has many sub-folders with many files.  I know that I have many digital files filed inconsistently, and most are named inconsistently. I need to go through these digital files and give them consistent names, weed out duplicates and obsolete files, and reorganize my File Folders.  For digital assets - my grade is a C-plus, I think.

My "Find:"  While clicking through my RootsMagic database yesterday, I noticed that my Vaux family data was poorly sourced, and that I didn't have any research notes for my ancestral line of Vaux back into England in the 1600s.  I recalled that I had downloaded chapters of a book manuscript compiled by Sara Vaux several years ago.  I managed to find the book chapters in a "Vaux Book" file folder in my "Vaux" file folder in my "Surnames" folder.  I eagerly tried to open one of the PDF files, but it required a password.  Hmmm.  I downloaded it in 2008, so if I look in my email files, I think that the password will be there.  Uh-oh, it's on the old computer.  I booted up that computer, searched my email files, and found the password.  I created a Password.rtf file in the "Vaux Book" folder.  It worked!

I read several of the chapters.  Great stuff here.  I had entered many of the persons and vital data before, but had few sources.  I added biographical data to the Notes in my RootsMagic database for three Vaux ancestral families, and entered source citation data for the persons in those families, all citing page numbers in the Vaux book manuscript (citing the source that I used).  There is much more to do on this project! 

I keep finding useful things to do each day - I think I'm avoiding working my way through the piles of unfiled papers, since there is much data that needs to be added to the database.  When that is completed, I can revamp my surname folders.  I have 127 pages of digital images obtained on my last library trip to Carlsbad that needs reviewing, analyzing and entering into the database.  The digital historical photographs need to be organized into person groups.  The digital surname and document folder files need to be put into family group folders. 

Whew.  I'll be up all night now worrying about how long this is going to take!  If I just stopped the paper and file collecting right now, my guess is that it would take me 10 years working 8 hours a day to put this all in order.  But that will not be much fun, and I need to have fun doing this.  I hope one of my daughters wants to sort it all out!

Frankly, it is much more fun to do online research, and write blog posts about websites and software, than to organize my files!


Dorene from Ohio said...

Here are my "true confessions," sad as they are:

. said...

Randy-- The answer to all of this organizational madness is the GPA: the Genealogy Personal Assistant. Told my Mom that she needed a PA like the Hollywood people have, a Personal Assistant. She looked at me like I was nuts when I first mentioned it but now she wants one and actually might ask at the local college for a history student intern! I think she needs a Library Sciences intern:)

Helen V Smith said...

Yes the GPA sounds an excellent idea. I'd like one to enter my book collection and magazine article collection into Library Thing.

I'll confess that I am sporadically organised. Randy, it is so true that finding things and writing blogs is so much more fun.

Wanted: a Geneabloggers Filing Fairy. Will need to work with obsessively addicted family historians. Job for life.

Geolover said...

Helen's wanting a Filing Fairy matches one of my wishes, too. My self-grade is C- verging on D - keep getting involved in utilizing recently digitized records, which are unlocking some puzzles and solidifying evidence for previously established lines.

Also get sidetracked following Descendants-Of-Ancestors in order to find collateral evidence -- but that really only works (elegantly) about 2% of the time. I feel constantly pulled in different directions.

Taco said...

I'm fairly new to genealogy and so far been mainly of the online variety, but it's amazing how much stuff I've gathered in such a short period of time. Also, I couldn't be bothered to properly source or label everything early on. So now, I'm in the proces of organizing all my digital files in surname folders, renaming the files so it would give an indication of what it is about. I combined all my research notes into one research document per family, I organized my bookmarks per country/region, subcategorized for their quality and reliability. I've proceeded to buy the deluxe version of Legacy to be able to make use of their source writer function, and I'm slowly working my way through all individuals per master source. But I still constantly get side-tracked by bugging relatives and some other online genealogists, finding out new stuff, and discovering new online resources. Oh, and posting and responding on Google+ or blogger.

Mel said...

A little late, but here are my confessions:

Julie Goucher said...

Here is my contribution.

Greta Koehl said...

What a coincidence - this challenge was issued right after I went into a bit of a "genealogy file organization frenzy" this weekend: