Friday, January 2, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Day 1

OK, this is harder than I thought it would be.  Seems the more I know, the less I know.

We have 3 parts to this week’s work: 
  • Set aside previous research, 
  • Plan for researching, and 
  • Establish baseline practices. 
I’m finding I have to elucidate my baseline practices before I can create my Plan for Researching. (I've already set aside my previous research.) I’m not sure I've ever thought this through before, but I've been able to break this down into two parts which I've outlined at the end of this article: 
  • A) how I find a document and
  • B) what I do with it after I've found it. 

What I’ve uncovered is a whole lot of questions I need to answer, some of which will need lots of tweaking along the way.  Some of these are down-right embarrassing to have to be asking, since I’ve been doing this for more than 15 years.  In the interest of full-disclosure, here’s the list:
  • What does a good research plan look like? I can plan from high level goals to detail tasks, but I’ve never done that for genealogy before. I think Serendipity must be my genealogy middle name.
  • Where will I keep things like my research plan and lists of genealogy sites?  I think I’d like to try to use Evernote and I know I like to have stuff digitally accessible.  But I find when I’m working that I often want paper notes to refer to and I frequently find myself annotating them in pen.  Where’s my happy medium?
  •  I’m sure I need a research journal, but, never having used one before (I know, I know), I don’t know what one should look like for me. Actually, I’ve tried to use research journals, both paper and digital, but find I can’t stick to them (even if I can find them) for subsequent research.  I must be doing something wrong here, but I haven’t found a solution for me yet.  But this time I’m sure I MUST find a way to consistently use a research journal or I will end up, as I frequently do now, finding the same research over and over again.
  •  How can I design my ToDo list so I can be efficient at following up on clues?
  • How committed do I want to be to Evernote for managing my research finds?  Will it save me the steps of downloading and naming a digital file?  Can I learn to set up tags to be useful search agents?  Just how powerful an aid is Evernote?
  • Do I know how to analyze a document to squeeze out all the information and inferences for follow up that it contains?  I think I do a pretty good job right now, but is there more I can do?  Will Evidentia prove useful in this process?

At least this list of questions will guide me the rest of this week as I go back to determine how I will plan for research.  At first, I was nervous that analyzing a document was not very prominent.  But, that's one of my genealogical strengths; I'm pretty good at figuring out what a document tells (and doesn't tell) me about the people in it. I feel pretty confident about this part of my genealogy tool kit.

Watch for Part 2 of this soul-seeking (OK, it’s only genealogy process-seeking, but it’s not as romantic as soul-seeking) endeavor. 

If you’re still reading, below is my current outline of my baseline processes:

A. Finding a Document
a.       Start with a research plan (do I need a form?) with SMART goals
b.      Figure out the people parameters – known places, dates, names of ancestors (lists, Evernote, Legacy, Research Journal, etc)
c.       Figure out where to look for sources: genealogy search sites, FB groups, cousins, courthouses, LDS, etc , (lists, Evernote, Research Journal)
d.      Start with one name or location on my research plan and follow that online or locally, keeping a to do list where I can put serendipitous finds outside this search but interesting for future follow up. Consider planning name or location searches if doing onsite research.
e.      Add all searches/finds/dead ends/negative info to my research journal (what does that look like?)
B. I've found a Document
a.       Internet document. (eg census)
1.       Try to find the original document if looking at an indexed doc
2.       If can’t find original,
a.       save, using naming convention, with extension “index” indicated;
b.      add metadata to include citation info;
c.       create shortcuts to other people as needed
d.      file according to folder structure;
e.      note location of original in research journal and list of docs to find
3.       If can find original,
a.       save, using naming convention,
b.      add metadata to include citation info
c.       create shortcuts to other people as needed
d.      file according to folder structure;
4.       ?Add document to Evernote?
5.       Analyze document (evidentia?)
6.       Create source citation, adding transcribed info to details tab
7.       Add document to Legacy –
a.       share with appropriate others,
b.      add events to cover info gleaned,
c.       add source to events as appropriate
8.       Add entry to research journal (what does that look like?)
b.      original document (eg birth certificate)
1.       Scan and
a.       name according to naming convention;
b.      add metadata to include physical location of document, owner, etc;
c.       add file to appropriate digital folder;
d.      create shortcuts as needed to others named in the document
2.       Put original into archival sleeve
a.       Create label on outside including digital name and digital location;
b.      file in appropriate location (3-ring binder)
3.       Continue as for Internet document
c.       Original document in document repository
1.       Scan (FlipPal) or photograph (camera or phone)  
a.       Record citation information (Journal or Evernote?)
b.      Download once home
c.       Follow processing steps for Internet research starting at step 3
2.       Order original if important enough to add to paper collection

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