Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wisdom Wednesday - So far so good

Starting on Monday I sat down at my office and dedicated my day to my job...genealogy.  It felt good to not be running around doing PTA and Cub Scout stuff.  Why didn't I do this sooner!

As I lay in bed on Sunday night mentally preparing myself for what I had plans of conquering first on Monday I realized that I wasn't happy with how my sources were cited.  Furthermore, I'm sure that they weren't 100% perfect.  What I mean is that I was sure there were some elements to some citations that were missing.  That's not how I want to start out.  So I decided to go through all of my sources and ensure that they were properly cited.  Sounds like an incredibly daunting task, but it really isn't too bad and this is why...

About 4 years ago I took an online course on genealogy.  "Family History Studies: Genealogy I" through Monterey Peninsula College and Karen Clifford was the instructor.  Even though I had been doing genealogy for about 6 years, after talking with a friend who had taken Karen's course I had decided to start with the basics.  Jenn (my friend) told me that there was plenty to learn about organizing your materials and that it was worth starting at the beginning.  It was great advice.  I loved Karen's course.  I would have loved to have taken the remaining courses, but my infant turned into a toddler and it just wasn't in the cards at the time.

When I took the course I began using the Personal Ancestral File (PAF) genealogy program that you can download from FamilySearch.org for free.  I was planning on using it just for ease in the course, but I actually found that I rather liked it and have been using it ever since.  For a free program it's incredibly good.  But I digress...back to fixing my sourcing/citations.  When I was in the course a suggestion was made (please forgive me if I get this one wrong, Karen) that in the "Notes" section for each person to include the following areas:

-History (could be of the region, family, any background information)
-Traditions (family legend that has not been verified with facts yet)
-To Do

I thought this was brilliant.  Still do actually.  The problem I noticed was that it takes a lot of paper printing reports out if you have those headings complete with ALL the sources in each person's notes!  Plus, if you go to print out a Family Group Record and have cited a census for several of the family members, it prints out under every person in that FGR (because it's been transcribed into the notes!).  Not necessary.  I was killing trees like crazy.  I love sources.  I don't just stop at a birth certificate.  I want everything I can find regarding the event.  Mistakes can be made and you want to be accurate!

In addition to taking up space when you print, it's potentially problematic when you have to go back and make a correction to the citation.  You have to figure out which people have, say, the "1920 US Federal Census for the Thomas Brown household" and fix each one.  Talk about a headache!  So what I decided to do was to take the source/citation information and transcription (yes I transcribed each source...I'm a bit anal that way) and transferred it to the area meant for citations.

In the citation area it had fields for:
-Source Title
-Publication information
-Call number
-The actual text (great for my transcriptions)

It would then show you a sample footnote at the bottom AND you could attach the image of the source to the citation itself.  Drawback - if your source had 2 pages to it (say your family continued onto the next page in a census) you can only attach one picture.  If you had to change the citation, however, you change it in that one place and it's fixed for everyone linked to the citation.  Awesome.

What was less awesome is the 36 pages of people that I have to adjust citations on.  I will persevere though.  In the past 2 days working 3 to 4 hours each day, I've gotten through 8 pages.  It'll be well worth it knowing that it's done properly.  It needs to be done properly.

The bright side is that I'm catching that glitch and fixing it now.  I had started reentering my entire tree into the PAF program when I took Karen's course.  I didn't transfer the gedcom file from my old program because I knew there were flaws in my old tree and after learning the right way to do things, I realized that the best way to make sure my conclusions were sound was to start over...no matter how huge a task it seemed, I knew it was the right thing to do.  I hadn't finished reentering even half of the tree when Danny became a toddler so the task could have been greater.  I prefer looking at that bright side!

So I figure in another week to week and a half I'll be back at the actual research and data entry for my family tree.  I've got a busy couple of weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, but won't be deterred from my job.  All in all, so far so good!

(Please allow me to beg forgiveness that this "Wisdom Wednesday" and the series I will be including on Wisdom Wednesday isn't based in the past. It's any wisdom and experience I'm gaining as I travel down the road to accreditation. There are certainly tidbits of wisdom to be gleaned by anyone else that may choose to take the same path!)


  1. I'm jealous. I want genealogy for a job too!! I did the same thing you did and completely started re-entering everything into my new program, completely sourced, instead of uploading my old gedcom.The problem is I've NEVER gotten caught up. I still have a huge Rubbermaid tub full of documents that I have yet to re-enter. :(

    I have never used PAF. I'm a Legacy user and LOVE it. :)

  2. I'm not caught up yet either, Jenn! You'll get the chance! At least you're going to the convention in Atlanta! Sooo jealous! And I've been admiring the Legacy software. I've been attending those free Legacy webinars and seeing what it can do and may have to invest in it eventually...IF I can transfer my citations! :)