Saturday, September 1, 2012

Updating and Comparing Your Family History Research

Back before computers made it so easy to have a database of my family history work, I relied upon a 15 Generation Pedigree Chart for researching away from home. This chart allowed me to have a quick reference of the work on my various family lines. Over the years I have gone through at least three of these, as I literally wore them out and taped them together. Today I usually just use the standard 6 Generation Pedigree Chart that I print from my database for the family line I am currently working on. Traveling with a flash drive makes that an easier task. One thing I like about the larger chart is I could see where my lines intersect and I color-coded each family group by country of origin. My ancestry is about 1/4 Norwegian, 1/8 German, 1/4 English, and 1/8 Danish.

Michael John Neil suggested in his Genealogy Tip of the Day of August 30, 2012 that you, "review what you did in the early days and see if you still agree with yourself." His daily tips are well written reminders of key steps in doing family history research.

Well, that is just what I am doing. To begin with I wanted to clean up my computer database and compare the information on my paper 15 Generation Pedigree Chart with the database. In the process I found that there are incomplete parts in both formats and I am consolidating them. Now I can clearly see spots where further research is needed. With the vast amount of vital records being placed online, it is time to search for those dates and places lacking in my records. In the merge of information I entered information on 225 new individuals into the database. That represents a lot of vital information.

The next part will be going through my research notebooks and comparing that information with the database and the pedigree chart. With this, the focus changes from just direct line couples to their immediate families. At this point as each family group page is completed, the plan is to discard the old and print an updated version. They are key to keeping my individual family notebooks understandable. Now some people can work only from a computer, but I need paper copies that I can work from. Maybe this is what got me to the point I am at today. Will I be better about keeping the database and printed pages current as I work in the future?

The process of genealogy research was very slow for me for the first thirty years. It was carefully done and I am grateful for an early start in collecting family artifacts, stories and memories. I certainly would not have the wealth of knowledge of my family had I not worked on it while many of my relatives were living. The last ten years have been focused on earning my college degree, becoming accredited and working on projects for other people. Now is the time for me to do as Michael suggests, "review what you did in the early days and see if you still agree with yourself."

By fine-tuning our own work we become better genealogists. My skills and understanding of a well documented, analyzed and reviewed genealogy have grown exponentially over the last few years. Hindsight allows me to view my family history in new and exciting possibilities. Maybe if I go through this vetting process and gather additional information I will someday write the books about my ancestors. With the ease of online research, leading us to focus on onsite research, we can move forward in a more orderly manner. Our days are numbered and these important tasks need to be done while we are able. My descendents will benefit from the preservation of our family history. It is actually very exciting to move forward with my own research on a regular basis.

Take some time this week to review your family research and update it regularly.
This will bring a new level of enthusiasm to your involvement in the world of genealogy.

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