January 2016 was a busy month indeed. Between client work (web development, not genealogy), online training in various topics, and working on my photography I was hard-pressed to find time for genealogy. I did it though! It came right down to the wire, but as January was coming to a close I decided to make a few changes to my scheduling and workflow management. One thing I did was assign a theme to each day of the week. While all work accomplished on a given day can't be tied to the day's theme, I promised myself to use the theme in assigning priorities. Sunday's theme is "Genealogy" and I did manage to dedicate most of yesterday to getting on with my 2016 Genealogy Do-Over.
The month of January was dedicated to "Setting Previous Research Aside" and reviewing prior research practices and that is what I did yesterday. I admit I had a couple of ulterior motives in going through all of my files: I had to find the deed to my house so I can finally get around to filing for my homestead exemption. I've put it off for five years since my husband, Paul, passed away and I am bound and determined not to let the 1st of April arrive in 2016 without having that simple application turned in at the Liberty Count Courthouse. The second specific thing I was looking for was my son's death certificate so I could send it to my grandson's mother so she could file for Social Security benefits for Eli. I was half-afraid I'd thrown the damned thing away as it was about the most pain-inducing piece of paper I'd ever held in my hand. I hadn't, I found it last night as I was going through the last stack of unfiled genealogy paperwork. I scanned it immediately (giving the file the appropriate title according to the file-naming standards I set last year) so I could send the original to Sarah.
As I was going through my unfiled paperwork I made lists of what documents I had for each member of my family. I have huge folders for some of us: military and other employment records, education records, etc..., so the lists were not necessarily specific. A huge folder rated one entry: "Education records", for example. A birth certificate or passport application, on the other hand, got its own listing. I made it through all of my unfiled records.
My "filed" records are either digital or in my source record binders. I took my old scanned records and moved them, along with all of my genealogy program data files into an archive. I had already set up new folders during my first try at the Do-Over last year, so that's done already. As to my binders, I'm keeping everything in there and as I start researching each individual I will go through and extract all of the source documents for review. There is just no sense in throwing away good records. There is every reason to treat those records as if I've never seen them before, however, and that is what I will do when research actually begins.
February - Reviewing Prior Research Practices
The main problems with my prior research practices, which weren't terrible, are a lack of consistency in effort and, to a much lesser degree, naming conventions and evidence citation. I changed my naming conventions and citation practices a few times through the years and never went back and corrected previous versions. That needs to be done create a more cohesive study. I also failed to create reports and analyze my research results as I should. So much of February's genealogy time will be spent reviewing and refining the standards I put into place during last year's first try at the Do-Over. I made a good start last year in this area, but I think I can make improvements.
National Institute for Genealogical Studies
My NIGS studies did get their fair share of my time in January. I completed one course, US Land Records, with a 92.6% on my final exam. I still have two weeks left to complete Google for the Wise Genealogist. I'm not starting any new courses in February so that I can devote time to my Analysis & Skill Building - Part I: the year-long course that marks the end of the "Beginner" phase of my studies. Most of my time on the Skill Building course this month will be spent reading Evidence Explained and various Evidence Explained QuickTips. There is a lot of required reading for the course, as there should be for a course slated to take a year to complete.