Wednesday, January 07, 2009

My Genealogy To-Do List for 2009

Alright, so it's not the 1st of January, but I did want to set some goals for this New Year. I also wanted to go over what I accomplished with my to-do list for last year. I tried really hard to make this article appear on the 1st but family matters got in the way of things. This article has been a whole week in the making so hopefully it going to be an extra special year.

First I looked over my Genealogy To-Do list of 2008 and I can honestly say I did a lot of thinking about it throughout the year. Now saying that I accomplished everything is a totally different story.

I did have fun watching new FamilySearch roll-out to the majority of the temple districts around the world. Then the release stalled over the Asia temple districts and the Wasatch Front. Looks like I won't be seeing new FamilySearch my way until late 2009. I expect it to be bigger, better and faster when it comes though. Good things come to those that wait.

I was excited to see the commercial genealogy software developers show off their API to interface with NFS. Ancestral Quest and FamilyInsight are now up and running. I really need to spend the time this year to get to know them personally. RootsMagic 4 will be coming out soon and I will be able to play with that one too. I haven't heard anything about Legacy's API but I know they are planning on interfacing with NFS so I expect it will be down the road later this year.

My new job at is letting me know the company better. Funny how I mentioned that I wanted to try them out last year. Never would of expected I would be working for them too.

Now I am going to use the To-Do items from last year and let you know how I did on them and if any have to move on into the New Year.

1. Move from Legacy to RootsMagic as my genealogy software of choice.
I am still in the process of moving over. Any new databases I create for others I use RootsMagic 3. It's just my big main database in Legacy that I haven't rolled over, and that's the most important one! In my discussions with RootMagic's creator, Bruce Buzbee, I was able to determine it was wiser for me to wait for version 4 of RootsMagic. He is working on a special direct import feature from Legacy to RootsMagic. This is wonderful news for me. All these little concerns I had of how the gedcom over from Legacy to RootsMagic would go have now all flittered away. Just as soon as RootsMagic 4 comes out I am moving on over. Thanks so much Bruce for taking care of this to-do item for me. I really see this to-do item being completed early this year.

2. Organize my files on my computer
I think this year I have spent the most time pondering over this process. I did some minor organizing of my files structure but I don't have the big picture in place yet. I have bounced back and forth between using Mary E. V. Hill’s Color Coding System on my four main family lines (blue, green, red, yellow). I wanted to implement everything Mary Hill does with paper and folders and transfer that digitally with all my records. Some rules I had thought of are:
A. File by last name, first, date, and document type.
B. When I file by locality I will go from the Largest to the smallest locality.
C. Keep a digital log of where everything is located
I think it was the digital log part that threw me. I kept wanting to refine it and simplify the file names or code them. Then a funny thing happened along the way. The gas prices went up and I decided to save some money by lowering my DirectTV plan to basic and taking out all the receiver boxes except for the one in the living room. Then I got sick and was in bed for a few days, without TV. I was tired of all my DVDs. But, I had the desire to watch all my old Dr. Quinn tapes but there was just one problem. I had numbered all the video tapes and they had no titles on them, just numbers. For each video tape I had numbered I made a corresponding file card for them and kept them organized in a file box. But, since we had moved a few years ago I had no idea where the file box of cards were. Without the file box to unlock my coding system I was up a creek.

My mind was still working and I was clever enough to realize the irony of all this. My file box was like the digital log I had been wanting to create. My video tapes were like my computer files. If I make my files so cryptic that I can't see at a glance what they contain then some day my descendants will look at my computer files just like I was looking at stacks of VHS tapes with numbers on them - meaningless. Unless of course they are lucky enough to find the master key, which would be unlikely.

I determined that my computer files will have no codes or digital logs to unlock the clues of what the files contain. I was going back to part A & B of my original plan, but now I understood exactly how and why this is the best plan for me. I haven't implemented it fully yet. In the mean time I was really excited to see that Miriam Robbins Midkiff on her AnceStories blog has written a wonderful series on Organizing your Digital Files. I am so much in harmony with what she has described in her articles on the subject. It is exactly what I had decided to do for my files.

I really hope by the end of 2009 that I will have this to-do item up and running. I've done the pondering part now it's time to put it into action.

3. Transfer everything in my Treepad database over to EverNote.
I didn't do this one and for a good reason. I pondered over EverNote and it didn't fit the bill for me. I decided to become a Googlelite instead. I am now using Google Notebook to organize my research and reference materials. I even used Google Notebook to store information on my computer system setup and was able to successful go through two computer hard drive reformats this past year somewhat painlessly. I am so organized now with using Google Notebook and I love how it's available 24/7 as long as I have access to the internet.

Not everything is out of Treepad. Some items like links to websites I am actually moving into GMarks or better known as Google Bookmarks. I can access my bookmarks now from any computer with internet access once again. I love how I can add all these notes to the bookmarks too. It's just a very time consuming process moving all the old stuff. I have been faithfully using Google Bookmarks for everything new I want to save.

Some other things in Treepad like correspondence I have left alone for now. I was waiting for my move to RootsMagic to take place so I can use their correspondence log. Then I wanted to make sure I had my computer filing system in place because some of them need to be organized that way. I want to link the actual letters to my RootsMagic database so if I create a shareable CD the correspondence materials will go with it. It just wouldn't happen if I kept them saved in TreePad.

Once again I hope to transfer everthing from TreePad over to files or programs by the end of the year. The main point is moving forward, and I am getting an A+ on that.

4. I need to have a Scanning Party – 2008 is going to be the year that I finally go digital.
This is what I said about it last year!
First I think I will join Scanfest (you can read about it here) The target date to begin scanning is January 27th 2008. Hopefully with a little help from my friends I will develop a new habit, find a consistent time to work on my scanning and get lots accomplished. I am planning on not only scanning all my photographs, documents, letters but also all my old genealogy magazines and paper syllabuses that I just can’t bring myself to throw away. After I finish scanning the magazines and syllabuses I plan on donating them to my local Family History Center. Wow, will I have some more space!

I was successful at joining Scanfest. I totally under-estimated how much time it took to scan one large syllabus! This project is going to take me forever. I think I would feel better if I make this an on-going project - more like a well honed habit than to ever think I will have everything in my computer room digitized in one year. As for the syllabi and magazines I have decided I won't scan the whole thing only the articles I have an interest in.

I did accomplish one area of digitizing and that was to scan all the important documents on my immediate family members. I now have items like our birth certificates and drivers licenses copied onto a flash drive in case of emergencies. I also have everything on my hard drive backed up with Mozy. Being prepared this way has brought a lot of peace of mind.

5. Document and organize everything I have scanned and record where it is located.
This is what I said about it last year!
All my photos will get labeled and put into albums or scrapbook pages. Then I will link the scanned images to individuals in my genealogy database. Scanned magazine articles and syllabus class outlines will be listed in a spreadsheet document so I can actually search and find them by subject. While I am at it I should do an inventory and catalog all my books so I can find all the resources I have on one single subject.

As you probably guessed I didn't finish this either. But, I did decided that I will use Google Books to catalog all my books. I would love to get this part of the project completed this year. Scrapbooking would be wonderful but my priority is going to be digitizing the photos for now. Same for magazine article and syllabus class outlines. Not a priority, just I wish I had it this way. It would be best to just get them digitized then I can make all the spreadsheets I want.

I think it best to give this a 5 year goal that goes hand in hand with number 4 on the list.

6. Something old - Move all my old Live Journal blog articles over to the new Blogspot address. It bugs me that I haven’t completed this project. I just want to make it easier to search for my old articles and finding anything on Live Journal is a joke.

I actually did part of this. It's a behind the scenes type of work. What I would really like to do while I am copying the articles over is to also copy them into a document and make a e-book out of my articles. One e-book per year of blogging.

It would be nice to say I will complete this in 2009. It's not pressing but it's do-able.

7. Something new - Learn to write research summaries and keep a better research log of my failed online database search attempts.
I think this will just get better as I begin to use RootsMagic 4. I didn't do a lot of original research this year because I was waiting for the move over. I still don't feel ready to write research summaries but I need to start doing that because I am working on some genealogy for other people right now. Only pratice will improve this skill.

I looks like 2009 will be another organizing year for me. At least now I feel confident in the direction I want to take in various areas. So, it took me a year to figure out what I wanted to do - it was worth the time it took. I think I will be much more productive in what I accomplish for it.

I have narrowed my to-do list for the year 2009 down to.
  1. Move over to RootsMagic 4 - WAHOO!!!
  2. Organize the files on my computer
  3. Spend time scanning documents and photos once a week and during Scanfest.
  4. Once a month work on moving items out of my TreePad database.
  5. Once a month work on moving old LiveJournal blog articles over to Blogspot. Also copy the articles into a document and make a yearly e-book out of them.
  6. Learn to write research summaries and keep a better research log of my failed online database search attempts.
2008 was the year of pondering. 2009 should be the year of action. I am excited to see what I can accomplish in this new year.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!


Miriam said...

You go, girl! You've had a busy year yet again, and as always, I'm amazed at all you do!

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Joanna said...

Yours is one of my favorite blogs, Renee! Thanks for all you do which benefits each of us!

Question: Do you mind sharing with us the reasons you are transferring your data from Legacy to RootsMagic?

Steve said...


I've been following your blog for about a year now and was particularly interested in the posts where you gave "sneak peeks" about the then soon-to-be-released Legacy 7 software. I'm curious about why you're switching to RootsMagic...I've been considering doing that myself when version 4 is released.

dianne said...

What type of work do you do for

Mike said...

As a fellow genealogy enthusiast I have started to follow your blog. The thought had never occurred to me to start a blog following my genealogy efforts. I am not able to do as much as I like because of other time constraints (marriage, four kids, work, full time college student, and genealogy fanatic in my early thirties).

Not only do I do genealogy but I try to live it as well. Last year my research took me to Hawaii and California. The year before me and my wife traveled to Switzerland to see where my great great grandparents came from. This year I would like to travel to Pennsylvania to do research on my wifes family.

I especially liked this post and the all digital format should be one of my goals as well. Speaking of goals you have got me thinking. I am going to put some down on paper instead of just winging it. Keep up the motivational post.