Friday, May 16, 2014

SLCC Genealogy Course: Post #32 - Final Project

I have come to the end of my 2nd semester at the Salt Lake Community College, Genealogy Course. My final project for Gen 1010: Introduction to Genealogy was a compilation of all the work we did this semester.

Here is what the Final Project needed to contain.
Family Group Record - Print to pdf a final family group record for the family you researched for this project. Include Census search results for every census during the lifetime of each individual . Search vital records or church records to document birth, marriage and death dates of each individual. Add other record searches that you have completed with the record groups you have learned about this semester. In addition, add information collected in interviews with relatives. Include a source for every fact listed in Family Group Record.
Research Log – Include an electronic research log for this family or individuals in this family, that lists all searches whether they have a positive or negative results.
Written Report - Prepare a report of your research. Begin with a goal and starting point. Discuss your research and findings. Complete your report by adding a section called “Future research”. Future research will be a list of films and books from the Family History Library, that you would like to examine. Add details such as film numbers and what you will look for in each film. The written report should not exceed 3 pages.
I had such a dilemma selecting a family to focus on for my final project. I realized "way to late" that I should have looked ahead to what the final project was. Then I would have focused on just one family for all the projects and not jump all around like I did. It would have been an easy submission then. But, that is not what I did so I had to figure out what family I worked on that would be the "easiest" to get all the needed items on for the project.

I would have loved to work on my great-grandfather John Henry Weatherwax, Sr. but I had that whole issue with his father being Andrew or Anthony or one in the same. That would cause a major problem with getting all the census records needed. Plus I didn't have any census records for his wife or children.  I really wanted to work on that project, but I knew I simply wouldn't have enough time to get that done before the final project deadline.

The one family I had almost all the census records for was my grandparents, John Henry Weatherwax, Jr. and Julia Bentley. But, they had 13 children and that is a ton of records to find. At least the 1940 US Census is the latest one available so I did't have to find more. It took me a day to find all the missing ones I needed because some of the children married before 1940.

The big problem I had was all the facts I added for my grandmother Julia Bentley when I wrote her biographical sketch. To finish that project I gathered newspaper articles but didn't transcribe them, source them or add them to the Research Log. I know my bad, but it's the truth. It was on my To-Do List.  Well I just had to finish that before I could go any further on this family. So that took the majority of my time allotted for this project.

I discovered even more about her when I did the actual transcriptions and put things into their proper place. I need to rewrite her biographical sketch now. That's what you get for trying to take short-cuts.

The really nice thing about this project and massively transcribing newspaper articles was I came up with a work flow for entering my data into RootsMagic.  I'm going to try and reproduce it for you.

1. In Evernote I added the information I needed for my Research Log Entry. Everything came from the same website so that made things a little easier.
Date of Search: 9 April 2014
What were you trying to find? Julia Bentley biographical sketch material - locate newspaper articles
What source did you check? Old Fulton NY Post Card
Where did you check (repository and call number)
What were the results of your search? - this is the transcript itself.

2. Made a list of all the newspaper articles by their file names. I added some blank lines and inserted a horizontal rule (line) between the file names.

3. Under the file name I added the newspaper title, location, date, page and column of the article and url for the WebTag. Then I added the newspaper article title and a full transcript.

Now I had all the information needed to copy into RootsMagic for both the research log and source citation.

4. For the source template I used "Website (with multiple databases). I know there are source templates specific to newspapers but to make things easy I wanted to source the website and then under item of interest give the details on the newspapers. So I'm a source lumper in this case.

This is what the filled out source template looked like.

Now things got easier because I just copied and pasted from Evernote all the fields I needed to fill in. Under Detail Text I added the full transcript. I attached the WebTag to the article and then added the Media Tag. Everything was complete so I memorized the source citation.

5. Before I went any further I opened up the Research Log and added all the information there. It was a quick copy paste since I had everything all set up.

In fact while I was at it I created 14 additional research log entries to copy and paste into since the top portion would all be the same. It was only the results and webtags that were unique. I sure wished there was a duplicate button on research log entries and I toyed with the idea of making a To-Do Item to send them over but then I would still need to move the contents around. It was just as fast to just open & copy each and put in what was needed as I went along.

The next time I added a Research Log Entry it went really fast because I had "templates" to just paste into as I went along.

6. Now I went back to the people in the database and added all the information contained in the newspaper article as facts for them. If I had an obituary I went to every person mentioned and added a residence fact, dated and where they were living. It build quit the timeline on a lot of family members. It was a piece of cake to just paste the memorized source citation for each fact.
There were 15 newspaper articles, some long, some gratefully short, but I finally had them transcribed into the source citations, research logs and facts added for each person.

At this point I was running out of time getting this final project done on time. This was one deadline I couldn't miss because the semester would be over. I realized then that if I was working for a client I would always feel that way. There would always be a clock ticking. Now I can see why we need to stay on top of sourcing, logging and transcribing things as we go along.

I had a lot of research items and there was still more that could be searched on this family.  I know the assignment wanted everything but I couldn't do it all. So I made research items of all the things I would still look up if I had time to do it. Ah, that helped me with the final Written Report for the section on "Future Research".

There wasn't much time for me to write up the final report, but I did get at least 2 pages written. It covered what was needed so it was good enough.  The project was due by midnight. I handed in the final project at 11:36 pm. It contained 65 pages so I don't think anyone would have thought I didn't do enough on it. But, I know there is still more to do.

It's so hard for me to summarized all that I learned this semester. I know three things I am going to try and always do.

1. Focus on one family at a time
3. Properly record all the information as I go along.
2. Write reports along the way

I just feel so much more confident in finding and using various records types. The Research Binder and Written Reports have been things I wanted to learn more about for a long time. This course satisfied that desire. I understand how important reports are now. They help you analyse what you have found on a person and what holes are missing. This in turn helps you plan out what steps you need to take next. These are tools I will continue to use from now on. I needed every bit of knowledge given during this class. I never felt anything was a waste of my time. I would highly recommend this class to anyone interested in improving their research skills.  I feel like I'm a better genealogist today then I was at the start of this semester and that is true success.

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


Sharon Barrackman said...

Is there going to be a third semester? I have learned right along with you. Great stuff!

Sharon Barrackman said...

Is there going to be a third semester? I have learned right along with you. Great stuff!

Renee Zamora said...

I'm taking a break during the summer semester. Hopefully I can resume again in the Fall.