|Image by Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
Starting again from scratch is not an option for me because...
- Some archival records that I used are no longer open to the public. The Government has since changed the access restrictions.
- Talking to relatives in the 1970s gave me vital details that I have never found in documents - and those relatives are now in Heaven.
- Many records that I used are on the other side of the world. They are not indexed and not digitised.
- I have never copied details from online trees, and I never will. I might treat them as clues for further research, but that's all. About 90% of my research was done in the 1970s and 1980s, long before I had Internet access, and I used original records in State and national archives. I have since used a wide range of online resources, but I have not found any mistakes in my original research.
Louis Kessler has suggested a source-based incremental fix, which will suit me perfectly. Taking one document at a time, I will analyse it carefully and check that every bit of information has been extracted and entered into my family tree programme, with the source reference. Then I'll file the source in a new and separate location. As I work, I'll note gaps in my knowledge and list my ideas for further research.
First, though, I need to decide how to organise my records. This is what I've done so far (and no.5 is actually the most important).
- I've gathered together all my paper documents and research notes. There are fifteen ring binders and one archival quality photo album from which data has already been added to my genealogy programme (The Master Genealogist). There are also two 52 litre storage boxes with countless unscanned photos and unprocessed photocopies and research notebooks. Eeek! (Note to self: Don't panic.)
- I've read Nancy Loe's guides. These three e-books are very practical: Organizing Genealogy Research Using Archival Principles; Cataloging Digital Family Photographs and Records; and Simplifying Genealogy Sources and Citations.
- I've read those guides again, this time making notes about how I'll modify Nancy's method so that it fits the way I think when I look for records in my files.
- I've downloaded source checklists for Evernote, via CyndisList. (Thanks to Michelle Patient for bringing these to my attention.)
- I've started creating a 'style guide' to ensure that I name and store files (especially digital files) consistently. (Nancy Loe says, 'Using controlled vocabulary is the single most important thing you can do to keep your research organized.')