Friday, January 9, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over - Oops I cheated

Photo : Break the Rules / chickspirit / CC 2.0

So, I spent last night cheating on the genealogy do-over.  Like all night, I absolutely shamelessly cheated.  A lot.  We weren't supposed to start researching at all.  Instead, I entered myself and my father and researched his parents and siblings.  At the time, it felt like 90% itch to get moving but in retrospect, in the bright sunshine of a new day, given that I am the victor, I get to write that history any way I want, right?

So, I say it was all in the name of science!  I, in fact, spent my time observing what I was doing and how - and came up with some new insight into doing it right.  I have new golden rules, some new Evernote processes and some new knowledge of Legacy Family Tree.

New Golden Rules

  1. Impatience is how sources don't get input and details get missed.  It's fine to know I have this source, but if I don't actually scour it and input it not only am I losing vital details, I don't have it documented.  Yes, it takes an additional fifteen minutes to read every detail on that death certificate but that is how accurate searches happen.  And that extra half hour to add that source to every affected family member seems like torture when there are possibly HUNDREDS OF RIPE LEADS I could be browsing in those thirty minutes - but later, I don't have to wonder if I just made that ancestor up.  Not that I ever have, mind you.  But with all of the potentially eyebrow raising family situations in Southern families, it gets complicated fast without documentation and there have certainly been moments when I doubted the sanity of the former me that input that data.  
  2. Revisiting old research turns up new sources.  I found a death certificate and an obituary last night that were not there last time I ran those searches. New information is constantly being indexed, made public and made searchable.  Re-checking old research is not always retreading the same path.
Aside from my new golden rules, I also spent some time poking at Legacy Family Tree features I've never used as well as some finer aspects of how I use Evernote.

Legacy Family Tree

I definitely have not been using marriage events to my advantage.  Imagine my delight when I could enter one place of residence for the marriage instead of two separate places of residences for two individuals!@

I dug further into entering cause of death in the manner the software intends (in the medical tab of the notes feature) rather than creating an event for it - same for adoption relationship with a parent.  I didn't even know that multiple parent screen existed.  #facepalm  On the family view, under the individual, there is a spouses icon, which made sense to me, a siblings icon, which also made sense to me - but there is also a parents icon, which maybe because it didn't make sense to me, I never noticed!  If you open that screen, it gives the option to associate multiple parents with a person - for instance, a birth parent and a step parent or adopted parent, and to specify the relationship for each.

I spent some time puzzling out Master Sources versus detail.  The up side of Legacy is that I was able to successfully create accurate sources without mastering the finer details of this but I definitely wasn't taking full advantage of not entering the same Master Source over and over.   Now, for death certificates, for instance, I now have a Tennessee Death Certificate master source - and three different death certificates for different individuals, so far, have been able to use that same Master Source.  

I did spend some time looking over the Legacy Family Tree To-Do list functionality and have opted out of using it.  Here's why : 
  • In my life, I am very GSD-oriented (getting... stuff done).  I already have a GSD system that works for me.  I use google tasks.  I have an app on my phone that syncs with it.  I have a list for groceries that I compile through my week, I have a list for 'have tos' like 'go to the grocery store' and among my other lists, I also have a 'genealogy' to-do list.  If it aint broke, don't fix it. 
  • That list is always on my phone, is available in my gmail account and so follows me to every computer I use - whereas, Legacy Family Tree is anchored firmly to my desktop computer at home.   
  • Legacy Family Tree To-Do list is pretty complicated.  I mean, it seems to make sense, don't get me wrong.  But I don't need all the fields and options it provides.  
  • Given how complicated it is, it still doesn't offer all of the features I'd want, were I to make the effort to switch to it.  For instance, the ability to create a standard research to-do list for every individual without re-creating each item for each individual.  


Here's how I get a local backup of my Evernote files and so that I can re-use the images in Legacy Family Tree without needing to store duplicate images : 
  1.  I installed the evernote desktop client.
  2. In the center pane that lists the notes, I select all 4,853 notes I have in Evernote.  To do that, click the top one, hold down the shift key, scroll to the bottom and click the bottom one.  
  3. I click 'file' and then 'export'.  
  4. On the Export pop up, I select 'Export as multiple web pages (html)'
  5. I select the place on my hard drive where I keep my Evernote backup (I have cleaned it out before this process).
  6. It exports every single note, and it's associated images into html files in that directory.  I can browse them, search them - and most importantly - reference the images in them.  
Having a local backup gives me a bit of peace of mind.  In case Evernote ever goes belly up, I still have all my research.  

Also, with this local backup, when I get ready to attach an image to a person or a source in Legacy Family Tree, I navigate to my evernote backup, find the image and attach it.  I no longer need to have a 'media' folder for my genealogy software that is separate from what I already have in Evernote.  Images are stored in folders that are named whatever the note was named in evernote.  

The catch to that is - if I change note names in Evernote, I will break the links to my image files next time I export my backup.  Luckily, Legacy Family Tree has a great image link fixer.  But, also, this time around, I wanted to name my Evernote notes more carefully.  So, those notes that are related to genealogy research, I'm naming this way : 

Last Name, First middle + what the note is + year of thing in the note

If one of those pieces of information is missing, I'll just put what I have.  

My Evernote stack is 'Ancestry and Family Tree' and under that, so far, I have these notebooks : 
  • Living People - will not ever be shared and will remain segregated from other evidence to prevent accidental leakage
  • My DNA - will also never be shared and will be kept separate because the work I do with my own DNA - phasing with my parents and admixture - is stuff I want to keep and is unique from what I do with other people's DNA... and also will not necessarily ever be shared
  • My Family Tree and Names - this is where I will eventually keep gedcoms and family tree reports for easy reference for cousin requests and my own research on the go
  • Notes and Research - this is my catch all.  All my research resources, notes, sources that haven't yet been attached to an individual or sources I don't want to share will be kept here.
  • Sinks Evidence - this is my first evidence folder.  I will have one for each surname.  This whole folder will be shared with cousins on an as-needed basis.  Everything in it should be ok to share and should be verified.  Nothing goes here until the source has been properly added to records in Legacy.  
In the process of all of this, I ran across notes from interviews I did and realized that those could heve been better documented.  So, I am super excited to get moving on interviews in week 2!

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