On 15 December 2014 Thomas MacEntee announced a 13-week genealogy initiative called the Genealogy Do-Over. It’s Thomas’s initiative so I think Thomas’s words explain it best:
“Starting January 2nd, I’m setting my 20+ years of genealogy research aside and starting over. From scratch.
“Seriously. How many times have you thought about doing the same thing? Did you start your research the same way I did, by just collecting names, grabbing stuff from other online trees, or pasting text into your genealogy software? Lately, has the prospect of going back and citing sources and proving facts and evidence brought you down and ruined your genealogy buzz? Do you throw up your hands and say, “I give up!” only to return to the same review and edit process days or weeks later?”
By profession I am a project manager. I manage project managers and business analysts along with owning a well-defined process for one of the types of projects we do. A (lengthily) documented, systematic process that, although it has its foundation in law and regulation in order to be above reproach, has opportunity for creative latitude, individual judgment, and process experimentation in both planning and execution. In addition, we are constantly in a state of process improvement – reviewing for lessons learned and instituting best practices. I rock what I do.
All of my genealogy educational efforts are systematic and geared towards a post-retirement career providing genealogy consulting services, especially those related to planning and organizing research. I have a well-defined plan in terms of personal preparation, business structure, templates, style guide, etc. I am a planner that scares the average person.
My personal research is an embarrassment. So I need to do something so I don’t feel like such a fake. I obviously have the skills, why aren’t I using them??
Here’s what I’m doing as preparation. Basically, I’m making more accessible the redeemable information.:
- Going through all of the paper folders and removing everything. Copies of source documents, however, go into a separate pile. I’ve gotten attached to my filing system and I’m thinking in terms of its structure so don’t want to reinvent that wheel.
- “Archiving” the electronic files. I have most source documents scanned, along with many pictures, but I’ll re-evaluate the scan and its metadata before making the file active again.
- Filing the remaining genealogy education and reference materials and making a master list of those files so it’ll be handy…and maintainable (aka, not duplicative because I went all fancy on naming).
- Making a master list of personal templates I’ve developed or customized.
- Creating an empty version of my research log. There’s many redeemable qualities to my log (the primary one being I actually find it user-friendly, therefore, I use it)
- Establishing a new, hideously blank, tree in RootsMagic.
Many of these feed directly into the Genealogy Do-Over Topics for week 1 (2-8 January 2015) which include:
- Setting Previous Research Aside
- Preparing to Research
- Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines
Yes, I have so many other things I’d rather do this year but every bit of that will merely be compounding my problem. I need to have share-able, documented data or the money I’ve spent on DNA tests is wasted. I need to have data ready not just for the next family historian but consumable for the next cousin who is just curious. What if there isn’t another historian and the consumable version is all that is wanted – have I written enough? I need to have a process in place so my research habits are automatic and not an afterthought or something to be dealt with another day. I need a Genealogy Do-Over so I can Do-It-Right. For me and mine.