Cleaning up files

“Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings.” One of my 2021 genealogy goals. What do I mean by “review and clean”? In this post, I tell you what I am doing, step by step.

Overall, I hope to have a consistent paper trail for each family/person. The paper trail also has a digital component which I describe later in this post.  In my very first blog post (April 2017), I listed paper forms for each person’s file.   I bought colored file folders – blue for Dad, teal for Mom, green for Father-in-law and red for Mother-in-law.

PAPER FILES. STEP 1: REVIEW

 Does the file have these forms? Is each form filled in as completely as possible?  Is each form dated? Taken together, these pages represent a concise summary of what I know at this time.  The forms that I use are:  

5- generation pedigree.  Created from home person (father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in law) for each tree from RootsMagic.  Placed as first page in each file with specific generation circled in red. Reason:  rapid identification of where this family fits

NOTE: There are multiple versions of these forms. These are the ones that I chose:

  1. Family Group Sheet: National Archives & Records Administration (NARA).  2- page (or front and back) form with space for 15 children.  Limitation:  No designated space to add compiler & date compiled.  I add this information at the bottom of the sheet.
  2. Individual worksheet. Midwest Genealogy Center, Mid-Continent Public Library System, Missouri.  Fillable PDF. Add compiler name & date.   
  3. Research checklist.    Midwest Genealogy Center,Mid-Continent Public Library System, Missouri . Fillable PDF. Add compiler name and date. 
  4. Biographical outline:  Excerpted from The Unpuzzling Your Past Workbook, copyright 1996 by Emily Anne Croom, Betterway Books, a division of F&W publications, Cincinnati, Ohio.  HINT: Check your local library for a copy of this book. Add compiler name & date.
  5. Research Log (as available):  Thomas MacAntee’s format. Fill in as I clean-up digital files; handwritten research notes on yellow paper.

Additional pages in a paper file may include but are not limited to census records, copies of certificates, copy of newspaper obituary, correspondence with other researchers, etc.

PAPER FILES. STEP 2: CLEAN UP.

  • Place documents in chronological order.
  • Remove duplicate copies. Shred or recycle excess paper.
  • Place original documents and photos in archival quality sleeves then in appropriate notebook. Scan document or photo to computer or Cloud as digital items.
  • Make a list of gaps and BSO (bright shiny object) items for later follow-up. 

For me, digital file review and cleanup began after choosing a genealogy software program and entering information to that program. However, you may already have digital files such as pictures and documents on your computer. In this post, I only address media type digital files. File structure for all of your digital  genealogy files is beyond the scope of today’s post.

DIGITAL / MEDIA FILES. STEP 1. REVIEW.

  • Compare paper and digital files. Do you have the same information in both files? Example: 1940 census record for grandfather. Copy of index record in paper file; image copy of original record in digital file.
  • Look at labels attached to media. You may have multiple media labelled as “1940 United States Federal Census(5).”
  • Locate all media files for a specific person or family group.

DIGITAL / MEDIA FILES. STEP 2. CLEAN-UP

Using standardized citations to acknowledge  sources is one part of digital file clean-up.  Another part standardizes naming conventions for media files. 

  1. Pick location for media files associated with a specific person or family group. As you rename media files, move the renamed files to this location.  (Hint: you may need to relink media files in your genealogy software program).
  2. Determine naming convention for media. Use the same format consistently. In general, I use these models: 
    •  Census records: Year_ type_place_state_family or person names
    • Individual records (BMD, burial, military, etc.): surname_given name_birthyear_deathyear_event_eventdate. 
  3. Adopt source citation model commonly used by genealogists. Consult these sources:
  4. Rename source citations and media as needed.
  5. Delete duplicate entries for the same fact or event.
  6. Back up digital files at end of each work session.

  Here’s some examples from my family trees:

As I encounter new information, I add to both paper and digital files. My genealogy program workflow looks like this:

  • Enter event information to RootsMagic. Note if inconsistent or unproven and reason why. Add discovery date.
  • Create source citation using templates.
  • Name source and media using standardized naming convention.
  • Make digital copy of original documents or rename digital media. Attach digital media to event and citation.
  • Transcribe information from source.
  • Create digital research log using format of choice. Print one copy for paper files.
  • Back up digital file at end of each work session.

Seem like lots of work? Well, yes, right now. But, I will leave both paper and digital files in formats that will, I hope, seem logical to my descendants. Writing this blog keeps me focused.   I remind myself – one record, one person, one family at a time! 

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

2021 Genealogy Goals

A new year and time to set goals for my genealogical work. In my Last Post,  I reported how l I did with 2020 goals. Some goals were met and others were not. I have a mixture of broad and specific goals. Broad goals enable me to follow leads as they pop up. Specific goals lead me in a certain direction. For 2021, I make some goals more specific than in previous years.

One of my goals last year was to purchase voice recognition software.  Prices of these programs seem high. I went back to Genealogy Do- over Facebook page and looked at comments about the various programs.  One suggestion was to use the Microsoft 365 voice recognition app. So I’m trying it for the first time with this post. I will keep you informed.

2021 Genealogy Goals for Susan Posten Ellerbee

Posten-Richards family (dad’s family)

  1. Revise at least 4 chapters of Posten family history book. Explore publication options. (One chapter done in 2018; one chapter rewritten in 2020). *Priority item for 2021
  2. Follow-up on at least one BSO generated from previous searches.
  3. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings.

Tucker-Maurer family (mom’s family):

  1. Complete descendant list for Smetts-Maurer family as requested by cousin.
  2. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings.
  3. Follow-up on at least one BSO generated from previous searches.

Ellerbee-Simmons/ Johnson-Reed (husband’s family)

  1. Scan original documents in paper files. Place originals in archival sleeves and appropriate notebook.  
  2. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings in each family group.
  3. Create family group records with citations as addendums to scrapbooks given 2019 & 2020 for at least 4 family groups.
  4. Continue to trace descendants of slaves owned by Ellerbee & Johnson ancestors. Use templates and directions from the Beyond Kin project.
  5. Follow-up on at least two BSOs generated from previous searches (one from each family group).  

Genealogy Blog:

  1. Post on regular basis, optimally every 2 weeks.
  2. Post at least 2 stories about each family—Posten-Richards (dad), Tucker-Maurer (mom), Ellerbee-Simmons (father-in-law), Johnson-Reed (mother-in-law).
  3. Limit each post to about 1500 words or less.
  4. Purchase or download software to post GEDCOM family tree. Post at least 2 family trees to blog. (continued from 2019).
  5. Continue to address Genealogical Proof Standard in reports.

General items:

  1. Continue to place To-Do/ BSO items and questions for each family on color-coded file cards.
  2. Send for at least 4 BMD certificates.
  3. Submit article begun in 2020 to a local genealogical society for publication in their newsletter.  Specific family/ person TBA.
  4. Add to Research Toolbox:  books “Dating Vintage Photographs”.
  5. Enroll in at least one genealogy-related webinar or online class, topic to be determined. 

BUDGET:

I forgot to mention genealogy budget in my last post. So, here is my budget and actual spending for 2020 and proposed budget for 2021.

REFLECTION

My 2020 goals were mostly general.  However, general goals allow me to go where a search leads me. I could say “ identify siblings of great grandfather, Daniel S. Posten”   but instead I choose to leave my annual goals more generic.  I have been using yellow pads more this past year. When I sit down to work, I write a specific objective such as “ find Daniel Posten family in 1870 census.” Then, I make notes about which towns I searched. These yellow sheets are effective research logs for me.

I do create a digital research summary log of my findings. I sometimes forget to look beyond the first page. I looked at other formats and decided to stick with what I have been using.  

I probably use different methods to organize and document my work than you.  Each person uses mechanisms that work for them. However, we all desire similar outcomes –  to identify our ancestors, to find out about their lives and to share our findings with others.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021