I decided to get started on my do-over ahead of time because (1) I had some free time over the holiday, and (2) I knew it was going to take me a while to get everything done.
For the first week, the plan is to:
- set aside all previous research
- prepare to research
- establish base practices and guidelines
It was this last item that was going to take some time. I knew that one of the main outcomes I wanted was consistency. Consistency in my file-naming, consistency in my document processing, consistency in my source citations, etc. In order to do that, I needed to set some ground rules.
The first thing I did was create a file-naming scheme for my digital files. I will be creating a new tree in RootsMagic 7, and my database and media files will all be saved in Dropbox. Within Dropbox, I have created a “Genealogy Media” file. Inside that file, I will have a file for every surname in my direct line. (Collateral surnames will get their own folder). Inside each surname folder will be folders for each individual. Folders for females will be titled [First] [Middle] [Last] (yyyy-yyyy), and for the males [First] [Middle] [Last] (wife’s first name) (yyyy-yyyy).
My digital files (documents, photos, etc.) will be named as follows:
YYYY [MM DD] – SURNAME [first] [middle]-[RIN] (***) [document type]
(SURNAME first name) for marriage records
(address or location) for land/real estate records
(name of newspaper [page][col] [description]) for news articles NOT obituaries
(location sm > lg) for maps
(brief description) for photos
*RIN = Record Identification Number
I struggled with the file names for a couple of days. After I settled on one way, I realized as I was testing it out that it simply wouldn’t work for my purposes, so I revamped and ended up with what you see above. The reason I chose to start with the date of the document/photo/etc. is because I could look in the file and see a timeline (and yes, I realize that I will be using numerical months and days, which goes against everything genealogical, but this is the only way it will work – at least until someone puts all the months in alphabetic order on the calendar). This will be handy when I’m not able to open my RootsMagic program.
Once I was happy with my file naming scheme, I turned to my document processing issue. That issue being that I didn’t have an actual process to follow – hence, the lack of consistency. So I found a website called LucidChart and created this:
I’m still ironing out the kinks, and I may have to tweak it a little after I’ve started doing some actual research, but for the few documents I’ve worked with so far, it’s working pretty well.
Now that I have those two things out of the way, I need to start looking toward making some sort of source checklist so I can be sure not to forget anything, and making sure my research plan and research log are sufficient for my needs.
Have you already started prepping for the big day?
Do we share ancestors? Email me: lostancestors AT gmail DOT com
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