The beauty of starting your family file over is that you know everything in there will be correct. The dilemma I have is I would never delete my old file. It’s been the file I’ve edited for many years now. I could never throw it away like a used shopping bag. (Actually I use the reusable bags now so that was a bad metaphor.) The problem I’ve come across is how much of my old file and the original (not entirely trustworthy) family tree to use.
It’s easy to say I’ll just use it as a guideline and I’ll back it up with documents as I go. Sure that’s the obvious choice. What about that first time I come across something that isn’t documented though? Kentucky was pretty sporadic in their death records before 1911. So what do I do about all those infant children that passed away in the Taylor family? I can’t immediately back them up, but surely they existed. I can look up cemetery records, and newspapers when I’m in Kentucky but what about now? If I just say I’ll go back to it later, that’s the old me talking. I always say I’ll do it later, and then I forget and never go back. My family file will never be restored that way.
So my solution for now is to source it as the Undocumented Family Tree, and make myself a list of records I need to find. This list is a start, but that could become quite crowded quickly. So maybe an Excel file will be my better option. One for the documents I need, and one to keep track of cemeteries I need to visit.
This may seem like rambling to you, but if I don’t hash this out now, I’ll never come to a decision…
Oh, and for those that remember or read this blog post I made? Yeah I’m going to be making a private family tree on Ancestry.com for each of the lines, just like my website. I won’t be doing it right away though. Most likely when I hit the inevitable brick wall.
For better or for worse, I went ahead and just deleted my “old” Mays family tree from my website. It started as just deleting the living individuals. It evolved into a small rebellion on my part. People who have visited this site since it’s inception know how many times I’ve deleted everything and re-added everything. Not to mention when I’ve accidentally broken the website coding. This is how we learn though right? Well, I just forced myself over the ledge for the betterment of my family website.
Some may not like that I put all my research and documents out there for the data loggers and research thieves out there. I don’t mind though. As long as I’m not harming anyone living, I don’t see a problem with it. It’s amazing how much my genealogy world has widened just by reading blogs by other genealogists. I’ve always had all my information out there for the world to enjoy and yes people use a lot of what I put out there. I don’t mind though. It’s such a good feeling to be able to help someone in their own research. My family from all over enjoy being able to see all my research, especially since we usually only see each other once a year at the reunion. I don’t exactly carry the whole of my research with me. Sometimes some pictures, but usually only my laptop.
Family File (Before)
So I’m slowly adding a person at a time to the website and citing all their sources, while I also enter them into my program. Another plunge I made was I finally purchased the full version of RootsMagic. If I am a little short of my September Ancestry subscription goal, so be it (I don’t think I will be though)! I’m sorry but I just couldn’t get the sources to be a neat and manageable in Family Tree Maker. The way is there, but I just couldn’t get over the ease of RootsMagic. This by no means suggests I’ll forever give up one program for the other. In the case of building my “official” Family File though. I’m doing it in RootsMagic for now.
Family File (After)
The after picture shows you the real impact of this undertaking. In my old file I had 25 sources and 162 citations for 4171 people. With just 31 people in this tree, I already have 15 sources and 79 citations. That’s half of what I had in my old file and I’ve only added 8 families. This is probably the best thing I ever did for my family tree. Now I just have to figure out the best way of preserving the records and photos I have. One thing at a time though. Today the plan is to add some more census records and to search through the Kentucky Death Records. I love how much enjoyment I can get from an evening spent with a nice cold Ginger Ale and my fluffy pajama pants, going through Census records. In fact I think the Census records are by far my favorite thing in the whole wide world.
I had some trouble sleeping last night, so I was thinking about some things I could do to improve my website. I’m still trying to work on blog stuff. Just need to learn the code first!
One of the things I decided about my site is that I can add new “trees” manually. I usually just import GEDCOM files into the site. That works great, if my GEDCOM file was in shape to be imported.
The second thing I realized was there is no reason I need to have “living” people information on the site. So what I’m doing, is I’m starting from my 4 Grandparents. Those lines are going to have their own “tree.” I’ll add one person at a time, sourcing every speck of information I put in, uploading a photo or two for people I have photos for, etc. This allows me complete control. There may be some double and triple people at points in time, because I’ll only be deleting people from the “old tree” once I have them completely sourced in the “new tree.”
For those who don’t visit that part of my site, this won’t mean anything to you, but I’m excited just thinking about it. I sometimes really hate that I don’t spend enough time concentrating on a single person. Not anymore! This will also give me a chance to send for records of those I need. My file is such a mess right now, I don’t know who I have records for and who I don’t. So that’ll be great.
The last benefit of this method for the site is that I can do the same thing in RootsMagic and Family Tree Maker. I’m still determined to have both programs do the same things. I just have to figure them out. I might even be able to purchase the full version of RootsMagic in a few months. I just want to make sure I have enough for my Ancestry.com renewal in September. I should have it by then though!
I might even consider putting up a public Ancestry.com tree, once I have things under control on all my other programs and sites. I don’t know, I’m still flip flopping on that