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My Current Digital Organization

papermonster3-03

Five years ago, I posted the ongoing adventures of trying to get all my paper organized. At the time I thought I was going to do great! Well, five years later, I no longer use those crates, hanging file folders or even that blanket or bed frame. I guess it was a clean sweep!

My paper organization held up for quite awhile. I filed things accordingly, but eventually there was just too much paper! Every time I would go to look for something the sheet protectors would slide all over the place, there was no rhyme or reason to any of it. One day, when I was feeling particularly cranky with it I just took everything out of the crates. I loaded up some empty binders and that’s where everything currently sits.

the drives on my PC

What has been working wonderfully for me, is my digital organization. As you can see from above, I have a whole hard drive dedicated to genealogy. It’s mounted right in my computer and it’s there for me whenever I need it. When I bought my new computer after the previous trauma, it had 4 spots to mount hard drives in. Like any computer nerd, I immediately purchased a nice big one for all the cool stuff I like. Then I formatted another hard drive I had and I dubbed it my Genealogy Drive.

If you followed along on my blog before, you know that I spent about 3 years doing my Family File Cleanup Project. My family file isn’t in such great shape after the emergency computer switch and it’s aftermath, but my organization is still in place. That has turned out to be a huge blessing as I cleanup one more time.

One of the big parts of the project was that I was assigning ID numbers to every ancestor. I was using RootsMagic and Family Tree Maker at the same time and using whatever number was given by RootsMagic. By the time I switched computers, I was exclusively using Family Tree Maker again using the reference number option in that program. Mainly I was probably just tired of switching back and forth. The priority for me was trying to keep my online tree updated at Ancestry for new DNA cousins.

What is my blog without drama though? Family Tree Maker just continued to crash on me and eventually did the unforgivable and corrupted my main family file. Luckily for me, I was already trying out Legacy Family Tree software and loving it for about six months before this final betrayal. Doesn’t everyone use every kind of software just for fun? Or maybe that’s just me? Once the corruption happened, I just shook my head and stopped loading Family Tree Maker. I was officially DONE. The great thing is that I was even able to renumber Legacy’s RIN numbers to match the ones I already had in place as Person/User IDs in Family Tree Maker.

The index page of my Legacy software, showing the matching numbers

All my hard work was for a good reason, you see I use those numbers to organize all my computer files. Every single digital record gets organized by that number. It is easiest to show my folder structure below in screenshots. The only folder that really needed a sub-folder structure was the Media folder.

genealogydrive

mediafolder

birthrecordfolder

I know that looks overwhelming when you first look at it. How do I find anything? When it comes time to need something, I just go to my Genealogy Drive, type in the ID of the person I need and let the computer do the searching.

llewellyn

I started off with 4 digits because honestly… I didn’t think that far ahead. So in my head, I know that I used a 4 number structure for all numbers under 9999. My numbers only go to 3783 right now, so it’s not an issue I want to worry about right now. I also have a set of abbreviations that I use when naming my files. They are pretty self explanatory:

TS = tombstone

DR = death record

BR = birth record

SSC = Social Security card (because yes, I have the original ones for Llewellyn and her husband!)

SS5 = SS-5 application forms

MR = marriage record

MR2 = 2nd marriage record

onenotewoah

Last and certainly not least is my OneNote. When I was previously blogging, I was still trying to make this program work for me. I am still working on what exactly I am using OneNote for but the core of the organization is set. A lot of what I was going to use OneNote for, Legacy and most other genealogy software programs already do. The page you see above is my index page. OneNote also has a search function, so I could use that to find what I need, but I am an overachiever. I made these index pages. This just shows 1 through 100. Of course, I have the most living people in this section so I had to blur out everyone to make this easier to follow. Just look there at number 49, Lllewellyn. That is a link to Llewellyn’s section of OneNote.

timeline

OneNote should probably be it’s own post, but since I’m still developing it I’m not sure. I’ll just go over my favorite parts. I’m working on timelines for every person of my tree, so at the beginning of their section is that. There is also a Family Group sub-page, where I just link to the family members OneNote sections. If I wanted to, I could also add links to their individual pages on my moore-mays.org website. Then there are three section groups: Logs, Sources, To Do. Logs is pretty self explanatory. I use that as my research notebook. I leave little notes for myself. Screenshots of things I want to come back to. Things like that.

sources

The Sources section is a place for me to analyze the variances in each main fact. Llewellyn’s birthdate moved from 1898 all the way up to 1902 depending on which record you looked at. This was a way for me to distinguish which records are closer to the event that is happening, so they are more likely to be accurate. Which records are hearsay (basically census ones and family records), and which are from official sources that are more likely to be backed up with official evidence. Suppose someone joined the military, they would have had to show a birth certificate (I might be wrong the further back it gets), so that would hold up better than a census record.

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My absolute, can’t live without it favorite is the To Do section. This was my only must have when consulting with my sister about how to set this whole thing up. I wanted to be able to know at a glance who I needed to look for in what. Hopefully eventually I will be able to. It’s basically a checklist of which records to use to find a piece of information. If I was having a hard time finding a birthdate for someone, I could look at this checklist and see which records I don’t have that might have the information I’m looking for. The list changes depending on which fact but like I said it’s a process! 🙂 To make things easier on myself, I made a blank template copy. When I setup a new folder, I just copy the pages over and customize each page as needed. I’m just starting to get setup though so this will probably grow more as I find out about more types of records.

Oh, one last thing:

censusavailable

Here is what I see at the beginning of my Notebook. A nice, easy to use cheat sheet for Census records. In my dreams I’ll eventually have one for birth, marriage and death records also. I made this list in desperation when I went through a broke  long period of time without an Ancestry.com membership. I wanted to see where I could still find records if I needed to.

excelcensus

In sub-pages I have an attached Excel spreadsheet that easily allows me to add, sort, and edit my list of people Missing in the Census. I only thought to show this as an afterthought because I’m trying to use the genealogy software To Do lists for this now.

So there’s the long of it. My current digital organization. Kevin might be sorry he asked to know now! This is my process and by no means the only one. Everyone should definitely test out what works best for them. This probably won’t work for very large files but maybe it can help give an idea of what all One Note can do. I’m not even using half of the features that I know are available.

How is your digital file system? Is there anything you think I can do to make this more efficient?

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the software companies or Ancestry.com. I was not compensated by anyone to write anything on this blog. I just love talking about this stuff. 🙂

The Story of Lillian Redford

Hello world, I am back again. Today I was watching a webinar given by Amy Johnson Crow on FamilyTreeWebinars.com. The webinar was very informative and a great refresher of somethings that I was already doing. While I was watching, it reminded me of something that happened about a year and a half ago. I was talking with my Aunt Lori over Thanksgiving, and it always turns to genealogy with us. My favorite thing to do is hand her records and let her look at them. About 90% of the time she notices something that I didn’t.

This particular Thanksgiving, we were talking about the progress I was making on the Redford/Travis section of the family tree. It had been a long time since I had anything new to report for them, so I was excited to share, even though it was more Travis than Redford.

We were discussing all the different Redfords that migrated to Los Angeles, and when they were there. I had mentioned that there was one Redford girl that had just plain disappeared on me and I couldn’t find information for her anywhere. I assumed that I would eventually find a death record for her in New Jersey from before the bulk of the family left for California.

The totality of my information as of that day.
The totality of my information as of that day.

To prove my point I plugged the surname Redford into a FamilySearch.org search box, and hit enter. Then I went through all the records showing her them, to see if she saw something I didn’t.

Then it happened.

Lillian's Marriage Record
Lillian’s Marriage Record

All of a sudden, Lillian’s timeline exploded with information. I was able to add not just the one marriage but a second one. I was able to add a child, and that child’s marriage. I filled Lillian’s census information in up to 1940, and I thought to myself, man, what a ride that was! I couldn’t even believe that all this information popped up, just by doing a new search.

Here comes the Kathleen twist though. It’s what always seems to happen to me, just when you think you’re done or that you’ve gotten the information, something else happens.

As I was entering Lillian’s information, I thought I might as well check her father’s death certificate to double check how long he had been living in Los Angeles. It was then I realized I needed to be more thorough in my examining of documents.

Herbert Redford's death certificate
Herbert Redford’s death certificate

It was there, right on her father’s death certificate the whole time. Informant: Mrs. Ralph Swiggart. If I had researched the informant’s name way back when I first got this record by mail, Lillian wouldn’t have been lost to me for so long!

Just chalk that one up to another misadventure in my genealogy. Here I am just proving that my personal motto should be Oops! 🙂

659 Days since my last blog

It has been 659 days since my last real blog post. I had no plans to abandon my blog. Life sort of just happened to me. Shortly after my last blog post, one of my Aunts suddenly passed away. I didn’t know it at the time, or even until recently, but I believe I fell into a depression. I wasn’t diagnosed, I didn’t talk to anyone but my family about it, but I completely lost my passion for life for a long time. It’s only now that I’m starting to get back to doing things I love like genealogy, and hopefully soon  quilting.

I have made a lot of changes over the time I’ve been away from the blog, including a switch over from Family Tree Maker to Legacy. This was long before the announcement recently about Family Tree Maker. My reason for switching was mainly because the program kept crashing and corrupting my file. I’d have to “clean” it up all over again after downloading the synced version from Ancestry. I haven’t regretted the change but as with all software changes this has come with a learning curve. Not to mention, again cleaning up the sources after the import process.

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I don’t have plans to regularly post on the blog yet. Only because now that my computer situation is finally stable, I am cleaning up and organizing. I haven’t felt much like devoting that kind of time to that process in a long time but I’m finding it very helpful in getting my motivation back.

I hope everyone who is reading this is doing well and I hope to write again soon!

lovekathleen

William, Father of William

Even though my main focus is to clean up my source citations, every once and a while you just need to put in a little research time. So that’s what I do when I just need to do something fun with my genealogy.

This strategy has paid off for me because I managed to find William Travis and Sarah Booth‘s marriage record! That means I’m back one more generation since it gives the father’s names.

I was also able to confirm that this 1841 England Census entry was in fact William, Sarah, and their 4 month old daughter Frances. I was about 95% already but confirming that William’s father was named William gave me the last 5%. Now I have to figure out who David and Alice are. I’m assuming siblings of William, Jr. Or maybe David is a son of Alice. They are 20 years apart so anything is possible at this point.

I love figuring things out a small step at a time because I’m able to really take in the info! What’s your latest exciting find?

Mystery Monday: Belle Brodie Returns!

bellbrodie-00

Before my unintentional hiatus from the blog and genealogy, I was working on a little mystery. It was actually quite fun and I’m eager to pick up where I left off.

This weekend, I received a discount in my e-mail to come back to Ancestry.com and I decided to go ahead and use the discount to upgrade to the World Membership for at least the 6 month term of that discount. With my World Membership I can see the Canadian census images now which really excites me.

If your memory is as fuzzy as mine, I posted previously that Ancestry hinted at some exciting news before my membership expired and my computer went nuts. Now is my first chance since August (WOW!) to look through those records except for trying to use indexes.

I’m going to show you a timeline of my Belle Brodie  info so we can all finally know who she was!

Abt. 1835 – Isabella Farris is born to John and Janet Farris in New Brunswick, Canada

1851 – Isabella Farris is enumerated with her parents and six siblings in Westminster, Ontario, Canada

Note: I should mention that Westminster is basically a neighborhood in the outlying part of London, Ontario. 

1861 – Isabella Brodie is still living in Westminster but now with her husband, a daughter and a son.

1866 – Bell Brodie writes a letter from London, Ontario to her dear cousin detailing a visit that her cousin’s mother is currently on.

1871 – Isabella’s family which includes her husband and daughter Jessie are enumerated as living in London, Ontario, Canada.

1881 – Hugh, Isabella and Jessie are still living in London, Ontario.

April 1882 – Jessie Brodie is married to Detroit resident Francis William John Peel.

Around 1886 – Hugh, Isabella and family including Jessie move across the border into Detroit.

1900 – Hugh, Isabella and their grand daughter Isobel Peel are now living in Detroit, Michigan.  Per this census, Isabella had 3 children with only one still living. I assume that is Jessie who is living in Springswells, Michigan with her husband and 3 other living children (Laura, Hugh, Margareth/Marjorie).  They live minutes away from each other.

1906 – Isabella’s husband Hugh dies in Detroit, Michigan.

1910 – A now widowed Isabella Brodie is living in Detroit with her two grand daughters, Isobel and Marjorie Peel. Also widowed, Jessie is living with her daughter Laura’s family.

1920 – Isabella is still living with grand daughter Isobel Peel. No sign so far of Jessie or Marjorie.

There are still tons of holes to fill in this timeline. I basically followed Isabella (Belle) down through her lifetime as I could find the records. Even knowing that she was born to John and Janet Farris, I haven’t quite linked her to my Ferris/Farris/Farish family. I just know that John Farris is about 4 years older than my Jane Ferris-Menzies and that they were both from Dumfries, Scotland. I’m going to try and track down some more records but I can’t even believe how far I’ve come so far when I started knowing so little!

My new goals with Belle Brodie are probably going to be low priority ones now that the information is getting harder to find. There is still plenty to find but it will take more effort. So I’m probably going to go ahead and make my research notes on this and pick it up less often until I can at least link John and Jane.

Happy Genealogy Friday!

Hello from Southern Maryland. I’ve been working a lot lately on a bunch of different things having to do with my Family File. Most of those things involve cleaning up my sources mess.

I realized last night however, that I somehow, in the midst of all this confusion finished entering in my family lines for the Family File Cleanup Project that I began many years ago. How that snuck in on me, I have no idea.

So now I think is a good time to do a little planning on what comes next… after I clean up the sources again.

Moore Pedigree
Moore Pedigree

For the Moores/Thorwards/Loves/Menzies and so on, my main goal is to make timelines and gather records for the individuals I need information for. I want to get my One Note research notebook setup so I can start analyzing these guys and finding my missing information more efficiently.

Redford Pedigree
Redford Pedigree

Same deal with the Redfords and Parkins. There is so little information on these families that I really need to start getting records for them so I can start filling in some blanks. That will probably mean a trip to the New Jersey Archives for me. No complaints here but I just want to make sure this time when I go to Jersey that I have a list of names and dates and where the records should be at.

Mays Pedigree
Mays Pedigree

The only problems I ever encounter with the Mays families are the sheer abundance of them. The hard part is that the part of the country they lived in didn’t formally start keeping records until 1911, which makes it really hard to track down a lot of the info. Not impossible, just hard. I also have a list of names that I haven’t put back into my working file because I don’t have the smoking record that links them to William Mays and Frances Adkins. Just family legend that they were a part of the family. So I have to start digging into Kentucky a lot of farther.

Taylor Pedigree
Taylor Pedigree

The Taylor family is probably my most emailed about family. There are just so many contradictory genealogies and researchers that just an afternoon spent researching the Taylors can leave you with a migraine. The great thing about it is that there is so much information on them. I wish I had as much information on some of my other lines! The best thing about the Taylors is that most of the researchers are friendly and collaborative so it’s a shared migraine. 😉

The Webbs, Crabbs, Applegates, and Wests are families I lose track of often. Despite finding a biography giving a ton of information on the Webbs, I’ve been stalled again while I figure out the geography and timelines of what my information is telling me.

As for my biggest mission. The case of Zeroah Black. I’m pretty sure she’ll end up being the focus of Mystery Monday once Belle Brodie is finished because folks, Belle Brodie is finishing up! How exciting. Hopefully I can tell you all about it on Monday! If I don’t make it, then it will definitely be next Monday. 🙂

Even More Source Cleanups

Well, I did it. I got through all my census citations. They’re all back to what they were before the computer switcheroo. Now I’m onto the other 80 sources that duplicated themselves in the merge.

My Clean Sources as of May 1st.
My Clean Sources as of May 1st.

Throughout all those census citations, I frequently took “breaks” to do something different. Different like parish records and newspaper records instead of turning 900+ census citations into 200… for each census.

Naturally when you’re looking at all these sources, it makes you want to research. Unfortunately, my sources were in such a state that it confused me more so I held off on that.

One thing I did do though was make myself a 1940 census lookup list.

I started by creating a custom report that filtered in anyone born before 1941 and after 1830 (you never know). Then I filtered out anyone who had a death date before 1940. Lastly, I filtered out anyone who had a census event containing 1940.

1940 Census Lookup List
1940 Census Lookup List

I then printed out the 48 pages (24 double sided) and saved it to PDF also for later. I like to have a paper list beside me but I’ll probably make a section in OneNote for each census to keep notes on why I couldn’t find someone or if I find something I want to look at again later. I sure can’t wait until I can get back to blogging about actual research again!

All these are the things that will occupy my Genealogy Friday, including answering more emails. I’m just about caught up. I hope everyone out there in cyberspace is able to do a little genealogy this weekend.

Vacation

You might have noticed that my new trend of posting on Fridays broke last week. That was because I had a tiny secret… I was on vacation! Well, not exactly yet but first thing last Saturday morning my mother, my sister and I all loaded up and headed to Ohio for some “family fun time”. Seriously that was our official term that my cousin Patty came up with.

It was technically a girls weekend and it was so much fun. We rented a cabin around Hocking Hills State Park. There was no internet, no cell phone service and it was heaven!

Old Mans Cave, Hocking Hills, Ohio
Old Mans Cave, Hocking Hills, Ohio

So there aren’t any blog posts this week again, but I have made progress and I’m still on target!

Source Cleanups and Using OneNote

Last Friday, my goal was to cleanup the 1880 US Census source citations in my family file. I accomplished that and more! I ended up cleaning up 1880 US, 1881 England and Scotland, 1892 New York and 1895 Kansas and New Jersey. Granted those other ones are smaller amounts in my file but progress to me is progress.

Unlike last week, I think this week’s goal will have to be done bits at a time throughout the week. This week’s goal is the 1900 census.

The 1900 US Census
The 1900 US Census

In my original file I only had 148 citations and in the new merged file there were over 600.

The other thing I’m exploring this week is using Microsoft OneNote as my main note-taking software. I’ve been wishy washy (technical term :p) on whether to use OneNote or Evernote. When my family decided to go in together on purchasing the subscription to Microsoft Office 365, my mind was finally made up. I have not only my Dropbox account now but also my Microsoft SkyDrive for backup purposes.

The biggest curve is just learning all that it can do. It’s really quite a powerful tool. I’ll try and get a more in depth entry up. My sister has completely mastered it and I’m trying to get her help in adapting her college notebooks for genealogy use. Basically I’m trying to pin her down for a tutorial!

My Moore Family OneNote Notebook
My Moore Family OneNote Notebook

So far, I have one notebook for my mother’s side and one for my father’s side. I’m still trying to work out exactly how I’m going to organize it but I’ve already learned about attaching links to files and creating checklists and things of that nature.

William H Moore's Page in OneNote
William H Moore’s Page in OneNote

This is the first thought pattern I had on how to organize my notebook. It drills down from the Moore Line main notebook to the Moore surname. Then from there I have pages setup for individuals. From there I’ve added sub-pages for each section that I might need.

I don’t know if this is going to be effective yet because I’ve just started. We’ll see what my sister thinks when I finally sit her down!

Do you use OneNote? How do you organize your research? I’d sure love to hear!

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