My Genealogy Do-Over


When I began researching my family’s history I had a lot to learn.  I wasn’t good about citing my sources. I looked at the same searches over and over.  I followed trails that didn’t make sense.  I wasn’t skeptical of “shaking leaves”.  Yep. I need a do-over.

What does this mean?  Well my friend Thomas MacEntee has laid out a plan to get us all back on the right track with our research and I’m joining in on the fun. He calls it the Genealogy Do-Over and has laid out a 13 week plan.  It doesn’t mean I’m going to throw out all that I’ve done so far, but rather that I’ll start with a clean slate and get my research better organized and follow the Genealogical Proof Standard more closely.

I’ve created a Google Calendar to help remind me of the different tasks each week and also added them to my Wunderlist specific to my research.

My first step over the next few days will be to set aside my digital files and box up all the notes and paper copies of my research.  I will keep the copies of Naturalization records, Vital Records, Probate Files, and so forth that I have ordered over the past few years.  Then I am going to set up new electronic folders so that I can start on the right foot.  I’ll use the following system which has worked well for me over the past few years.


  • Birth
  • Census
  • Deaths
  • Immigration
  • Land
  • Marriage
  • Military
  • Newspapers
  • Occupations
  • Wills and Estates

The next topic is preparing to research and Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines.  I’m going to stew on this a bit since this is something that I’ve been a little all over the map in the past few years.  I think I will use an Excel sheet for each surname, but I think most of all I need to come up with a procedure to follow for each search and how to document my findings (or lack thereof).  This will be good to stew on as I drive to and from work in the next few days.  For now, I’ve got some rearranging to do on my hard drive and in my office!

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