Monday, January 30, 2017

Organizing My Family History

This blog has been on hold for the majority of the past three years. This was because my family history research was mostly on hold. There were some notes I made, pictures I came across and interviews I had conducted spread throughout that time but for the most part I wasn't actively pursuing it. This is because I was writing a novel and learning how to be a dad to a new born and toddler. I have finally reached a stage where I think its feasible to begin researching and blogging again.

As I sat down in front of my computer I suddenly realised an error I made when I was last researching my family history. Organization. I have a family tree on Ancestry, notes on FamilySearch and pictures spread across two computers and four websites. Organization has never been my strong point but I was horrified that I had not been more on top of things.

I quickly started to try and get my head around where everything was and contacted a friend who is a veteran at blogging about genealogy. He suggested a method of organization that made sense and had me wondering why I hadn't been able to come up with it myself. Realising that I sometimes work on multiple machines I decided that I should try and store my work in the cloud and back it up to one or both of the primary computers I use.

With this in mind I opened my Google Drive and began setting up folders for each family name and folders for individual people within that. I also currently have two rather large folders titled "Unfiled Photographs" and "Unfiled records." My hope is that over the coming days and weeks these folders will shrink while others grow.

Along with the organization I decided I had to pick one primary place to keep my family tree and after much deliberation I have decided upon Myheritage.com as the site. This isn't to say I won't be keeping hard copies. I just want one central place online. I did like FamilySearch in general but I am not a fan of 'open trees' where anyone can make changes. I've set up some family ancestors there because I think this helps connect with others but I didn't want record merges and additions from others to be changing the tree before I could check the quality of their changes.

Although Ancestry offers a 'closed tree' I became frustrated at Ancestry because I had attached records to various family ancestors assuming that since I had paid to access them and attached them they would all now be viewable. They're not. That was potentially a rookie mistake but one which I shall not make again. Myheritage does not seem quite as intuitive as FamilySearch but it seems to have all the same features. I do prefer the way FamilySearch allows you to attach photographs as memories to ancestors, while Myheritage seems to keep them separate, although you can tag ancestors in pictures which is still very helpful. In the end though, the fact that it is a closed tree won the day. It still allows me to add other family members to view the tree and I will be employing this ability in the coming year.

Thanks again for all who are following my genealogy journey, I'm eager to see what's still out there.

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