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New Goals for a New Year

Happy New Year, all. I hope you had a wonderful Holiday and were able to stay healthy.

As many of you already know, I have stopped lecturing and consulting and have decided to focus on my own research in 2023. I will continue to blog, and the focus may be more case studies reflecting my personal research, but built into the blogs will be a lesson on research methodology you might find helpful in your own research. I’ll be blogging every other week, rather than every week.

Last week, at the Family Tree website, Lisa Louise Cooke wrote an article on How Software Can Help You Build Your Family Tree. I encourage you to read it. I agree with Lisa and have written on the same topic many times. We all can think back to companies that were at the top of their field that no longer exist (Wang, ITT, Singer) and even in the genealogy field (the Master Genealogist). Genealogical software companies are bought and sold with terms and conditions changing…Family Tree Maker has been owned by at least a half a dozen companies since I started researching back in the early 1990s. Most recently, Ancestry sold it to MacKiev. Some of the larger genealogical software companies that offer online trees are public and others are privately held. I’m not saying any of them are going out of business in the near future, but what would happen if your master (or only) tree was on a site that went out of business? Like Lisa, I’m a firm believer that you should have control of your Master Tree on your computer.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use online trees…they are critical if you are working with DNA. It is so frustrating to have a high cM match and the match has no tree. Let me just mention that my pet peeve is the tree with a name and no date or place...put something in, even if it is an estimate...or every name in the tree marked "Private." I also use online trees when I’m working on a particular family to limit the number of hints I have or to “troll for cousins.” You never know when contacting a match it might result in finding the cousin with the Family Bible!

When online trees became a thing, I jumped in with both feet…Ancestry, Findmypast, MyHeritage and FamilySearch. Very quickly, my Master Genealogy Database (I use Reunion) became out of sync with my online trees. It was so easy to just click one of those shaky leaves and add information to my online tree. My problem was not so much incorrect information…I was pretty good at confirming I had the correct connection…but if I was in a hurry, I didn’t always add the information to my Master database. When RootsMagic announced that they were going to sync with Ancestry and FamilySearch, I thought that might solve the problem. It would require me to change software, but RootsMagic had already announced they were working on a native Mac version (which because of the Ancestry connectivity issues got pushed out multiple years). I worked with the beta version of the Mac RootsMagic software, but learning the new software was very time consuming. I found it was easier just to go back to what I knew, which was Reunion. Now, I add the information first to my Reunion database.

You can keep your Master database in any software package that works for you (I know Professional Genealogists who just use MS Word) but make sure you regularly back it up. Mine is backed up to iCloud and every quarter, I also back it up to a USB drive both as a Reunion file as well as a GEDCom. If you are using an online tree, you should also back it up regularly to a GEDCOM. Since GEDCOM is just a text file, it won’t back up any of your images so you will need to download those separately.

I have seen a lot of articles and bogs this week about getting organized. That’s a big push for me this year as well, as I transition to researching my own family. I’ve used the same filing system for a number of years so that’s not a problem…my problem is getting all of the documents into the files, either paper or digital. You don’t want to see my digital desktop! I’ve started blocking out 30 minutes each day just to file and I’ve promised myself that I won’t go to bed until I’ve filed the days documents. (We’ll see how long that lasts😀). Oh, and I also decided to try #52Ancestors again in 2023. Amy Johnson Crow has been running this for a number of years and although I’ve started it a couple of times, this might be the year I actually follow through. Amy sends out prompts each Friday to help you get started. You can sign up by clicking here.

I’ve got a full year in front of me including the Ireland Research Trips to both Dublin and Belfast in October. The Belfast trip is full, but there are still some spaces left for Dublin. You can sign up here, or email me if you want to be put on a wait list for Belfast. Again, Happy New Year. May this be the year that you biggest brick wall comes tumbling down!

Happy Hunting!

Although I'll only be blogging every other week, I will continue to post interesting tidbits on my DonnaMoughtyGenealogy Facebook Page. This is not my personal page and contains references and resources for Irish Research. "Like" the page to keep up with what's new. I also cross post my blogs there. I am no longer using Twitter, so Facebook is the place to find me.

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