I love to research, but I've been thinking quite a bit lately about what will happen to my research in the future. There's nothing pushing me, but my own research has gone by the wayside as I've spent my time doing research for others, lecturing, and writing this blog. I had planned to cut back during 2020 especially with lectures and travel, but once COVID hit, I was inundated with requests for webinars. I have to say, that for me, webinars are the way to go. I probably won't be doing in person lectures in the future.
But back to my own research...I usually dive in when someone contacts me (and I can double dip by writing a blog on whatever the topic). My children have made it very clear that, at least for the time being, they have no interest in the research. You may have heard me say in the past, my children refer to me as the crazy lady who chases dead people! If I were to get hit by a bus tomorrow, they would likely cremate my file cabinets with me. In my continued quest to organize, file and generally clean up my piles of paper, I came across this ditty on "Cleaning Mother's House" from Michael John Neill in 2010. This about sums up what might happen to my research.
So what is the legacy of almost 30 years of research? I have a genealogy database which is mostly sourced. Every so often I come across information from the early days and think, I wonder where that came from? My database, which is Reunion (a Macintosh only software program that I've used since 1992), contains lots of notes about my research, but even if someone was interested, I'm not sure they could make sense of it. They would also have to maintain the software and updates so it would continue to be viable. There are a number of genealogy software companies that were all the rage over the past 30 years but don't exist any longer. Remember The Master Genealogist ?
I have Trees online at all of the major genealogical companies, but they don't talk to each other, and if I'm being honest, I have to admit that sometimes in the past, when I was busy, I accepted hints into my online Trees without transferring the information to my master database. (In case you didn't read the Ancestry Terms and Conditions to the end, when you die, or let your subscription lapse at Ancestry, your information remains online. You're contributing to the billions of records they quote.) Online Trees provide great hints but have limited capabilities for outputting the data in a format to be distributed. I strongly recommend a full function genealogy database on your computer. An online tree does solve the problem of the information being accessible to others, but these are commercial companies. I'm not saying they're going out of business anytime soon, but it happens...remember companies like Wang and DEC? What if after I die, the company disappears and that is the only place where my research exists?
I have made progress over the past few years digitizing my records and I've written on the process of organizing and filing my information. It is by no means even close to done, but I've tried to keep up with any new material.
I'm not sure that I gave any major thought at the beginning as to what the end product would be for my genealogy research. I probably had some fuzzy idea about writing the book on the history of the Moughty Family. Do I want to write a book? I'm not sure anyone would be interested. After all, there is only one other Moughty family in the US. I once created a scrapbook for my husband's aunt...and I learned that I never again want to cut out scraps of paper and paste them together. I do know that I need to get my own research in shape so someone would actually be able to use it. When I first started I thought that maybe the LDS or FamilySearch might be interested but they wouldn't take it in it's present form.😀 I can upload a GEDcom to their site, but that strips out sources which to me makes it of little value. And, I'm not a fan of the FamilySearch Family Tree. Besides finding it slow and cumbersome to use, I have added information along with sources only to have another user come along, ignore the sources and change to incorrect information.
So as much as I love technology, I'm not sure that is the solution. This may be a situation of going back to paper, with a technology assist. I can output the information from my database in many formats...reports that follow the genealogy standard, charts, pictures...the question then becomes, what do I do with them. One of the places I have successfully found information in the past is at local libraries, archives and historical societies. I would like to be able to take the information on various families and provide copies to the local repositories where the family lived.
I'd be interested in knowing what your plans are for your genealogy research. Have you considered an end game? Let me know by commenting below. I'll likely continue this thread as I work out my Plan.
Happy Hunting and Stay Safe!
Things are looking up for the Ireland Research Trip in October. The Dublin Trip is currently full (although there may be some cancellations) but there is still space available for Belfast.