Monday, January 12, 2009

READER'S FEEDBACK: January Organization Checklist

RE: 2009 January Organization Checklist

From: Martha Taylor
I'm overwhelmed, which always leads to confusion. I inherited an extensive amount of genealogy from my mother. She left me with tons (47 boxes and two file cabinets). Her library of books I donated to a local library that had no genealogy department. Her mother started it and now I have it. Unfortunately, she didn't teach me what to do with it. I have studied, read, joined groups, etc. Your filing system so far is the only one that makes sense to me.

Questions about the family history notebooks:
  • My father was adopted. I have information about a possible birth family for him but its not proven yet.
  • Do I follow from my mother to her father, then to his father?
  • Do I follow the female side - mother to mother to mother?
  • Also how do you handle multiple marriages?

I just need to get a start and then I think I can put it together. I feel my contribution to this project is to put it into some form that future generations can make sense of instead of all these file folders stuffed with papers.

Thanks for your help and all the work you do.

First, thank-you for taking such great care of your mother's genealogy. Donating the books to the local library as a basis for their genealogy reference collection is a fitting tribute for the research your mother and grandmother did over the years.

Few care to make the effort to preserve the unique compiled family history info inherited from their "genealogy nut" relatives.

Just to clear things up on the filing system, I'll give you a sneak peek of items from the next checklist. Ol' Myrt here wouldn't want you to languish in agony until the 1 Feb 2009 release date.

Remember we've got 12 months to work through this monumental task of finally getting organized. When we take things step by step, it isn't as overwhelming.

In the case of adoption, I'd create 2 smaller notebooks, one for the adopted lines, and one for the blood line. Usually adoptees decide to trace one line or another. Be sure each family group sheet printed out for the adopted line includes the notation - ADOPTED LINE. Otherwise, when DNA sequencing is added to the mix, it will become confusing since the markers won't match.

In your specific case, it is important to place your adopted research in the adopted line notebook, behind a divider tab labeled clearly "RESEARCH - not yet proved".

For the brothers & sisters of each direct line ancestor, it is essential to collect any information that falls in your lap. More importantly realize that many brick wall challenges on your direct ancestor will be solved by searching the records of his siblings. These are called "COLLATERAL LINES". So in February's checklist we'll add a tab in our surname notebooks and clearly label them collateral lines. There will be more explanations about why Ol' Myrt here doesn't want them intermingled with your direct line ancestors.

Don't worry, the February checklist also includes a full page introduction to be printed out for each of your family history notebooks with an explanation of the layout and design, in addition to definitions of direct and collateral lines. I didn't include the introduction page with January's checklist, because then Ol' Myrt would have too much explaining to do.

Regarding what to follow in those family history notebooks. Yes, place family group sheets printed out from your genealogy software first of your mother, then her father, then his father in the surname notebook for your mother's maiden name. Your mother is the youngest direct line ancestor with that last name.

For your mother's mother's side of the family, remember that her mother (your grandmother) is the youngest by that last name on your family tree. So you'd insert a family group sheet where your grandmother is listed as a child in her parents' household, then follow that last name to her father, her grandfather -- all going to the surname notebook for her maiden name, not her married name.

Then as each generation presents a wife with a new-to-you maiden name, you will create a new surname notebook. If you don't have much on this name, you can combine several surnames in alpha order into one regular sized notebook. Remember Ol' Myrt here has 263 surnames, but only some 70-odd notebooks, because some names don't have much accumulated documentation.

If there is a multiple marriage, each family group sheet printed from your genealogy management software will list the multiple spouses for the husband and wife in the family, and will include notes you've included about both marriages in notes for an individual. The family group sheet for the second marriage (even if there are no children of issue) is filed in the appropriate surname notebook with accompanying documentation and photos.

If it is a man's multiple marriage, the family group sheet is filed in chronological order in your direct line notebook, followed by accompanying proof documents and photos.

In your case, let's say you descended through the first marriage of your father. File the family group sheet for the first marriage first, with proof documents and photos. Then file the second marriage's family group sheet, with proof documents and photos. You now have a fairly complete view of your father's life as an adult. Follow this by the blood line family group sheet where your father appears as a child in the family of his father and mother, with proof documents and photos, once you've obtained them. Follow this with the blood line family group sheet where your father's father appears as a child in the family with his parents.

If it is a woman's multiple marriage, the subsequent family group sheets are filed in a new surname notebook (or part of a consolidated surname notebook) under her new married name, followed by supporting documents and photos. Reference to this marriage are discovered when looking at:
  • The family group sheet where the woman appears as the daughter in her parent's household.
  • The family group sheet where the woman appears as the wife of her first husband, since additional spouses are part of her listing.
THIS is a lot more work than I had expected my DearREADERS to work through for getting organized in the month of January. So, from now on I will only clarify currently available checklist items. As questions arise where the answers are already scheduled in upcoming monthly organization checklists, Ol' Myrt here will just ask her readers to be patient. We must learn to crawl before we can walk.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy


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