Thursday, February 11, 2016

Just starting out? Here are Ol' Myrt's suggestions

From: Kristi
I have a big question and I just don't know where to go. I am hoping you can take a few minutes and help me. I am a family history want-to-be. I have not had time with working full time and being a mother for about 15 years but now am trying to get back into it. I went to Rootstech this year but was still so confused. I have membership with Family Search through the LDS Church. My question is simple. Do I use FamilySearch's "Family Tree" or do I use a different tree and start all over? I have tried to Google this. Can't find an answer. Which tree do you use? Do you have multiple trees? Thank you for any help you can give me. I just started watching your getting started 20 [Beginning Genealogy] classes. I am on the 4th one right now. You are my hero. I want to get back into this. I just want to do it the right way

Regardless of one's religious, cultural or ethnic heritage, Ol' Myrt here recommends creating your own database on your computer. Use a program like RootsMagic. Backup the database using something like BackBlaze. I also sync a copy of everything I have in the cloud using Dropbox. These two programs ensure anything you type into your RootsMagic will not be lost if your computer dies.

Don't venture out on to the web until you have documented your current thinking on your family, i.e. children, self, spouse, parents, in laws and grandparents. This could take months, considering all the documents and photos you've got to gather, scan and attach to the appropriate ancestors, siblings and descendants.

You will then be able to avoid rehashing the mistakes in online trees. 
Ol' Myrt here has trees on Ancestry, FindMyPast and MyHeritage to let their computers find record matches for me. Not all proposed matches are correct, but the good matches found in digital images save you time and research dollars. Note: you have free access to those valuable websites if you sign up through FamilySearch. See:

Among other things, I use FamilySearch to clear names for temple work, with the exception of any Jewish ancestors, as requested by LDS Church and Jewish community leaders. (I'm very excited to get my electric wheelchair so I start going again to do sessions.)

Understand that the "single tree" idea at
FamilySearch is good in theory but has been spoiled by inexperienced genealogists who add inaccurate lineages. I've had to change my Uncle Jack's profile to "living" three times. There was someone else by the same name who died a few years back about 20 miles away from where my very healthy uncle lives. There are similar problems with literally every online tree website.

The reason I recommend RootsMagic as your personal genealogy program is that it interfaces with FamilySearch and MyHeritage. By the end of 2016 it will also sync with Ancestry. It is the only program that has as many interface options.

Remember, my initial request is that you concentrate on data entry documenting your immediate family. This will train you to use the program, attaching your collection of scanned photos and all documents. It's also appropriate to add notes about your recollections of these people, along with descriptions of certain events in each person's life.
For instance, your genealogy will be more meaningful if you include notes with a picture to describe the day your child was baptized. What you recall about the day, who else was there, how you felt as you watched your child come out of the waters of baptism is an important part of who you are. Your posterity needs to see this in your work.
Our genealogies should be more than a list of names, dates and places.
Citation is a big deal. If your source for your parent's marriage date is your mother at this point, list her as the source. Update your to-do list to include obtaining a copy of your parents' official marriage certificate. We want to move from personal recollections to documented facts.

As you progress in your research, you'll work with a variety of surviving original records online, on microfilm and in textual format at archives and libraries. These documents directly or indirectly provide evidence of a person's identity and family relationships.

Sometimes there will be conflicting evidence to be resolved before we can arrive at a conclusion about a person's identity or a family relationship. By then you'll be ready for training on how to weigh the evidence including your understanding of the informant's motivation.

This is the link to the recordings of DearMYRTLE's 20-session Beginning Genealogy Study Group, with my real-life Cousin Russ and our beloved panelists:

Happy family tree climbing!
Hangouts: Pay what you want. So it's simple. If you value the work Ol' Myrt, +Cousin Russ and our beloved panelists do week in and week out on your behalf, please:

Check the DearMYRTLE Hangouts Calendar for upcoming study groups and hangouts. There you'll find links to the GeneaConference (in-person) and the GeneaWebinars Calendar with over over 200 hours of online genealogy classes, webinars, live streams and tweetchats from other hosts and presenters over the next 12 months.

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