My Genealogy Do-Over

1992 … The beginning of my search into my family history.

My early years of research were filled with many poor research habits. I first started using paper and pencil with the many varieties of forms common in genealogy. I loved computers and was quick to look into the early genealogy databases that were available back in the day. My first choice was a program called Brother’s Keeper. It was one of the few available at the time and I loved the data entry process and the ability of the computer to keep track of the data without the need to rewrite it over and over. I also loved the neat forms and reports that could be printed and shared.

From there my appreciation of computer data programs for genealogy was set in stone.

Early programs had their limitations and it was over the course of the next 10 years or so that I continued searching for better programs and changed a few times.

By 2016 I had created a database of over 15,000 individuals, but my database was filled with information that I had not sourced properly and I wished that I had added more personal information on many ancestors and assorted relatives. I was extremely happy with the program I had been using for the past 10 years or so but was unsatisfied with the completion of the data.

Enter the Genealogy Do-Over…

I ran across this project on a Facebook post and was intrigued with the idea of starting over.

In truth, however, I was also quite intimidated with the idea of putting aside 20 years of research and 15,000 individuals and starting all over.

So instead, I followed the group and scanned through the chapters as they were presented and thought…and thought… and thought…

Fear is a terrible thing and one that can incapacitate a person. I was fearful of “having” to re-do all my research that had taken me 20+ years to compile. So much work only to be tossed aside. I spent a full year just lurking around the website, afraid to even continue making progress on my research knowing it wasn’t done as well as it could or should have been done. My database was sub par to what I wanted and the research quality of my daughters’ 4-H projects far outdid what I had achieved in my own database. And “fixing” it all seemed overwhelming and impossible.

So… my love of genealogy was stymied by my fear of continuing.

2017… I entered the year with a new resolve. I put my fears to rest with the knowledge that I wasn’t, at any point, throwing away all the research I had worked so hard to obtain. I decided I would bite the bullet and start a new database and follow the practices in Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over. I bought Thomas’ workbook and began the process of “starting over”. Worst case scenario is that I would spend a few months working on my research skills and learning more about my database program. Best case scenario, I would end up with a database more accurate and well sourced and laced with more information and details on my family that would make it possible to create printed books and reports that I could be proud of. I was never in danger of losing the data I had already acquired.

Database stats Nov 2018
Database Statistics as of Nov. 2018

December, 2018… I have been working exclusively with my new database for the past 2 years. I have 1,655 individuals in my database and they are all well sourced with primary and secondary sources. I’ve had the chance to work on more detailed biographies on some of the individuals.
During this research period, I have added many individuals that I had not previously known. The addition of photos in my database has far outnumbered the few I had before and seeing faces as I work on my database has brought many individuals to life in a way I had not expected.

In the end, I have not regretted my Do-Over. It has given me renewed interest and energy in my research and has resulted in research that is more thorough and interesting.

As a side project, I was also working on searching a friend’s genealogy which I had also put on hold for a time. I haven’t started a Do-Over on her data, but I have initiated a “Go-Over” of my research. This database was not as large and going over each entry for sourcing and completeness is more practical and possible.

All in all, I have enjoyed the freshness that I achieved in my research.

If you are considering a face-lift to a tired project or just need a shot-in-the-arm, check out the Genealogy Do-Over website or Facebook page. Experiment with a new database and see where this new journey takes you.

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