My Genealogy Go-Over

Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over

Thomas MacEntee announced his Genealogy Do-Over almost a month ago, on 15 December 2015, and is already moving into Week 2.

I never really seriously considered a full Do-Over as I have been addicted to family history research since 1980 and have way too much information amassed to start over.

Many bloggers have commented that they plan to participate through a “Go-Over.” I thought that was a great idea until I realized that I am in the middle of my own “Go-Over,” which I started last year.

You see, back when I began all this in 1980, everything was on paper – pedigree charts, family group sheets, documents, letters, photos, EVERYTHING. Do you know how much paper I collected in 35 years? Seventy-two – yes, 72 – archival albums full of family history. Keeping it organized wasn’t ever a problem because I’m a Type A very organized personality. Everything was alphabetized by surname and then first name and could easily be found.

However, many of the stacks of paper I carefully filed away were photocopies of deeds, wills, even other photographs. There was also a lot of correspondence (U.S. mail kinds of correspondence, not e-mail) from other researchers. Some were from people who, we determined, were not related to my families. Others were from distant relatives, but I didn’t need to keep those letters. None were the “mother load” type of letters. The photocopies, in particular, had really started to fade. A few were not legible anymore.

I realized in January  2014 that it was time to get rid of some of that paper.  Right from the start, I determined that original anythings from close family members needed to be scanned, if they hadn’t already been, and the original would remain in the archival album set. Copies of anything would be scanned unless I could find digital versions on line (and there were more of those than you might think). If so, then the photocopies were thrown away with no further thought. OfficeMax made a lot of money from me last year because the sheer volume made it more time- and cost-economical than nicely asking my husband to scan.

What progress have I made? I’ve emptied 27 of the original 72 albums!

I also did a good job of filling our trash barrels a couple of times. Good thing the trash service uses a mechanical lift to empty the barrels because paper is heavy!

Did I finish in 2014? Part 1 of my “Go-Over” was, indeed, finished. All of the photocopied stuff has been scanned or collected digitally on line.

Part 2 is now beginning. In the last eight or nine years, several elderly family members have passed away and I inherited yet more paper – photos and documents. My 2015 “Go-Over” goal is to sort through the new accumulations. Some items can be discarded as my relatives seemed to take a lot of pictures of trees, ocean and other such things with no people in them. Those will go in the trash. All of the family letters and people photos are being scanned by my ever-patient husband, Dave.

Part 2 will probably be a 2015-2016 job because I have literally thousands of items from both sides of each of our families.

As each family group is completed, I am remounting first the photos and then the documents for each of the people in my alphabetically ordered system. This was my original system, but as I gathered more paper, a grouping became more of a mix of the two with each person so that needs to be sorted back out.

So far, the 2015 Part 2 Go-Over is right on schedule because Dave just handed me back the last of the first stack of “stuff” that I gave him.

Why don’t I do any of the scanning you might be asking? Well, our computers are networked in the house and the scanner is attached to Dave’s computer. It won’t work if I try to access it from mine and he doesn’t want to give up his computer to me while I scan for hours. That’s okay, because I am perfectly happy giving him the stacks of work!

Tomorrow, he will be off to play in a golf tournament. When he gets home, a neat little new pile of family history stuff will be sitting on his keyboard waiting to be scanned.

One thought on “My Genealogy Go-Over”

  1. And I thought I was productive today by placing my two years’ worth of notes and documents into two accordion files with tabs naming each family group! I can’t imagine doing that with 34 years’ worth of material. Good for you!

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