Progress on My Genealogy Go-Over

When Thomas MacEntee introduced the Genealogy Do-Over at the end of last year, I had actually already been working on my planned Genealogy Go-Over during part of 2013 and most of 2014 (before and after our move to a new house last summer.)

However, my Go-Over was centered on the idea of making sure that my research and, more importantly, the thousands of family photos and documents with which I have been entrusted will be accessible to future researchers.

Having started family history research in 1980, long before the internet age, meant that I had some original items, some modern versions of original items (e.g. official town records of birth certificates, etc. for colonial ancestors, issued when I paid the appropriate fee) and hundreds of photocopies of other items.

In late 2013, I began to plan out my scanning project:

Goal 1: Get photocopied items digitally scanned because they were fading fast. All of these items were either standard 8.5 x 11 inch paper or legal sized 8.5 x 14 inch paper. These included things like land deeds and wills from microfilm, copies of family letters, copies of published articles relating to my family lines and even photocopies of some old photographs.

Goal 1 was easily accomplished on my own, as I took all those pages, over two months’ time, to my local office supply store and had them scan a total stack of about 3 linear feet of pages. After scanning was completed, I threw all those pages in the trash. The images have all been labeled, cited in my notes, and attached to my genealogy software. Because all the pages were deteriorating copies, I could see no reason to keep them.

Goal 2: Digitally scan all photos, non-standardized documents, mementos, etc.

Goal 2 is, by far, the larger of the two goals in terms of time, money and effort needed to complete it. My husband, Dave, has been my scanner because we discovered that, although the house computers are networked, the scanning program (housed on his computer) will only function on his computer.  His interest in genealogy is somewhat negligible and he has already good naturedly scanned over 1000 items for me. However, several thousand more remained.

While at RootsTech, I came across a company that offered very competitive pricing for scanning services. Dave talked to them on the phone, asking the technical questions that I would never think (or know) to ask. I loved the idea of getting lots of scanning done quickly and Dave loved the idea of getting some of his life back that didn’t included an endless stack of items to scan.

I actually am a very organized person, even though these photos may not seem to show that. Since RootsTech ended three weeks ago, I have planned out the dismounting of photos and other items in 42 archival albums:

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Shelves Almost Emptied

The albums are separated into those for my side of the family and those for Dave’s side.  Each side of the family is then organized by surname and then first name of each head of household of each generation. For example, my maternal grandfather’s family has sections for Adams, Daniel; Adams, Thomas; Adams, Vernon Tarbox and so on.

Two weeks ago, I finished collecting and sorting all the items pertaining to my side of the family. I removed some duplicate original photos that had apparently been shared by my parents and my grandparents and then sorted all the images by size. There were about 100 documents of varying, mostly non-standard paper sizes that needed to be scanned. Last week, I shipped this first box off, via FedEx tracking. It contained 1400 photos and documents.

Since then, I have been working on Dave’s side of the family. They were not only prolific family photographers, they prolifically shared two or three sets of the same photos with each other. Also, Dave’s parents each had many more original photographs and documents from earlier generations.

My goal is to get this second set of items in the mail by the end of next week.

The counter area in my kitchen/family room has been taken over by duplicate images. There are many of them. I’ve actually been through the photo collection a number of times in the past and recognize a lot of the pictures as duplicates.

When I remove them from the albums, if I think I have seen them elsewhere, they get lined up on this counter until I find their twins or triplets. Then, the extra go into a duplication stack and the originals get moved to the dining room table, sorted by sizes.

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Sorting Stacks

This mess is actually a very organized mess. An album being currently taken apart is in the foreground. On the left side of the table, the photos are sorted by size, with the largest in the foreground and the smallest at the far left end. On the right side of the table are stacks of original documents on standard sized sheets of paper. In the middle of the table are non-standard sized items, like holiday cards, family letters, etc. that need to be scanned. There are also some old photos in the middle that I believe have duplicates floating around that I haven’t yet come across. They are at the far end of the table in this picture.

Where are all the albums that are already taken apart?

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Disassembled Albums

They are neatly lined up, in order, around the edges of the room with items that Dave had already scanned on top of each album.

When the scanned items return home, I will begin re-mounting them in the albums. Since I inherited everything in stages, many items were not in the order in which I intended – first the family group sheets, then documents, then photos (mostly in chronological order) and then mementos. Now that Dave and I are the senior generation, I can put everything together in the right order.

Goal 3: Have this project completed by 31 December 2015.

Will I finish by the end of 2015? I think so, even though putting thousands of items back in scrapbooks isn’t a one week job. All should be scanned by the 1st of April, which leaves a lot of time to re-assemble everything. I live in Tucson, where seasons are reversed. Most people plan inside hobbies for cold winter months. Here in Arizona, we do the same for the summer months when it is often too hot to spend much time anywhere outside except in a swimming pool.

How would I rate my progress on my Go-Over so far?
Right on track!

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