My 2016 Go-Over Progress

2016 Genealogy Go-Over

In December 2014, Thomas MacEntee announced the Genealogy Do-Over project, which proved to be extremely popular with genealogists. In December 2015, he announced the expansion of the Do-Over timeline from weeks into a twelve month series and created a workbook to accompany the tasks.

I decided right at the start that I could not and would not attempt an entire Do-Over, but a “Go-Over” (a scaled down version of the actual Do-Over) was a project which I felt is important for all serious genealogy researchers.

Stuff accumulates, some of which is extremely important, but other items turn out to be not so useful. Collections need to be developed, maintained and, yes, pruned. With the digital age, it is even more important to convert one’s holdings into images in case anything happens to those irreplaceable  originals.

My 2015 Go-Over was successfully finished in November when I finished naming and attaching my 10,000+ images into my software program. The originals have been safely stored in top quality archival albums since the 1980s when I started researching.

By December 2015, the genealogy world was turned on its ear by Ancestry’s announcement to drop Family Tree Maker, which had been my program of choice for many years. However, I was already in the midst of leaving it and December opened up all kinds of possibilities in terms of a replacement software program. Even the February 2016 announcement by Software MacKiev did not make me reconsider staying with Family Tree Maker.

Thus, for 2016, I decided my Go-Over focus would be two-fold – to commit to a new program and to re-organize my 10,000 images. When I named them, I used patterns that made sense for me and I can’t say I really have much trouble finding them when I need them, say, for a blog post. However, I do realize that other family members would probably be overwhelmed trying to sort through all these images, which are quite evenly split – about 5,000 each – between my Sabo and Stufflebean family trees.

I realized that this Go-Over would likely take not one year, but two, covering 2016 and 2017 because of the number of images involved. The other reason I expected it to move along slowly was because I totally went down the rabbit hole following BSOs – namely, Ancestral Quest 14, Family Historian 6, Heredis, Legacy 8 and RootsMagic 7. Each of these programs has some terrific features.

It is now just a little more than half way through 2016 so where am I in terms of progress on this Go-Over?

I am just about where I expected to be. It has taken me six months to wander through the various genealogical software programs. I have whittled the list down to three – Family Historian 6, Legacy 8 and RootsMagic 7 – and, although I am still learning the ins and outs of Legacy 8 and Family Historian 6 – I have decided for now to use RootsMagic 7 as my primary software program.

The reason for this choice is really totally pragmatic – I purchased RootsMagic back in June 2014 when Ancestry had its DDos attack and Family Tree Maker barely worked for weeks, even when I unlinked it from Ancestry. Additionally, I belong to the Pima County Genealogy Society and ones of its SIGs is a RootsMagic users group. I have been attending those meetings for about a year now and have learned a lot.

Family Historian 6 is the program that still most intrigues me, but being UK based, I don’t know anyone else locally who is using this program. What I’ve learned, I have either taught myself or had very helpful suggestions from UK blogger friends and the tech staff of Family Historian.

Legacy is another fabulous looking program, but it seems to have a steeper learning curve than RootsMagic and, in spite of its huge popularity, I haven’t found anyone among my genealogy connections here in Tucson who uses it.

Having said all that, Family Historian and Legacy are still on the table, but I needed to commit to one and get going, so for now, it is RootsMagic.

It’s taken me five paragraphs to explain my software choice and it took me almost five months – until May – to make that choice.

Once I had made the big decision, my Go-Over progress has picked up to a fair pace. My first job was to create four new GEDCOMs and export them from Family Tree Maker. I have always saved images directly into FTM and not attached them in my Ancestry tree, so I didn’t have to waste any time manually saving anything. (I haven’t synced my tree to Ancestry since the DDos attack in 2014.)

  1. I created a Sabo and a Stufflebean GEDCOM that included all media items. However, I also created a Sabo2 and Stufflebean2 GEDCOM, stripped of all the media so I could use them to attach newly renamed image files. It only took a few minutes to create these and import them into RootsMagic 7.
  2. Nest, I ran Problem Reports for the full tree GEDCOMS. I only had about 3 pages for each of the trees, which I think is very good since they each have over 7,000 people in them. Also, about half of each list was a note that no sex was noted for someone and the huge majority of those were either stillborn children or babies who died soon after birth and family information didn’t note whether they were male or female.
  3. I dithered for quite a while about how to rename all my images. I probably spent two weeks playing with different formats and deciding on a formatted pattern so anyone could figure out what I had done. My final choice is:


“Category” is probably the only term here that needs explaining. Birth, marriage, death, probate and will are certainly easy enough to understand, but I have literally thousands of family photos so I decided to also include PHOTO as one of the terms that fit under CATEGORY. I have also decided that if some of the photos are a series taken at one time of one or more persons, I will add a number after the description to define the photos. That way, for example,  if I wanted to find all the photos of my grandmother on vacation at their cottage, one image might be named:


This works for me and I think family members would have no trouble hunting through these images trying to find a particular picture.

How much progress have I made with the images? I have finished a few hundred so I have a long way to go.

3. With many thanks to Randy Seaver, I think I finally have a handle on creating source templates for images of family records. I decided not to use source templates to cite all those family photos. The description allows me to add a comment about inheriting it, finding a cousin who shared it,etc.

Source templates take a LOT of time if a new master source needs to be created. While playing with the image naming format, I also played with the source templates and there is no short cut around it. Those templates take time to create when one is still learning. I created some and didn’t like the way they showed up in the master list, so I went back and edited them.

My timeline for this Go-Over is to complete all this by 31 December 2017. Some of it is kind of mind numbing and boring so we will see if I stick to this date or if it runs into 2018. Either way, others will be able to more easily navigate their way through my family trees.

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