While it wasn't one of my goals, the assignment and group discussion led to me revamping my organization system. Since starting with my research, I've tried a variety of systems to stay organized, but so far, I think my current system is my favorite. My advice to other genealogists and family historians would be if you can't find a system that works for you, take the pieces of other systems that do work, drop the ones that don't, and put it all together in a system that is personalized to what works for you.
On to this month's assignments. This month actually has a three part assignment so I'll do a post on each of them. The first part is measuring your genealogical maturity. The evaluation consists of five sections: sources, citations, information, evidence and conclusions.
With sources, I am guilty of mainly using what I can find from the comfort of my home. One my goals this year was to work with a wider range of sources, which I have started doing, but I do need to get out of the house for more on-site research. As the end of the year approaches, I have started thinking on my genealogy goals for coming year and a visit to the Georgia and/or South Carolina Archives is going to be one of the goals.
While I am now consistent about citing my sources, I still struggle with their construction and including all pertinent data within them. I need to focus on a standard format (even if it's not the standard format others use) and including more necessary data (condition, etc).
I need to get better about analyzing my information: what it says, what can be inferred, what factors affect what the source says, historical background etc. When looking back over sources I have found previously, it's not uncommon for me to find a detail I missed.
This was originally a problem area for me, but since I started rebuilding my tree from scratch, I've got better. As I begin to explore more record types, I will probably find more supporting and conflicting evidence to analyze.
This is a weak area for me. While I am okay at sorting out my conclusions based on the evidence at hand, I'm not good about writing it out so someone else can see my thought process. This is something I really need to work on.
Goals for Improvement:
- Pick a format for citations and use it consistently. Make sure the chosen format includes a section for condition and provenance of source, as well as a space for notes.
- Spend more time examining sources that I find to make sure I'm getting every bit of information available from the record.
- Start writing research reports (goal from assignment 1) to force myself to spell out my conclusions.