Thursday, June 11, 2020
Having it to do All Over Again
Have you ever considered scrapping your genealogical research and starting again from scratch? I know one person who considered that. Genealogy speaker Thomas MacEntee made that decision five years ago, and in his characteristic way, not only walked that walk himself, but invited his many followers to join him in the journey. Equipped with his published The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook and establishing a collaborative online community for mutual support while working through his twelve-step program, Thomas MacEntee led the charge to start that research from scratch.
I'm not certain I'm up for such a drastic approach. With nearly twenty thousand individuals in my mother's tree, plus almost as many in my mother-in-law's tree, I really don't want to fall back to square one. There is, however, a reason I've found myself doing it all over again: I need to combine trees. Because of new DNA analysis tools released this year, I'm finding it more helpful to have both sides of my family assembled in the same tree to help me identify where my DNA matches fall in the big family picture, rather than the separate trees I've been keeping for each branch of the family. Thus despite my aversion to doing so, back to square one I go.
While Thomas' Genealogy Do-Over has had enough adherents clamoring for an updated version that he granted their wish last year, I have found a way to devise my own system. Genealogy is certainly a process which does better with constant re-checking, especially as new record sets become available online, so there is really no way to escape that demand. I comb through the main branches of my trees to check for newly-available documents for further verification, though for starters, I try not to add any names until they can be placed because of information in records.
This week, as I add the tree of my father-in-law into my mother-in-law's substantially larger tree, I've been going person by person and feeling very much like someone in the midst of a do-over. Rather than just copy the smaller tree wholesale and add it directly into the larger one, I feel the step by step process helps flag individuals for whom there are newly-available records. More important to the process is catching updates which were not available in the past: new births in family lines, recent marriages or deaths to record.
Still, I can't help feel that desire to be done with the project. There are some parts of genealogy which, frankly, can be quite tedious. Spring cleaning, whether of residences or heritages, is the necessary drudgery which, only when done, refreshes.