Saturday, April 5, 2014

2014 First Quarter Checkpoint

Earlier in the year, I came across a blog by Janine Adams called Organize Your Family History, in which she mentioned how she decided to break the year into quarters and research one branch of her family each quarter. I thought her idea was wonderful so I incorporated her ideas into my research goals for the new year. Now that the first quarter is over, I'm reviewing my progress.

I decided to research my mother's side of the family first since both of my grandparents were Polish and I didn't know much about their families. I created a notebook in OneNote for the two surnames of interest, Chrzanowski and Dabrowski. I've decided to keep separate correspondence logs for each surname, so the first thing I did was create a log and start collecting vital records. Then I decided to use the notebook system to file my hard copies using the marriage record identification numbers, or MRIN, generated by my Legacy program. The scanned copies are filed in a surname folder on my computer after I add the citations electronically to them and then I link them to the appropriate citations in my Legacy program. I'm trying to decide if I want to create a virtual notebook in OneNote like my hard copy notebook where I would store my photos, scanned documents and research notes.

In focusing only on my Polish branches this quarter, I was able to make lots of progress. I've received all the vital records available for everyone, except for two. Since my great-grandmother, Stanislawa (Makowski) Chrzanowski, died in 1981, her death is too recent for state law to allow me to get her death certificate. I am also unable to find the marriage record for my Dabrowski great-grandparents, who were supposedly married in Connecticut. Their first three children were born there, so I suspect they were married there, though I need to consider they could have been married before they arrived in the United States. I did find ship manifests for my both my Chrzanowski great-grandparents, and also for my grandmother, Genowefa "Jean" Dabrowski, but so far the Dabrowski's remain mostly elusive.

I split my time between research, organizing my files and entering data into Legacy. I now have a research plan for each direct ancestor, complete with research questions--something I never wrote down before. Each direct ancestor also has a biography (their story so far) and a research log in the research notes section of the Legacy program.

In addition to working my genealogy files, my other genealogy goal was continuing education. For the past 10 weeks, I've been part of a study group working our way through Mastering Genealogical Proof. This has been a great complement to this year's genealogy goals because I'm incorporating what I'm learning into my genealogy research. As I obtain a new document, I spend some time analyzing it. Each ancestor's research notes has information about the record: whether it is an original or derivative, whether the information is primary, secondary or indeterminate, and whether it is direct, indirect or negative evidence. I then write about my observations and my opinion about it. I also enter them into a new program, Evidentia, which will eventually help me write my proof summaries and proof arguments.

I am grateful to Janine Adams for her wonderful idea. It has really transformed my genealogy research. I feel on top of my research and I've made enormous progress in just one quarter. Just knowing that I will get to the other family branches helps me focus on my current tasks. While I still have some odds and ends to do on my Polish family, I'm tucking them away and moving on to my father's paternal side, those elusive Germans. With this system, I know that those odds and ends won't be lost; I will be returning to them next year.


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