Looking Ahead to 2014

As we usher in a new year, it affords each of us the opportunity to reflect on the year that just concluded, and with it, our successes and our failures. Invariably our thoughts turn to what events may unfold in the next twelve months and how we might improve, refresh, or reinvent ourselves. Many of us will make resolutions or set new goals, even if we choose not to verbalize them or share them publicly. Normally, I choose only to share my goals with one or two close friends, if at all. Somewhere I read recently that we are more likely to achieve our goals if we write them down. With this in mind, here are my genealogy goals for 2014.

Improve my blog

First and foremost, I need to change my hosting company, upgrade my blogging platform and choose a new WordPress template. I want my site to load quicker, look better on mobile devices, and better reflect my vision for the site, which I have not yet achieved in the nearly two years since I started. I would also like to incorporate TNG on the back end to begin displaying selected genealogy data using php and MySQL.

I recognize that the way the blog looks and functions is but one part of the equation; the writing is probably even more important. I would like to resolve to blog more frequently, but I prefer quality over quantity, and doubt I can improve considerably on the frequency of my posts, due to my work schedule and other commitments. Suffice it to say that a lack of ideas is not the problem – I have more un-posted drafts than published material.

Begin using a new genealogy database

After more than thirteen years of using The Master Genealogist (TMG), I intend to begin using RootsMagic instead as my primary database. With nearly 6,000 people in my main database, and hundreds more in a separate regional research database, this is no small endeavor. I am no longer convinced the publisher of TMG is interested in improving the product, so I have not recommended it to colleagues and those I mentor for a few years now. It is time for me to finally make the switch as well. One thing that makes this decision difficult for me personally is that we have a fantastic TMG users group in Seattle led by Ed Godfrey, and attended by friends and colleagues that are very well-versed in the nuances of the software and are very experienced genealogists to boot. As far as I know, there is no such support group for RootsMagic in my area currently.

A few days ago, I actually purchased RM6 and exported my data from TMG using GEDCOM. In limited testing, it appears a fair amount of data did not come across, so I will have to run both programs in tandem for a while in order to recreate the lost events and witnesses to those events in the new program. This will give me an opportunity to review and improve my source citations. With the iOS RM6 app, I will be able to have my genealogy data with me on my smartphone, much like the old days with my PalmPilot and Pocket Genealogist!

Get better organized

Organizational supplies
Shopping for new supplies is the easy part

This is the year I finally plan to get better organized. Not that I haven’t tried a variety of organizational methods in the past, but I still find myself unable to locate physical and digital documents as quickly as I would like. So, for the time being I am putting a halt to additional research, and will really focus on getting my existing documents organized and transcribed. I believe the answers to some of the questions I have about various individuals or families may be buried in the information I have already obtained. Re-organizing those materials will give me an opportunity to look at everything again in light of what I have learned in the interim. Doing complete and full transcriptions of those documents will provide me the opportunity to do a proper analysis. I have chosen to begin using the MRIN system for both paper and digital documents. I have amassed a lot of records and photographs in several active decades of research so this will be a multi-year project to be sure. My plan is to begin with the two or three families that I work on most frequently and go from there.

Overall, my goals revolve around being better prepared when I return to Virginia in a few months to do on-site research at the Library of Virginia. By blogging about my Virginia-based families, having my genealogy information with me no matter what device(s) I choose to travel with and by locating and assessing the information I have already obtained in prior trips I hope to break through one or more of my genealogy brick walls.

Make NGSQ Part of Your Genealogical Literature Search

Search back issues of the NGSQ online for free

When undertaking research on a new surname, in a new geographic area, or on a new subject, it is advisable to first conduct a literature search to see what has been previously published regarding the topic at hand.

In my pre-Internet college days, a literature search or “preliminary survey” would have included books and published journal articles available at the various university libraries. In the Internet age, that search must be extended to include reputable websites and blogs. Of course, the Internet makes it easier to search catalogs of major libraries as well.

One such journal that bears review at the start of any American genealogical project is the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ), published by the National Genealogical Society (NGS) since 1912. It is a peer-reviewed genealogical journal with the broadest range of subject matter in the United States, encompassing all geographic regions and ethnic groups. As a member of NGS, I have been receiving this publication in the mail since 1997 and typically read my copy cover to cover within a few days of its arrival in my mailbox.

All researchers, regardless of membership status in NGS, can conduct a search of NGSQ at the National Genealogical Society’s website: http://www.ngsgenealogy.org. Navigate to Publications and Videos>NGS Member Periodicals>National Genealogical Society Quarterly>NGS Quarterly Index Search:

NGS Quarterly Archives search

Or, simply click this link: http://members.ngsgenealogy.org/NGSQSearch/search.cfm
NGSQ Archives Index Search

There are two types of searches that can be performed: by author or by title. Results may be limited by clicking one of the special category checkboxes. The search engine is a little temperamental. If I input marsha rising or rising, marsha hoffman in the Author Name search box, my search yields no results. If I then try the Author Name marsha hoffman rising, my search nets 16 hits. The NGSQ Index search page also allows one to browse for all articles published in any given year by using the drop-down arrow and clicking the View Selected Year button.

Unfortunately, there is no ability to conduct an every-word search at this time. However, I have successfully located a variety of articles of interest by putting a keyword or keywords in the Article Title search box. Examples of keyword searches might include: virginia, new jersey, civil war or bounty land. If looking for articles about a particular county, i.e. Preble County, Ohio, input search terms of preble co rather than preble county to pick up abbreviations for county, or variations such as the word counties in the title.

Back issues of the NGSQ may be available for purchase ($15 non-members/$12 members). Contact store@ngsgenealogy.org for availability. Many genealogical societies and larger public libraries will also have back issues in their collections.

One of the benefits of membership in the National Genealogical Society is the ability to download complete issues or volumes of the Quarterly. Issues published between 1973 and 2012 (with exception of the years 1975 and 1977) are available. To access this content, a member must first login to the Members Only section of the website.

NGSQ Archives

A number of years ago, volumes 1-85 of the NGSQ were published by Broderbund Software on CD. This collection complements the online offerings available on the National Genealogical Society’s website.

FTM Family Archives CD #210 NGSQ

When undertaking any new research on a surname, location in the United States, or topic, the National Genealogical Society Quarterly is one important journal that should be included in your literature search. The online search feature makes it a bit easier to locate articles that may be of interest.

Genealogical Queries

Snippet from the Boston Transcript newspaper: Notes and QueriesGenealogical column of The Boston Evening Transcript newspaper, 1914

Prior to the advent of the Internet, family historians posted queries in newspapers, genealogical society newsletters, and other printed publications in an effort to connect with  fellow researchers and distant relatives. Queries posted in highly regarded publications such as The Boston Transcript newspaper and Everton’s Genealogical Helper were widely read by casual and scholarly genealogists alike.

When we genealogists first went online, we tried to replicate what we had done previously in print. Message boards and mailing lists were, therefore, among the earliest uses of the Internet for genealogy, as we quickly realized the much wider audience that could be reached online. If you were online in the early days of the Internet, did you then have the same e-mail address as you do now? Were your user names the same then as today? Mine certainly weren’t. Without a means of linking your earliest e-mail addresses to your current online presence, how would someone interested in the subject of that very old query or post find you today?

My own online genealogical queries date back to 1997, and I continue to use genealogy message boards to develop new leads. Over the years, I’ve made valuable contacts with genealogists of all stripes, and have connected with family I never knew I had. The original idea for Ancestor Roundup was to create an archive of my old posts (regardless of persona) from several sites under one umbrella, and to use those queries as a jumping off point to share further information garnered in the intervening years.

You’ll soon begin finding this information under a separate section of this site. Do check back often as I add to the archive.