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.

What's on your mind?