A Genealogy Mess? Why? How? What? When?
Even organized people can find their genealogy data (software or hand-written), artifacts, printed material, CDs, books, magazines, etc. becoming a – well, a mess.
We eagerly read magazine articles, books, blogs, etc. hoping to find that magic key that will take us from a mess to a haven of genealogical organization. To a certain extent, we accomplish something — such as putting all hard copies for a surname in a folder. We try certain methods that end up not working for us.
My personal favorite was color coding the surname folders.
Loved the idea & this DOES work for a lot of people.
BUT for me personally,
it didn’t improve my mess situation even a little bit.
- To provide a way out of a genealogy mess.
- To provide to those just beginning genealogy reasons why you should (in the words of my father), Do what I say – not what I did!
[My dad used to say, “Don’t smoke even though I do.”]
How does a genealogy mess happen?
Genealogy can be so much fun. Most of us really do not start out wanting to trace our lineage back to the Middle Ages – our great grandfather or grandmother is the goal. Eagerly you move from one discovered ancestor (or at least you think so at the time) to another. You can’t WAIT to see what is around the next bend. You are hooked.
Most of us don’t have a big plan in mind when we first start researching. This is just for fun, right? I just want to know! So we don’t document the source of the data or write down the “exact” wording. It’s not until sometime later we realize the mistake. And if it goes on long enough, you end up with a mess of some kind. You pick the word that describes your situation best.
The more you learn about genealogy research, the more you realize your error. And for whatever reason it’s hard to stop researching and fix the mess created – even if it is just a small one at the time. Let’s be frank—doing research is a heck of lot more fun than organizing stuff you’ve already found. And at the end of a work day when you dive into genealogy for that short amount of time before you should be in bed – who wants to organize anything. Sounds more like work. You promise yourself you WILL do something about it – but later.
And this is about the time you starting reading about “organizing your genealogy”.
At the beginning of this post I wrote “We eagerly read magazine articles, books, blogs, etc. hoping to find that magic key that will take us from a mess to a haven of genealogical organization.” I was speaking for myself although I’ve talked to numerous other folks in the same state. Maybe not to the extent of mine – but trying to find a way out of the mess that seems doable or reasonable is eluding.
Why nothing I read helped?
Speaking for myself, the “experts” never seemed to have got themselves into this mess. They found their “genealogy calling” long before 14 years of research plus a pick-up load of artifacts [more about that in a later article] generated a mess. And when they are hired – and yes, you can hire people to do this – to fix someone’s genealogy turmoil, they know exactly what to do, how to do it, and what to tackle first.
Now doing you just feel better reading the above paragraph?
“What makes YOU such an expert”, you ask.
It is precisely because I am NOT an expert. I don’t know exactly what to do about genealogy mess. I don’t know how to fix everything. Or even positive what should be tackled first.
But I have after two full years of truly trying to find a way out of this situation and have come up with a plan. I will share it with you as I go.
- I’ll be honest and tell you when a grand idea doesn’t work.
- I’ll point you to resources I’ve found that are helpful.
- And I will pass on Family Tree Maker 2012 tips as I discover them. [More about why FTM in a future article.] The concepts presented dealing with FTM applies to any software program you are using.
What’s a genealogy mess?
I did try to think of a more genteel word. Using a thesaurus, I came up with:
- Untidiness (Not nearly strong enough.)
- Muddle (Just does not convey how overwhelming it gets after a certain point.)
- Confusion (Oh, if it was only confusion.)
- Clutter (At one time my office was neat & looked organized – my genealogy was still a complete mess. Clutter does happen but not descriptive.)
- Jumble (A mess creates a jumble of surnames, last facts, etc. but still does not convey the situation)
- Disorder (Duh! Of course it’s disorder but there is something about that word that sounds, well…orderly.)
- Disarray (A polite word but if someone tells you that your hair is in disarray it simply is not the same thing as saying your hair is a mess.)
- State (Not even considered since to anyone interested in genealogy this means Texas, Alabama, New York, etc.)
- Chaos – Now that is more like it. With chaos you get pandemonium which is what happens when you have misplaced the ONLY document, picture, you-fill-in-your-own-blank, because of the mess that has grown over time.
Most of us are okay with having a mess – but who wants to think of solving “chaos”.Share