Saturday, January 16, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy: Assess Yourself (Challenge #3)

Thanks to Amy of We Tree for the “52 weeks” ideas and Thomas Macentee of GeneaBloggers for providing reminders.

Week 3: Assess yourself! You’re great at researching everyone else’s history, but how much of your own have you recorded? Do an assessment of your personal records and timeline events to ensure your own life is as well-documented as that of your ancestors. If you have a genealogy blog, write about the status of your own research and steps you may take to fill gaps and document your own life.

The only reason I even dare to participate in challenge is that thanks to starting the Memory Monday series last January, I have actually been writing down memories on a fairly regular basis. I’d give myself maybe a B+ for this part (missed a few Mondays).

The documenting part is where things fall apart a bit. All right, a lot. I have quite a few documents lying around in various parts of the house, and that is the entire problem. They are mostly stored away in different file folders and boxes which are located in too many different places and have not been organized in a logical fashion. I would give myself a D for this part.

Here is what I need to do.

1. I am tempted to say that the first thing I need to do is to clean and organize every last square inch of our house from attic to basement. In order to put all the documents, pictures, etc. into one common area in an organized way, I need to have that common area. And it is just not there. I am a bit of a packrat, and my husband and younger daughter could teach a packrat a thing or ten about accumulating stuff. (Older daughter mostly goes to the other extreme – she is very ready to throw things out, even things that I think deserve to stay for sentimental reasons. As the family historian, I actually need to encourage her to go the other way just a little bit.)

Two or three times previously, between my daughters’ toddler and teen years, I did this very thing – clean and throw out stuff from top to bottom. But I just don’t have that “cleaning frenzy” thing in me anymore. It has to be done gradually. And I intend to limit the area for storage of the relevant materials to my home office.

So this gargantuan effort is going to take the form of slowly but surely removing from my home office most of the items that are not personal records and pictures or books and documents related to genealogy and family history. (“Supporting” equipment and items (computer, office supplies, etc.) and language reference materials can stay.) As things go out of the office, the personal and family history documents will be brought into the office from other parts of the house. This will be done shelf by shelf, drawer by drawer.

2. The next part is the timeline. Some can be done from memory, and for the rest I’ll need to use family records and mementos (letters, transcripts, etc.) and some online research (to recall the names of four of the five junior high schools I attended, for instance).

3. Oh, yes, and then there are pictures: printing, sorting, entering into proper storage receptacles, either albums or boxes, and labeling. I can’t even go there, yet.

Ouch. That’s a lot. I should clear my head a bit before I even start to get organized. Time to take a nap.


  1. I agree with you completely. I have thought about it but somehow there is always something else to do. That project will take a year not the allotted week. Guess I should get started but should we put it on pencil and paper. I could write things but over time it would get lost in cyberspace.

  2. This one definitely is going to be hard to get done. There is just so much mental and physical organization involved. I'm glad at least that I'm not the only one with this problem.