Well this weekend I did my last webchat for the Organising Your Genealogy course (as whittered about in previous posts!). It has been just three actual lessons but boy has it given me a wake-up call. Each week has crammed in so much information that my head is still spinning!
This week we covered sources. Both protection/use of original sources such as documents (acid free tissue paper and so on, apparently, are needed) and the correct usage for citations - forms, information to include etc. It got quite academic in the end.
It has made me realise just how carried away I got at the beginning of my family research. I had always had an interest in my family history and had made a couple of hand drawn family trees when I was a teenager and my grandparents were still alive.
However, I started again four ago in earnest. I was looking for an original christening present for my gorgeous nephew. So I agreed with my sister-in -law's sister that each side would provide family tree material. She wisely employed someone to do this for her. I, in my enthusiasm, decided I could do it myself! Typical, some might say...
The amount of information that was by then available to me was astounding. I had never really attempted to get any further back than whatever my grandparents and great aunts could actually remember. In part, I had been put off with my father's Anglo Indian side by the difficulty of getting any data. I had made a new effort using some of the sources referred to on Alastair McGowan's Who Do You Think You Are? [when he discovered for the first time that he was Anglo Indian.]. However, these yielded little new information.
What a revelation to find Families In British India (FIBIS), the British Library India Office records and the National Archives catalogue on line and searchable! And that was just the free basic stuff for starters. I remember being up until one o'clock in the morning many times in the weeks before the christening - completely overexcited about following the newly revealed trail that I had begun. I took out an Ancestry subscription there and then! Totally carried away. Made no attempt to see which subscription service would best suit me or anything. (FYI, do check them all out before you choose. SO much better!)
Of course, in the rush to see as much as possible, I ended up with a pile of notes and hurriedly drawn trees. I did not, unfortunately, write down the sources properly...
Having now read The Ten Commandments of Genealogy, as recommended by my tutor for the sources lesson, I can see that I basically broke many rules that first week - because I did not know any better.
I did produce a tree of sorts for the christening day. However, as detailed in my very first post on this blog, my brother and his son are still waiting for me to produce the "final" document. Hence "how long is a piece of string"...
I am sure that there are items on those original scribblings that, for the life of me, I could not find again. Worrying. I need to re-trace those steps somehow.
So herewith are my own commandments of genealogy - at least for the next few months:-
1) Thou shalt finish the trees that thou has started - at least, pursue no further lines of investigation until...
2) Thou has provided sources for every item on said trees.
3) Thou shalt finish the new filing system and buy a cabinet for it to reside in, rather than leaving piles of folders on the window sill...
4) Thou shalt learn how to use the new Family Tree Maker software to assist in this process. There is no excuse for scribbled trees all over the place in this day and age. It is time that thou grasped that nettle!
I am actually looking forward to getting more organised. I highly recommend Pharos courses. They are reasonably priced and convenient; their materials are excellent.
Just be prepared for the real work to start after the course!