Saturday, April 18, 2015

ARE YOU GETTING OFF TRACK? Losing your focus?

Image result for free cartoon photos of train tracks going in circles
Image result for free cartoon photos of train tracks going in circles
Image result for free cartoon photos of train tracks going in circles
Do you feel like you go around in circles sometimes?  Are you just playing at staying on track and organized, or are you serious?  I had to ask myself these questions today and here's what got me started.

I was sorting things on my desk and saw the list of 33 Michigan Death Certificates I was able to locate when Seeking Michigan released new records in March of this year.  I even wrote two blog posts about how I made a list from my Legacy database before proceeding to the site to locate records.
Michigan Death Certificate Images Released - 1921-1939

And, then I wrote a second post about my procedure once I’ve located the death certificates.

Day Two of the Michigan Death Certificates Journey - Now What?

So, it’s not like I don’t know what to do. Right?  I added & cited a few of them.  But, then I stopped.  When I say few, I’m talking about 4 out of 33!

Why waste time locating records online, at libraries, at courthouses, from family members etc., if we don’t then record those records to our database?

Darn good question, I think.
Here are my examples of unfinished “business.”
  • Multiple trips to Michigan for research and to visit family and bringing home all sorts of photos and documents, many of which still sit in folders.
  • A trip to the Family History Library where myself and a friend spent 5 glorious days and I took hundreds of photographs of books & microfilm - still not all processed.
  • A trip to the local Carlsbad Library where they have wonderful genealogy resources and I found many and photographed them - most are not processed.
  • A trip to Ohio & West Virginia for one thing – genealogy research - still need to process some items.
  • And, of course, downloading the much awaited death certificates, saving them in proper file format on my computer and then DOING NOTHING with them.
I’m sure I could go on.  Am I the only one?  Do you also have this “problem?”

Maybe we are in too big a hurry to “find absolutely everything.”  It’s sure fun to find things.  All that finding does us absolutely NO GOOD if we don’t process what we locate.

There is currently a project begun by Thomas MacEntee called the “Genealogy Do Over.  Many people are participating and finding it very useful. 

I think what I’m going to do, right here and now, is to begin a type of “Do Over.”


1.  If I get an email or other contact from a cousin, new or otherwise, I will respond to them, but tell them I will get back to them.  Then make a reminder in Evernote to do so.

2.  I’m going to finish adding & sourcing the rest of those 33 death certificates I found.  In doing so I will stay focused and make notes (in Evernote) of items I want to go back & find out more about.  The goal is to enter and source the death certificates, first & foremost.

3.  I will go through the plastic tub I have that has neatly organized surname folders where I have filed miscellaneous papers I’ve intended to go back to.  I no longer file in paper files, but these are from several years ago.

4.  I will go through every digital file I have from all the library research I have done and process that information.  When I was at the FHL I took over 500 digital photos from books and microfilm.  They are organized by state & county, but I’ve never gone through all of them.

5.  Only conduct research that is directly from these items.    
I think that this process will not only make me feel more organized and productive, but I suspect it will lead to many finds.
train tracks


How many of you have done something similar to this?
How many of you are participating in the Genealogy Do Over?  If so, has it helped?
Do you have other suggestions that we, as genealogists, can follow in order to avoid this sort of situation?

There is a wonderful group on Facebook called The Organized Genealogist.  With over 20,000 members there are lots of ideas presented about how to get and stay organized.

Wish me luck.  I sure hope that I’m successful and can get a lot of this work done.


Happy hunting & organizing,
Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2015   Diane Gould Hall


  1. is it possible to "follow" your blog?

    1. Yes, there are many ways to follow my blog. Thank you for asking. Over in the right hand column you will see several options. You can follow by email or subscribe to posts or comments. Additionally under Followers you will see two ways to follow. Either by "Joining this Site" or by "adding me to your Google Circles." I also post all my articles on Twitter and on Pinterest. Those two options are also in the right hand column. I hope you will find one of those many selections convenient.
      Thank you for stopping by.

  2. Um, um, yes? I'll have to blog about my failures to complete the tasks. I'll quote that readers know i'm not alone.

    1. Thanks Randy. I figured I wasn't alone in this. The more I've thought about it as the day went on, the more ridiculous it seemed. Am I a collector or a hoarder of records, or am I a genealogist? I hope it's the latter and I intend to truly fix some of these issues. I do think it will lead to some breakthroughs and finds and it will certainly make me feel better. I consider myself a good researcher, but what is my purpose in going to these repositories, if not to find and then work with the records I've located? I look forward to reading your post.

  3. This is a great self-critical list.

    I had to laugh at "Am I a collector or a hoarder of records, or am I a genealogist?"

    Another angle on it is, when does an image of a record (data not extracted, evaluated, analyzed) become a record?

    Completing your list should go a long way toward genealogical good feeling.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Not sure how to answer the question about the record. A record is anything we find about our ancestors, whether it's a census, a vital record, an immigration record or a draft registration.
      Wish me luck in completing my list. Staying on track is always a challenge.
      Thanks so much for stopping by.

  4. Thanks for writing this; it made me feel much better. It is so easy for us amateurs to presume that the experts and gurus always have it all together all the time. It is reassuring to know that even the experts are not always perfect. And it is encouraging to read your ideas for getting back on track.

    1. Mary, rest assured we all struggle with staying on track. The hunt and find is kinda what we all live for. Then, the work begins in recording and sourcing what we've found. Want to know the truth? The day after I posted I was contacted by a possible cousin connection based on my posts from my grandmother's journal. Remember me saying I would tell the cousin I would get back to them in a couple of weeks? Well, so much for that. She and I have exchanged emails and talked on the phone. My plan is still my plan, but as usual, there will be detours. Good luck with your research and thank you for stopping by.


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.