Saturday, July 11, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over (Cycle 3) - Week 2



So we are now in Week 2 of the third cycle of the Genealogy Do-Over.  I am still here, doing this.

More on Last Week

I was going to discuss what I came up with about base practices and guidelines. I didn't, and I shan't.

The real gift of  this process is being part of the online community doing this project. People post all sorts of useful information, and this is being shared and commented upon and improved. It is a real communal process, something of a crowd-sourcing of genealogical methodology.

Also, it is a very supportive community of people struggling with the same issues, which is one of the gifts of the modern Internet age.

I was very busy reading other people's blogs for information about how they research, how they envision the process, what practical steps they take. There was so much information that I just plain didn't blog about it.

I strongly encourage everyone seriously interested in genealogy to join this process, and to join the closed Facebook group. Even if you do none of this, just following along will be worth the effort.

Three Topics for Week 2

Conducting Self-Interview

This is the part where it would be easy to mess things up. I could cheat and ask myself everything that I know about my roots, which would suck all of the stuff that I set aside!

I guess that I am in an unusual position in that I am regularly asked for a biography of myself, ranging from a paragraph to much longer. As someone who has run for office, I have seriously reviewed my own history and put it into writing so many times that it is kind of sad.

Conducting Family Interviews

This is one of those "easier said than done" things. I don't talk to my relatives that much. Most of them have little to say to me about the family, and those that do have already done so long ago, in my notes that I set aside for the Do-Over!

One of the reasons that I turned to doing this research seriously a few years ago was that my mother was concerned that most of her cousins had passed, and that the memory of her immigrant grandparents/great grandparents would be lost forever. So I talked to folk, and got a lot of information. I have been collecting it ever since.

I helped my wife Cynthia (the newspaper editor) prepare what was essentially a press release for my parent's 50th Anniversary six years ago, and so went over much of their lives. And I have gone through boxes of old photos over the past few years, and have read various accounts that my mother and her father wrote about their lives.

What I will do this week instead is to separate those materials out and organize them better, and use them to formulate additional questions for follow up.

Setting Research Goals

This is what I am mostly going to be working on this week. I am still trying to figure out how I want to focus my research. Should I focus on just one branch (e.g., my paternal grandmother's family), or work simultaneously on multiple avenues?

I guess that my original main purpose for the Do-Over itself is to reorganize materials, and to go and back-fill my tree to make it properly sourced.

When I first started getting back into genealogy, I tried setting aside specific days of the week for specific lines. I then discovered that it wasn't enough time to get anywhere productively. So then I decided to set different weeks for different lines. The same thing happened again. So I concluded that setting priorities by this particular approach didn't work for me.

Also, to be frank, I have had more breakthroughs on my Eastern European ancestry in the past few weeks than I had in the previous year and a half, mostly by accident.

My trip to Genealogy Jamboree netted me a copy of John Pihach's "Ukrainian Genealogy," which tied together some things that I already knew and helped me to refocus. And in the last few weeks I became more aware of the Rusyn (Ruthenian) resources online that can connect me to folk with access to information and knowledge that I somehow overlooked. There are some interesting avenues for research there.

The unexpected discovery of the Kolakowski family in Poland has opened all sorts of new research avenues.

So my actual research goals will likely refocus me on Eastern Europe. So let me explain why I haven't give Eastern Europe as much thought.

I have been mostly interested in my mother's family, since she cares about it and my father really doesn't seem as interested. My mother's father is purely of Irish descent. My maternal grandmother's family is from Galicia, in what was the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. I will discuss this greater detail later, but I have pretty much hit a brick wall in researching that line.

Circling around and starting over when there is a brick wall seems like a good strategy. So that is where my research is heading.

I will recap what I came up with next week.