Thursday, July 17, 2014

Getting Organized (Part 1): Enduring the "Conditioning" Before the "Game"

This is the first in a series of posts I have decided to do on getting genealogy records and trees organized.  (Since this is where I am in my personal journey, it seemed the most logical way to continue my blog while taking a research hiatus.)  There are many different ways to be organized, but if you are searching for ideas and ways to "get it all together," feel free to follow along!  Before I really dive in, though, let's start by answering "WHY?" (This is for my benefit as much as yours - I know I will need to remind myself along the way!)

At the beginning of this summer, I pulled out my genealogy "stuff" and got ready to spend some big blocks of time working on researching my tree.  I love researching my family's history, and try very hard to keep what I find organized, so that when I am able to work on it during school holidays (I teach), I can easily pick up where I left off.  

When I sat down, I realized VERY QUICKLY that my previous organizational efforts had not been as successful as I had thought.  My digital genealogical files had a lot to be desired (despite my best efforts!) and my paper files, although somewhat organized, were difficult to search.  I had:

            1.  tons of duplicate photos and .pdf files that had accidentally made their way into my 
                 Family Tree Program
            2.  duplicate (and sometimes triplicate) digital files in other folders on my computer 
                 (in addition to the multiples in my Family Tree Maker file)
            3.  paper records from previous visits to genealogical society archives that had not 
                 been digitized or sorted by family
            4.  TONS of documents, pictures, and letters, as well as couple of family bibles that 
                 had been given to me (since I have taken on the role of the family genealogist) 
                 that I have begun scanning (which means I have "paper" and digital copies of 
                 those items), but have not completed
            5.  Family notebooks with some information, photos and documents inside, but with 
                 no real organizational system within each notebook 

Confused yet?????? Join the club!  

Before I did anything else, I knew I had to get this under control!  So...... I jumped in the deep end, and decided to take on the task of getting my ducks in a row this summer instead of searching for new information.  Ummmmmm, Let's just say that I knew it was an undertaking, but I completely underestimated just how much I had bitten off.  Now, a month and a half later, I am just beginning to chew my second bite! (and I have a bottomless plate I am trying to eat!)

One day, while I was working on this project, my son heard me groaning.  He asked what was wrong, and I explained that I was just frustrated with how long it was taking to do this extremely monotonous task.  He then asked why I kept doing genealogy if I wasn't having fun.  Trying to help my 13-year-old son understand, I used his world to help me illustrate:

Mom: "Do you like to play soccer?"
Lake: "Yes."
Mom: "Do you like the conditioning that you have to do to prepare for the soccer games?"
Lake: "No."
Mom: "Would you be as good a soccer player if you didn't do any conditioning before the 
Lake: "No."
Mom:  "Is the conditioning worth it even though it isn't always fun?"
Lake: "Yes." 
Mom: "What I am doing is my genealogy conditioning.  It may not be as fun as the 'game,' 
             but it has to be done to make me better at what I do."

I don't know where you are in your genealogical journey.  You may be just starting out with this fun little "hobby," or you may have moved on into the "obsession" stage (if so, welcome to the neighborhood!).  Regardless of where you are, always remember - conditioning is key!  I may groan at times (because, if we are being honest, who really likes conditioning?), but never forget that it is necessary!  As the family historians, we have taken on the responsibility of preserving our family's past, and to do it properly, we have to endure every aspect of the journey.  So, enjoy the games - but don't forget what is needed to make each game the best it can be!


  1. Conditioning in Genealogy? Who Knew? Sharing :)

    1. When you have a 13-year-old, you discover that you can connect just about anything to sports. :) Thanks for visiting my Blog!

  2. Jenna, I have been on a 38 yr journey in discovering my family history. I can relate to your blog. I have organized to an extent but I have a long ways to go. You talk of files every where and duplicates and triplicates. I hear you. I may join you in organizing my mountain of files and pictures. You are doing a super job. Thanks :)

    1. Thank you! It's nice to know that there are others around that "get it" and know what is truly involved. So many times I think that other family members don't understand all that is involved to preserve our history. Keep on conditioning! We all need each other to help encourage us through the dry spells. :) And thank you for visiting my blog!