Category Archives: Genealogy Do-Over!

Genealogy Do-Over Week 13, Part One -Securing Research Data

This weeks topics for the Genelaogy Do-Over:

Securing Research Data

Thomas seems to really key into the important things that we sometimes don’t think about.  Such As:

  1. If you lost all your data, would you be able to recreate it?
  2. Would you even know where to begin?
  3. If you died today, do you know what your family would do with your research?
  4. Have you made plans to preserve your research for generations to come?

Although I do a great job of backing up my data, I have not done any estate planning relating to my research and work.  I assume that my family knows the importance, but I need to make sure and put it all in writing, talk to them, and plan out what to do with items they don’t want.

Here are the things that Thomas suggest we do

√ Take Inventory
√ Include in estate planning
√ Have that conversation with family
√ Contact organizations you want to domate to
√ Post items online
√ Do Stuff Now

Although I think I’ve got some of this covered, I am a long way from where I need to be.  What I plan to do:

  • I use Carbonite, which is an online daily backup process. I  also have my trees online and offline.  Thomas recommends the 3-2-1 plan: 3 copies of my data, 2 different backup media and 1 offsite copy (cloud).
  • I need to continue to work on my source documention (which is an ongoing process with my Do-Over work).
  • Make provisions in my estate planning papers for the disposition of my genealogy research materials.
  • Talk to my family about what I want done with my research, including my blog, in the event of my death.
  • Continue to write my stories (even if something happened before I finish my book, my stories will be there).

The Genealogy Do-Over journey is a 13 week challenge from Thomas MacEntee, of GeneaBloggers.

Pat Burns. Copyright © 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Genealogy Do-Over Week 13, Part Two – Reviewing the Journey

This weeks Genealogy Do-Over Topics are:

Reviewing the Journey

Although I did not end up with a complete Do-Over, like I originally planned, I am extremely happy with what I have learned and the tools provided.  There is so much more I have to do to improve what I have, but I now have a better foundation. I will keep an eye on the Genealogy Do-Over cycle 2 and am sure I will continue to learn more.

I found that a Do-Over is not doable in a 13 week time frame, but what I got out of it is immeasurable. Here’s just an example of what I got out of this group:

  1. The research spreadsheet that Thomas provided  works perfectly for me. It can be used over and over for each person or family. It includes definitions (when you have to be refreshed), it includes example source citations.  I have customized it to better fit my needs by:
    1. adding drop down boxes
    2. adding a sheet code (e.g Vincent Morris Family has been named VM Vincent Morris Family). The first entry will be VM01. I can then place this in front of my source so I know where to look for the original and know that I’ve already done the research.
    3. adding many new source citation examples by using  Evidence Explained:Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace 2nd Edition by Elizabeth Shown Mills.
  2. I’ve learned how to more accurately use source citations and the importance of sourcing your work.
  3. By going through my old records, I’ve found things I missed or forgot.
  4. I’ve become more organized.
  5. I’ve learned to set research goals.
  6. I’ve opened communication with previously unknown relatives.
  7. I’ve built an online Research Toolbox (with the help of Thomas,  by using one he provided).  I continue to add content to my Toolbox.
  8. I’ve learned how to evaluate evidence.
  9. I’ve learned to find online learning opportunities.
  10. I’ve reviewed many of the groups filing structures and found one that fit my needs.
  11. I’ve learned the differences and importance of Collateral Research and Cluster Research.
  12. I’ve learned about the three different kinds of Ancestry DNA types.
  13. I’ve learned the importance of Social Media and how to give back to the genealogy community.
  14. I’ve added to my Bucket List, genealogy travel ideas.
  15. I’ve been reminded of securing my research data for future generations.
  16. And so much more.

Thank you Thomas MacEntee.  I look forward to following your next cycle.

The Genealogy Do-Over journey is a 13 week challenge from Thomas MacEntee, of GeneaBloggers.

Pat Burns. Copyright © 2018. All Rights Reserved.


Genealogy Do-Over Week 12 – Sharing Research and Travel Options

This weeks Genealogy Do-Over Topics are:

  • Sharing Research
  • Reviewing Research Travel Options

Sharing Research

Here are the ways in which I share my research:

  • My online trees are public, except for living people.
  • I have started documenting my sources in my trees for others to see. Although more work needs to be done.
  • I participate in many genealogy facebook groups
  • As I learn new research tools and tips, I write a blog post to share
  • I put my Genealogy Research ToolBox online, so others can use it
  • I give credit where credit is due…when others help me or I obtain documents from others, I always try to give them credit in my writings.

There is always room for improvement and this weeks assignment has reminded me of some of the basic genealogy etiquette.

What I haven’t done, is track my work.  Thomas suggests tracking my work using Google Alerts.

Reviewing Research Travel Options

Thomas provided a list of options for Genealogy Research Travel.  What caught my eye is the research trips sponsored by genealogical societies and individuals.  Oh My!  This sounds really interesting or maybe a Genealogy Cruise.  I guess I better start saving. Here are places I’d like to travel to for Do-It-Yourself genealogy research:

  • Road Trip: North Carolina to Iowa
    • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – research my 2nd great grandfather, Wilhelm Dörr (aka William Doerr, Sr.), who met my 2nd great grandmother, Anna Druffner and married her in Philidelphia. They had three children while living there.
    • Fayette Township, Layfayette County, Wisconsin – where my children’s paternal 2nd great grandparents, Nathan Kelly and Marilda Wiley Van Matre, were raised and owned property. And where my husband’s great grandfather (and namesake), John Henry Meili, settled with his wife Henrietta Schreiber. The Van Matre’s and Meili’s lived within 4 miles of each other.
    • Winneshiek and Fayette Counties in Iowa where my fathers family all grew up. Meet the relatives, who so generously have helped in my research. There are many side trips to cemeteries, churches, properties, courthouses and possibly attending the annual Doerr Family Reunion.
  • Bucket List: Travel to Denmark where both my maternal grandmother, Nina Larsen Marks Buchan and grandfather, Andrew William Marks, families were from.
  • Bucket List: Travel to Germany and France where my paternal 2nd great grandparents, Wilhelm Dörr and Anna Druffner; Jacques (Jacob) Untereiner and Elisabeth Bouillon; Frances Joseph Kappes and Katherine Ditzenbach; and John Carl Bodensteiner and Margaretha Balk are from. And where my husbands great grandmother, Henrietta Schreiber is from.
  • Bucket List: Travel to Scotland where my husbands great grandfather, John Henry Meili, is from.
  • Next Year: Attend one of the genealogy conferences.

Well, a girl can dream. 🙂

The Genealogy Do-Over journey is a 13 week challenge from Thomas MacEntee, of GeneaBloggers.

Pat Burns. Copyright © 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Genealogy Do-Over Week 11 -Social Media and Building Your Network

This weeks topics are

  • Reviewing Social Media Options
  • Building a Research Network

Reviewing Social Media Options

There are are variety of social media networks, including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

My favorite is Facebook. It seems people either love it or hate it. Well, I’m one who loves it.  I admit, I don’t post often, nor do I put out a lot of information about myself, but I have a morning routine to check my email and Facebook.  I look to see what’s happening with my friends and family. It’s interesting to see what they are doing and get pictures I would have missed otherwise.

Over the last couple of years, I have used Facebook for genealogy. I read the posts and try to contribute when I can. I have learned a lot through these groups and in fact this is where I learned about Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over.

Thomas provided us with a list of resources, including over 4500 links to various pages and groups on Facebook covering almost every aspect of genealogy and family history. I’ve placed these in my Research Toolbox under Social Media. Thank You, Thomas!

Building a Research Network

I guess I have a ‘baby network’ since I have a few family members I’ve reached out to that are interested in Genealogy. But I think here, Thomas is talking about reaching out to other genealogists…not just to get help but to also to give.

I have set up this blog in order to share my family stories and share what I’ve learned doing the research. I guess that is a good first step. Thomas mentioned using LinkedIn to seek out other genealogists and people with similar interests. You can add skills, publications and even articles and then make connections with other users. My LinkedIn network is pretty old, mostly people from my old Corporate America days. After reviewing Thomas’ tips, I resurrected my old LinkedIn account and updated it.

The Genealogy Do-Over journey is a 13 week challenge from Thomas MacEntee, of GeneaBloggers.

Pat Burns. Copyright © 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Genealogy Do-Over Week 10 part 1 – Reviewing DNA Testing Options

This weeks Genealogy Do-Over Topics are:

Reviewing DNA Testing Options

Before you take a DNA test, it’s a good idea to understand the different kinds of testing and the options for getting the tests. For genealogical purposes, there are three types of testing that are most common.

Autosomal DNA Testing – can be taken by either males or females. It is carried on the 22 pairs of autosomal chromosomes, one of each pair is from the mother and the other from the father.  Contains random pieces of DNA from parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. Autosomal DNA has a reach of up to approximately 5-7 generations. The farther back in the tree, the more deluted the results.  So you have a wide range, but not as deep.

Popular U.S. Providers:

  • 23andMe – $99 for the lifetime of the platform in the U.S.
  • Family Tree DNA -$99 for the lifetime of the platform.
  •’s DNA Ancestry test – $99 – subscription is required to access some features.

MtDNA Testing – Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) can be taken by both males and females, but is inherited only from the mother. It is derived from the mitochondria (rather than chromosomes). It is passed down to all children unchanged, but only the daughters pass it on to their offspring. It tracks the direct maternal line and has a reach of hundreds of thousands of years.  So you have a very narrow range, but very deep.

Popular U.S. Provider:

Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) Testing – can be taken by males only. It is carried on the Y (male) chromosome. It is inherited only from the father and is passed on unchanged to all male children.  It tracks direct paternal line and has a reach of hundreds of thousands of years. So you have a very narrow range, but very deep.

Popular U.S. Provider:

Decisions, decisions, decisions.  What is the best to do? Autosomal DNA test is the one I chose a couple of years ago. It’s the most affordable and gets the widest range.  I did mine through

← This map is from DNA Ancestry and shows where my ancestors are from.

With DNA Ancestry you get a list of matches. I have hundreds of matches, but I only have 6 leaves, all verified cousins. The leaves will show up if there is a matching person in someone’s tree that you have a DNA match to. As I come across the strong matches with no leaf, I will be expanding my collateral research to see if I can find them.

So what has this done for me?  It has validated some of my paternal line. Five of the six matches all connect to a 2nd or 3rd great grandparent in my fathers line.  One connects to my mothers line.

The other nice thing about DNA Ancestry is it allows you to download your DNA profile. I downloaded mine and uploaded it to (free) which allows you to upload your testing results from various tests and run reports as well as connect with other genealogists using DNA testing.  I think the interface is a bit clunky, but it does the job.  You can even do a one to one comparison to another person.

my-originsI also downloaded my DNA Ancestry and opened an account for $39.00 with Family Tree DNA.  So, for $99 plus the $39 I am in both systems.

← This map is from my Family Tree DNA profile. You can see some differences from the DNA Ancestry map.

Eventually I’m hoping the testing fees will come down and I can get my brother to do a YDNA test.  I’d also like to do an mtDNA test.

If you search around, you may find DNA groups for your ethnicity. I found one for Danish Demes, that I’d like to join, but they require a YDNA or mtDNA test in order to do so.  It’s on my someday list, as my mothers side of the family are all from Denmark.

Note: I have included some of my referral links in this post. If you click through them and make a purchase. I will make a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you. I really appreciate your support in this way.

The Genealogy Do-Over journey is a 13 week challenge from Thomas MacEntee, of GeneaBloggers.

Pat Burns. Copyright © 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Genealogy Do-Over Week 10 part 2 – Organizing Research Materials – Digital

This weeks Genealogy Do-Over Topics are:

Organizing Research Materials – Digital

Be Aware of Changing Technologies! The first thing that Thomas MacEntee talks about is how technology can change and your data can become obsolete. They call it the digital Dark Age. Do you have photos on old floppy disks that are no longer supported? I guess the message here, is to make sure you keep up with current technology.  Transfer your old data into new mediums and formats as they change.  I’m going to be printing my important photo’s.

Pick a File Naming Convention and Stick With It! Thomas recommends you pick a file naming standard and stick with it. He uses last name-firstname-middlename-b [birthyear]-document name.  This works for him and could work for me, too for documents. I do use maiden names for females, which Thomas also recommends.

But, for photo’s, I tended to put the names of the people in the picture in the order they are in it, date if known, place if known. I think my naming convention works for me, but the filing of the pictures does not.

Although my documents folder is in really good shape, my Pictures folder is mostly organized by date. Over the last couple of years, I have made directories with Year Month and put all photos taken during those times in that folder. If it’s for a trip, I’ll use Year Month – place traveled to. I have also done the same with scanned photo’s, e.g. 2015 Mar Photos scanned from Aunt Sally (for example). However, this does not make them easy to find.

Since starting the Do-Over, I have been placing copies of photo’s I’ve used for my stories and posts into a directory called photos under the surname in my Documents/Ancestry/ Surname/ files. I am leaving the original files under the original directories and not changing them in order to preserve the quality of my JPEG files.

Let’s talk MetaData!

Digital files are just that, they are digital. Most of them already come with some MetaData.  You can easily edit the MetaData.  I am going to start editing any documents and photo’s I publish or share to include the correct copyright, names of people in the photo’s, places of the photo, and even add source citations. A big lofty goal, for sure.

To easily add MetaData to documents in Windows:

  • right click on the document in the file manager
  • click on Properties
  • click on the display tab
  • you can edit many fields, add fields, etc.

To easily add MetaData to iMac:

  • Click on the document in the Finder
  • Click on Command I
  • Add your MetaData in the comments field.

I use a Mac and don’t care for the finder option, so I installed Exifchanger (found in the Apple Store for About $10.00). This works better for me.

The Genealogy Do-Over journey is a 13 week challenge from Thomas MacEntee, of GeneaBloggers.

Pat Burns. Copyright © 2018. All Rights Reserved.