Thursday, January 1, 2015

Wk#1GenealogyDoOver : Getting Ready to Get Started

Do-Over Button from

Nothing like a new year to spur me on to clearing up some messes.  Now I'm going to be looking a little differently at my genealogical research, especially the two Norwegian branches of my family tree.  Parts of it are a mess.

Thomas MacEntree's Genealogy Do-Over looks like it will provide the motivation and support for me to tackle some of my Norwegian "issues".  I especially like the four points he suggests we focus on in our Genealogy Do-Overs.

  • Capture everything and save for later.  For me this includes the reminder to actually take that close look at my saved material, then either save or delete it, based upon what I actually find there.
  • Build a good research toolbox and keep adding to it.  My list of support materials, web sites, and articles is growing because I continue to stumble onto new resources.  I need to add them to my blog's toolbox so I can share with others, just as others have shared with me.
  • Create to-do lists.  It is amazing how two days of a stomach bug or those wonderful holiday visits can cause me to forget exactly which trail I had been in the midst of following.  I need to do a better job with my computer "sticky notes" and with recording things in my research log.
  • Pay no attention to that bright and shiny object.  Focus, girl!  Focus!

Several days ago, I got a head start (sorry, Thomas) by trying to get some consistency in the way I have names recorded for these Norwegian ancestors in my Family Tree Maker software.  Because of the patronymic naming system, so many of these ancestors did not have consistent surnames until after they immigrated to America.  Some of what I've done in FTM is arbitrary, but it has already helped me locate names in my database by keeping siblings' names together in my A-Z list of names.  

  • Son of a man named Syver/Siver/Sivert is now recorded as Syverson (not Sivertson, Siverson, Syversen, etc.)
  • Daughter of a named named Syver/Siver/Sivert is now recorded as Syversdatter (not Syvertdtr, Siverdaughter, or any of the other combinations I have found.)
  • Because I am examining records from the Digital Archives of Norway from as far back as the mid 1700s, there is a wide variety in the spelling of names in birth, confirmation, marriage, and death records.  As I find another version of the name I am adding it to the FTM database, but keeping only the Syverson / Syversdatter name as the "preferred" or primary name.
  • Because some records and databases automatically add the name of the farm residence to a person's name, this gives yet another name for a number of my ancestors.  Another personal arbitrary decision has been to add these farm names as a "Residence" in FTM.  That way it will be easier to select the appropriate parish register to browse through.
  • For those ancestors changing their name after coming to America, I'm adding their Americanized name as yet another name in FTM.
Today's project as been to look back at one of my saved resources, a self published family history of the Syverson / Hanson / Belle, Siem family.  This 100 page booklet is a treasure, essentially a number of family group sheets, hand drawn family trees, and brief narratives about some family members.  I am so thankful that my mother finally met the cousin who wrote it back in 1980 and who gifted her with the copy I now have.  Although the information it contains is not sourced, it is filled with dates, names of spouses and children, and names of family farms.

Already I have found that I had previously incorrectly recorded several dates into FTM.  Other information I had entered into FTM but had not cited the family history booklet as its source.  And taking the time to read the narrative passages provided so many small bits of information - someone died of whopping cough, a father gave the family farm to a son at his marriage, and who immigrated to America with whom.  All things I had previously missed.

Now I feel I'm ready to get started.  I'm excited about being more focused in my work and hopefully that I'll learn more of our family story.  What caused so many to leave Norway and come to America in a 15 year time span?  How could they afford to bring those large families of 7-10 individuals?  How did they decide where to live?  Maybe I've already starting on my To-Do List.

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