Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year, New Numbers, New Goals

GOALS source:

The new year is a time for doing more than making resolutions. It's also a good time to look back over the past year, evaluate efforts, and set some personal goals.

A year ago, I posted about finding my ancestor score, as I looked at how many of my direct ancestors I had actually been able to name. Both Randy Seaver in a blog post and Christa Cowan of's YouTube videos had suggested reasons to do this, and the new year is a logical time to repeat the report. I described my methodology and my results in a previous post

Here is my latest report based on my research in 2015. In running the report I added a new column at the right, how many new direct ancestors I had identified in the past year. It was exciting to see that I now know the surname and given name of 25% of my direct ancestors, compared with only 18% last year.

GenerationRelationship# in generation# identified% identified2015 increase
52 GreatGrandparents1616100%
63 GreatGrandparents323197%1
74 GreatGrandparents645688%14
85 GreatGrandparents1285644%20
96 GreatGrandparents2565722%37
107 GreatGrandparents512296%3

It was relatively easy to explain that increase. I was a participant in Round One of Thomas McEntee's Genealogy Do-Over. What a difference my research took when I because more focused and more methodical in maintaining my research log. I chose to focus on learning more about my Norwegian ancestors, relatives constituting a fourth of my family tree. The majority of new ancestors I discovered in generations 7, 8, and 9 were among these Norwegian ancestors.

Besides learning names, birth dates, baptismal dates, marriage information, and death dates of these ancestors, I also learned about a variety of resources that spurred on my Norwegian research. With the help of Google Translate, I even got where I could "read" a number of the records I had located. I felt a real growth in my research skills and tools.

The best part, thought, was coming to see these ancestors as people. People who moved from farm to farm. People who lived with waves of illness that decimated the families. People who chose to immigrate to America. People who chose to stay in Norway. Because of this, most of my posts in January through March of 2015 concerned these Norwegian ancestors.

Participating in the Genealogy Do-Over was well worth the time. Whether you are a beginning researcher or have been at it for a long time, I would encourage you to look at the G D-O web site and consider participating in the program activities. 

Now for 2016. Over the past few months, I've been plowing through the wills and probate records available through both and Each will, each record of probate returns seems to provide a new tidbit of information. I've taken a break from my regular posts as I've been reading virtually every line of each record I find. Tedious at times, but definitely worth it.

Goal 1 is to continue to explore these will and probate records for my family tree and then for my husband's also.

Goal 2 is to help a family member learn more about her family history. Because the majority of her ancestors and relatives seem to be clustered for several generations in a few neighboring Georgia counties, I'm already seeming how helpful it will be to use the Cluster Research approach, looking at Family, Associates, and Neighbors, as suggested by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

Goal 3 relates to Family Tree Maker. Like so many other users of FTM, I was surprised to learn of Ancestry's decision to no longer update or sell this product. Over 2016 I expect to decide my final reaction to this news. Will I stick with FTM even after moving to Windows 10 on my research laptop or just stay using Windows 7? Will I switch to another brand of genealogy software? Will I hope that some other company opts to add FTM to their line of products? Whatever my decision, my research will continue.

So there are my goals - records to continue researching, a research approach with which to become more proficient, and a software decision to may. And maybe, along the way, I'll find some new stories to celebrate.

Happy 2016 to all of you.

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