I returned to Genealogy Do Over this month with Week 9 & 10.
Conducting Cluster Research
This is the concept of looking at your FAN club ala Elizabeth Shown Mills – Friends, Associates and Neighbors. It is something we should do every time we research a family group. Notice the people who are living near by, witnessing documents, going to the same church/school or go into business with the subjects of our research. I need to use this method on some of my old brick walls. ex. Margaret Radel – even though she came from Germany alone without family members, maybe there were people from her church or neighbors from Berlin that traveled with her? I am adding this to her research plan: Check ship manifest against New York City directory to see if they lived in the same apartment buildings. Also, I haven’t ever researched the witnesses on their wedding certificate from New York City. Perhaps there is more of a connection than “just” neighbors.
Organizing Research Materials: Documents & Photos
I still like paper….sacrilege! I have binders for all my families that I have researched. It just the way my brain works and probably says a lot about what generation I come from. However my “original” documents are scanned and are available digitally. With that said, I am comfortable with my organization.
One issue remains: I do have about 6 boxes of photos in the garage to go through (I have been avoiding this until the cool air returns maybe by October here in Tennessee?) When it does…designate one day a month to:
- Organize the photos by year
- Throw away photos that are duplicates, blurry, trip photos that are not important to save etc.
- Scan photos that I haven’t made electronic copies of yet
- Plan scrapbooking projects for old photos
Reviewing DNA Testing Options
I finally took a mtDNA test at the beginning of the year from Family Tree DNA. I received the results in April and I had one match. Yes one! Out of the whole world who has tested on Family Tree DNA, with all the possibilities of women giving birth for centuries, I have one person I match with so far. I had pinned a lot of hopes on the results of this test to solve my brick wall of Margaret Radel (see blog here). I took the plunge and wrote to my one match who lives in Sweden. She has been very generous with sharing her own research and giving me suggestions on where to start researching in Sweden for Margaret’s mother and even name possibilities for Martha Nelson – Marta/Marit Nilsson/ Nilsdotter. I have been watching Family Tree DNA videos on u-tube and reading various blog postings to understand mtDNA better. My Swedish “cousin” is actually a genetic distance of 2, which from what I can tell depending how volatile my mutations are, could mean we are related from the current generation up to 3,700 years ago! But, it is still the best hint I have had so far and the next steps are to look for marriage licenses in Sweden for Martha Nelson and William Radel.
Organizing Research Materials: Digital
I started my digital organization “fresh” at the beginning of this year when I began the Genealogy Do Over which also coincided with buying a new computer. I feel like this has given me a chance to rethink my strategy for organizing and saving documents. Everything I have done since the beginning of the year is “organized” as well as my original documents mentioned above. They are all backed-up 3 different ways etc. However, I am still not complete with records that I accessed digitally via Ancestry, Fold 3 and Family Search for the last 10 years. Thomas MacEntee suggests marking a couple of hours each month to catch up on your organization, so I think I will do that, one family at a time! I am starting with the Hunts. A very sweet historical society member from Glen Gardner NJ recently sent me some documents and photos, so I will start with them and do all their census records etc. at the same time.
Genealogy work is never done!