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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Confessions of a Genealogist

I must be feeling repentant due to it being Lent. So here is my confession to the genealogy community.

If you contacted me today and asked me for information about any of my families, ancestors, etc. I would not be able to provide you with anything updated, coherent, sourced or relevant to your request. There it is. I said it. I'm not proud of it. 

I am a voracious researcher. I love to research and sometimes can't stop myself. It's so much fun and it's so rewarding finding those records. But compiling all that information into a beautiful and complete genealogy? Well not so fun. It's not that it isn't rewarding to see the end product of your research and compilation, but it can be tedious to accomplish. I know there some of you out there who agree with least I hope I'm not the only one!  But it has come to a point where I just have no idea what information I have anymore and I need to get with the program.

So my goal this year was to start the laborious task of compiling everything I have into something organized and coherent. I purchased RootsMagic 6, which I am falling in love with. It has so many features buried into it that I know I haven't even scratched the surface yet. I spent some time earlier this winter watching some of the webinars they have on their website and learning the basic functions of the program. I have used Family Tree Maker before and to my credit I do have some genealogy entered into that program. But it is not sourced very well and certainly not updated.

The biggest task to overcome is providing complete and accurate source citations. I've been doing my best to source everything as completely as possible and provide a trail to every bit of information and proof of relationship that I have. Not an easy task, but I do have to say, it is kind of rewarding. But I have to watch myself, because I can get burned out on all entering and sourcing. Every once in a while, I take a detour and dive off into some great no holds barred research.

So far I've been slowly making my way through all the families in one of my great grandmother's genealogies: Hoard, Merritt, Champion, Brown, Hartsock and others. But for some time now, I've been "stuck" on the Champion family. Not only is there a brick wall trying to find the ancestors of Constant Champion, my 6th great grandfather, but the 1st and 2nd generations down from Constant are so interesting! Ministers and pastors, so many Civil War soldiers and the names these people used and passed down the generations! I'll get into the nitty gritty of this family in later blog posts and share some of my fun finds.

I hope everyone else is taking time to enter their information and provide accurate source citations. It won't always be fun, but you'll appreciate it some day. And many other people will appreciate it as well.

If you're in need of a genealogy program, RootsMagic is really nice. It can be customized in many ways and provides places for every kind of information and source citation you will ever need. It isn't easy to use at first, but it can start to grow on you. They have a free version called RootsMagic Essentials that doesn't include all of the features of the full version. So if you wanted to give it a try, that would be a good place to start.

Copyright © 2013 Matt Mapes


  1. Sometimes, Matt, it is just the thrill of the hunt. Sheer enjoyment of the chase. The citation part--well, that's the tedium...but so necessary.

    It would be wonderful to be able to concoct your own "secret sauce" blend of incentive to get just the right ratios between the reward of the stuff you love doing and the discipline of what must be done. Maybe then, we could all get the right stuff done, too.

    1. That would be nice, wouldn't it? Of course, then there are all the other things that vie for our attention...that silly thing called a job, then family, and all that. So, it is really hard to get the right mixture of what must be done and what's just plain fun.
      Sometimes the best motivator for me is to set a deadline. For instance, last year I created a photo book for my family of old pictures. We were traveling back home to visit my family and I had to have it done by then. That helped, but not always easy to do.

  2. I have recently started using RootsMagic, too, to see how I like it. So far, so good. I have used Legacy Family Tree for years. I haven't decided whether to make a permanent switch yet. We'll see...

    1. It's a big decision and feels like a long term commitment. I just hope I can stay with it for the long term, and that the program stays with us for the long term. Technology changes so fast, and I don't want to have to transfer or start over again!