A day comes when genealogy — America’s second-favorite “hobby” after gardening — becomes more than a hobby to you. No longer content with a pastime of quick-and-easy ancestral tree climbing, you find yourself getting serious about doing this right. Like a growing number of us, you’re on the road to becoming a bonafide Golden Egg Genealogist™. You’re GEG-bound.
The Wake-Up Call
In the summer of 2015, I had my first formal training in genealogy at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research. The IGHR had been in operation just up the road at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, for 50 years. For me, though, it was a new discovery.
I debated with myself about taking a beginning-level course — part pragmatism, part ego. I had been doing genealogy on and off since the 1980s. I have a PhD in history. A beginner, me?
Deep down, though, I knew I was lacking some key fundamentals. I decided to risk being bored as a beginner, rather than getting lost as an intermediate. Good choice.
I sat there for five days, in wonder at what I was learning and saying over and over again, “I wish I’d known that twenty years ago.” I faced the truth that I had wasted so much time doing genealogy in blind self-sufficiency. I had been figuring things out as I went, fluffing over what I couldn’t prove, and creating a family tree I didn’t fully trust.
In the days after the IGHR course, I became ethically conscious that others were copying my on-line trees. I knew that certain branches were just my speculations. Others did not. They were building their family trees on guesses, and I shared the responsibility for that.
A Brand New Start
Amazon sent me an email one day, advertising Thomas MacEntee’s The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook. I haven’t read it yet (sorry Tom, I will), but the cover was just what I needed. Permission to start over!
I decided to hide the big shaky tree from view and start from scratch. I would create organized systems for materials, document everything meticulously, and cite sources properly. I would use the best tools and get proper training.
That’s when the adventure truly began.
I made up my mind to do every single task the best way, no matter how long it took to figure out the best way. I’ve started clean, with a commitment to build a tree that can stand up to the scrutiny of the experts. A tree my family’s future branches can trust. As I add each new detail to my new tree, I find myself asking hard questions about the best way to do each thing.
Conceiving the Golden Egg Genealogist
This scrutiny inspired me to start the blog. Why not share with others all I learn in seeking best practices? There’s a selfishness to it, I will admit. I am taking a long time to do things I once did rapidly. I feel the need to make all of my research and experimentation count.
One thing will slow me down in the best sort of way (for you): I want to select the best desktop software package. I had used Ancestry.com’s Family Tree Maker for years. The unexpected announcement late last year that Ancestry was discontinuing the product set me about evaluating options.
I began to look at RootsMagic and Legacy. Ancestry’s turnabout, selling FTM to MacKiev brought it back into the mix. Given my situation of starting over with my family tree, I am in the perfect position to try these three against each other, feature by feature.
I will be tagging blogs about this experience as the “Desktop Dilemma Series.” Many of you will have experience in one of these three software packages. I encourage you to add your knowledge and your questions to this growing experiment.
I will also be creating a “Wish-I’d-Known Series.” I will write about the things I learn that could have saved me time, money, and trouble over the years. I also encourage your comments and questions in this series. Perhaps we can save each other from many errors.
As this began to gel, I sought a symbol that could inspire pride in what we do. A commitment to excellence. The recognition in ourselves of the self-perpetuating treasure that is genealogy.
From that emerged the Golden Egg Genealogist. The GEG ideal.
Share the GEG-bound journey
The following topics offer insights into the GEG ideal and this website:
Let’s share together the journey of the Golden Egg Genealogist.