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New! The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook by Thomas MacEntee

68 pages | Published 2015 | PDF (download-only) edition | $3.99


Thomas MacEntee has a brand new book out to compliment his most-watched webinar, My Genealogy DO-Over - A Year of Learning from Research Mistakes. Read all about it below.

Back in December 2014, I made a big announcement online and in social media: Genealogy and I are parting ways. Done. Finished. Game over.

Have you ever said to yourself, “That’s it! I’ve had it and it just isn’t worth it anymore!” Well, have you? Sort of like the character Howard Beale in the movie Network when he says, live on air, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

By the end of 2014, after more than 25 years of researching my own family history, that is how I felt.

My Past Genealogy Research Frustrates Me!

While many who read my post thought that I was leaving the genealogy community or closing down my genealogy business, I had to clarify what I meant by “leaving:” Starting in 2015, I planned on setting my 20+ years of genealogy research aside and starting over. From scratch.

Seriously. How many times have you thought about doing the same thing? Did you start your research the same way I did, by just collecting names, grabbing stuff from other online trees, or pasting text into your genealogy software? Lately, has the prospect of going back and citing sources or proving facts and evidence brought you down and ruined your genealogy buzz? Do you throw up your hands and say, “I give up!” only to return to the same review and edit process days or weeks later?

If you are like me, you need a genealogy makeover. Better yet, a Genealogy Do-Over. That is what I decided to call the journey upon which I embarked in early 2015. Now I want you to come along.

Genealogy Do-Over: A New Journey of Genealogical Discovery

The Genealogy DoOver WorkbookHere is the short summary of The Genealogy Do-Over: I set aside everything* related to my genealogy research including notebooks, papers, and even digitized files and my genealogy database files and START OVER. I’m hitting the reset button. I’m allowing myself to have a do-over! (* certain items such as vital records ordered and paid for or research gathered on long-distance trips can be retained).

Since I started my initial research, much has changed in the areas of genealogy research methodology and education. I now realize the need to collect facts and track them properly, including the use of source citations. I now understand the process of analyzing evidence and proving facts to reach a conclusion. In essence, I know a lot more about the “process” of genealogical research and I want to put it to use.

This is not to say that I have not been following proven guidelines when it comes to finding family history. For my research clients (mostly pro bono), I actually employ all the methods advocated by many in the genealogy community. However, when it comes to my own research from years ago, I am not walking the walk . . . I have just been talking the talk.

It is not always easy to “walk backwards” and review every bit of information gathered over the years. Instead, I wanted to do more than re-walk a trodden path: I wanted to head out from the same starting point and see where the journey took me. I knew I would have access to better tools, better knowledge and be better equipped for each twist and turn. Now, I encourage you to join me on this journey.

The Genealogy Do-Over journey is constructed of 12 mileposts or journey markers that are laid out over one year. You can choose to pace yourself differently. You can even decide to drop some of the less important tasks and add your own. Do whatever it takes to ensure that you are on a firm footing to finding your ancestors.

A short synopsis of the route:
  • Take inventory of what you have, box up the physical items and set them aside.
  • Move all digital genealogy files into a HOLD folder.
  • Gather tools to research.
  • Set research goals.
  • Start with your own knowledge and write it down.
  • Start tracking research.
  • Interview family members.
  • And more!
And then, month by month, continue with research, add more skills and areas of focus including citing sources, tracking searches, building a research toolbox, creating an educational plan, researching offline as well as online, and more.

By the end of the year, hopefully you will have completed a review of a firm foundation in genealogy and family history research skill building. I realize that some focus areas may differ; anyone along for the journey has the freedom to add or remove content. This program has to work for you and should not be something that you dread each week or that you find you are working against.

You’re Invited – You Get a Genealogy Do-Over Too

I created The Genealogy Do-Over as a collaborative community effort to re-examine the way in which each of us has personally pursued our genealogical research. My intent was to be honest with myself without beating myself up. I wanted to feel the joy of looking at one small fact and perhaps realizing that I never looked at it from all angles. I wanted the discipline of not following a possible lead just because it shakes or makes more noise than other leads.

Most of all, I wanted to be open to all possibilities on my journey of genealogical self-discovery and to enjoy that journey. This has meant researching genealogy with a plan, with a purpose, with sound practices and with the support of my fellow researchers. I do not intend to make this journey again. The Genealogy Do-Over is my chance, and your chance, to get it right!

68 pages | Published 2015 | PDF (download-only) edition, $3.99


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Thank you.
I have been at that point, and resolved to start over in 2016. This article has given me the kick-start I needed to do that. The only real problem I have to overcome is how to organize the data I collect so that I don't find myself buried in so much material, as well as how to cross reference everything I have. Each software program I have used has different requirements and organizes things differently, not always including the same facts, so I need to start fresh on all fronts.

Starting over is a great idea, but I am certainly not willing to throw everything out that I've done to date - just review it and try to document claims I failed to do earlier. While genealogy software is very useful for organizing huge quantities of data, I'm leaning toward writing stories for each ancestor with documentation (usually) in appendices. Your course (and Lisa Alzo's), The Write Stuff, got me started on writing these in ways that might be interesting to non-genealogists. Stories make it much easier to deal with speculations and conflicting data. Stories also make it easier to explain where I have proof and where I have only strong supportive evidence. One problem is that most records for my parents and grandparents have not yet been made public. While I may be able to obtain them with sufficient identification, the process is more time consuming and costly than downloading from the web. There is only so much time...

John, try the program CLOOZ, for keeping track of docs., etc. it has a good search feature also!

Thank you! I have been doing genealogy research for my family for 40 years (with a 20 year hiatus to raise my daughter). I have gotten to the point where I'm somewhat not so interested. You articulated what I was feeling completely! I had gotten to the point where I wanted to start over but thought that might not be prudent. You have given me the impetus to start over and do the re-do with all the new tools and citation methods now available. I'm excited to get started again and fill in the blanks I know I don't have. Fantastic!

Hello Thomas and thank you Jane..........I am with you Jane in reviewing and citing sources........My endeavours over the years of researching have been to obtain PROOF of events or something as near to that as is/was available...have not been into citing sources......I do have some tricky dickey ancestors.........

Other comments made by other researchers are valid re the "What do I do now" or "Where to from here"....

In my own way I am doing my own Do Over......Recently, I upgraded my filing system, by obtaining some four drawer filing cabinets at good prices........My home office has never looked so tidy, but the contents in the drawers are getting a "Do Over"....I am finding a lot of bumpf there, plus some duplicate copies of this and that and even the odd two files on the same person..........I use Legacy as my digital family history program, but have been lax for some time in putting much information into it......Am also in the process of putting all my photos on to a 1TB external hard drive which my dearly beloved gave me as a Christmas present.......

Cheers and thanks to all..


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