Category Archives: FFF Database


Most genealogists get to the point where they realize that they have a lot of information and it’s not well organized. We start out trying to be organized, or we don’t really know what we’re doing. And then one day, the idea of how to get better organized hits us.

Then we have to actually make it happen. After a lot of years of research, that gets even harder. I have long put off my own research in favor of my clients’ research, as rightly I should, but I still often snuck in some work on my own family. The problem is, while I’ve gathered records over the years, I haven’t been adding information into my database.

I have a folder on my computer called “Documents To Do” inside of my genealogy folder. It has over 3,000 files in.

OK, so about 1,000 of them are Chicago birth records that I began indexing. But then Cook County went and indexed them all, so I didn’t have to do that anymore. Maybe I should delete those, because I didn’t find my cousins’ records until that other index showed up.

I also have some other records that I’ve meant to index, or do something with. I have been collecting Feldstein records for a one name study that I haven’t really started. I have about 300 census images, but I only finished gathering those up to 1910.

That still leaves at least 2,000 files. So how am I going to go about organizing that?

One file at a time.

And that’s what I’ve been doing this month, instead of blogging. I’ve been meaning to blog. I found someone in a census seven years after she died and thought that might make for an interesting short blog post. I got to work on my 1940 census entries and found two in a row that had the supplemental question — I hadn’t noticed that I had any before. And I just keep digging away, slowly, at the records. I even added a new person to the database, when I found an uncle in someone’s household.

I actually started this bout of organizing last year, or was it the year before, so I have to figure out where I left off and continue that part also. I was working on replacing my paper files with digital copies; where they came from the Family History Library, I am scanning from the microfilm again instead of just scanning the old paper copy.

I’ll be doing this for a very long time but hopefully I’ll make a serious dent. I’m trying to avoid finding any more records until I’ve gotten all the old ones straightened out. So far this month, I’ve been pretty good about that. But I have no doubt that I will be adding new documents as I find them. I just have to make sure they go straight into my database so I don’t have to revisit them to figure them out again.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have more organizing to do in my own database, right after I deliver some things to my clients.

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Faces of America – Inspiration

I just watched the third episode of Faces of America on PBS and was inspired. I meant to write a blog entry about the second episode which dealt with immigration and naturalization, two topics I deal with a lot in my research, but instead, this third episode has given me a revelation.

Of course I was interested in the stories of the families who were in America before it was the USA, but the story that hit me the hardest was that Yo-Yo Ma. It was that book, the one that literally fell out of a wall. What genealogist wouldn’t do anything to find a book like that?

He is incredibly lucky to now have such an item in his possession, but the only way most of the rest of us are going to get a book like that is to make it ourselves. We probably won’t be able to go back as far in the lineage, and we certainly won’t have first-hand accounts of anyone who lived more than 100 years ago, but we can take what we know now and begin the book.

It’s the old adage of “publish or perish” that most genealogists have heard time and time again. We need to create the book ourselves so that future generations will have the information to look back on.

Can you imagine how the genealogist of your family in 100 years’ time might feel when they want to know more about their family history and they find the book that you create today?

So I have a new idea in mind for how to go about this. It’s an old project that has had a few starts, but maybe this will be the one that works out and finishes. (Not that genealogy research is ever finished, but the others never came very close.) I want to combine a blog, the coolest features from my genealogy wiki, and hopefully incorporate the genealogy database I already have to create a new web site. I want to entice my relatives to leave their own stories as comments, and be able to reasonably easily publish all of the information in a printed book or PDF. Oh yes, I have a lot of programming to do.