Resolution – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

This is week 52 in our 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project for 2018. Time to look back on the year and to look forward into next year.

Resolution is our theme. I thought about taking this as a chance to talk about someone who demonstrated resolve and stalwartness.  I think instead, I will stick to the idea of a Resolution for myself in the new year.

Even though I began this project partway through the year, it has been a great experience.  I look forward each week to putting together a short piece about some ancestor.  But, this has helped me see what in my research needs some attention.  So, I am going to make a few Genealogy Resolutions for the New Year.

I am counting on all of you to help keep me accountable on these and helping me to track my progress. But, I will try to use some of the project management tools we use at work. I just went to Scaled Agile training and thought about that, but it’s too much trouble. I took a look at Trello and am not feeling that, either. So, technology isn’t the way to make this happen. Just Resolve, I guess.

I expect many of us who have ever had to do goal-setting have heard that we need to have S.M.A.R.T. goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Take a look here for more information on S.M.A.R.T. goals. I’m going to stick with that method. I also think that the closer the time horizon is, the more specific the goal needs to be. As you get farther out, you can be a little more nebulous.

I’m going to group these goals into categories. So, here we go:

Community Participation

  • Participate in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks for 2019. My schedule is to publish these blogs on Fridays. Update Facebook and Twitter with new posts. Timeframe: all year
  • Participate in Wordless Wednesdays. My schedule is to publish these on Wednesdays. Update Facebook and Twitter with new posts. Timeframe: all year
  • Start attending a local genealogical society’s meetings and find a way to get more involved.  Cobb County Genealogy Society may be a good fit. They meet the 4th Tuesday of the month. Timeframe: Attend first meeting in January or February.

Archives and Organization

My archives closet

Just for context, here’s my archive closet. I also have a lateral file in my office, another couple of shelves of books, and another big stack hidden in a window seat. All of the chaos is hidden, but it’s there.

  • Inventory archival supplies on hand. I know I have a lot of sheet protectors and folders and maybe some empty archival boxes. Timeframe: by 1 Jan 2019
  • Make sure all documents are in archive folders to protect them. Label folders. Timeframe: at least two boxes per month, starting in January.
  • Sort photos and documents into boxes grouped by family line. Most are grouped already, but there are several boxes labeled just “Incoming”. Timeframe: at least two boxes per month, starting in January. Concurrent with folders.
  • Finally scan wedding pictures. It’s only been 22 years. Timeframe: Complete before 28 April 2019 (the anniversary of our engagement).
  • Settle on an organizational scheme for digital and scanned photos and documents.  I have thus far mostly grouped photos by large family groups, or by who gave them to me.  This isn’t working for many anymore as some of these groups have grown to nearly 2000 images.  This is going to have several sub-steps:
    • Determine folder organization. Timeframe: by 31 March
    • Determine naming scheme. Timeframe: by 31 March
    • Determine scheme for tagging photos and documents for easier searching. Timeframe: by 31 March
    • Select one group for a test and copy it into the new scheme. Timeframe: by 31 May
    • Test for two months to see if it works. Timeframe: by 31 July
    • If successful, apply the scheme to the rest of the documents. Timeframe: by 31 December 2019
  • Be sure all documents and photos in the closet are actually scanned. This includes rescanning things scanned at low resolutions. Identify people in photos or determine that their identity needs to be researched. Even if the whole workflow isn’t finalized, they can go into the incoming queue. Timeframe: one box per month, starting in April.
  • Scan Grandmother’s photo album that I never scanned. Timeframe: complete by 28 Feb 2019

Research Goals

This is actually the hard part. All the rest of my goals are organizational or about participating. These are the hard research questions. You have to keep doing research in order to have interest in the rest. I think this might be more modest. I have to decide what walls to bang my head against. After thirty years, all you have left are brick walls, I think.

  • Secret Project #1 – Timeframe: 31 January
  • Secret Project #2 – Timeframe: 28 February
  • Connect with Sartain DNA match from Ancestry to try to find out about Mary J. Sartain. Timeframe: 1 May
  • Identify lineage societies that I or my family could join. Detail necessary descent. Select one and apply. Timeframe: 30 June
  • Document and prioritize current list of open research questions. Timeframe: 1 April

So, there it is. Seems sort of aggressive, but it’s time to get things under control. I have been thinking of pursuing certification as a Certified Genealogist in a few years. To do that, I need to get better about my organization and methodology. I am counting on all of you to keep me accountable to these goals. I’ll post updates as I go along as to how I am doing.

Here’s to a great 2019! Happy New Year!

Author: Scott Dickson

I've been doing family history research since the late 1980s. Almost all of my family came into the southern colonies and worked there way across the South. Lately, I've started to look at my wife's New England, Irish, and French Canadian ancestry. My tree is online at

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