Sunday, August 9, 2015

Behind the Scenes: Pushing Down Field

Bowling Green High School
football squad, 1911
To continue the football metaphors (see On the Moving of Goal Posts), I spent May through July pretty intently focused on simply "doing more research," hoping to get closer to the goal of getting the revised Callin Family History published in 2015. It took me a solid four months to do a "first round" - starting with James 1st, and taking a hard look at each of his descendants to make sure I know everything I can know before moving on to the next.

Now I'm about halfway through the "second round".

My original plan was for this book to come about in four phases:

  1. The Gathering phase - researching any missing facts in the individual records (primarily using Ancestry tools, but also simply Googling for info), and bringing the tree as up to date as legally/ethically possible.
  2. The Editorial phase - generating the text of the book with Family Tree Maker, and systematically going through that, looking for typographical, layout, and minor factual errors.
  3. The Marketing phase - where I focus on reaching out to all of the living family members to let them know a book exists.
  4. The Correction phase - where I gather all of the helpful feedback on the inevitable mistakes I will make in the first two phases, and fix them in future editions for as long as necessary.

I expected to be done with the Gathering phase in April, but here we are. There is a lot more family to gather than I anticipated, and as I get better at finding puzzle pieces to put together, the puzzle gets larger and larger. Just to illustrate how much larger, here is a snapshot from last night, when I synced my Ancestry tree with Family Tree Maker for the first time since the end of May:

From 27 May to 8 August 2015

(If you're interested in exploring this tree while I build it, you should be able to access the public view on Ancestry: Callin Family History - G.W. Callin 1911. I have the privacy settings enabled so that you shouldn't be able to see records for any living people.)

A lot of this information won't likely end up in the book. As I've stated elsewhere, my goal is to report every descendant of James Callin, every spouse, and every spouse's parents - but in order to prove who the spouses' parents are in many cases, I end up adding parents, grandparents, and siblings to the tree. So where you may have a dozen or more individuals in the tree, only three will end up in the book.

I know that sounds like a lot of extra work, but I've committed to doing it because not maintaining that standard is one of the major ways I've found that women end up getting erased from our histories. It is a lot of extra work, but not doing it means that the women in our genealogies end up having too little documented information in the final works for researchers to connect their birth families to their married families. I see it all the time - I honestly don't know who most of my earliest grandmothers are, simply because I don't have any more than their maiden names (and in some cases, I don't even have that much information).

So, that's why I keep pressing on. And I'm hoping that as I post more stories about the people in this family history, you, dear readers, will help me with the "Correction phase" by asking questions, catching mistakes, and reining in my imagination if I project too much.

Eventually, this is going to get published. But first - I have to finish Gathering.

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