Well, I did today! I share this experience because it might be helpful to some one out there and it might foster a laugh, if nothing else because it happened to me and not to you!
I have been working on Susan’s project. This is a very interesting project with the ultimate goal of self publishing a family book. I was determining the parents of one of Susan’s ancestors. the known ancestor had a common surname but an uncommon given name. I easily found her exactly in the county she should be in and I proceeded to enter the data, and enter the data, and enter the data…..census after census, until I discovered that this ancestor showed up in an early census with her parents when she was supposed to have been married! I started looking and discovered there were two women with the same given and surname, in the same county born two years apart (certainly within the guesstimate gauge of the censuses). And, of two choices, I had picked wrong. I had tied Susan’s ancestor to the wrong person. OUCH.
It was relatively easy to fix but it was a bit of a “reveille” for me. I need to be more careful with every ancestral relationship.
Susan would like to have a book. I have recently published the Jens T. Dahle project. It took me many hours. I want to develop a method for setting the graphic standard and putting the book together in as short a time as reasonable.
Here are some ideas that I will use:
- don’t let the book that must be written quickly be the first one. I took a long time (months) with book number one. Almost wrote the whole thing in landscape orientation before rewriting the whole book in portrait
- do a “story board,” where you lay out each page in draft form so you get the idea of what data you are missing and what you have.
- come up with a graphic scheme that is pleasing to your client and live with it.
- leave lots of “air” for readability and last minute add ins. The Jens book is the most densely written of any of my three. At the end I added four pages at the front.
- focus on what information you have, not on what you do not have. In my first book, I had a lot of original BMD information from Sweden. I used that. The second book, I only had access to transcriptions and so I built the book around a letter the ancestor had written about the immigration experience (yes, the letter still exists, all 37 pages of it, written in 1865.)
- follow the KISS principle
I would love to hear your ideas. If you can help me be more efficient with my time to get a quality ancestral book written, let me know.
You can see the Jens book on lulu.com. Here is the link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?keyWords=Jen+dahle&categoryId=100501
Done since the last post: Wrote up two more contracts for work. Listened to two webinars, “Putting Flesh on the bones” (an interesting case study) and one on German research (very elementary. I was hoping for a higher level presentation.); worked on Susan’s project and ordered some films from the FHL for Mary’s project. Sent the Jens book to Mary just in time for her to take it with her to her family reunion. They found a death date I had missed on Jens’s Dad. Good job, Mary and Paul!