Daunted by the Magnitude. Need a Plan.

+11 votes
I'm starting Week 4 in WikiTree, trying to figure out where to focus my efforts.  I've profiled all of my direct ancestors, until they either connect to Yggdrasil or hit the wall. Everybody here has been helpful and supportive, way beyond expectations.  Thanks and thanks again!


My problem: I have in my Ancestry tree thousands more relatives with sources.  I find I can only create and transfer source info for about three profiles per hour.  I have randomly profiled some distant aunts/uncles/cousins that attracted my interest as I went along, but I need a better plan.  How and where best to apply my limited time and patience adding people for the most benefit to WT and to me?  I'd love to hear how others approached this issue, and whatever advice and suggestions you can offer.  Many thanks!
in Genealogy Help by Herbert Tardy G2G6 Pilot (581k points)
It does feel daunting at times when you have thousands in your tree, Herbert.  Especially for someone like me who does descendancy work as well in order to match easier with DNA matches.  But unless you are on a time crunch of some sort, I would suggest taking as much time as you need.  Nearly a year later, I am still adding family to WikiTree, but at least my main ancestors are in the tree and I am well connected.  :-)
Aren't we all under a time crunch of some sort, Emma?  My 'three score and ten' approacheth rapidly!  Just looking for a way to prioritize.  :)
Oh, yes, Herbert, I feel that time crunch every day.  Once you have had cancer, you feel like you are in a race with time.  I hear you!  

But by time crunch, I meant I had a message from someone who was about to lose a paid membership and thus all of his data if he didn't upload it into WikiTree this month.  That kind of time crunch.   :-)
It's the same time crunch, without the 'this month' urgency (fingers crossed).  My paid subscription, which holds basically all of my work, freezes when it lapses.  The data will still be there, but no one will be able to edit it or (I think) download it.  Eventually it would become just another Ancestry Tree 'source.'  :(  None of my younger relatives seems interested in taking it over.  Hence WT (among other benefits).
Wish I could help you.  Best wishes!

6 Answers

+6 votes
Have you not run into an ancester that someone else already entered?
If you are entering them by generation, i.e. parents, then grandparents, then ggp, then gggp... maybe try entering in surname order. Going back in time this way, you are bound to run into a tree that already exists, and you'll realize that you have far work ahead of you than you thought.
by Dana Burns G2G5 (5.6k points)
Exactly what I would suggest Dana.  I would add the main people in each line first and the spouses, and other children later.
Absolutely!  Four generations in, give or take, I encountered existing profiles.  Most of those existing profiles included only one or two of the ancestor's known children (including the one I just connected).  Completely understandable if other members did what I did and only entered direct ancestors.  So that suggests one strategy, of adding the omitted siblings to each generation.

Or, if I understand your suggestion, pick a surname, profile the most recent cousin with that name, and work that person's direct ancestors back in time until they connect.  Hmmm.  Thanks!
In theory, the farther in you go, the more connections you will make and the less work for you once you connect.
+8 votes
Hi Herbert, I can identify with you!   I have literally over 100,000 people in my gedcoms none of which will work well with the WikiTree style guide.

So I have chosen, like you, to enter them manually.  What I am doing is this and it is going fairy quickly.  I can get at least 100 done a month and if I really work at it have gotten over 1000 done in a month.  

I first did an Ahnentafel Report (that is the kind that shows your direct line going back.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahnentafel   This gave me all my grandparents.

That established the base for the branches I would then go back in and fill out.  

So after I got my direct line in I go back and add in the parents, siblings, and children of my grandparents.  Then I fill out that branch before starting another one.  

I also copy the sources onto a word doc that I can copy and paste into the source field.  I do the same with notes.  That way I have a faster way of filing in the profile.  

Hope that helps!
by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (651k points)
That does help, Laura.  It seems you committed to systematically doing them all.  100/month is about 5/day, taking a day off now and then, which is pretty consistent with my 3/hour rate.  I followed a scheme similar to yours for my direct ancestors, working with my pedigree on Ancestry in one window, and WT in another.  It is (kind of) possible to copy source citations from Ancestry and paste them, so that speeds things up some.  I usually keep another window open with FamilySearch to substitute their citations when possible.

My post was about cherry picking high value targets, which maybe is not the best idea in the long run.  I might do better by following your example and working through everybody in systematic fashion.  Eat the elephant one bite at a time.  Thanks very much!


And y'all, please call me Herb!
+5 votes

There is no right answer.  At some point you will almost certainly accept the idea that you will not be able to add all the material you have. (I have over 60,000 records in my personal files most of it well documented - so I recognize the problem.)  The obvious first steps are to be sure all direct ancestors have been entered back as far as you can.  Hopefully some lines will meet up with others.  Next focus on finding DNA cousins and fill those lines in.  Adding 3 per hour is pretty fast if you are verifying sources as you go and following up on things you see as you enter them.  I probably average about 1 per hour.  Chasing the DNA can be even slower but very valuable.  Based on your bio you are still working - so focus on what is interesting.  Leave notes on what to followup on - look into personal categories as one method.  Remember they will all be waiting for you when you get back to them.
by Philip Smith G2G6 Pilot (275k points)
Thanks, Philip.  Yes, 3/hour applies mostly to the easy ones within the last 150 years or so, where I already have a birth and/or death certificate, a few censuses, a marriage license, etc - really just straight transcription.  Some take longer, but that usually results in added value and new knowledge.  Those are more fun and interesting, anyway.
+5 votes

You could download all your data into a GEDCOM. You'll get lots of data which is better than none. Then upload it on your own computer using a program like GRAMPS:


by Pat Credit G2G6 Pilot (145k points)
+2 votes

Like many of your responders, I added my direct line ancestors either as far as I knew or until they connected to the tree. I was able to do it with a GEDCOM but wish I hadn't as I'm still cleaning up.

I've decided that the next step for me will be to go through my home files and add anything that I have which is unique (ie, not found in a big name database). Because I started genealogy before computers made it possible to get images, etc., I have a LOT of source documentation. Some of it is available online now. Some of it is not and may never be. I'm going to concentrate on getting those things online and associated profiles created.

My reasoning is that I have no one coming after me. When I'm gone, I don't expect anyone to want the funeral book of my ex-husband's paternal uncle who died before he could marry. But that book is full of notes about who was married to whom, the parents names of Mrs George Black, etc. They're not official records but they're full of clues. Without those clues, I wouldn't have found some of the documents I've found.

My source citation for all documents read something like:

Valentine Smith Reunion Programs, all years. Currently in possession of Martha Helms. Includes names, birth, and death dates of family members from 1823 to 1957; Smith Family Files. Privately held by Debi McGee Hoag, WikiMail. Leesburg, Florida.

by Debi Hoag G2G6 Pilot (299k points)
+2 votes
I was in the same boat as to where to go next.

My solution (based on thinking about immigration in the news and a memorable trip to Ellis Island with extended family) is to identify and target my research on all my immigrant ancestors and their immediate families.

I had read on g2g that most people know the names of their immigrant ancestors but tend to hit a brick wall with finding records back home. I have found this to be true.

I am listing every direct ancestor who made an immigration journey in a spreadsheet, as well as whether I know their parents' names, whether there are sources, whether their profiles have a list of their kids, and how many of those kids have profiles. I have a few other columns such as approximate date of immigration, do I know the ship name, where did they immigrate from and to, do they fall under a project like PGM, New Sweden, New Netherland, etc. On a separate tab, I have all my U.S. brick wall ancestors listed. Having a sortable list of these locations has made it much easier when I have only one day at an historical society to blitz research everyone I can.

I just finished going back on my grandmother's side and know the names of 61 of her immigrant ancestors. If you're curious about this method, PM me for a link to the spreadsheet. Happy trails to you.
by Heather Husted G2G6 Mach 5 (54.9k points)
Thanks, H!  I have four Irish immigrant ancestors, who came in the mid-19th century (probably because of the famine).  For them, as you said, my brick wall is more of a 'sea wall.'  With one exception, I don't even know for sure which port they entered.  So your system could help with them.

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