Evaluating Progress

Have you ever looked at a chart or table someone else created to display their genealogy data in a different way and wondered what your own data might look like? For many people, this happened when Paul Hawthorne created a pedigree worksheet color coded by birth location.

Well, today, genealogist Yvette Hoitink published a way to color code one’s research progress in her blog, Six Levels of Ancestral Profiles – Level Up Challenge.

Basically, she used the numbers on an ahnentafel chart to create a spreadsheet. Then, she color coded each person based six levels of research progress.

Using her blog as a guide, I decided to see what my research progress looked like. Even though there is no ‘fine line’ dividing some of these levels from another, I simplified my levels to the following:

  • Level 0 – No Information – no color
  • Level 1 – Names Only – pink
  • Level 2 – Vitals – orange
  • Level 3 – Family / Census – purple
  • Level 4 – Between the Dash – blue
  • Level 5 – Exhaustive Research – torquoise
  • Level 6 – Biography – green

Below is my color coded ahnentafel using the above levels.

Below is my dad’s side of the above chart. I used their ‘ahnentafel’ number instead of their name so the chart would stay compact. (See Wikipedia article for info on ahnentafel numbers.)

Followed by my mother’s side of the chart.

This chart helps me see where I need to do more research. The following images turn the numbers of my 7th generation into names.

I wasn’t surprised by my results. However, this visualization will help identify future research goals.

2020 Stats / 2021 Goals

In my last years of teaching, our career and technical education instructors were learning to use ‘Smart Goals’ for their program improvement plans. A ‘Smart Goal‘ is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.

Unfortunately, I haven’t applied my knowledge of ‘Smart Goals’ to my genealogy. If someone asked me what my goal has been for the past couple of years, my answer would be find the parents of my ancestor, James Crawford. This goal is specific. It is measurable in that I either find them or I don’t. Since James Crawford is one of my brick walls, I would say it is a relevant goal. After about 40 years of genealogy research, much of it spent figuring out my Crawford lineage, I’m beginning to wonder if this goal is attainable. And it definitely isn’t time based.

Even though I haven’t met that goal, I feel like I have made progress. I definitely know more about the Crawford and related families that were in early Garrard County, Kentucky. However, this progress is difficult to measure. My RootsMagic and Ancestry Tree statistics do show growth, but not specifically toward this goal.

20192020
RootsMagic People1439218180
RootsMagic Families47825836
RootsMagic Events4160055042
RootsMagic Places47247233
RootsMagic Sources41284758
RootsMagic Citations5669071098
Ancestry Tree: People1390717659
Ancestry Tree: Photos798613198
Ancestry Tree: Records865712269

Since I tend to post my findings on my blog, the number of posts should reflect my progress. In 2019, I published 265 posts. In 2020, I only published 60 posts. I think that decline in posts reflects the loss of focus the pandemic brought to my research and especially to my blogging.

To help me get back on track, I’ve started working on some specific, measurable and attainable goals:

  • Continue posting narrative reports for my 2nd great grandparents with the goal of posting one a month
    • Clean up sources
    • Verify that sentences read correctly
  • Continue documenting DNA ThruLines for my 3rd great grandparents and document any new ThruLines for grandparents thru 2nd great grandparents
    • Continue updating descendancy research for these ancestors
    • Post a descendancy list report
  • Begin documenting Crawford families in Montgomery County, Virginia from its formation to at least 1820 using resources available on the web and posting my findings
    • land records
    • tax records
    • vital records
  • Learn to use RootsMagic 8
    • Continue working with a small file on the preview program
    • Report issues as I encounter them
    • As new updates are released, re-test previously reported issues
    • Figure out a ‘citation naming’ protocol to use when I transfer my genealogy file
    • participate in the Facebook group and any applicable forum

Instead of adding more goals, I’m going to stop here in hopes that I can attain these goals.

Setting Goals

It’s the new year and time for resolutions. Right? Or, if you are like me, you’ve given up on resolutions. I gave up on ‘New Years Resolutions’ quite a while ago. Like many people, one of the reasons I quit making resolutions was because I didn’t keep them. However, looking back, I think another reason is that we perceive a ‘New Year’s Resolution’ as a declaration to change something about our lives.

Instead of making resolutions to ‘change,’ I want to set goals for things I want to accomplish – particularly with my genealogy research. Before writing goals for 2020, I thought I’d look back at my previous goals to see how well I’ve done. 
And guess what – I would receive a failing grade for goal setting in 2019 because I can’t find any goals for 2019. However, I did find that I wrote goals for 2018

  • Get my tree indexed on Ancestry!
  • Reduce number of shaky leaves on Ancestry
  • Use RootsMagic’s link to FamilySearch to add sources for my direct line ancestors
  • Connect with cousins on Facebook by sharing family photos
  • Blog about my ancestors 
  • SCAN — I still have some photo albums to scan
  • Clean up files (sadly I have duplicates of some photos and others that need re-scanned)
  • DNA — update my spreadsheet of matches
  • Finish doing visual phasing with my brother’s DNA results and then hopefully add a cousin or two 
  • Attend a genealogy conference 
  • Participate in genealogy study groups and round-tables

With two years to accomplish these goals, one would hope that I could report progress. Even though I can report progress on some goals, I don’t have any data to support progress on others and I’ve abandoned other goals.
In terms of progress, I can claim success for the following goals:

  • My Heartland Genealogy tree on Ancestry is indexed and TreeShare with RootsMagic is working great.
  • I have attended the Topeka Genealogical Society’s conference
  • Weather and schedule permitting, I have participated in the DNA Study Group and Brick Wall Study group sponsored by the Topeka Genealogy Society.
  • Until recently taking a detour to work with Ancestry hints, I have been frequently blogging about my findings

Even though I think I’ve been successful with some of the other goals, I have no data to support my feeling of success. For example, I have no idea how many shaky leaves I had at the beginning of 2018, or the number of hints worked. 
In terms of adding sources to FamilySearch, I know I have added some sources. Even though I’m not responsible for adding all of the sources to the individuals in my tree, my tree is gradually turning ‘orange’ to reflect 10 or more sources for each ancestor.


Because of the overwhelming amount of data, I’ve abandoned the DNA related goals. Instead, I’m using the Notes and color coding capabilities for my Ancestry matches to try and keep up with all of this data. 
I do have data to show growth in my RootsMagic database over the past year.

Even though my goals shifted over the past two years, I’m glad I listed them. So, looking ahead, I would like to continue

  • Researching both ancestors and their descendants
  • Blogging
  • Attending the study groups sponsored by the Topeka Genealogical Society 
  • Utilizing webinars and YouTube videos to improve my skill set

My dream goal for this year would be a research trip to Eastern Kentucky University and the Lancaster area of Kentucky.
Hopefully, in a year, I can look back and say that I’ve had a successful year and learned a lot.