Spring Cleaning My Genealogy

Spring is here! It’s time to open the windows, breathe some fresh air, and take a walk around your favorite cemetery to stretch those brick-wall-busting muscles after a dreary winter. The tradition of “spring cleaning” is present in many cultures including Iranian New Year, Passover, and Easter. Over time we have begun to associate the fresh growth of the season with a fresh and clean home. In between vacuuming and laundry why not work in some spring cleaning of your genealogy?

I decided to tackle my spring cleaning by making a list of 10 “chores” to do for each ancestor that would help get the dust bunnies out of my tree so it would be ready for new growth. These small tasks were focused on improving what I already have in my tree. I was not trying to do more research but instead trying to remedy places where good research habits had slipped and permitted errors and duplicates to nest in my family tree. The first 8 tasks were written with my Ancestry tree in mind.

After writing my checklist, I made a list of 10 ancestors I wanted to clean up. The selection process was randomly clicking through the distant generations of my tree and choosing the last people in a line. I focused on the upper branches, early ancestors, people that I have added recently and don’t have a complete profile for. Unfortunately it took a lot longer than I was expecting to get through the checklist for each person and I only made it through 5 people this week, but I am determined to get through the other 5 next week. I kept track of my stats for the first five so here are the results of my spring cleaning:

  1. Make sure dates are standardized. – 0 changes (These were good, but those date formats in FindAGrave hints can be pesky!)
  2. Make sure places are standardized. – 10 changes
  3. Review any hints. – 24 hints accepted or deleted
  4. Check relationships for duplicate spouses or children. – 0 changes (I know some of these are lurking in my tree, but not here!)
  5. Add or fix profile images. – 1 change
  6. Add or revise fact descriptions. – 11 changes
  7. Declutter “alternate” facts. – 0 changes (When I first started my tree this was a big problem for me. I guess I’m getting better at it.)
  8. Verify that all documents have been downloaded. – 16 documents downloaded
  9. Clean up their FindAGrave profile. – 0 changes (Mostly these people are too distant to have extant headstones, but it doesn’t hurt to check.)
  10. Sync profile changes to RootsMagic. – 30 changes synced

That makes a total of 92 changes across 5 ancestors that required no new research but have greatly improved the quality of my family tree! That’s quite a motivating number. I’m looking forward to knocking out the next five this week.

Have you thought about ways to apply the spring cleaning spirit to your genealogy? Share your methods in the comments!

3 thoughts on “Spring Cleaning My Genealogy

Add yours

  1. I’ve been trying to do the same thing…but my files need a lot of cleaning…I’m trying to amalgamate three different Family History folders *sigh*… and it’s proving to be a bigger challenge than I had anticipated.

  2. I was pushed to your blog by Randy Seaver. I loved this article about spring cleaning. I better get busy on my ten steps and then go check out your Planning and Organizing post. Have you written anything about RootsMagic? I don’t see a way to search for it.

    Thanks for blogging, Judith Culver, Ferndale, WA

    PS. It sounds like you have a dream job. Congratulations!

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