Posted by Crista Cowan on September 7, 2012 in Family Tree Maker, Site Features, Website

We are headed into the last few months of 2012.  Kids are headed back to school.  Fall is in the air.  And I thought it was a good time to revisit our goals for the year.  If you remember, I shared mine at the beginning of the year.  Some of you shared yours in the comments.

Setting goals provides focus.  And, if anything needs focus, it’s genealogy.  It is so easy – and sometimes fun – to get distracted as we chase down various branches of the family tree.  Reporting on goals you have set provides accountability and keeps you moving forward.  So here is my report:


1. Backup, Backup, Backup

I now use Family Tree Maker 2012 for all my genealogy files.  My main family tree is now synced with my online tree at  This provides one backup.  At the beginning of the year I set a reminder on my calendar to back up my tree to “the cloud” twice a month.  I have done this faithfully.

What haven’t I done yet?  I haven’t given my parents a copy of my files at all this year.  I think I will send them a link right now so they have access to my cloud backup.


2. Get More Family Members Involved

In June I did a Barefoot Genealogist episode and wrote a blog post about sharing your family history.  I have two specific projects (with deadlines) in the works.  I am creating a slideshow of digitized family pictures for my grandmother’s 90th birthday later this month.  And, I have created a maternal only family tree for my cousin who is having a little girl in a few weeks.

I have also created a few more ancestor pages on Facebook, connected with some (previously unknown to me) cousins, and tried to share family stories more often.  I have a lot more ideas brewing but maybe they will make good 2013 goals.


3. Digitize, Digitize, Digitize

After much sorting, my mom took over 1500 slides (from both sets of grandparents) to be digitized.  She has the original DVDs that were created.  We copied them to my computer and also backed them up to the cloud.  I’ve spent the last few months meeting with family members – dad, grandma, great-aunt – to make sure I know who everyone is in each of these old pictures.  Now, we just have to share them with the rest of the family.


4. Make Sure Everything Has A Source

This is probably the goal I have spent the most time working on this year.  I knew it was a huge task.  Sometimes I feel like it will never be done.  However, because I have been working on this, I have pruned over 1200 people out of the family tree over the last few months. I discovered two different branches were there was no documentation to prove a connection and a third where documenting what I had, proved that the connection was wrong.  I think this goal may stay on the list for many years to come.

For those who will ask, I use the notes feature in Family Tree Maker pretty heavily as I work on proving connections in my family tree.  Ancestry Anne has created a couple of videos on sourcing that have helped as well.  You can find them here and here.


5. Respond to Messages

I set a goal at the beginning of the year to spend a little time every Friday going through message I receive from other members. I haven’t done that as consistently as I expected.  I have managed to get through most of the backlog of messages.  The problem? I find that when I start to reply to one message I dig into the family they’ve asked about and I’m off doing more research for hours on end.  I need to learn to reply with what I know and not worry about what I don’t know yet.  Any advice on how to do that?


So, there you have it – my update on my 2012 genealogy goals.  I have a few more things to work on and a few more months left in the year.  That works out well.

For those of you who set goals with me at the beginning of the year, how are you doing?

For those of you who didn’t, it’s not too late.  What would you like to accomplish – genealogically speaking – in the next four months?

Crista Cowan

Crista has been doing genealogy since she was a child. She has been employed at since 2004. Around here she's known as The Barefoot Genealogist. Google Twitter


  1. scwbcm

    I thought that using FTM was backing up my tree. Are you saying that I need to also back it up to “the cloud”? Or is that to accomplish another goal? I am a bit concerned. Why do I need to back things up so much? It is time consuming to spend so much time on these duplication efforts. Time that is taken away from pursuing the research. I will do this if necessary but I am a bit confused by this.

  2. A true backup is off-site and away from your computer.

    Most of my work is done in TMG. I backup and place a copy in dropbox, as well as burn to a DVD which goes to my nephew’s house. I also place my work on Rootsweb’s WorldConnect and Ancestry’s member Trees so I have two places I can get GEDCOMs of my work if needed.

    Granted- this takes a bit of time but not nearly as much time as it would take to start all over again should somethng happen.

  3. Judy

    I promised myself last year that I would keep up with all the “hints”. I have turned off the family trees and still have 1529 people with records totaling 3420 hints. the 1940 census hit me hard!! A daunting task lies ahead for me.

  4. Jacki Richey

    About #5: “I need to learn to reply with what I know and not worry about what I don’t know yet. Any advice on how to do that?”

    It is great that you offer to help people, but don’t do people’s work for them (unless they are paying you.) I suggest that you concentrate on telling the person how to find answers rather than giving them the info. You could also turn on a timer when you start a reply, and when it goes off, end the message. Good luck!

  5. Phyllis Couch

    Concerning the paragraph “Respond to Messages”, I have the very same problem.I will try to remember “Jacki”‘s comment.

  6. Randall Benton

    In reference to creating backups…good idea. I can not imagine having to start all this research over. I need however to learn how to make a “GEDCOM”. Not sure about how this works. As for photo’s as part of my research…I just finished my initial scanning and logging all of my familiies photo, post cards, etc….took a long time but it is done and what a relief!!!

  7. Monika

    This seems to be a hodgepodge of answers to blogs that are not present on that site. Anyhow! What I have discovered, when sharing my data (pictures and documents) with a couple of people who have Family Tree Maker is, that–every time that they “sync” their data–the credit for all the dozens and dozens of pictures and records that I have contributed to their trees is given to the tree owner who synced, and the original contributor of these pictures or records does not show anymore. And that does not apply just to my contributions. You have trees with 40,000 names in it where EVERY picture or document taken from various other trees shows as having been contributed by the tree owner himself (the one who synced). What is it about FTM and the sync ing process that causes that? I really do not believe that these tree owners are doing this on purpose. So there must be some kind of “glitch” in the program!

  8. dee

    Backing Up is really required, as to my husband. I have been told by him, but didn’t take his advice. My Family Tree Maker had about a 1000 people, lots of documents and pictures. Then the fateful day when my Laptop crashed, and I lost it all. I had some info on, but not all, and now I am rebuilding my Family on FTM. Now I will be backing up regulary.

  9. Ida May Noble

    I certainly agree with everything said here in Genealogy Goals: 3rd Quarter Report, a great article.
    I decided this year to create separate family Trees for each direct line, instead of “lumping” everyone together into one huge tree. And of course have found new added information not only at Ancestry, but many other places as well. Regarding backing up,absolutely essential, I have two separate backups at home, also Ancestry, and an off site back up. I agree with Monika’s comment about giving credit where credit is due. In 35 years of research and traveling to hundreds of courthouses, libraries, societies, cemeteries, family members, etc, etc, etc, I would like to get the credit for my passion, an added note here – should I have something to be in error, I want to be the one to immediately correct it. On rare occasions, I have seen some of my original research twisted into something total wrong by someone else. Regarding 4. – Make sure everything has a SOURCE, can not stress enough how important that is. I am in the process of adding “media”, documents and photos pertaining to each person. I would like to say here that I am a little disappointed as to how Ancestry ties documents and photos together in the Media Gallery – documents and photos should be two separate categories in the Gallery, Uncle Joe’s death certificate is not his photo, it’s a document. I didn’t notice soon enough that if you don’t upload media in exact chronological order, it rather a miss-mash. I went through and started uploading death certificates first, then marriages, now Uncle Joe’s death certificate appears before his marriage license. Call me a stickler for time-line order. If Ancestry could create separate categories, one for documents, one for photos this would be fantastic, and be able to move them within these categories in time-line order would be even greater. Is technology today able to do this or is it wishful thinking on my part? Is there anyone else out there that would be interested in this? Again, great article, Thank You!!

  10. Pat Secord

    RE: #15 Ida: I would LOVE it if we could organize photos in whatever order we want. Even if you re-load everything, at some point you run across something else to add, then it’s out of order again. Never thought about the documents/photos being separate. That would be a great option!

  11. Shernan15

    I have so much enjoyed member connect and genealogy in general. It helps me meet other family members, finding info that I may not have, helping others with their research. Being able to connect with people through ancestry’s mail is a great way to get acquainted with others too. UNTIL TODAY, when I discovered someone unknown to me was able to take photo’s of living people from one of my trees, and add it to their tree. When I looked at the family tree view in their tree I had never heard of any of the people in their tree. Photo’s of my grandchildren and neices and nephews, sons and daughters etc. I am absolutely outraged that this is allowed to happen. Who knows what this person will do with these photo’s, sell them to a porn site, utube, facebook? What???? Am I going to have to make my trees “Private”? I didn’t want to do that, I like sharing information with others, but not photo’s of living people, especially children, to those that are not invited to my tree.

  12. skimmyhorn

    I have been researching several lines of my family on Ancestry for about 6 years-I should own the company! 🙂
    This is in reference to #15, Ida. I haven’t added a lot of photos to my tree, as my family didn’t seem to like photography or couldn’t afford it. I treasure one photo my father saved from his mother, showing him at 2 with his father, grandfather and ggrandfather!
    I love looking at others old photos, but when they have hundreds, I have always wondered why there isn’t away to assign them alphabetically or something more convenient.
    #18- I can tell you that if your tree is private, but there is one person who has access to living people and have put photos on their tree, the damage is done. I know this first hand. I have one shirtless photo of a grandfather that is in many trees now. One person copied headstones(I don’t care abt them), but actually gave me credit on every photo. Give credit where credit is due.

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