Thursday, 22 January 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 3: The Research Log - Use It!

Now that we are in the third week of Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over, I feel able to sit back and review exactly what it is that I intend to put into it - and get out of it.  I have been able to read many other people's Facebook comments and blog posts, and compare and contrast (remember those English essays in school? LOL).  And I am surprised - so many people have not cited their sources at all.  Ever.  OK, my online tree at FamilySearch is barely sourced. My online tree at WikiTree is only 90% sourced.  But my tree in my genealogy program at home is sourced to within an inch of its life!

So many people complained about the IGI, how the information on there was Very Suspect Indeed (verging on the completely wrong).  When I started my genealogy with the Church over 35 years ago, you had to have PROOF in your hot little hand, and two independent verifiers to check your work before it could go anywhere and do anything.  So I started with Prove It First tattooed across my brain.  And Cite It Second was a close runner-up.  So that part of the Do-Over does not churn up any fears for me.

What I am going to have to do is follow a Research Log.  A checklist.  A streamlined procedure.  I have always taught my genealogy students to avoid the 'scattergun approach' like the plague, but haven't followed my own advice.  Physician, heal thyself.  My research procedure (and thought process) went like this:

In Theory
Goal: Find Aunty Mary's birth registration.  Note it down (with source).  Send for the birth certificate.
Place: FreeBMD and GRO.

In Practice
Goal: Do some Genealogy.
Place: Wherever life takes me.
Go to FreeBMD, find Aunty Mary's birth registration, note it down (with source).  And while I'm here...Find birth registrations for all her brothers and sisters.  And parents.  And spouse.  And his parents.
Remember that funny anecdote about Uncle Freddie. Open word processor.  Type it out.
Check Uncle Freddie's "To Do" list.  Oh yes, I was going to go to another site to find his death information.  Go to other site.
Check Facebook for new Do-Over posts.  That one looks good, telling everybody about a new World War One site.
Go to WWI site.  Remember a cousin 4 x removed who might be on the site as well.  Yes, he is.  Note him down (with source).  Wonder if he was in the newspaper?  Open FMP site, search for him.  Yes, he was.  Download clipping.
Hmm...clipping.  Wonder if there were any new free books on Evernote today?  Back to Facebook; yes, there were: go to Amazon.  Author of new book is called Smith.  I have a Smith in my family tree.
Go to Sarah Mahelia Smith (3 x great grandmother).  Search for her in all censuses to firm up her background.
And so on.  (Whatever happened to Aunty Mary?)

So my Do-Over is going to be a Do-Over of methodology.  I need to streamline my research procedure; create a checklist.  Like going shopping - it goes easier and quicker if you have a shopping list and stick to it.  My problem is that I love making lists, but rarely stick to them.  (Hmmm.  I saw a fantastic 'genealogy checklist' on Facebook...)

Enter the Research Log, where I can keep in one place a) what I want to do, b) what I did, and c) what I found.  Just love those spreadsheets.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved


  1. Just reading here gives me so many ideas of what to do

    1. Glad to hear it - as long as you weren't thinking of following my 'bad' research techniques! LOL

  2. LOL. I can relate to this method of research of practicing research. I'm determined to get better!

  3. So am I! and I think we'll make it - along with Thomas MacEntee's Research Log...

    Thanks for stopping by!



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