RESEARCH TIPS AND THE GENEALOGY LIBRARY NEWS
JANUARY 27, 2013
Last week’s column offered encouragement to those new to genealogical research and hopefully a refresher for those actively searching. When you begin your research, family historians become swamped with paper, filing and data entry. Organizing your research technique and correcting sloppy record keeping is necessary. Here are a few tips to help you in the New Year.
Keeping current as to online data collections and improving your educational skills is foremost. Two major online databases are FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com. Check weekly for recent additions to their collection. These sites also offer free classes and newsletters, both necessary for keeping current. Join a local genealogical or historical group and practice the art of “networking.” Attend a seminar, workshop or conference. It is necessary to learn new research avenues and techniques. I set aside the last day of the month to learn something new about my computer, data entry or word processor, or online resource. I have done this since I first began to use computers. It has always been rewarding.
Prepare your attack. Define your goal and make a blueprint of where to start, information necessary to collect, people to interview and define, purchase or download a genealogical program. It is necessary to keep track of each person and generation in your family investigation.
If you already use a genealogical database, then check for errors and additions. Check your sources to be sure you have entered them accurately. The newer programs of today practically write the citations for you. Keep up with the updates. Be careful about changing to new databases as you can lose data unexpectedly.
Make a schedule for backing up your data and computer. Loss of data is tragic and labor intensive.
Too often, I hear researchers exclaim that they waited too long to interview a subject. When a source dies, it is like losing an entire archive.
Scour family and their neighbors for pictures. Photograph the photos and the interviewee.
Ask permission to record the interviewee using audio or video. Be sure to date each interview.
At some time, we all experience a blockage in our research. We refer to these as “brick walls.’ Set aside a time each month to explore a new resource for breaking through those walls. Maybe you can only spare a few hours or just a day.
Before you continue to ignore publishing, you need to consider how it would benefit your family by telling their story. I try to pen each generation as I conclude its research. I can look back on this research and evaluate the quality later. Sometimes I find clues I had not seen at the time. I find this as productive as writing a research report. Nevertheless, if you record your findings after each research, and are only a weekend researcher, you will have only to read it to know what you researched, what you found and didn’t find, and what document you ordered as a result of your findings.
I hope you find the above research tips helpful and learn to practice refreshing your skills, organize your files, and keep abreast of what is happening in the genealogical community. And don’t forget to publish.
SAR MEETS IN FEBRUARY: The Sons of the American Revolution meet at 6 p.m. for dinner. The program begins promptly at 7 p.m. at Outback Steakhouse on February 5. The topic and slideshow presented by speaker Don Gross is the Mexican-American War, 1846-1848.
THE GENEALOGY LIBRARY IS FIVE YEARS OLD: Congratulations to The Genealogy, Local History, Texana, and Archives Collection for it opened at the W. O. Haggard library five years ago on January 26. During those five years, the library has grown considerably since its days at Harrington Library. If there are people who have not visited the library, you should come by, congratulate the librarians, and browse through the extended collection. There is always someone there to help you begin your research.
PLANO STAR COURIER AVAILABLE ONLINE AT LIBRARY: A recent addition to the Plano library is the digitized Plano Star Courier newspapers collection from March 21, 2006-current. The library explains “current” means one day behind or the paper from the previous day.
Brenda Kellow has a bachelor's degree in history, teaches, and lectures on genealogy. Before retiring to publish her family’s histories in 2007, Brenda held certification as a Certified Genealogist and as a certified Genealogical Instructor. Send reunion announcements, books to review, and genealogy queries to: TracingOurRoots@gmail.com.