Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Applying Study Tips to Genealogy

These days, school is always on my mind. I am constantly trying to stay on top of all of my classes and not fall behind - which in turn leaves me with very little time for genealogy.

So when I finally tried to do genealogy this weekend, I couldn't escape my study mindset. So I decided to let myself brainstorm to discover what study techniques I can use towards genealogy. Here is what I came up with:

  1. Look for more resources to expand your understanding. You can't fully understand your ancestors without looking at every single piece of information you can get your hands on. One record isn't enough - you need lots and lots of records. That means you need to look at census records, vital records, church records, diaries, local histories, land records, etc. By having more records, you are potentially gathering more leads.
  2. Review, Review, Review. It is so easy to overlook an important clue to the puzzle of your family tree. The only way to make sure that you don't miss that important clue is to review what you have. If you can get another genealogist with fresh eyes to look at your work, all the better.
  3. Get and Stay Organized. If you aren't organized in college, you are going to fall behind very quickly. Make sure that you have a system to organize all the elements of your genealogical life: your paper files, your computer files, your heirlooms, and everything else you are doing. Mind you, this is a lot easier said than done, but in order to be efficient and avoid mistake in your genealogy, you have to be organized.
  4. Be Prepared. If you are going to take a research trip you need to have all of your supplies ready. You should know why you are at the particular library (or archive or cemetery, etc) and have a goal in mind. You should bring any necessary supplies along for the trip with you like a laptop, paper and pens, charts, etc.
  5. Take Good Notes. As you surf the web, study microfilm, or read books, you are going to be taking notes on what you find. It is important that you write down the details that apply to your family tree and any identifying information about the website, book, or reel of microfilm you are looking at - this makes it possible for you to find this resource again in the future.
  6. Ask for Help. Sometimes, you just need to ask for help - and that isn't something to be ashamed of. In this case you could hire a professional genealogist or ask a trusted friend for advice.

As you can tell, I just can't get school or genealogy off my mind - so I combined the two!


Janet Iles said...

Elyse. These are all great tips.

geneabloggers said...

Very good advice Elyse - for those new to genealogy as well as old timers like me. I like the part about "a second set of eyes" especially - it is amazing what you can't see right in front of you until another genealogist helps and looks at it from another angle!