But I try to get in some time to work on genealogy. I see myself picking up the pace again when my daughter is older, and my husband has completed his education and returned to work. For now, I will do it when I can - maybe once a week.
Yesterday I blogged about how we approach the family tree - do we concentrate on one specific ancestor at a time, "climb" the tree one branch at a time, or tackle everybody and try to round up all we can on each person?
Of course, what you are looking for in each instance are resources that confirm names, dates, places, and more.
Most people start out with notes gathered through conversations with family members, particularly older family members. From there, we pursue vital records, censuses, newspaper articles, cemeteries, directories, court records, land records, pension records (my personal favorite), and so much more.
Maintaining accurate records of the sources consulted, whether they yielded results or not, is important. This is particularly useful when you are chasing a brick wall ancestor. Knowing you researched Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 several times, recording the different name spellings you used, and keeping track of the dates you searched the database will keep you from duplicating your efforts and wasting your time. Also, keep track of the dates of conversations with family members, either by dating your notes or saving emails. I keep printed copies of emails, as well as copy them to Word and save them in the relevant surname folder.
This is just basic research know-how for most genealogists, but a beginner might underestimate the usefulness of recording all resources searched - even those that yielded nothing. Everything is worth noting. Better safe than sorry, so go ahead and over-document those resources.
Copyright (c) 2013 Wendy L. Callahan