Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Keeping A Research Log

Okay, let me see a show of hands here....How many of you have ever been surfing through online resources or books and came across a juicy mention of an ancestor and became so excited that you immediately recorded the information, documented it and got the citation correct. You were so excited to put it into your genealogy program, and suddenly.. you are gobsmacked! (yeah, I know, that Appalachian gal and Irish/English/Scot gal sometimes gets all mixed together and I come out with a singular phrase that no one in America recognizes, except the old timers in the mountains, or the English. Like "gobsmacked".) There before you, clearly your own entry in your genealogy program, is the exact same information, from the exact same source!

Yeah, that's what I thought! Everyone has their hand raised!!!

Yes, we've all done it. And that's the precise reason why you should keep a research log. I keep one on each individual in my program. Why? Well, before I go either busily copying by hand, or paying for a copy at the library or courthouse, I check my research logs to see if I already have the same information on that particular individual. No need in looking and doing all of that if I already have it!

I know some individuals however, who if they are looking into a source where they know they've already looked before, won't look for that person again. Well, anyone who has been doing this for very long won't mind telling you it's okay to take a second look! Or even a 3rd or a 4th! I've found information several times after I thought I'd exhausted the source before! So it never hurts to look again.

The waste comes when you copy down the same info again and again. By keeping a research log, this will help you eliminate that, and give you time to look elsewhere for new info!

I have a 6-inch research log, which contains everyone in my tree. Each individual has their own Research Log. (For time, I simply alphabetize this binder's pages.) It makes for a bulky addition when going to a courthouse or historical society to do research in my backpack. But one that has saved me countless quarters in a copier, or many dollars for a vital record.

Yes, I'm probably known as the "bag lady" when they see me coming! My backpack is a regular large daypack, with bright neon yellow trim (in case I become lost amongst the stacks of books or records, rescuers will be able to find me in the dark!). Seriously, keep a research log. You can save the pdf or Word Doc file of a really nice one over at Family Tree Magazine (this is where I have received ALL of my research forms absolutely free). While there, you can also read and download several books that will be of invaluable assistance to researching your ancestry. There are even classes you can take! Books you can purchase! And they have an awesome magazine that comes out every other month!

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