The Gross-Steinberg Family Tree presents:
Genealogy Research Advice
by James Gross
The following item is probably going to be the most useful article
that you will read regarding genealogy,period. Hope you like it!
from the web...
If you're like most genealogists, you keep telling yourself you're going
to get organized -- tomorrow, or course. Right after you track down
great-grandmother's parents. Good intentions seem to afflict genealogists,
who often are almost hopelessly buried in piles of data (electronic and
paper) and projects.
A few years ago, I decided I had to simplify my genealogy goals in
an attempt to complete several projects I had bubbling on the proverbial
back burner. I had spread my interests too wide and was like someone on a
treadmill -- working like the devil but not going anywhere. I learned the
hard way that I cannot do justice to researching dozens of family lines at
once. I decided to pick a few lines that I most wanted to work on, compile
what I had already done on some, and put the others aside, temporarily, of
Eventually my pile was whittled down to five families (still too
many, but one can only get organized so much). Reflecting back over what
I was able to accomplish -- and still work full-time -- I am pleased to
report that less can be best.
Here are some suggestions that might help you re-focus on your
-- Which ancestor do you most want to find? Put him or her down as
No. 1 on your ``MUST FIND'' list. Focus on that individual.
-- Which families do you have the most information on? Research
(also known as ``the chase'') is the fun part, but there comes a time
when we should compile what we have gathered. It will surprise you to
discover how much information you actually have. Arrange your data. Go
back through the files --you'll probably find some answers that you've
overlooked. Spend some time inputting into your genealogy software, or
put it into a written form others can understand and build upon should you
not be around to see what happens to our computers on January 1, 2000.
-- What documentation is needed most? You believe your John is the
son of William, but you need more evidence? Focus on what records might
exist that could provide this information. Perhaps you need to do some
additional search on John's siblings. Focus on finding and studying
the records that most likely will answer the questions.
-- Which family line do you want to focus on for the rest of his
year? Pick one -- only one -- and call it your ``family of the year.''
Splatter the electronic boards and Internet with your interest in this
particular family. Let the world know about this family --not just your
ancestor, but all his siblings and the in-laws. There's cousins out there;
-- Divide your time between research, analyzing and compiling. You
might spend the rest of this summer doing research -- in the field,
visiting courthouses, libraries and cemeteries or getting acquainted with
cousins at family reunions. When autumn and winter with less-than-perfect
weather arrive, spend some dedicated time analyzing and compiling your
research information. Write reports to yourself. They will reveal the
gaping holes, the data inconsistencies and other problems. Then you will
be ready to plunge into the research with renewed vigor.
Focusing on fewer projects will enable you to accomplish more,
perhaps even complete some. The quality of your work will be better also.
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