This year I’ve been having the hardest time figuring out what I want to focus on in my genealogy research sessions. I think part of the problem is that I’ve also had trouble finding time to research, so it’s been more sporadic. And when I do have time, then I don’t know what to work on.
A couple of years ago, I tried focusing on a different line each quarter. That was successful, but this year I’m not researching frequently enough to make that work. Last year, I was really focused on processing and transcribing my ancestors’ Civil War pension files. That was great too, but I’m wanting to mix it up a bit more these days.
I know I need to figure out what I want to focus on during my week at the Allen County Library in August, which means that I feel the need to revisit my ancestors and remind myself of my mysteries.
So I lit on a strategy that, for the moment anyway, is working well for me. (And I also came up with a strategy that’s allowing me to research more frequently–more on that in the next post.) Here’s what I’m doing:
I’m going through all my sources in the Reunion family-tree software, checking the format, and attaching an image of the source to the source entry.
I exported the list of my 300 sources as an rtf file then opened the file in Evernote. I made the type big enough to read easily, then turned it one long bullet list with checkboxes for bullets. One by one, I’m going down the list and looking at each source and at the document that goes with the source. I’m checking the usage of the source. I attach the document as a multimedia file (leaving it on my hard drive in its folder, organized by surname and individual). I’m getting reacquainted with my ancestors. And it’s been really fun.
I’m seeing several benefits to this process:
- I know exactly where to start when I sit down to do research.
- I’m cleaning up some formatting issues, since I became better at source documentation over time (so I’ve been able to make entries more consistent).
- I’m making a list of things to investigate further, which will be helpful in planning my research trip.
- I’m finding things I missed in the source documents the first time around.
- I’m making new discoveries as I go along.
- I get to work on a variety of ancestors every day, which suits me these days.
- I see tangible progress every session.
- I can make progress in just a few minutes, which is great when I don’t have a lot of time to research.
- I’ve found that some electronic files had not been filed correctly and I’ve been able to refile them.
- I end up with a wonderfully organized source list.
- It’s systematic and enjoyable. I love checking off the box when I’m finished with that source!
If I wanted to focus on the sources of a single family, Reunion makes that easy for me. (I just click on “Family” rather than “All” in the sources list.) But for me, right now, mixing up the families by checking the sources in the order in which I entered them is working out nicely.
So far, I’ve checked off 20 of my now-306 sources. (I’ve made a few discoveries in the process, so I’ve added a few sources.) I’ve been doing a little a day for the last five days or so. Clearly it’s not fast work (though it may get faster as my sourcing gets better). But it’s beneficial and enjoyable. Hooray!