It’s back! I’ve turned my attention back to my How They Do It series and and delighted to present this interview with Lisa Alzo. Lisa is a genealogy writer, lecturer and researcher who is very popular on the genealogy speakers’ circuit–I’ve had the pleasure of hearing her speak on several occasions. Among the many topics Lisa writes and speaks about is organizing genealogy research, so naturally I’ve been drawn to her! Lisa is a specialist in eastern European genealogy and is the author of ten books, including The Family Tree Polish, Czech & Slovak Genealogy Guide and Baba’s Kitchen: Slovak and Rusyn Family Recipes and Traditions, 2nd edition. She’s also written numerous articles for genealogy magazines.
How They Do It: Lisa Also
How long have you been doing genealogy?
What’s your favorite thing about being a genealogist?
No matter how long you have been researching, or how many ancestors you have found, there is always someone or something new to discover.
What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to organizing your genealogy?
Filing papers/documents. I am trying to move into a more paperless system.
What is your favorite technology tool for genealogy?
If you were starting out new as a genealogist what would you do differently?
Not start with a female ancestor (I began researching my maternal grandmother) because females are more challenging to trace.
Do you keep a research log? If so, what format?
Yes. I use an Excel spreadsheet.
How do you keep track of clues or ideas for further research?
I create research boards in Trello.
How do you go about sharing your personal research with cousins or other interested parties?
Through my articles and I wrote a book about my family, Three Slovak Women. I write the blog called The Accidental Genealogist (started in 2006).
What’s the most important thing you do to prepare for a research trip?
I use Finding Aids whenever available to learn what materials are available at a library or repository and the procedures for access.
What’s your biggest piece of advice to genealogists in terms of organizing their research?
Break the tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces and find a system that works for you and stick with it.
Do you have a dedicated space in your home for doing genealogy research? What’s it like?
I have a home office because I am self-employed. But, because I travel so much to speak at conferences I often do a lot of my research on my MacBook Air – so my space is really my computer.
Do you have anything to add?
Genealogy is one part skill, one part persistence and one part serendipity. My genealogy motto is: Be serious about your research, but have fun doing it!
I absolutely love that genealogy motto! And I’m intrigued with her use of Trello, which I’m using more and more. Thank you, Lisa, for taking the time to share your insights. You can learn more about Lisa and her work at her website, LisaAlzo.com. Be sure and check out her blog, The Accidental Genealogist as well!