I hope by now everyone knows the importance of keeping research logs. However, many of the researchers that do use research logs don’t bother to record internet database searches. I agree that recording every single search you do slows you down but I still think it is necessary.
We will use Find A Grave as an example since it is constantly being updated. I make an entry showing not only the date that I searched but also the parameters I used. This is definitely a database I want to check periodically. I do this for every single search that I do on every single person. I record these as To-Do tasks in Legacy because they are very easy to enter and you can tell Legacy to remind you when you need to do a new search, say, every three months. I don’t have to reenter it. The reminder will show up on the Legacy Home tab. On the Legacy Home tab if you go to OPTIONS > OPTIONS > REMINDER OPTIONS you can change the number of days notice you get for reminders. The default is 14 days.
Chocolate is a rare enough surname that I can just run a search using the surname and then go through the entries one by one. I might even pick up a related Chocolate. I also limited the search to the state of Mississippi since Ghirardelli was born there, married there and lived her entire life there so she is, most likely, buried there. (You guys do know that Ghirardelli Chocolate is a fake person, right?)
I can also update my search criteria. Let’s say I find out that Ghirardelli visited her sister Melted Chocolate over in Louisiana on a regular basis and that Melted was her only living relative. I could make a note that I expanded my search to include Louisiana. Maybe I find out that Ghirardelli married late in life and her new surname was Pistachio. I would need to update my search criteria. I take the time to record all of this information.
Notice that the first time I did this search was 15 Nov 2014. The next scheduled search is on 15 Aug 2015. Here is a shot of the Results tab:
Here you can see the negative searches I have already done. If on August 15th I search Find A Grave and I find Ghirardelli then I can close this task out. I will put what I found on the results tab. I can put a link the memorial and/or the information on the memorial.
I can then add a new To-Do task if I need to request a photograph be taken (if there isn’t one). I will get reminders just to let me know the photo hasn’t been taken yet. On those To-Do’s I also record whether or not I have permission to use the photo once the photo has been taken. I don’t close the photo task out until I know one way or the other whether I have that permission.
I do this for every database I search. For example, I don’t make a To-Do for Ancestry.com but rather I do one for each specific database I accessed on Ancestry.com. I know it sounds time consuming but once you get into a routine it is no big deal.
You can also do this with broader searches not tied to a specific person. This is great for One-Name Studies (ONS). I am going to show you a real one from my ONS file. Internet databases are especially important to ONS and you have got to have a way to keep track of what you have done and when. I make a General To-Do for each database that I search. Here is one for Germany Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898 on FamilySearch:
I have the category as Online Databases so that I can sort them together when I use the filter. I have a couple of other General To-Do categories. These are different than the categories I use for Individual To-Dos.
Here is the Results tab:
You can see how many name variations I searched and now many hits I got on each name. An X means I have entered those hits into my database. This database is a little different in that it is a stagnant one. It probably won’t be updated though I will still check periodically just in case.
Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis