Sunday, August 26, 2012

Questions About Research Calendars and Analyzing the Data
Part 1

Before we get into today's questions and answers, I would like to recommend The Legal Genealogist blog to you. This is one of my absolute favs and I am signed up to receive the posts by email. Judy G. Russell, CG, who also hold a law degree, is an expert on anything legal relating to genealogy. I have learned so much from reading her posts and I encourage you to check out her blog.

I received several questions about the Research Calendars and the Analyzing the Data posts. Today I will answer the ones about the Research Calendar and tomorrow about the Analyzing the Data post.

Deb asks:
"Do you really record every single web site you visit when you are doing research? I can look at many in a very short period of time."

Yes I do. If you are checking tons of websites you are not going to remember what you checked a month from now let alone a year from now. Also, websites are updated all the time. I can look back at my research calendar and see that I checked a particular website on a particular day. I might say to myself, "Self, maybe you should go back and check that one again." Two simple examples of this are Find-A-Grave and GenealogyBank. They update frequently and it is a good idea to go back and take another look if you see it has been quite some time since you last checked.

Deb also asks:
"When you find what you are looking for, what do you do with the research calendar?"

That is a great question! Let's say my goal was, "Who did John Doe marry?" I find his marriage license, obtain a copy, enter the info and source it. I suppose I could trash the research calendar but I don't. I have a file on my computer where I store the finished calendars. I do this for a couple of reasons. If I ever need to show the steps I took to find a certain piece of information, I have it. This is important if you ever plan to write a brick wall type article for a newsletter/magazine/journal. If I ever have a similar research problem in the same geographical area I can refer back to this plan to see what all I did which might help me with my new goal.

John asks:
"I use Legacy Family Tree as you do. Why don't you use the To-Do list in the program to keep track of what you have done?"

I love Legacy. I think it is the best program out there (at least for me). However, their To-Do List falls short in one area. Each task is completely separate from each other. You don't have a "list" of tasks for each goal you have. It is possible to group them using the filters but you would have to make sure that your categories are exact and consistent. The setup itself is nice. You have an open date, reminder date, task description, results, and repository with plenty of room to type but I need to see everything I have done on a single goal on a single piece of paper (or screen). I have heard that RootsMagic has more of a traditional research calendar template. I haven't seen it myself so I don't know for sure. Maybe someone can comment about that.

John also asks:
"I don't suppose you know when Legacy Version 8 will be coming out?"

You're kidding, right? That is probably the most closely guarded secret on the planet. I have heard a rumor that it will be later this year but I don't believe anything until I actually see it.

Kristen asks:
I watched the two videos and I just can't see how this is going to save me time! It makes great sense but it seems like a lot of work. Let's say you want a marriage record on someone and you find it right off the bat on Ancestry. Why do you do a calendar for that?

The only thing that will keep you from overlooking something or duplicating your efforts is a systematic approach that leaves a paper trail. I promise you, once you start doing this it will just become part of your routine. Now to your Ancestry example. Here is an example out of my own file.

David McMichael married Sarah Kimbrough on 20 Feb 1789 in Greene County, Georgia. (Hunting for Bears, "Georgia Marriages, 1699-1944," database, Ancestry ( : accessed 09 Sep 2008), David McMichael and Sarah Kimbro.) Of course I wanted the original document since this couple is in my direct line. The Ancestry search was my first entry. My second entry was to check Georgia's Virtual Vault. This website from the Georgia Archives has most of the marriage books online (digital images). Unfortunately, Greene County isn't included though the marriage was listed in their card catalog. My third entry was FHL Film #159051 and #159052 [early Greene County marriage records]. The search showed the marriage in the index but no actual certificate appears on the microfilm. My fourth entry was contacting the the Greene County Probate court. I saved this one for last because Greene County has been uncooperative in the past. The marriage is found in their index but they could not locate the actual license. I can now say I have done and exhaustive search. So why does this couple appear in all of these indexes but there is no bond/license? The Greene County Probate court was the original author of the index. The index the Family History Library and Ancestry has is this original index. Apparently some time after this index was compiled, the original record was lost. This index was compiled in the 1930s according to the courthouse. It also means that the original was lost before the Family History library microfilmed the holdings. You might find what you are looking for on your very first attempt but maybe not.

J. D. asks:
"Couldn't you do something like this in Excel?"

Sure you can. I like Excel but I am by no means an expert. I have seen charts/forms that other people have done in Excel that were just wonderful. I am not that good so a simple chart in Word works for me. I could probably fancy up my Word template too.

Copyright © 2012 Michele Simmons Lewis

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