Useful Tips

The 1st place to begin your search is right at home.
Establish a record keeping system that works for you.
The basic for organization is developing a filing system. Decide early on how you’ll keep track of all papers.
Keep track of every place you look not just what you found. If you don’t write it down you can end up looking in the same source over and over again without realizing it.
Write down the title and the location of the source with specifics of how you researched it, the date of search and what your results were.
Never take original documents in your travel packet. They can be lost or destroyed. Instead, take copies of anything that you think will be helpful.
Some libraries or archives require that you make an appointment before you come. If you’re visiting a small facility it’s a good idea to let them know that you are coming no matter what.
Whenever possible make a copy of whatever you find.
Advance preparation is the key to effective and successful research, and scheduling your time is essential. Your advance preparation should have identified what you already know and what you want to learn.
You must focus your research attention on one or two specific goals.
It is better to concentrate on one or two individuals whose information can only be obtained at the place you are visiting.
Preparation for any research should begin by gathering and organizing all the information you have already acquired about the individual.
Don’t be satisfied with names and dates only. Learn more about the people and their times. Study the local, regional, and national history of the place where your ancestors lived.
Consider the other persons in your ancestor’s life: parents, aunts and uncles, neighbors and friends. What relationships existed between these people and what influences might these people have had on one another?
Planning a research trip away from home requires advance planning too. You may certainly purchase travel guides. You can also locate individual libraries.
Hours of operation, research policies, reader card requirements, document copy charges, and other details will make your advance preparation easy.
At the conclusion of each day’s research, set aside some time to reassess your progress.
Don’t neglect to write down in detail where you get information, so it can be located again.
The final step to your research is to write a research report. While your research results may be fresh in your mind now they won’t be so fresh in a couple of weeks or months. Instead of flipping through all those documents again all you have to do is read your report.
Creating a digital backup of your ancestor’s journal. Using a scanner create PDFs or TIFF images of individual pages and save them to a CD or another backup data device.
Keeping electronic records on the computer has in many ways overtaken the traditional forms of writing genealogy record keeping but don’t overlook the pen and paper entirely. When you go to some libraries and record archives especially when dealing with very old records laptops aren’t always allowed.
Keep a copy of the letters you send, at least until you get an answer.
Don’t just accept all the family stories without careful investigation.
Don’t limit yourself to the current spelling of the name. Names were spelled phonetically.
Don’t put off visits to elderly relatives.
Siblings sometimes have the same name, so research entire families to avoid accidentally confusing one sibling with another.
Occasionally surnames follow female line. It doesn’t happen very often, but you should be on lookout for the possibility.
Don’t forget to check the backs of family photographs. It can offer helpful clues for you research.
Read carefully any record descriptions or introductory material that is available. It is important to examine this information, because relying on just the title can sometimes be misleading.
First figure out what you already know. Next decide what you need to know. Finally decide what sources might contain this missing information. Find out where the sources are located.
It often helps to interact with others who share your interest and have some experience and can offer you advice and tips.
As with any important papers keep your ancestors journals in a cool dry area away from radiators and direct sun.
Shelving your books vertically between bookends supports the bindings best. When dusting always hold the covers tightly shut to make sure your cleaning does not force dirt between the pages.
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