Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Now What Did I Just Do?

Do you ever have that question in your head when you're doing genealogical research?  Do you find yourself questioning which books you've looked at or in what library you found that crucial document?  Please don't do this to yourself any more!  (Yes, I've done this myself many times; I have since learned better). That brings me to our topic for the week.


One of the most important things about doing effective genealogical research is keeping a detailed research log.  When I began genealogical research, I thought research logs were a PAIN.  I did not want to take the time to keep a log as well as spend hours researching.  A couple of research projects cured me of that mindset.  Going back to do research over again because I can’t remember what I did in the first place is a much bigger pain.  I love my research logs now!  In fact, give me a thorough research log over a jelly doughnut any day!  (Well, maybe not any day.  I do love my desserts *wink*).

Okay, you get the idea.  So what goes into a good research log?  You’ve got to have:

1) the date of your research
2) the repository of your research.  (If you’re new to genealogy, repository is just a fancy word for where the records are stored (your home, library, family history center, etc.)
3) the record searched (save yourself time and use the correct citation format now, see Evidence Explained by Mills).  I’ll be talking about this MUCH more.
4) What pages you searched
5) The reason for the search
6) the findings, even the negative “I found NOTHING!” findings. 
7) the document number-make a copy of any important finding and write a document number on it so it’s easy to find later.
8) the time spent on research if you are billing a client or researching for certification or accreditation.

Here is a sample of one of my own.  Feel free to use it's design or make your own, personalizing it to your style.

So, my challenge for you today is to do a search in one record using your oh-so-handy Research Log.  Have fun!

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