Genealogy Research Strategies

The second session that I attended at the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2010 Conference was “Advanced Web Methods & Sources,” presented by Karen Clifford, AG®, FUGA.  The description for this session was: “When name searching online isn’t enough, focus on the missing elements of a person’s identity. Then use key web sources to find those elements that, used together, build links to the next generation.”

I found this presentation to be not so much about web methods as about general research methods, with a few web sources thrown in.  In fact, the first note I made was to “use the same strategies for internet and non-internet research.”

My notes included:

  • Remain organized
  • Record ALL possible details
  • Stay focused on a goal:  keep a pedigree chart & family group sheet in front of you while researching.
  • Research every location for three generations.
  • List the names of siblings and children – look for naming patterns.
  • Write the goal on a research planner:  planners give you time to list records & places to search in advance in order to solve research problem.
  • By studying the locality, more sources will be found.

Some web sources:

  • A genealogy-specific search engine:
  • NUCMC – the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (this was mentioned in several sessions that I attended).
  • (She mentioned many other web sources, but these were the only two with which I was not already familiar.)

A few thoughts:

  • I do not currently use a research planner.  I can see how it would invaluable if I were doing client work and working on a specific problem that had to be completed within a time frame.  However, I work on so many things and tend to jump back and forth, that research planners just seem like extra work and more paper.  How about you?  Anybody using research planners?
  • I did like the idea of keeping the pedigree chart and/or family group sheet in front of me while researching to help stay on task.  Another idea I liked (and I can’t remember if it was from this presentation or another one) was to write your research problem on a sticky note and stick it on your monitor – that way it is right there in front of you all the time you are working.
  • I tried the Genealogy Place search engine and it seems pretty good.  It automatically formats advanced searches, so that you don’t have to.

 This is not intended to be a transcript or even a synopsis of the lecture, but rather reflects some of the things that I learned.

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