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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Methodology - Part 1: Getting Started, Methodology - Part 2: Organizing and Skillbuilding, Methodology - Part 3: More Strategies, Methodology - Part 4: Effective Searching and Recording, Methodology - Part 5: How To Prove It, and Methodology - Part 6: Professional Preparation and Practice by Louise St Denis, Brenda Dougall Merriman and Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Steps to Success
Step 4: Effective Searching and Recording
One of the commonest errors, regretted later when sources have to be searched again, is to record only information you feel at the time is related to your direct line. Genealogy is more than just extending a pedigree back as fast and as far as you can. These ancestors are people who have families and if we want to get to know them we ought to put them in the context of their families.
As you search, it is always wise to record all people with the surname(s) you seek. It will take longer, at this moment, but you will gain insight into the family structure, and save frustration and repeat searches later on. Gathering information on collateral families is essential to complete research. Reviewing well-taken and complete notes will often unplug a research bottleneck as you comprehend the wider family picture. You will avoid making incorrect assumptions because you will have the data necessary to make correct connections.
As a general rule when consulting written sources it is more efficient to arrange your list of queries in the same order as the material itself is arranged. Thus:
- If you are going to look at a group of alphabetically arranged wills, then bring your list arranged in alphabetical order.
- If you are searching a parish register written chronologically then arrange your queries by date. This may have to be further divided, for example the early registers may have christenings, marriages and burials mixed together, but the later ones, (typically when printed books were provided), may need separate lists for the three events.
The catalog of the library or archive should indicate which arrangement is used.
When consulting fiche first note which style, either rows or columns, has been used by the manufacturer. Fiches produced in Europe are more often arranged in rows (see below), whilst North American ones are typically in columns (see below). Obviously you need to read pages consecutively to obtain intelligible information.
European Style Fiche in Rows
North American Style Fiche in Columns
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses Methodology - Part 1: Getting Started, Methodology - Part 2: Organizing and Skillbuilding, Methodology - Part 3: More Strategies, Methodology - Part 4: Effective Searching and Recording, Methodology - Part 5: How To Prove It, and Methodology - Part 6: Professional Preparation and Practice offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about these courses or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at email@example.com
We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.
- This page was last modified on 14 June 2013, at 21:28.
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