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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 ($).

Use of Transcript or Abstract Forms

It is essential that beginners in genealogy research, understand and practice their own transcribing and abstracting of documents and other sources before using a form. Standards for each are described in The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual. It is recommended that you not employ a series of forms until you are very comfortable with the actual process of ‘doing-it-yourself’.

Use of a printed transcript or abstract form to collect data is smart because it is quicker and increases accuracy. It will be obvious when you have forgotten to record a particular item and this can be speedily corrected. Forms can be very handy when getting a less expert helper to assist you. They can be obtained from sources such as FHSs, FSCs, genealogical supply companies, or you can make your own on your computer.

A common mistake is to only note some of the information. Experienced researchers always record everything! Every column should be transcribed, even though you may not think that some information is vital right now. As you learn more you will appreciate the usefulness of all the information, and it would be a sheer waste of time to have to redo some of your work.

Keep separate pages for each surname and they will be easier to file when you get home without time-consuming, and error-prone recopying.

Where a column is left blank in the original, indicate this with a dash (-). If you leave a blank it won’t be clear, to others or to yourself in 5 years’ time, whether the original was blank or whether you forgot to record it.

It is also wise to use a standardized form for your online searches of sites and databases. These could be on paper or on computer and should include the date, URL, Purpose of Search, and Results. Start a new page for each family (or for each couple if searches are likely to be extensive) so that they can be easily filed, and hence found!


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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 wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.

  • This page was last modified on 11 March 2014, at 16:08.
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