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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

I discovered an index card today, written in someone else's hand, with notes of connections between relatives and relatives of relatives.  I have no idea who gave it to me or when.

I admit it; I'm a sloppy note taker and very disorganized.  

I also recently discovered a photo of my paternal grandfather that I've had for years.  I don't remember ever seeing it.  I didn't know I had it but I do remember other items in the envelop I found it in.  The photo is attached to my grandfather's enlistment card.

Over the years, many people have given or sent me notes, photographs, newspaper clippings.  I have boxes and files full of things.

Over the years, I've visited a lot of people who have spent time talking to me, giving me information about relatives and ancestors.  I've taken notes, returned home and looked at the notes weeks and months later and not been able to figure out what I'd written, or who I'd visited or when.

Sometimes, I'm able to piece together these things and fill in holes in family trees and take another step forward in the family history.  Sometimes, I have to put the note back into a file folder or envelop and hope I'll figure it out later.

I apologize globally to all who have contributed to the information I have on my families, for being so disorganized that I can't always remember who gave me what.

So, DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO.

Get yourself a plan together, a routine for research, for taking notes.

If nothing else, whenever you're working, visiting somebody, looking at some kind of record, use the basic journalistic practice of writing down:  Who, What, When Where.  Sometimes you need to record How and/or Why, as well.

Whether you use spiral notebooks, a 3-ring binder, loose note paper, when you begin, write down, on the top of the page:  Date, Place, Title of Resource, Name of Person Spoken to, etc.

As you take notes - write down the surname of individuals discussed.  Draw a miniature family tree chart.

Use separate pieces of paper for different surnames.

When you get home, look over the notes briefly to be sure you know what you've got, then file them in surname file folders.

This index card I've found has mostly given (first) names related to the writer's "Dad".  Since I don't know who gave the card to me, I don't know who the Dad was.  Fortunately, there are a few surnames given and some are familiar, although not directly related.



The next few blogs will be about a filing system, correspondence and genealogy etiquette.

I really would appreciate your comments.  I'm sure you have methods and practices that would be helpful to me.

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