We all know that being in pursuit of our ancestors’ stories can be an all-consuming hobby. And that we pick up tips, tricks, hacks and workarounds as we pursue our genealogy goals. One of my favourite things is when we share those titbits with our fellow family historians. After all, acquiring a new idea or skill might be the brick wall buster you’ve been seeking.
This fortnight we head to the southern states of the USA and shine the spotlight on Hannah. She has a fabulous tip to share about recording discoveries as she goes.
She’s from Georgia, USA. Her genealogy journey began 12 years ago after a request from her grandfather. Now she’s on a quest to find out how far back she can trace her family name.
Now let’s hear from Hannah, and find out what she does so she can always pick up her research exactly where she left off. Even if it is a few days, weeks or months between sessions.
I do look up tips as much as possible, but I sometimes struggle with remembering things I found if I didn’t remember to write them down as soon as I found them. I try to, but life has a funny way of getting in the way many times.
Great advice! And something I wish I’d heard this when I began researching ancestors. Back then my notes were a big ol’ hot mess because I’d write down the facts but not where or when I found them.
Let’s face it; life often gets in the way of finding our ancestors. You can put down your research today and not pick it up again for a long time. Maybe it was a planned distraction, so you made notes, but so often it’s an unexpected one. That means you spend precious research time working out what you were doing when you stopped.
Or it could be that you have limited time so can’t explore every lead that keeps popping up on your screen. It’s frustrating, but you promise yourself you’ll be back. But bookmarks only take you so far, and that saved link is now a 404 error. So you never do find that fantastic clue again.
Hannah’s tracking tip means that long breaks won’t matter because you’ll be able to get back on track quickly. Does writing detailed notes make your hand ache? Then try creating a research database or searchable screenshots. Both these ideas are easy to update and will help keep you on track.
Life will always get in the way of the best-laid plans. Track your progress, but most importantly, keep going.
My favourite hack is to make everything searchable. So all my genealogy files follow the same naming convention. This process means that I can pull up everything on an individual ancestor in a quick search. I apply this rule to all downloads, screenshots as well as files I create.
Plus I take screenshots of everything I find online so that I can find my way back there. And thanks to my smartphone, I can also snap photos or scans of offline discoveries. Even if you don’t think it applies to your ancestor, it’s better to capture it now than try to find it again later.
Want to try this for your research? Find out more in my Frequently Used Resources post, and create searchable files for yourself.
Do you have a tip (or two!) from your genealogy journey to share with your fellow family history enthusiasts? Take the ‘Spotlight On…’ survey and let me know
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