Tuesday, August 19, 2008

(Re)Jump-Start Your Research

If you are like me, there are times when you have to put your family research on the back burner, either because family or work circumstances dictate it or you just need to take a break from genealogy. While I don’t foresee the latter ever being the case with me, I have just come off of several months of relative inactivity in my family research due to the press of family needs. Picking up where I left off hasn’t been easy, but several things have helped me get back into the swing of things and have even made my research more active than it was before in several areas.

First, just try to get back into the routine, even if it involves some of the more tedious aspects, such as looking up and transcribing census information or transcribing articles and documents. This is the work that eventually turns up a piece of information that can “bring your research to the next level.” Humble census work has done this several times for me. Recently I found some important items on my Sisson line in this way (and hope to publish the results in a separate post), including a clue to the father of a great-great grandmother and evidence that her husband, William T. Sisson, is the William T. Sisson listed in Company H of the 25th Alabama Infantry in the Civil War.

When you need to take a break from this kind of research, which often involves close reading of texts and deciphering of poor to awful handwriting, browse your favorite genealogy blogs or genealogy message boards to find research tips and new search tools and resources. In just the past two weeks I have found the Family Search pilot webpage and the digital images of Texas death certificates highlighted below, the inclusion of many digital images on the South Carolina Department of Archives and History webpage, and a new search resource offered by the Greenville Library’s South Carolina Room through which you can search an online index for obituaries which appeared in the Greenville News from 1917 to 1993.

Write to some of your “genealogy buddies,” relatives and fellow researchers with whom you have corresponded to share the results of your research. Find out what the latest news is in their research, or ask relatives questions about their lives or family history. This kind of correspondence almost always adds something to your own research, whether it is new information or ideas for a new avenue to pursue. If nothing else, there is always plenty of family news to enjoy.

Start a blog or open up an account on Facebook or a similar site on which you can post pictures, articles, and transcripts. This is a good way to help organize your research as well as share it. Some of the items you post on a blog may turn into articles that you may want to submit to genealogy journals for publication. In the course of doing genealogy-related searches, other researches may get hits on your blog and get in touch with you (that is something that I hope will eventually result from this blog). My daughter pointed out to me another benefit of posting pictures online, which is that it is an additional backup for these images in the even t of computer failure (and failure to back up through other means).

Each of these four approaches has yielded tangible results for me in the course of just a few weeks.

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