Category Archives: Planning

RootsTech 2013: Day 1

Thursday is the day when time everything is fresh. Many attendees meander in as they arrive in the area and get through registration. After the Keynotes, the RootsTech folks have kindly given us a break just to explore the Expo Hall.  Then classes begin.

Friday is the developer day, so I might choose a little chunk of time to head to the library on Thursday just to work on a problem. But you’d be hard pressed to find a good time in the schedule for any such research. This probably means that if a class bores me early on, I may just book to get through a roll or two of microfilm.  But, instructors, no pressure!

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2012-2013 Goals Review

Early 2012, Amy Coffin and Denise Levenick did as they do…inspire.  They published a set of goals for themselves, and I loved reading theirs enough that I had to write goals of my own.  As 2012 escapes into the distance, a review seemed in order.

  1. Goal: Write 12 blog posts (1/month) and 4 short biographies of VIPs in my tree.
  2. Goal: Further research goals in Phinney and Richmond lines.
  3. Goal: Use iPad as often as laptop.

Were these goals achieved?

On the first goal, I published 6 blog posts in 2012.  I tended to have bursts of activity, especially during the summer, so the posts were in no way consistant. This is an area to improve upon. A great genealogy exercise at the society where I volunteer encouraged me to write a biography an ancestral VIP, but that’s a far cry from four.

Score: 44%

What was I doing when I wasn’t writing blog posts? I was making headway on my second goal. I made enough headway, in fact, that my Phinney research will likely comprise one of the sections of my application for the Board of Certified Genealogists. It has been an exciting and frustrating puzzle to decipher and what frustrates me most is that I really shouldn’t be writing about it here.  I’m turning off comments on any blog post relating to it.  Yet a pension file has not been obtained, so a few points are lost.

The Richmond line is less likely to be part of a BCG application but more likely to be my first book. I dug deep into the public records and still come up short on any connection to the earlier and more distinguished man of the same name. But in the process, found direction on where else to look. This year will give me more research opportunity to develop this story. If all goes well, a visit to his grave in Connecticut will be on my travel itinerary in 2013.

Score: 85%

The third goal was a mixed bag. Traveling with my iPad was exceptional in many ways but weak in a couple areas, enough to keep me bringing my laptop on trips. The addition of a bluetooth keyboard from MacWorld and a comfy bag to carry the gear really helped. As a package, I’ve used it on short distance trips, in Board meetings and classes, mostly as a small lap-print method to take notes. It fits much better on an airline tray table than my 15″ Macbook Pro, so a lot of writing happened in transit. That did not always translate to a seamless posting experience — I wrote a lot more than I posted, part of the reason for the poor grade on Goal #1. Setting up the two devices in tandem with Google Drive gave me a beautiful system to tackle the serious paperless research accomplished in Goal #2. This device will never replace my laptop without some sort of cellular service or portable wifi hotspot solution.

Score: 75%

For 2012, that places me with an average score of 68% which sounds perfectly average.  I’m okay with that though.  It just gives me plenty of room to improve.

What does 2013 hold?

My BCG application clock started at the end of 2012 with little fan-fare.  Travel is being planned to allow me adequate time for on-site research in Salt Lake City and Connecticut. There are other projects in the works, but very few goals matter to me more. This year, on the research and writing front, BCG Application is it.

Research logs

I’ve had trouble keeping journals my entire life. Why would that get any easier as a genealogist?  It doesn’t.  As a result, the standard advice of keeping a research log often goes in one of my ears and out the other, especially when the suggestion is to record every website search I’ve done on a subject.  Every single one? I would be spending more time recording than I would spend searching.

When I do a broad internet search, like Caroline Pointer describes on her post “How Do You Record Where You’ve Searched?” I get swept along rivers of tangents, new resources and anything else that suggests I might get an idea where to find what I’m looking for.  Yes, I’ve got my favorite starting points, go-to websites, and techniques to get to something useful as quickly as possible.  But at its core, I let the Internet search develop organically.

When doing internet research, I’m not terribly worried about looking at something twice because I often see something different, try a different search string, or tap into something that wasn’t available the last time around…such is the beauty of the Internet. Digitized sources are being added all the time. So what I didn’t find last time may be found next time.

Things are different when I have a tough nut to crack, a brick wall to break down, or am trying to do something specific for a client that hasn’t been solved online.  In these instances, I create a research plan for the offline resources I need to check. It’s a spreadsheet I’ve developed on past projects, and saved as a template.  I’ll include microfilm info, reference numbers, names, dates and any other notes about what I’m looking to find.

When I get to the Family History Library or whichever repository I can find those resources, I have a go to list of what to look for, even if I haven’t worked on the problem in a few months. As long as I have wi-fi, I only need to record the date in the spreadsheet, whether or not the search was successful (using the pre-formated “found it” column), and details about what I found or where the results led me. Voila! A research log is born.

As a client, do you prefer to get a list of all of the sources that were consulted even if unsuccessful? As a genealogist, do you keep up with a research log, even for Internet research?