The (Not) To-Do List of Genealogy

During the start of the New Year, many genealogists are making a list of the things they want to accomplish in 2011.  For example, many people are resolving to scan their documents, interview more relatives, etc.  But what things should you promise not to do?  Here is my list of things I vow to not do in 2011.

(Warning to the grammar police: This posts contains a lot of double negatives)

  1. I Vow to Never Not Cite Your Sources.  Source citations, while incredibly important, do require a moment to write down.  When in the heat of the chase, you don’t want to take that moment to write down the source citation.  You promise yourself you’ll write it down later.  But then you forget.  And before you know it you’ve completely forgot about the source citation.  The next time you look at your notes you scratch your head as you wonder where this information came from.  Which is why you should always cite your sources – even if it takes you a minute.
  2. I Vow to Never Not Record Family Stories. When we begin doing research, we often take the stories and wisdom of our older relatives for granted.  We jump into researching in libraries and on websites but drag our feet when it comes to interviewing our relatives.  Once it is too late, we regret not asking these questions and not writing them down.  Once it is too late, we’ve often lost invaluable details to our family stories.  The biggest regret of my life is not recording the stories and memories my Mom shared with me.  I lost my chance with her.  But I’ve learned my lesson and now I do my best to record the stories I hear from family members.
  3. I Vow to Never Not Use a Research Log/Calendar. Research logs require a bit of extra time to write out the places you’ve checked for records and the places you plan to check for records.  But at the same time, research logs provide a road map of where you’ve been and help you plan for where to go next.  They keep you from visiting the same places twice.  They save you time and money in the long run.  So I vow to faithfully use a research log.

What things are you vowing to not do in 2011?  I’d love to hear it!

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7 responses to “The (Not) To-Do List of Genealogy

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention The (Not) To-Do List of Genealogy | Elyse's Genealogy Blog --

  2. Great post! Not sure I have anything to add to your three – except vowing not to not put things back where I found them. I’m the world’s worst at pulling pictures, files, books out when writing and then letting them pile up by my desk. But that’s a small thing next to the vital points you made.

  3. I so need to subscribe to number 3. *cringes* I’m very good at citing my sources and am always pulling stories out of my elder relatives and writing them down. But a research log, yeah, not very faithful about keeping that. Good resolution for 2011!

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  5. Hi Elyse!

    I have to add this one:

    I vow to never just save a URL for later, especially if it contains contact information for someone I want to email for more information on a relative. I recently went through some older URL’s and found that a few of them I had saved were discussion board posts from a man named “Roger Smith” who was looking for descendants of David Williams (my 5th great-grandfather). I should have emailed/mailed him long ago, but by the time I did, I learned he had passed in 2004. He was the ONLY real direct descendant I have found for this line and it bums me out he is not around to ask questions to. I know he had compiled quite a bit of information on this line, based upon his online posts ranging from 1997-2000.

    So my recommendation is to make sure to record contact information and avoid waiting until later to make contact.

    I now have somewhat of a system for my online research. In the past I saved URL’s containing data (USGenWeb for example)and over the years, some of them have moved or are no longer available. I recently went through all of my saved URL’s and made a log of this research. I created a research log (using Access) specifically for my online research (since it is quite different than any on site searching). This helps me to keep track of sites that contain images/records (such as Google Books), discussion board posts, online trees, etc. I can note whether or not I have already printed any relevant content or images, etc. and make notes about what I found there. I have also made a vow to name my URL’s properly when saving them, instead of saving them and wondering later what in the world the link is going to take me to.

    So, I am hoping that 2011 will be much more organized for me and my genealogy research, whether online or on-site :) I still have tons of things I want to go over and double-triple check, but so far, so good!

    Angelique´s last blog post ..Strange Genealogy Find- “…something for nothing”

  6. Wow! Those double negatives kinda gave me a headache to read.”wait, is she saying she WILL or WON’T do it?”. But good post, and I agree with the points.
    Mark´s last blog post ..Which is the Best Online Family Tree Software

    • Mark – I know that double negatives are intense, I can just picture my grammar teacher rolling over in her grave. But thats why I put the warning on the top of the post.

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