Week 3: 16 Jan-22 Jan 2015
Admittedly, I am the type who goes to an Indiana Room at a library and begins to wander the aisles. I see something interesting that might lead to a source for me and I’ll pull the book or index or map and start studying. First, I check the index of said tome to see if any of my surnames come up. I have been known to pull a book on the history of a city, sit down, and familiarize myself with the place (I’m looking at you Richmond, IN!).
Recently, when I visited ACPL in Fort Wayne, I did do a better job at organizing what I wanted to research. I made a list and then looked up resources on their online card catalog. At the actual library, I got used to the layout and how to find materials and started checking things off my list.
However, I’ve not ever used something like a spreadsheet to track my research and this I need to do! The main goal is to not re-do research already done. For example, checking the Randolph County IN history book for surname Burk, finding a man by that name, and then realizing it’s another Burk. Then, a couple weeks later, doing pretty much the same thing. Sigh! Another good reason for tracking, for me anyway, is to track negative research, as in I looked at a source and it revealed nothing about what I was looking for so let’s not waste time looking there again.
To me, the most difficult part about tracking research is when you’re doing online research. It is so, so, so very easy to jump from one thing to another, e.g., looking at someone’s family on the 1900 census, then thinking ‘Oh, I wonder if they’re on the 1880?’ and then hopping over to FindAGrave dot com, checking FamilySearch or Ancestory or Fold3, and so it goes. When my brain is firing like that, I can’t find the time to jump back and forth to a research log. I’m going to have to learn, though.
I’ve learned, the hard way, to record the source of information as the very first thing I do when I find something I can use. I either write down the source or take a pic of the title page of the source. I need to do better about recording negative evidence, as in “I’ve looked here and found nothing.”
In an upcoming post, I’m going to share something that I think will be a great assist in doing my research (just waiting for it to come in the mail!).