Genealogy is far from a routine pursuit. There is always something new to learn, whether it is a new resource or a new method to try out. For me, that’s part of what makes genealogy so enjoyable! But for as much fun as it is to learn about new things and add more people to the family tree, we need to make sure that we do some things on a regular basis. Just like regularly changing your furnace filter, these three items will keep your research humming along and not burning out.
1. Review Your Notes
Sometimes adding more to our research isn’t what we need to do. Sometimes it’s better to review. (It’s why I actually opted not to go to the Family History Library on a trip to Salt Lake City.) You know that brick wall that you’ve been trying to break down? You might already have the sledgehammer. Those notes and photocopies from prior research might not have “fit in” when you took them, but when you plug them into what you’ve learned since then, they can open up all sorts of possibilities.
Let’s say that you took notes of all of the marriages of a particular surname in a county. Not all of those marriages fit in with your research then, but you’ve done more research between then and now. Those old notes might reveal the married name of a daughter you didn’t know about back then or a remarriage of one of the family members.
2. See What’s New
Yes, I know I said that we need to build in some routines. Ironically, looking for new resources is part of a good research routine. On a regular basis, review what new collections have been added for the areas in which you’re researching. Using the Ancestry Card Catalog or the map at the bottom of the search page are two good ways to see what’s available.
Ancestry adds new record collections all the time, but don’t stop your review of new records there. Make a habit of exploring the websites and catalogs of state historical societies, state archives, state and local genealogy societies, and the libraries in the areas where your ancestors lived. There could be all sorts of good things added since the last time you checked them out.
3. Share What You’ve Found
When you’ve made a big discovery or just something that struck your fancy, don’t keep it to yourself. Share it! These new discoveries can serve as “cousin bait” and reel in others who are researching the same line. There are all sorts of ways you can do this. Adding the materials your public online tree will help others discover you. You can also blog about it, share it on Facebook (either on your page or in relevant groups), and send emails to your cousins. You could write something up and submit it to a genealogy society for publishing in their newsletter or journal.
Researching is fun. (If it wasn’t, we probably wouldn’t do it.) Reviewing what we have, exploring what new resources are available, and sharing what we’ve found aren’t what we think of as “research,” but doing these things regularly can help us move our discoveries along.