Weekly Planner: Play with Numbers

As family historians, we collect a lot of dates, but too often we fail to look closely at that information. Choose an ancestral family and examine all the information you have gathered. How old were the parents when they married? How old were they when they had children? How old were the children when a parent died? If you know the cause of death, was it preceded by a prolonged illness? If so, how old might the children have been when a parent became ill? What impact might the answers to these questions have had on their lives? The implications may also affect the course of your research.

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2 thoughts on “Weekly Planner: Play with Numbers

  1. I’d add this “mistake”: failure to look at our information in multiple ways. We achieve a much different set of thougts when we view a person’s family group sheet, ancestor chart, genealogy report, census summary, chronological timeline, obituary or short bio, etc. It continually surprises me when a reasonably experienced researcher will come to me for help, frustrated over a difficult family history puzzle–and most of what’s needed is a concise yet detailed summary of their starting information, coupled with some suggestions, so that they can SEE the next steps to take. I ask to see a gedcom file, if the researcher has one, and MOST of the ones I’ve reviewed have nothing in the notes field. [It can* be used to record a timeline for each individual, or research notes, or the DRAFT of a short bio for the person. Each approach advances the research, and you are “writing as you go” for the family book.] As I work with clients, I realize that they’ve never used most of the report features in their genealogy software; have never heard of a census or residence summary; don’t keep an “assumptions genealogists make”; and don’t have special surname files set up on their computer. Most fail to create a tip sheet or keep really key reference materials at hand[e.g. Red Book, census guide; keystroke guide to foreign language symbols, etc.] It also continually surprises me how much I’ve missed, every time I review my own information. It helps enormously to revisit our data regularly, and to view it in different ways–with the goal of editing our “starting information” as if we were beginning a brand new project for a client. There is almost ALWAYS something we missed before! I keep learning–and relearning–how important writing, editing and planning are to effective family history research.Thanks for your article; it was nice to see a user friendly structure brought to “best practices.” Most of us who try to teach genealogy to others struggle to know how to condense all the helpful tips we’ve learned the hard way, into a 45 minute talk. Isn’t that the great thing about genealogy, though? It’s complex, interesting and so rewarding!
    Darlene C. Joyce, CG, Minnesota

  2. My personal research began out of the stories told about how young great grandma was when she married and how that her sister married at age 28 and thought she was too old to start a family. Evidently it was very common for young girls to marry at 15 yrs of age..and the husband would wait until she was 18 to start a family. Some did not and so I have sixteen cousins born to one mother. How she managed all those kids in a home would surprize me to learn about. By the time the oldest was having his own family she was still producing her own. Many of her older grandkids were older than their Aunts and Uncles. How interesting this genealogy has been for me.

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