Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Where DOES one put those research reports?

DearREADERS,
Regarding my previous blog entry Reporting findings & NON findings, Ol' Myrt has received several inquiries such as:

"Just where do you post those notes of items you have already searched when looking for an ancestor?"

"Does your annotated bibliography go in notes or in your research binder?"

"What if you are looking for an entire family?"

WHAT DOES MYRT DO WITH HER REPORT OF FINDINGS?

1. Immediately after viewing an item, I make notes of my findings (or non-findings) on the related printout from the Family History Library Catalog (or whatever library catalog I used to obtain the idea for looking at a book, fiche or microfilm.)

2. Toward the end of my research day, I leave time to send myself a summary email, working through each printout, being careful to transcribe the author, title, copyright, facility name, call number, and results of findings. This helps me review my "thinking" and assures me that I did not forget to look at a specific resource before I leave the facility. This is particulaly important when traveling to distant research facilities, where I won't have the luxury of coming back the next day to continue research.

3. Next, before leaving the facility, I file the printouts with a copy of the summary email in the temporary research folder for the surname I am searching. Ol' Myrt here has folders in her research briefcase labeled:
  • Barb's Isaac MOORE Research
  • SEVERINSON Research
  • Dolly (YOCKEY) Weiser Research
4. While taking the train home, I review my printouts and summary to be sure I didn't miss anything. Sometimes new ideas will come to me during this final review.

5. Once home, I retreive my email summary report, taking care to copy/paste it to the NOTES portion of each applicable ancestor's file in my genealogy management program. This way, if it takes a long time to get back to research, or someone asks me about a particular ancestor in the mean time, I can copy/paste what I have previously searched in an email reply.

6. Ideally, I carry no more than a few research folders to a research facility. Typically the folders contain the following documents to keep me oriented to the research assignment I'm working on at the moment. (I give myself several research assignments on each trip to the Library, often with the help of GenSmarts.)
  • Family group sheets
  • Pedigree chart
  • only copies of pertinent documents
If I decide to work another line, the SEVERINSON research folder can be slipped into the SEVERINSON family notebook on my library shelf. That way all info on a specific surname is in the appropriate surname notebook, with the exception of 2-3 research folders in my research briefcase. (OK, we're not talking about the 2-foot stack of photocopies sitting on the corner of my computer desk, yet to be scanned and filed. Nobody is perfect. I like to scan all new source documents and attach them to the appropriate ancestor's file in my genealogy management program.)

That last paragraph brings up a good point -- What is one to do with a new-found record that DOES mention an ancestor? Well, you have the document listed in the ancestors NOTES in your genealogy program, if you successfully copied/pasted it from your email summary report. Then it is merely a matter of scanning the document, attaching it to the apropriate ancestor, slipping your photocopy into a top-loading sheet protector, and filing it in the appropriate research notebook, right after the specific family group sheet mentioning the ancestor. You may elect to "attach the document to an ancestor" as follows:
  • (newer) As a source, with appropriate bibliographic citation as prompted by the genealogy software.
  • (older) As a multi-media file, where the caption is sort, but the "info" about the media file can provide the bibliographic details not necessarily prompted by the genealogy software.
I've been doing genealogy for so long, that I must admit I use the second method, as the newer source options weren't available in earlier versions of genealogy software.

Some research facilities provide equipment than scans from book or microfilm, so you won't have to worry about filing the document in the research notebook. However, I like to see all the accumulated documents in paper format filed after each applicable fmaily group sheet. Also, it is usually cheaper to print your own copy at home (about 4 cents per page compared to 25 cents or so at typical research facilities.)

Is everything scanned? Nope. It is all I can do to work through the current workload of research. SOMEDAY, I'll get around to going through my 63 research binders to scan & attach the older documents. The documents are cited in NOTES for each ancestor.

While it is true that a laptop might prove useful at the library, it is just plain heavy, and there is always the worry about theft, despite the wired lock-down mechanism. In case I need to look at another family in my database, I keep a PAF copy of my current database on a flash drive. I can view it at the Family History Library or any of its computerized Centers because I know they have a current copy of PAF on at least one computer. I've only rarely needed to do this, as my research folders are usually packed with enough assignments.

I do not transcribe directly to notes on my laptop (prefering the email interface) because I am trying to provide several check-points to review my work before committing the work to my hopefully reliable genealogy database. More often than not, Ol' Myrt has discovered that she needs to expand the bibliographic citation before it is placed in an ancestor's notes as mentioned in item #2 above.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com
www.DearMYRTLE.com

(c) 2007 Pat Richley, All Rights Reserved.

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