Friday, July 31, 2015

Genealogy: Are You a Collector or a Researcher


 The past few years I have noticed a trait in myself while working on our family trees that I am not very happy about. Because money is always tight in my house, I generally do not buy subscriptions to websites like Ancestry, Fold3, Genealogy Bank etc. But, when they have a few free days during certain holidays, my husband only sees the back of my head as a furiously click and save everything I can find about our ancestors. This presents a problem, I get so wrapped up in clicking and saving, I generally don't take the time to read through them, just look to find that magic name and click. Part one of the problem is that in doing so, the record I am looking at gets saved to my computer with no real name or little info as to where it came from. Part two is that I then have possibly hundreds of saved documents with little or no identifying words. These often get put to the side while I merrily continue to search as each paid site has its free day, so for the past few days, I am finally going through these documents one by one to rename them and get them into their proper folders. Unfortunately, there are hundreds to go through, making me a very bad researcher. But wait! There's more! We usually take a yearly trip to Nashville to visit friends and while there I spend the days at the state archives. Guess what I am doing???  Copying and saving (although now they have those wonderful computers you can bring a flash drive to and just, you guessed, click and save!) It recently occurred to me I hadn't cataloged the visit from two years ago, along with records from a frantic two days in Paducah finding everything I could put my hands on. So, I have stacks of microfilmed records that need to be gone through and filed with their families in my genealogy cabinet.

     If I were a responsible researcher, I would take the time to initially save those records with identifiers and also make note on a research log of where I found them. Then I would actually look at them to transfer the information to my family trees. I would look to see if there were any snippets of info I might easily miss like a neighboring family with the same name and make note of that. I would need to do that at the archives as well, because a few times I have come home bemoaning the fact that I missed something on the copied record and could have dug into it more deeply while I was still in Nashville, instead of waiting a year until our next visit...or forgetting about it and repeating it all over again.

     This year, I will make sure I am more attentive to what I copy and take the time to really discover what might be found in that elusive record!