08 August 2006

Finding Your Ancestors, Part III The Research

There is a great deal of research that you can do online. Online is where I always start my research. But first you need to prepare you forms, so you know where to search and what you are looking for.

Let's start by deciding what ancestor you want to research. Choose only one. If you are looking for too many people at a time you get off task and your research won't be as complete as it could be. That's not to say you can't keep notes of others in your ancestry that you come by. Keep a note book near by to jot down where you found another ancestor living near the ancestor you are focused on, this way you'll have notes when you move on to the other ancestor so you will remember where to go back and look for the other person. To choose an ancestor I would say start with your parents if they are passed away or you were separated from them, but if they are still alive they can fill in their own blanks, in that case move to your grandparents. For most people their grandparents are the best starting point.

In my previous post I spoke of John Anderson McCombs and posted his picture. He is my current project so I will use him as an example. I am going to show actual scans of all my notes. Starting with my Research Worksheet. In the Research Worksheet section A you want to write down what you do know about the individual. Then highlight all missing or incomplete information. For example is you only know that your ancestor was born in Missouri, but not exactly where then that information is incomplete.

In Section B simply write down questions you want answered or other pieces of information that you need to verify. Last in section C you want to set you first research goal, then write down each source you look through to answer that question and in results write down everything you find to support your research. Be sure to write detailed notes as to where you found something, exactly, so that you can go back to it later if you need to. Print out any documents you find to support your research.

I was going to post the notes in this blog, but they are too big. I will have to upload them another way so my notes will follow this post separately.

Online I typically research three different databases, Ancestry, Rootsweb, and USGenWeb, but I don't limit myself to just that. I also find when I hit a brick wall just Google the name you are looking for and you might just come up with a new avenue. I also visit GenForum to look at their message board from time to time to see if anyone else is look for the same ancestor. Cindy's List is also another good one for finding a variety of information. I also look on DeadFred to see if their are any new pictures for that family.

tomorrow I will show you how I transcribed the information I found onto other forms in order to see the big picture. This will tell me where I have filled in the gaps, created new gaps and where I still have research to finish.

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