Find Your Ancestor

About Our Freedom is dedicated to providing resources and assistance to help you document your ancestor prior to 1876. This includes the following eras: Reconstruction, Emancipation, Civil War, and Slavery.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Taking a look inside my research folders

Research Folder for George A. Tucker (1883-1932)

We began discussing the items that go into my research folders.  We have already mentioned that I use a the Resource Checklist to jog my memory about any items I may have in my possession or that a relative may share with me.  I make copies of all the original records and photographs and place them in the research folder.

I paste the CensusTools Genealogy Research Log to the inside of the folder to log the items that I have placed in it.  This helps me to be able to glance quickly at the items that should be in the folder, and I am able to know right away if I have found a record type already.  Remember that I mentioned that I create a folder for each person listed on a document, and I place a copy of the document into each person's folder.

Let's go over a few other items that I create for each folder.  I generate a Pedigree Chart and a Family Group Sheet for each individual that I research using a family history database.  These items are placed in the research folder and are easily accessible if I need to refer to information about a spouse, parent, children, or siblings.  If I am at the archives and my hunt for an ancestor turns up cold, I can quickly turn to researching the next obvious closely related person.  This has enabled me to make full use of my time.  I often spend an entire day at the archives where I am able to fully exhaust resources because of how well organized my research folders are.

I also really like the Biographical Outline at Family Tree Magazine.  They have many different free forms there to help you with organization. You can browse the different forms here.  I will be using several of them in articles forthcoming.  The Biographical Outline can be found under Basic Charts and Worksheets.
Basic Charts and Worksheets

I like to extract the events in my ancestor's life and record them here in the order that they occurred.  It is really important to have a visual when you are researching where you can refer to the time period and place where an event occurred.  If my ancestor moved around a lot, I still could easily identify when and where he went to school if it was previously recorded on the Biographical Outline.

It is really important to search systematically for documentation as well.  If you begin with the last event in an ancestor's life (burial usually) and move backward documenting events in order, it is much easier to locate documentation. Sometimes your sixth sense kicks in, and you can just about determine where to look for you ancestor or which records would be most helpful.  It is so much easier for someone else to help you if you are at the archives as well.

Armed with the above resources in your research folder, you can simply ask to know which resources are available to document your ancestor during a particular time and in a specific place.  Having asked that very same question often at my local archives, I always seem to learn about records that I did not know existed.
Research Trackers and Organizers

The Research Calendar, found under Research Trackers and Organizers, will help you keep track of the places you have looked for your ancestor and resources that you have discovered.  This is another form that I keep in the research folder.  After I began using the tracker, I stopped wasting time checking the same resource again, and I was even able look for more than one person at a time.

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     I actively promote useful social networking and genealogy resources. I currently am building communities and assisting others on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google Plus.  I am a regular presenter at genealogical societies, libraries, and family history centers. Visit my website to learn more.

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