Thursday, March 28, 2013


Wow!  Thank you so much for the blogiversary wishes.  I really didn't know it was my blogiversary until I saw the post on Geneabloggers.  So, again, thank you!  I truly enjoy following all of you too, and wish I had more time to focus on my research.  However, life has swung back in a direction I never planned to go again - having a baby - and I also need to concentrate on work, so family and work come first these days.

But I try to get in some time to work on genealogy.  I see myself picking up the pace again when my daughter is older, and my husband has completed his education and returned to work.  For now, I will do it when I can - maybe once a week.

Yesterday I blogged about how we approach the family tree - do we concentrate on one specific ancestor at a time, "climb" the tree one branch at a time, or tackle everybody and try to round up all we can on each person?

Of course, what you are looking for in each instance are resources that confirm names, dates, places, and more.

Most people start out with notes gathered through conversations with family members, particularly older family members. From there, we pursue vital records, censuses, newspaper articles, cemeteries, directories, court records, land records, pension records (my personal favorite), and so much more. 

Maintaining accurate records of the sources consulted, whether they yielded results or not, is important.  This is particularly useful when you are chasing a brick wall ancestor.  Knowing you researched Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 several times, recording the different name spellings you used, and keeping track of the dates you searched the database will keep you from duplicating your efforts and wasting your time.  Also, keep track of the dates of conversations with family members, either by dating your notes or saving emails.  I keep printed copies of emails, as well as copy them to Word and save them in the relevant surname folder.

This is just basic research know-how for most genealogists, but a beginner might underestimate the usefulness of recording all resources searched - even those that yielded nothing.  Everything is worth noting.  Better safe than sorry, so go ahead and over-document those resources.

Copyright (c) 2013 Wendy L. Callahan

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Climbing My Family Tree

Everyone has different techniques when it comes to genealogical research. At the moment, with a 3-month-old baby and work, my technique is non-existent.  ;)

But all kidding aside, each of us has a different way of approaching research. Some of us have a combination of methods we use.

I'm not referring to using the internet or tracking down certain records, but how we actually decide to go about our research with regard to the family tree itself. I have 3 different approaches.

Tackling the Brick Wall

I think all of us do this. We focus on our brick wall ancestors and sometimes devote hours, days, weeks, even months and years to them. I have a few, most of whom are immigrant ancestors. When I work specifically on them, they are the sole focus of my research. However, I always take a break, so I can come back with fresh eyes a few times a year.

One Branch at a Time

Roughly 4 times a year, I climb my entire family tree, from me, up through each and every single ancestor. It leads me to those brick wall ancestors, to whom I devote extra time and energy, and to those loose ends...

Tying up Loose Ends

These are the people who just need the smallest amount of research to verify dates and places. Usually I find them in my Massachusetts ancestors in the 1600's. I'll admit, this is where I get lazy, and I need to do a better job of rounding out these entries in my family tree with complete information.   

This is how I work may way through my family.

Copyright (c) 2013 Wendy L. Callahan