Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cousin Inspired!

So what if I am sitting here feeling jealous while cousin Carol and cousin Karen prep for their current and future research trips. If you haven't read either of their blogs, cousin Carol spent a lot of time recently in the research mecca of Salt Lake City and cousin Karen is just back from a vacation/research trip and prepping for another. Family reasons and hubbies ongoing physical therapy are keeping us close to home so far, and I haven't even thought of to-do lists ... much.

Carol knew at the start of her and the man's trip last fall that ultimately they would make it to Salt Lake City and yet she was unconcerned about the state of her to-do list. I would have been in a panic. I knew she would bail herself out because she uses the place list in Rootsmagic to work up to-do list items. And believe me, this is a great way to go when you are scrambling for a list of items you know you need and want.

For me, though, that doesn't always work. When I add a new person to my database, I look for documentation, other than census. Why? Because census is usually how I found them, and I've already located them. Now my job is to document them with vital records. I always feel fortunate when I can locate someone in an online database, such as Seeking Michigan, Ancestry, Family Search, Missouri Death Records Database, just to name a few. If I can't find anything online, then the first place I search is the Allen County Public Library genealogy database, because I know there is a chance I'll get there relatively soon. It is situated roughly two thirds of the way to Michigan, and when the weather is nice, I can usually convince DH to stop there for a night or two.

Once at the ACPL, I start with pulling the items on my to-do list. Sometimes those are films, or periodicals or books. I so LOVE their open stacks. When I first started researching there, you had to fill out a request for the book with the call number, title and the table number where you were researching. You could only submit so many at a time and if there was a book in the stacks that wasn't in the catalog, you didn't get it, because you didn't request it. And heaven help you if someone else wanted that book, because they might need it for all the time you were there. When the library moved to their temporary home during reconstruction, they opened the stacks. I was in heaven, because now I could browse a section. That was particularly handy if a book had been shelved wrong. Those ten years I spent working in a library sure comes in handy at times!

I try to go through my list first, getting the items I really think I need and then work on those extras I pulled. Usually I run out of steam long before I get to the end of my list.

I find I can't sit at microfilm readers like I used to. During trips to Lexington, Kentucky, I grab two lists - my Lexington Cemetery list and my Lexington Public Library newspaper abstract lists. I usually get one day or maybe only a few hours at each. I will admit I am no where near being done with either list, although thanks to some wonderful people who post on Find-a-Grave, the cemetery list is getting shorter. The library list? I probably add one item for every five found. I generally pull 20-30 obits, wedding announcements and other articles each time I go. Then I add 4-6 items after transcribing and linking the scanned images.

I know cousin Karen is a to-do list maven too. Karen has a great way of doing her cemetery to-do lists. Both had blog posts on to-do lists on June 16th. Check out their blogs and see if our methods might work for you, too.

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes


  1. Thanks for the mention! I've seen your to-do list, pretty impressive! I'm sure once Mr. B gets his self feeling better the two of you will go research somewhere. Maybe a stop in Ft Wayne on your way for Andrea's birthday?

  2. FW not in the cards that trip. It's going to be short.

  3. Thanks for the shoutout, I won't tell if you won't, but there was some panic in knowing I would be at the research mecca and not have a functional to do list. The panic lasted well into week 2! LOL A few tangents, researching by the seat of my pants extended the to do list. Finally I just decided to enjoy the experience and trust that I could fill the time. That worked just fine!

    Here is hoping you both feel better soon and get on the road, even a few hours of cemetery work would perk up the mood! Having been there (the bad health/cancelled tripS stuff), I feel for you.

  4. Hope you both feel better soon and you get to travel a bit!