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Genealogy HowTo
Issue: Aug 7, 2002

LESSON 2 Solving Genealogy Problems by Developing a Personal Research Team
By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA

A PERSONAL RESEARCH TEAM

As you may remember last month, we came up with our personal research team. Tim was the traditional genealogist who felt uncomfortable with the computer and the Internet but loved genealogy. He generated lots of ideas and the rest of the team put the Internet and Computer to work to help him achieve these ideas. He would get documents for us, compose letters or find addresses of where to write, and wasn't afraid to follow-up on details when others of the team were busy. His pleasant manner aided the whole team several times, particularly when getting needed information from others.

Gwen was our Internet expert. She loves to use the Internet and its many features to help us find what we are looking for. She knows how to order flowers to send to mom via the Internet. She sends virtual Birthday cards to the rest of the family and can order books online for us. She knows how to use search engines, directories, and how to find mailing information on relatives. We designated her our team administrator for our MyTrees.com site. She teaches us how to use the MyTrees.com site as well, and she spends more time on it than the rest of the team because she just loves it.

Our third team member Karen uses the computer to keep track of relatives and collateral individuals that Gwen finds on the Internet. She builds databases, and research lists for our team. She has even put name and address lists into her PDA and has made us a simple database program. She can store and label images of documents in computer files and can even burn them onto a CD. She is always taking classes on subjects the rest of us don't understand.

Personal research teams are effective in providing the peer review function. In a university setting a "peer review" is often done on research so that others may offer suggestions for improvement. When a pedigree is displayed on MyTrees.com a similar "peer review" function is performed. When researchers post their information, as well as their sources it allows other researchers the opportunity to offer suggestions easily by emailing the researcher who posted the data.

SURVEY OF PREVIOUS RESEARCH

In our last newsletter, we started our Internet survey at MyTrees.com with the MyTrees PLUS search, and we found several individuals who looked identical to our ancestors. Each entry found in the MyTrees PLUS search result listed the submitter's name, address, email, and telephone number so we could get in touch with a possible distant cousin. Many of the entries had sources and notes attached which is a good indication that the submitter cared about their work.

This month the team decided to do a traditional survey in the Library of Congress surname collections found at major libraries which contain published genealogies of all kinds. Gwen indicated that MyTrees.com automatically searches the end of line individuals in our database and matches them against their 128 million surname collection. This search also includes a link to the search results of FamilySearch.org, another large collection of surnames. Karen pointed out to the team that several CD Collections of surnames are also available, including the Pedigree Resource File which is only indexed at FamilySearch.org, but not displayed online, and other published family histories through the Genealogical Publishing Company.

Doing the MyTrees.com end-of-line search is quite easy. Remember, last month I uploaded our team's GEDCOM to the MyTrees.com. Today, after logging into our personal account, I clicked the MyTrees PLUS Search link on the home page. On the page which followed, I clicked the End-of-Line Research option. MyTrees.com searched for those individuals who were at the end of our pedigree lines, in other words, the individuals who did not have parents listed. The MyTrees system said my results would be ready within four hours.

AN IMPORTANT BASIC GUIDELINE
There is a basic guideline we all need to remember when searching for an ancestor:

TRY ALL POSSIBLE SPELLINGS OF THE SURNAME. A misspelled surname is one of the most common obstacles to finding an ancestor. Searching for a variant spelling of a surname using MyTrees is easy. Click the Ancestral Archive link on the Home Page and then click the "Name Variant" button on the Search screen. Enter the name for which you would like to find a soundex variant spelling. Choose from the list of names by clicking the box in front of the name variant for which you would like to search. Then click the submit selection button. If there are other name variants you would like searched add a comma then the name without a space into the surname field.

For instance, Gwen was looking for Austin Wardwell. You can image with a surname like that, it could easily be misspelled. So, to search for alternatives, she clicked the "Name Variants" button. Names such as these were suggested: Waerdal, Wordell, Wurdel, Wirtel, Wertella. "I definitely would never have thought to search under those names! What a wonderful service," Gwen exclaimed.

Given name variations also exist such as Bob for Robert, Ernie for Ernest, Fate for Lafayette, Polly for Mary, Ellie for Elizabeth, and other possibilities that might not be provided in a genealogical search engine. A single letter or no given name may be used in the MyTrees search.

Be sure to capture the complete descriptions provided in these online and published sources because often a description may include a location with the surname. A location will help the researcher identify sources they should search.

DEVELOPING A RESEARCH PLAN

How do we keep track of what we have done and what we are going to do? In Tim's world of traditional genealogy research, the typical "research planner" is used. Tim explained that he bought a "research planner" form from GRAonline . This Research Planner form is not used to log what you have found, but is used to write down a plan in advance of what you want to do if you ever get a chance to go to the repository (library, archives, manuscript collection) where the documents are held. The card catalog of the library or each repository can be used as the key to their collection. The sources are usually listed in the catalog by title, locality, author, or subject. The trick is knowing under what locality or subject the information you need might be found. It might be helpful at this time to look up the location in a gazetteer or atlas to get your bearings.

"Yeah, That's a fact," says Gwen. "Internet users really need to know the locality, subject, and surname to find something meaningful using an Internet search engine."

Tim responds, "Some traditional research work may need to be done before meaningful results can be obtained from the Internet. For instance, to find information on a place in a given county, you would need to know when that county began. The boundaries of most counties and states changed over time. If you are searching in the county as it exists today and can't find any records and you have not checked to find when the given county was created and what county or territory it was created from, you might assume the records were lost for that county during time period, when in fact, the records may be part of an adjacent county's collection because the boundary of the current county used to include the adjacent county."

"I like to use the computer program ANIMap which stands for Animated Maps" states Karen. "I can see any county in the United States during all its years of existence and determine just when the county was formed and what it looked like then and now ... I also purchased the Family History Library Catalog on CD because I can't always get online. I can cut and paste my selections from the catalog into an electronic Research Planner for later use. I also have purchased CD copies of the genealogy collections of 15 major libraries. This makes it easier for me to discover what is available in a particular time period."

Gwen adds, "I like to search library catalogs on the Internet; my favorite is the one at FamilySearch.org. They have a helpful research guidance system as well. Also you might want to search USGenWeb.org, Rootsweb.com, or other research sites."

"Is there a place on MyTrees.com to put our research logs to track what we have searched in MyTrees?" Karen asks.

"Yes," Gwen answers, "The program keeps track of all the search results until you clear the searches out of the computer." She demonstrates how this is done by scrolling down the page below the "Research Results" screen to the "Work List." "All of my previous searches are saved in a list, so I know for whom I have searched. Even more helpful would be if these were dated with the date that the search was performed. I'm confident that the MyTrees programmers would consider such a suggestion."

Tim notes, "I filled out a family group record for each family, adding any new historical notes on county information as well. I tried to be consistent in the way I record the information on the pedigree charts and family group records, using the same format of first name, last name and the same order for the dates of day, month and year. I also consistently used standard abbreviations for the months, states, repositories, etc" Tim explains. "It's my job to find out where everyone obtained their information and if it was documented."

Tim continues, "I remember one Aunt insisting that my Great-Grandfather had died in Illinois rather than Indiana which is contrary to what everyone else had always believed. I kept her talking until she said she had seen the information in an old Bible record. After another five minutes of discussion, she remembered that my cousin had that Bible in her possession and I should contact her for copies. She then gave me this cousin's phone number and address so that I could get in touch with her that day."

"It is important for a researcher to keep people talking about the sources of their information" Tim states, "it often stirs their memory and can give a researcher an abundance of information that would have otherwise gone uncovered. I keep all the names and addresses of those whom I have contacted in a phone tree list for future reference and include the dates I contacted them and notes on each conversation. This phone tree continues to be useful over time as I often need to contact certain people again for clarification on information they had previously given to me."

Our research team is learning from each other and is finding numerous sources to search. These sources need to be systematically searched. To do this, research plans need to be written down, prioritized, and searched. How to create a research plan will be covered in the next lesson.

Article written by Karen Clifford from Genealogy Research Associates. Sponsored by MyTrees.com.

Copyright ©: 2011 Karen Clifford. All rights reserved.

No reproduction of this article may be used without the express written permission of the author.

Newsletters

Select Newsletter by Issue or Topic:

Genealogy HowTo
Issue: Aug 7, 2002

LESSON 2 Solving Genealogy Problems by Developing a Personal Research Team
By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA

A PERSONAL RESEARCH TEAM

As you may remember last month, we came up with our personal research team. Tim was the traditional genealogist who felt uncomfortable with the computer and the Internet but loved genealogy. He generated lots of ideas and the rest of the team put the Internet and Computer to work to help him achieve these ideas. He would get documents for us, compose letters or find addresses of where to write, and wasn't afraid to follow-up on details when others of the team were busy. His pleasant manner aided the whole team several times, particularly when getting needed information from others.

Gwen was our Internet expert. She loves to use the Internet and its many features to help us find what we are looking for. She knows how to order flowers to send to mom via the Internet. She sends virtual Birthday cards to the rest of the family and can order books online for us. She knows how to use search engines, directories, and how to find mailing information on relatives. We designated her our team administrator for our MyTrees.com site. She teaches us how to use the MyTrees.com site as well, and she spends more time on it than the rest of the team because she just loves it.

Our third team member Karen uses the computer to keep track of relatives and collateral individuals that Gwen finds on the Internet. She builds databases, and research lists for our team. She has even put name and address lists into her PDA and has made us a simple database program. She can store and label images of documents in computer files and can even burn them onto a CD. She is always taking classes on subjects the rest of us don't understand.

Personal research teams are effective in providing the peer review function. In a university setting a "peer review" is often done on research so that others may offer suggestions for improvement. When a pedigree is displayed on MyTrees.com a similar "peer review" function is performed. When researchers post their information, as well as their sources it allows other researchers the opportunity to offer suggestions easily by emailing the researcher who posted the data.

SURVEY OF PREVIOUS RESEARCH

In our last newsletter, we started our Internet survey at MyTrees.com with the MyTrees PLUS search, and we found several individuals who looked identical to our ancestors. Each entry found in the MyTrees PLUS search result listed the submitter's name, address, email, and telephone number so we could get in touch with a possible distant cousin. Many of the entries had sources and notes attached which is a good indication that the submitter cared about their work.

This month the team decided to do a traditional survey in the Library of Congress surname collections found at major libraries which contain published genealogies of all kinds. Gwen indicated that MyTrees.com automatically searches the end of line individuals in our database and matches them against their 128 million surname collection. This search also includes a link to the search results of FamilySearch.org, another large collection of surnames. Karen pointed out to the team that several CD Collections of surnames are also available, including the Pedigree Resource File which is only indexed at FamilySearch.org, but not displayed online, and other published family histories through the Genealogical Publishing Company.

Doing the MyTrees.com end-of-line search is quite easy. Remember, last month I uploaded our team's GEDCOM to the MyTrees.com. Today, after logging into our personal account, I clicked the MyTrees PLUS Search link on the home page. On the page which followed, I clicked the End-of-Line Research option. MyTrees.com searched for those individuals who were at the end of our pedigree lines, in other words, the individuals who did not have parents listed. The MyTrees system said my results would be ready within four hours.

AN IMPORTANT BASIC GUIDELINE
There is a basic guideline we all need to remember when searching for an ancestor:

TRY ALL POSSIBLE SPELLINGS OF THE SURNAME. A misspelled surname is one of the most common obstacles to finding an ancestor. Searching for a variant spelling of a surname using MyTrees is easy. Click the Ancestral Archive link on the Home Page and then click the "Name Variant" button on the Search screen. Enter the name for which you would like to find a soundex variant spelling. Choose from the list of names by clicking the box in front of the name variant for which you would like to search. Then click the submit selection button. If there are other name variants you would like searched add a comma then the name without a space into the surname field.

For instance, Gwen was looking for Austin Wardwell. You can image with a surname like that, it could easily be misspelled. So, to search for alternatives, she clicked the "Name Variants" button. Names such as these were suggested: Waerdal, Wordell, Wurdel, Wirtel, Wertella. "I definitely would never have thought to search under those names! What a wonderful service," Gwen exclaimed.

Given name variations also exist such as Bob for Robert, Ernie for Ernest, Fate for Lafayette, Polly for Mary, Ellie for Elizabeth, and other possibilities that might not be provided in a genealogical search engine. A single letter or no given name may be used in the MyTrees search.

Be sure to capture the complete descriptions provided in these online and published sources because often a description may include a location with the surname. A location will help the researcher identify sources they should search.

DEVELOPING A RESEARCH PLAN

How do we keep track of what we have done and what we are going to do? In Tim's world of traditional genealogy research, the typical "research planner" is used. Tim explained that he bought a "research planner" form from GRAonline . This Research Planner form is not used to log what you have found, but is used to write down a plan in advance of what you want to do if you ever get a chance to go to the repository (library, archives, manuscript collection) where the documents are held. The card catalog of the library or each repository can be used as the key to their collection. The sources are usually listed in the catalog by title, locality, author, or subject. The trick is knowing under what locality or subject the information you need might be found. It might be helpful at this time to look up the location in a gazetteer or atlas to get your bearings.

"Yeah, That's a fact," says Gwen. "Internet users really need to know the locality, subject, and surname to find something meaningful using an Internet search engine."

Tim responds, "Some traditional research work may need to be done before meaningful results can be obtained from the Internet. For instance, to find information on a place in a given county, you would need to know when that county began. The boundaries of most counties and states changed over time. If you are searching in the county as it exists today and can't find any records and you have not checked to find when the given county was created and what county or territory it was created from, you might assume the records were lost for that county during time period, when in fact, the records may be part of an adjacent county's collection because the boundary of the current county used to include the adjacent county."

"I like to use the computer program ANIMap which stands for Animated Maps" states Karen. "I can see any county in the United States during all its years of existence and determine just when the county was formed and what it looked like then and now ... I also purchased the Family History Library Catalog on CD because I can't always get online. I can cut and paste my selections from the catalog into an electronic Research Planner for later use. I also have purchased CD copies of the genealogy collections of 15 major libraries. This makes it easier for me to discover what is available in a particular time period."

Gwen adds, "I like to search library catalogs on the Internet; my favorite is the one at FamilySearch.org. They have a helpful research guidance system as well. Also you might want to search USGenWeb.org, Rootsweb.com, or other research sites."

"Is there a place on MyTrees.com to put our research logs to track what we have searched in MyTrees?" Karen asks.

"Yes," Gwen answers, "The program keeps track of all the search results until you clear the searches out of the computer." She demonstrates how this is done by scrolling down the page below the "Research Results" screen to the "Work List." "All of my previous searches are saved in a list, so I know for whom I have searched. Even more helpful would be if these were dated with the date that the search was performed. I'm confident that the MyTrees programmers would consider such a suggestion."

Tim notes, "I filled out a family group record for each family, adding any new historical notes on county information as well. I tried to be consistent in the way I record the information on the pedigree charts and family group records, using the same format of first name, last name and the same order for the dates of day, month and year. I also consistently used standard abbreviations for the months, states, repositories, etc" Tim explains. "It's my job to find out where everyone obtained their information and if it was documented."

Tim continues, "I remember one Aunt insisting that my Great-Grandfather had died in Illinois rather than Indiana which is contrary to what everyone else had always believed. I kept her talking until she said she had seen the information in an old Bible record. After another five minutes of discussion, she remembered that my cousin had that Bible in her possession and I should contact her for copies. She then gave me this cousin's phone number and address so that I could get in touch with her that day."

"It is important for a researcher to keep people talking about the sources of their information" Tim states, "it often stirs their memory and can give a researcher an abundance of information that would have otherwise gone uncovered. I keep all the names and addresses of those whom I have contacted in a phone tree list for future reference and include the dates I contacted them and notes on each conversation. This phone tree continues to be useful over time as I often need to contact certain people again for clarification on information they had previously given to me."

Our research team is learning from each other and is finding numerous sources to search. These sources need to be systematically searched. To do this, research plans need to be written down, prioritized, and searched. How to create a research plan will be covered in the next lesson.

Article written by Karen Clifford from Genealogy Research Associates. Sponsored by MyTrees.com.

Copyright ©: 2011 Karen Clifford. All rights reserved.

No reproduction of this article may be used without the express written permission of the author.

Newsletters

Select Newsletter by Issue or Topic:

Genealogy HowTo
Issue: Aug 7, 2002

LESSON 2 Solving Genealogy Problems by Developing a Personal Research Team
By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA

A PERSONAL RESEARCH TEAM

As you may remember last month, we came up with our personal research team. Tim was the traditional genealogist who felt uncomfortable with the computer and the Internet but loved genealogy. He generated lots of ideas and the rest of the team put the Internet and Computer to work to help him achieve these ideas. He would get documents for us, compose letters or find addresses of where to write, and wasn't afraid to follow-up on details when others of the team were busy. His pleasant manner aided the whole team several times, particularly when getting needed information from others.

Gwen was our Internet expert. She loves to use the Internet and its many features to help us find what we are looking for. She knows how to order flowers to send to mom via the Internet. She sends virtual Birthday cards to the rest of the family and can order books online for us. She knows how to use search engines, directories, and how to find mailing information on relatives. We designated her our team administrator for our MyTrees.com site. She teaches us how to use the MyTrees.com site as well, and she spends more time on it than the rest of the team because she just loves it.

Our third team member Karen uses the computer to keep track of relatives and collateral individuals that Gwen finds on the Internet. She builds databases, and research lists for our team. She has even put name and address lists into her PDA and has made us a simple database program. She can store and label images of documents in computer files and can even burn them onto a CD. She is always taking classes on subjects the rest of us don't understand.

Personal research teams are effective in providing the peer review function. In a university setting a "peer review" is often done on research so that others may offer suggestions for improvement. When a pedigree is displayed on MyTrees.com a similar "peer review" function is performed. When researchers post their information, as well as their sources it allows other researchers the opportunity to offer suggestions easily by emailing the researcher who posted the data.

SURVEY OF PREVIOUS RESEARCH

In our last newsletter, we started our Internet survey at MyTrees.com with the MyTrees PLUS search, and we found several individuals who looked identical to our ancestors. Each entry found in the MyTrees PLUS search result listed the submitter's name, address, email, and telephone number so we could get in touch with a possible distant cousin. Many of the entries had sources and notes attached which is a good indication that the submitter cared about their work.

This month the team decided to do a traditional survey in the Library of Congress surname collections found at major libraries which contain published genealogies of all kinds. Gwen indicated that MyTrees.com automatically searches the end of line individuals in our database and matches them against their 128 million surname collection. This search also includes a link to the search results of FamilySearch.org, another large collection of surnames. Karen pointed out to the team that several CD Collections of surnames are also available, including the Pedigree Resource File which is only indexed at FamilySearch.org, but not displayed online, and other published family histories through the Genealogical Publishing Company.

Doing the MyTrees.com end-of-line search is quite easy. Remember, last month I uploaded our team's GEDCOM to the MyTrees.com. Today, after logging into our personal account, I clicked the MyTrees PLUS Search link on the home page. On the page which followed, I clicked the End-of-Line Research option. MyTrees.com searched for those individuals who were at the end of our pedigree lines, in other words, the individuals who did not have parents listed. The MyTrees system said my results would be ready within four hours.

AN IMPORTANT BASIC GUIDELINE
There is a basic guideline we all need to remember when searching for an ancestor:

TRY ALL POSSIBLE SPELLINGS OF THE SURNAME. A misspelled surname is one of the most common obstacles to finding an ancestor. Searching for a variant spelling of a surname using MyTrees is easy. Click the Ancestral Archive link on the Home Page and then click the "Name Variant" button on the Search screen. Enter the name for which you would like to find a soundex variant spelling. Choose from the list of names by clicking the box in front of the name variant for which you would like to search. Then click the submit selection button. If there are other name variants you would like searched add a comma then the name without a space into the surname field.

For instance, Gwen was looking for Austin Wardwell. You can image with a surname like that, it could easily be misspelled. So, to search for alternatives, she clicked the "Name Variants" button. Names such as these were suggested: Waerdal, Wordell, Wurdel, Wirtel, Wertella. "I definitely would never have thought to search under those names! What a wonderful service," Gwen exclaimed.

Given name variations also exist such as Bob for Robert, Ernie for Ernest, Fate for Lafayette, Polly for Mary, Ellie for Elizabeth, and other possibilities that might not be provided in a genealogical search engine. A single letter or no given name may be used in the MyTrees search.

Be sure to capture the complete descriptions provided in these online and published sources because often a description may include a location with the surname. A location will help the researcher identify sources they should search.

DEVELOPING A RESEARCH PLAN

How do we keep track of what we have done and what we are going to do? In Tim's world of traditional genealogy research, the typical "research planner" is used. Tim explained that he bought a "research planner" form from GRAonline . This Research Planner form is not used to log what you have found, but is used to write down a plan in advance of what you want to do if you ever get a chance to go to the repository (library, archives, manuscript collection) where the documents are held. The card catalog of the library or each repository can be used as the key to their collection. The sources are usually listed in the catalog by title, locality, author, or subject. The trick is knowing under what locality or subject the information you need might be found. It might be helpful at this time to look up the location in a gazetteer or atlas to get your bearings.

"Yeah, That's a fact," says Gwen. "Internet users really need to know the locality, subject, and surname to find something meaningful using an Internet search engine."

Tim responds, "Some traditional research work may need to be done before meaningful results can be obtained from the Internet. For instance, to find information on a place in a given county, you would need to know when that county began. The boundaries of most counties and states changed over time. If you are searching in the county as it exists today and can't find any records and you have not checked to find when the given county was created and what county or territory it was created from, you might assume the records were lost for that county during time period, when in fact, the records may be part of an adjacent county's collection because the boundary of the current county used to include the adjacent county."

"I like to use the computer program ANIMap which stands for Animated Maps" states Karen. "I can see any county in the United States during all its years of existence and determine just when the county was formed and what it looked like then and now ... I also purchased the Family History Library Catalog on CD because I can't always get online. I can cut and paste my selections from the catalog into an electronic Research Planner for later use. I also have purchased CD copies of the genealogy collections of 15 major libraries. This makes it easier for me to discover what is available in a particular time period."

Gwen adds, "I like to search library catalogs on the Internet; my favorite is the one at FamilySearch.org. They have a helpful research guidance system as well. Also you might want to search USGenWeb.org, Rootsweb.com, or other research sites."

"Is there a place on MyTrees.com to put our research logs to track what we have searched in MyTrees?" Karen asks.

"Yes," Gwen answers, "The program keeps track of all the search results until you clear the searches out of the computer." She demonstrates how this is done by scrolling down the page below the "Research Results" screen to the "Work List." "All of my previous searches are saved in a list, so I know for whom I have searched. Even more helpful would be if these were dated with the date that the search was performed. I'm confident that the MyTrees programmers would consider such a suggestion."

Tim notes, "I filled out a family group record for each family, adding any new historical notes on county information as well. I tried to be consistent in the way I record the information on the pedigree charts and family group records, using the same format of first name, last name and the same order for the dates of day, month and year. I also consistently used standard abbreviations for the months, states, repositories, etc" Tim explains. "It's my job to find out where everyone obtained their information and if it was documented."

Tim continues, "I remember one Aunt insisting that my Great-Grandfather had died in Illinois rather than Indiana which is contrary to what everyone else had always believed. I kept her talking until she said she had seen the information in an old Bible record. After another five minutes of discussion, she remembered that my cousin had that Bible in her possession and I should contact her for copies. She then gave me this cousin's phone number and address so that I could get in touch with her that day."

"It is important for a researcher to keep people talking about the sources of their information" Tim states, "it often stirs their memory and can give a researcher an abundance of information that would have otherwise gone uncovered. I keep all the names and addresses of those whom I have contacted in a phone tree list for future reference and include the dates I contacted them and notes on each conversation. This phone tree continues to be useful over time as I often need to contact certain people again for clarification on information they had previously given to me."

Our research team is learning from each other and is finding numerous sources to search. These sources need to be systematically searched. To do this, research plans need to be written down, prioritized, and searched. How to create a research plan will be covered in the next lesson.

Article written by Karen Clifford from Genealogy Research Associates. Sponsored by MyTrees.com.

Copyright ©: 2011 Karen Clifford. All rights reserved.

No reproduction of this article may be used without the express written permission of the author.

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