22 January 2013

Tuesday's Tip: Start It Right From the Beginning

I have been "working" my genealogy for close to 27 years now. Yes I say work because I didn't think of it as just play. In fact there have been a lot of people in and around my world of late who have used that word "play" to describe so many of the things that they do. Playing can be a good descriptive word but it also has the tendency, in my opinion, to not take seriously one's art form. For me the art form is genealogy and the study of family.

So for all of these years even though I thought I was working my family in my reality I was playing. It was when I enrolled last year in the ProGen Study Group that I realized that even though I thought I was working I really wasn't to my full capacity. That was because I really hadn't learned all of the things I should have from the beginning correctly. I am a self taught genealogist and that being said I can tell you that I have missed things along the way. Catch up can be a nightmare but I am bound and determined.

When I first started to do all of this there was very little internet and software programs were pretty much nonexistent. I was a microfilm, paper and pencil kind of researcher. In fact there are still times that I like to work that way. In my current studies my homework assignments lead me to do some things that I should have been doing all along, such as correspondence logs, research logs, research plans and the one that I have just finished working on…the research report. In fact it was in this last assignment that most things have started to really come together for me.

That is why Tuesday's tip would be that if you are a beginning genealogist learn it correctly from the onset. Don't think that you should go on a website, click a few leaves and you have instant family. You need to fill out the research log so that you don't duplicate your time spent. You need to cite every single source correctly so that you won't have to go back and play catch-up. Build a research plan and don't make it the size of the elephant in the room so to speak. It is so easy to take hold of that first find in your search and run with it to the next find. I know how many times I have been guilty of just that. Education has taught me differently now.

Find a good quality genealogy course if you can afford to do that. If not go to some excellent quality books. Read the reviews first. Sometimes you might find a good reasonably priced course in your local area, check your public library or adult education courses. If whatever you choose does not teach you about some of the things I have talked about here in the beginning then my suggestion to you is find another. These things are so important.

So join the genealogy craze that is sweeping the earth but do it smartly from the start.

Until next we meet… Create a smart appointment for yourself!


  1. I second your advice to new genealogists. It is much more difficult to undo what you have done incorrectly and is a waste of precious genealogy time to spin your wheels. I would also add to look at the free learning available at FamilySearch, as well as the many webinars out there on a variety of topics. There are many learning opportunities available at little to no cost if you look for them. Like you, I am learning a lot on the ProGen group, which is very cost-effective for a study group that lasts a year and a half!

  2. Wow! Very impressive and terrific advice! Wish I'd read this when I first started. The graphics are totally cool! Love scrolling "through the leaves"!