Sep 152011

1. “Keep a Record of your Genealogy in a Research Logs”
I have suffered major genealogical guilt because I have not consistently entered my searches, finds, and non-finds in a research calendar / log.  When I have used a research log it has been as a temporary holding place until I can transfer the information to my personal Research Wiki..  My Wiki is
well organized and cross-referenced (via hyperlinks). As a result, any research logs that I have created sit empty, devoid of content.  Quite frankly, I not sure that I ‘believe in’ research logs.  The genealogy gods are not happy!

2. “Keep Families Organized with Family Group Reports” and “Keep a Copy of the Appropriate Pedigree with each Set of Records.”
So much emphasis is placed on paper genealogy forms that I have a computer folder filled with copies of forms and hot links for more forms: pedigree charts, family group reports, ahnentafels and descendancy charts, census extractions, etc.   I have forms as PDF files, as text files for my word processor, and spreadsheets.  But, genealogical slug thst I am, I don’t use them.  If I need a paper copy, I will just print it out from RootsMagic.  Most of the time, however, I am developing wiki-pages for our online family tree.  I think my grandchildren will benefit more from these.  And the genealogy gods are frowning!

3. “Have a Goal for Every Search” and “Don’t Waste Time by Repeat Searches”
I know that every bit of genealogical research is supposed to begin with a goal AND the process of the search is supposed to be well documented (research logs, again)…   All this so that I won’t waste time.  Hey! It’s my time and I don’t mind wasting it occasionally.  I’m a browser, much like a snorkeler swimming on the surface most of the time and then diving deep when something catches my eye.  Sometimes my research is one thing leading to another, which takes me in a different direction, which leads to something else, which …   Well, sometimes I find the most interesting information about ancestors in places I never would have thought to look.  What a remarkable  way to waste time!  And the genealogy gods are cringing in horror.

4.  “Cite Every Source using one of the Standard Formats”
Now I am going to risk being excommunicated and/or shunned by the genealogy gods.  I don’t slavishly follow one source citation formatting style — not APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian…   nor even Richard Lackey or Elizabeth Shown Mills.  Don’t get me wrong…  I am doing my best to make sure that I get sources cited, but I’m not disturbed if I use a comma where there is suppoesed to be a semi-colon or italicize the wrong words.  I often find myself searching through ESM’s “Evidence!” looking for a ‘proper’ source format, but I sometimes lose my way…  likely ending up with a citation format that doesn’t look like any of the standard formats…  but all the information will probably be there.  I want my citations to be pointers to the source, but not necessarily a work of art to be displayed in a museum.  Was that the sound of a door slamming as the genealogy gods left the building?

No! I am not just another genealogical curmudgeon, happy to dispute anything that looks like standard procedures.  Instead, I do my genealogical research out of a deep love for the task AND with a deep and abiding appreciation for those who have paved the way and, along the way, have taught all of us so much.  I don’t, however, do my genealogical research for them; I do it to leave a legacy for my grandchildren (now ages 7 and almost 5).  By the time they are old enough, they will be able to read the stories and review the events of a significant number of their ancestors.  If they are so inclined, they will be able to trace back my research to the original sources and then expand upon those sources to discover more ancestors.  For me, that’s what this marvelous adventure / hobby / passion / addiction called “genealogy” is all about.  What’s that?  Did I just see the beginnings of a smile on the faces of the genealogy gods?

  5 Responses to “On Not Listening to the Genealogy Gods”

  1. This is a great post full of food for thought!

    I've never been really good at the research log thing – but I do often times note what I've searched in my RootsMagic database just so I don't get the deja vu feeling.

    I am also a firm believer in checking things over after time has passed because we can often see things in a new light – because of more genealogy education or something else that was learned.

    I also am not concerned if I cite my sources in EE format – my main concern is for myself and someone else to easily be able to find the source that I am citing. I don't care about the commas or italics or underlines or things like that. As long as someone can find it, that is all that matters to me.

  2. I think that the "meandering" approach definitely has its strengths, and one of the many reasons is that I seem to make so many major finds just from casual browsing. Also, I think the main thing is to have all of the information; I try to follow ESM, but I like to group and arrange citations according to my own classification system, which is the most useful to me. Also, it sounds like your Research Wiki has all the information you would need from a research log – again, the information is organized the way you need it to be so that you can find it and use it. Great post with lots of insight!

  3. What a common sense approach. Amen.

  4. Gee Whiz, maybe I should start a reasearch log…I also find major finds from just browing. Perhaps I should get more organized….

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    You've made my head stop sweating from the brow.
    You've reduced my blood pressure.
    You've just echoed the worries of so many family historians who don't want to spend enormous amounts of time slogging through the citation maze.

    Your post is a breath of welcomed fresh air!

    Peace & Blessings,
    "Guided by the Ancestors"

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