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I have a project that needs some serious research planning. It's your typical genealogy "project." It involves an entire family which means many branches over many generations. The problem is being in the midst of research and needing to start thinking about this project as several smaller projects---with attainable goals. Until now I had no trouble creating research plans for specific goals, but the project has reached a point where it has become unwieldy in my mind. This is pretty typical. You start with yourself, one person and then go to your parents, two people, grandparents, etc. Suddenly you realize you're scrambling from couple to couple instead of researching a family. That's the obvious sign it's time to set goals and subdivide your project. ...
It seemed redundant to write an article about using Evernote for Travel from scratch because it doesn't matter if you are travelling for genealogy or any other reason, the basics are pretty much the same. If you've read some of my other articles, you also know I'm a big fan of "everyone does it differently" so I decided I could best address those differences by seeking out advice from different sources. This will give you some variety without me "imagining" how someone else might do something. ...
Lecture handouts may be one of your greatest at-home resources. They are pretty much useless if you can't find them, though. I was never able to keep up with my paper handouts. It's hard enough to file your research documents (we all just LOVE filing, right?) so there's certainly little time left to file other papers. There's also the question of how you will file and find handouts. Many will cover several topics but you may also want to find something from an event. Having electronic files is better since you can search certain types of files but it can still be time-consuming. For me, Evernote was the perfect solution for making my handouts a useable resource. I think it can be the solution for you, too. I'm still working on getting years worth of handouts digitized (because scanning is almost as much fun as filing). Nearly all my current handouts go straight into Evernote and I use them so much more and I can usually find "answers" to questions...
Happy Earth Day! I think it's natural for a genealogist to celebrate this event, we're always talking about trees, roots, branches, and preservation. But then there's our little problem with paper. Genealogists are notorious paper users. I would love to have a completely paper-free office, and I've worked toward that. Still, when I use paper, I often use a lot. At the moment, the wall next to my desk is covered in pedigree charts for a select group of my atDNA matches. I did a pretty good job of reducing the paper needed for that project, but I really did feel I needed paper (see this post for tips on reducing paper when you have to print ). So, in an effort to help you reduce the amount of paper you use, I've created some more Evernote forms. I've gone with two very basic forms that don't fall under my "Everything Else" category which I'll be lecturing about in two weeks at the National Genealogical Society Conference in the States in F...
Friday is Earth Day so this week's posts have a digital theme even if they aren't just for Occasional Genealogists. Yesterday, I posted about eBooks which may or may not help you save the Earth (not driving to a library, having a book mailed to you, or moving physical books could reduce your carbon footprint, so it sorta fits my theme). Today's post speaks to the Earth Day theme. I admit it, even though I love keeping everything electronically, sometimes I just have to print something out. Genealogy can be unwieldy in many ways. Sometimes you just can't fit what you need on a screen or you just need to mark it up in a way you can't digitally. For genealogists less digitally inclined than me, even more paper is "created." So here are three easy tips to help any genealogist reduce the amount of paper they use. These are suggestions for when only paper will do. The best suggestion for reducing paper is to save a digital copy instead (print or sav...
Update! This post originally contained a long introduction about using books as sources. That's been moved to its own post, here . Information specific to ebooks has been left in this post and I've added links to some shops where you can purchase genealogy ebooks. There are lots of ebooks for genealogy out there. Many are FREE!!! I hope this isn't news to you. If it is, you're missing out on a great, usually free, online resource that is pretty simple to use. [ learn about using books as a source, here ]. Search Problems One pitfall specific to ebooks is search accuracy. Ebooks are mainly OCR searched. Occasionally you will find a fairly recent book that is digitized directly from the file, but most genealogy books are older. Depending on the style of text and condition of the book, the accuracy of the OCR results will vary. Although OCR technology is constantly improving, some books will consistently have problems because the text is barely legible...
Your taxes aren't due today so let's celebrate with another free form! Today's form is one you can print or use digitally. You can download a copy in the Resource Library (you'll need a password but it's free to Occasional Genealogists subscribers,  click here  to subscribe). Historic tax lists come in a variety of types, so this is a pretty difficult generic form to create. What I've done is give you a few questions to get you started (I'm assuming you're pretty new to tax research). For a beginner, the most important piece of information may be the type of tax/list you are using. You need to understand the purpose of the list to understand all the clues it may provide. Try to learn a bit about the type of lists you should find before you head off to do research. If you don't do this, make sure you determine what kind of list you are using and make note of it so you can look up further information later. Just a warning, if you don't ...
You may have noticed from some of my previous posts that I love Pinterest. The general concept, a cork board with ideas stuck on it, works for the way my brain works (I also love Trello which is a similar concept, so check that out if you like to see everything on an idea board). Pinterest isn't great for genealogy because it is designed for image ideas and not all genealogy ideas come with a pinnable image. Still, Pinterest is a top stop for many genealogists seeking knowledge and inspiration. I personally use Evernote's web clipper more for genealogy material. It gives me the same abilities as pinning, but for textual material, and that's mostly what I save. More and more genealogical material is becoming available via Pinterest (you can check out The Occasional Genealogist boards, here ). This is a great way for genealogists needing inspiration ("pinspiration") and education to find and organize ideas. If you haven't tried Pinterest for genealogy, ...
Here are 10 record collections (or record types) you can search online for free and with minimal time needed. In a later post, I'll provide additional links to free online records that take longer to use (like newspaper records). That means all of these links are to databases. Some are just indexes. With those, you will need to obtain the referenced record. Some of the databases include links to the online images. Some of the digital images are free, and some require an additional payment or a subscription to a site. 1. FamilySearch.org https://familysearch.org/search/ FamilySearch.org is free to use. It does include some links to online images at "partner" sites which are not free to use from home. If you are in a Family History Center, you will be able to access the online images for free. That being said, nearly all of the images are available for free, so this tops my list of easy and free online collections although it isn't technically one collection. ...
This post is inspired by one I previously wrote for my professional blog. The original post was titled "Why Can't I Find Any New Information?" and is included at the end of this post. At the time, I was in the midst of a lot of small projects from mostly novice researchers and I wanted to address an issue I was seeing over and over again. I wasn't surprised most people had done some research on Ancestry.com (almost exclusively on Ancestry.com, really). Mixed in with that information was information that came from relatives or personal knowledge. This is very common and there's nothing wrong with it. Every genealogist has to start with some information and then start researching based on that information. Today, research often starts online. The problem was, I often couldn't tell the two apart. If you see the problem without reading further, you probably are at least attempting to solve the problem. If you don't see a problem, you need...
Previously, I posted a free census comparison (or correlation) form you could use in Evernote. In that post I said I assumed you had identified the correct family. This is the follow-up about adjusting the form if you want to use census comparison to determine if several census records are the same family. If you are unsure if you've found the right person, you can always "keep" a record and use correlation to see how well that person matches with the people in other records you are sure about. RELATED POST: Automated Searches: Dealing with the Wrong Person How "Questionable" Comparisons Differ If you don't know if you have the right person, you will need to use other "data points." I briefly used this term in my previous post. It's not a common genealogical term but to me it is a universal term (not specific to one industry) that highlights how you are going to use the information from the census. ...
This post is a follow-up to my post about using enumerator instructions for census research . Check it out to learn about all the great information you might be missing in census records. A great thing for Occasional Genealogists (OGs) to do when they don't have a lot of time is correlate or compare census data across years. It's something every researcher should do; it has a lot of benefit, yet can be done in short sessions. It's the perfect OG mini-project! Census comparison is actually one of the things I used to do when I was an OG without access to records. I didn't know it was so important and I rather thought I was taking a kindergarten approach to genealogy. I like to lay things out in tables. Before having a computer, I would have done this on a wall, all over the floor, or with art supplies; that's what made it seem like a kindergarten project. ...

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