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As I write this (which is obviously well before you're reading it), there are three weekends until Christmas. Do you think it's time to start planning for the new year? As an Occasional Genealogist, someone that doesn't have a lot of time for their own family history research, setting genealogy goals for the new year is vital. I've created five steps just for Occasional Genealogists so you can do more genealogy next year. Previous year review Broad interest or goal identification Refining your interests/goals Correlating your previous year review with your refinements Finalizing your resolutions/goals Deciding what you want to focus on and what kind of time you have available are a must if you want to do more genealogy. This post will cover each step and show you how easy it can be to set achievable genealogy goals or how to adjust when a goal isn't achievable. Let's get started! ...
Do you want to bring home copies of genealogy records to reference later? This is a great strategy to save time at a repository you don't get to visit often or even to bring home finding aids. Maybe you know there's something you don't know. Referring to a copy rather than just your own notes can help you learn more later. Maybe you just like keeping a copy in addition to your notes. It's not a bad idea. But paper copies can be expensive and a pain to manage. Digital's the way to go, right? But how do you digitize records when the repository doesn't give you an easy way? And then how do you manage your digital copies (that is, how do you file them and find them again). In my previous post, I talked about options for DIY digitization and the extremely important considerations you need to make before investing in a scanner. You might want to read that post first, so you understand why I recommend this method instead of different equipment. I'll wait w...
Last spring I wrote a post about subscription savings , digitizing records, and Evernote . It was actually a combo post of three topics/ideas that segued from one to the other but that I didn't think each had sufficient material for a post. I'm more verbose than I thought. Now there are three posts. Here is the "digitizing" content which stemmed from a reader question. ...
Create a Genealogy To-do List Can you say decision fatigue? That phrase was actually the note I made to myself, so I'd know what this blog post title was really supposed to be about. Is it what you expected? It's not what I expected the first time I opened the draft post after thinking of the title. It IS the reason you need a genealogy to-do list. But I'm pretty sure I need to clarify what kind of to-do list I'm talking about. Once we're done, you should know why you need a list and be ready to start one. At the minimum, you should find these types of tasks on your list: Planning Research Analyzing Reporting Education Organization ...
How do professional genealogists accomplish so much more? Is it simply knowledge? Do they know more than you? Is it just experience? Have they been clued-in to some secret or magic formula? The magic theory seems to be pretty popular. In fact, it seems to be the belief held by many people that hire a professional genealogist. Because that's the reason some people will give for not wanting to pay their bill, they say "I could have done this!" Yes, you could. If you have the knowledge, which comes from experience. ...
The original version of this post appeared on blog.jpgenealogy.com. All relevant posts are being migrated here in preparation for that blog to be closed. This post contains affiliate links. Where was he born? Why isn't he in the 1860 census? Is this record for the same man or a different man of the same name? These are the questions every genealogist is constantly trying to answer. Would you spend an hour identifying a record that could answer these questions? Of course you would. Read-on and make sure to get the free checklist to help make getting this record even easier (for every ancestor it applies to). ...
This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure page for more information. I know I just wrote about DNA (I'm trying to save you some money while kits are on sale!) but I just found an even cheaper way to get into genetic genealogy and it doesn't involve products that fell off the back of a van or selling vital organs. It's totally legit. This is the cheapest way I 've found to get a DNA test, consistently. You might find a better deal from a Groupon or through GiltCity (or similar sites) but this is an option any time you suddenly NEED to jump into genetic genealogy. Cheap DNA Tests for Genealogy ...
I love using DNA for genealogy. That means I talk to a lot of people about DNA, whether they are "genealogists" or not. One thing I constantly tell people is DNA tests go on sale regularly. And right now (see update below for when is "now") is one of those sales. And this is a pretty big sale because all three types of tests are on sale at FamilyTreeDNA. (and yes, you are going to find affiliate links in this post!) [UPDATE: This post is now updated for holiday 2017 sales. Tests do go on sale regularly so I'm leaving the bulk of the post here, as-is, for your reference.] I personally recommend FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) as my top recommendation because they offer all three types of DNA tests. This includes the current most popular type, autosomal DNA, called the "FamilyFinder" at FTDNA (this is the only type of test sold by AncestryDNA , MyHeritageDNA , and is the genealogical component of the tests from 23andMe ). FTDNA also offers YDNA and mtD...
Ten years. Over ten years. I was stuck at a 4th great grandfather for that long. Most of that time I was pretty sure who his father was. But why wasn't there any proof? I was so afraid it was because he was NOT the father. Surely there should have been enough clues to put together (if no direct evidence). I kept chipping away at the problem. I'd squeeze in some research here and there. It was hard. I was a student most of that time, broke and often even short on time. Does this sound like a problem you're having? Are you stuck on one or more ancestors, chipping away, but short on money and time? This post won't help you find more time but let's talk money. ...
I mentioned in last week's post  that one way to save while doing more genealogy is drop a more expensive subscription in favor of a cheaper one (even if that is just a temporary option). This post is going to give you one specific example, newspaper subscriptions (paid AND free options!) This post has been updated (into three separate posts). If you're looking for the digitization information or Evernote information , they are now their own posts. Save on Genealogy Newspaper Subscriptions This post contains affiliate links. Alternative Subscriptions GenealogyBank  is one of my top recommendations of a "cheaper" subscription to consider (I've been a subscriber for years). Keep an eye out for savings offered through their affiliate partners (i.e. other genealogy companies or blogs). This can make this a great way to save and do more research. ...
Happy DNA Day! Are you interested in genetic genealogy? That’s genealogy using DNA testing. There is a great free tool you need to make sure you’re using. Free Tool for DNA Matches ...
This just in... The 2017 NGS Conference app is now available. You can see details at,  http://upfront.ngsgenealogy.org/2017/04/mobile-conference-app-now-available-for.html . I'm posting not just to make sure you know this (if you're attending the conference) but for an additional reason. ...
There is really only one way to save big bucks on your genealogy subscription(s). To get BIG savings you have to apply this method. It is a guaranteed method and probably the best way to also do high-quality research. The great thing is, even if you mess up, it can still save you money, there aren't any complicated coupons or special websites to visit. ...
I LOVE attending the national genealogy conferences. Essentially there are two general national conferences and one specialty national conference. However, don't overlook the large regional conferences, I'm not mentioning them because this post is specifically about the Dos and Don'ts for the two general conferences. No RootsTech Today Let's get the specialty conference out of the way since this post isn't about it, specifically. The specialty conference is RootsTech. If you couldn't guess by the name, it's a technology conference. This is one of the two main differences between it and the two general conferences. The other difference, which is why I'm not including it in this post, is it does not travel. It is held in Salt Lake City each winter/early spring (the date sometimes varies a bit and since I don't know when you're reading this, I don't want to quote you the wrong date). These issues would make my Dos and Don'ts for Root...
Do you know how to identify genealogical clutter? Do you have systems in place to avoid creating clutter in the first place? Genealogical clutter isn't piles of physical papers. Learn how to identify and stop it! Recently I posted on " The Lunchtime Genealogist " series about decluttering your genealogy. I found this an intriguing idea and wanted to encourage others to consider it during a short session of genealogy (their lunch break). Aside from the obvious pile of papers, the concept of genealogical "clutter" needs more explanation, though. I don't have all the answers about decluttering your genealogy but I think I've made a good start. My recently used genealogy files are essentially clutter-free. There is lots of clutter in other parts of my life but I've done a decent job of preventing it in my recent genealogy. Let's jump right in with that suggestion, then. ...
Have you been doing genealogy for a while? Are you asking yourself, "why is my genealogy research stuck?" Do you need new ideas for how to find more genealogy records? Maybe you've been trying to learn more but you keep hearing the same information over and over. Do you simply lack the time to find and read new educational material (whether books, blog posts, or articles)? Why is My Genealogy Research Stuck? Occasional Genealogists need education as much, if not more, than  often genealogists . Your genealogy knowledge grows a lot from experience. If you don't get to research a lot, you can really be hampered by a lack of education. Often beginning and intermediate genealogists get stuck simply because they don't know about another record type or about a technique. It's not that the records don't exist. Sometimes you've already found them. It's what you don't know that has you stuck. When you hit a research plateau, it's p...
The importance of siblings is a topic that can be discussed for any genealogical problem but sometimes it may be the best or only way to research a difficult female ancestor. How Do You Find a Woman's Maiden Name? A Grayscale of Social Interaction There are lots of suggestions for identifying records about your female ancestor but sometimes she just didn't create records. Your female ancestor may not have participated in society in a way that created lasting records. Women at the extremes of society have some of the best records available. Women very involved in social activities or social work may appear in records of those groups or in local histories. Women who defied female norms were likely to appear in court for breaking some law (this could be suffragettes or prostitutes or anything in-between, don't forget there are differences in norms and laws at different points in history). This also applies to a certain degree if her husband was at one end of th...
This post contains affiliate links. Supplies for an Awesome Cemetery Photography Kit How do you take great photos in the cemetery? ...
This post contains affiliate links. A link to my disclosures can be found in the upper right. Today is the anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America. By chance I have a post ready that's all about being prepared. No really, it's by chance. This post suggests a system I've been thinking about. I haven't implemented it, yet. It'll take some planning on my part to get it to become reality. I do intend to share it. I've been wanting to share this idea but was originally planning to implement it, first. Since I haven't done that, I'd love for you to leave a comment with ideas or questions (or you can email me). I think this idea could be a game-changer for many Occasional Genealogists (I hope it is for me). ...
How do you know a genealogy source is correct? You have to learn to evaluate your evidence. It's not as easy as "this is a good source." But it's not rocket science either! This post will help you get started evaluating evidence and determining if the information you're using is quality information. It'll do that by using books (real paper books and ebooks) as a detailed example. Books are an easy starting place to learn this skill and an often overlooked beginner's starting place in this digital world. Determining if genealogy information is right involves learning the tested process of evaluating evidence. This post will: Give you resources to learn the standard for genealogy research. Explain the basic differences between asking "is this source right" and evaluating evidence. Explain how to evaluate evidence found in books, an easy starting place to practice your new skill! I'm going to start by explaining why you should be using...
This post is a bit different because it's not genealogy specific (so if you got here and aren't interested in genealogy, no problem). Anything that can save you time is related to being an Occasional Genealogist which is why I'm including it. I've heard this tip many times and didn't use it until I saw how it would help me and fit in my organizing system. ...
Last week I wrote about what reverse genealogy is and why you'd try it . Today is "Backwards Day" so I'm covering how to research backwards (as in forwards, wait... what?) To recap, reverse genealogy is researching from the past to the present, the opposite direction, or backwards, from what we normally do. Last week I mentioned some uses for genetic genealogy and traditional genealogy as well as cases where non-genealogists might want to try reverse genealogy . How to go from the past to the present is easiest to understand with traditional genealogy so I'll start there and then move to harder situations. ...
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day and I recently learned about a new finding aid that is appropriate to share today. Last week Upfront with NGS  shared a notice they had received about the newly released online inventory of the International Tracing Service (ITS). You can read the post (with the link to the inventory), here . Realize this is a finding aid, not online records. If you haven't used finding aids, it's like a library catalog for a repository collection, sort of. Some finding aids are incredibly in-depth, allowing you to identify exactly the record you want to access. Some are not even as detailed as a traditional book library catalog. There may be a catalog for the repository and finding aids, just a catalog, or just finding aids. It depends on the repository. The level of details given in a finding aid depends on the collection and the creator and every variable that affects those two aspects. You will see in the announcement published on ...
Today is National Opposite Day in the U.S. I have no idea why. I tried to look it up and the answer was, "no one's sure." I was just looking for "__________ Day" to give me ideas to mix up the topics on the blog. I think Opposite Day generated and important topic, "reverse genealogy." What is reverse genealogy and why do you care? First, I wouldn't say reverse genealogy is the opposite of genealogy. I won't be answering the title question, I don't know what's the opposite of genealogy, maybe hiding your ancestry? Reverse genealogy can help you if your family tried to hide their ancestry. Let's get back to what it is, though. ...
I often find posts I'd like to share with readers but they don't warrant me writing a whole post about them. So, I'm going to try the "round-up" style post with bits of information from around the Internet. Right now, I don't expect to publish this regularly but we'll see. This is also a way for you to learn about other sources for information, genealogical or not. From Up Front with NGS (the official blog for the National Genealogical Society) NEW Chrome Extension Takes You to Wayback Machine for 404 Page Codes!!! I've already installed this extension I was so excited about it. I'll go months without needing the Wayback Machine but lately, I seem to use it a lot. As an example of how you might use this (if you never have)... Not too long ago I was reviewing a post from my business blog and found one of the links no longer worked. The company blog it linked to no longer existed (they were purchased by another company). The purchasing com...
Cousin baiting is exactly like deer baiting in its purpose which is why the term is used. Not from a long line of hunters? Confused?  Should you put out a pile of grandma's cookies to lure your cousins in? And why would you want cousins to come around, anyway (is that only a question with my family)? ...
This post is a follow-up to last week's "resolutions" post. I suggest heading over to read it first , if you haven't. This post is specifically about resolving to do more research, not just more "genealogy" which involves more than just research. If you want to do more research, you need a realistic understanding of what time you have available and what else you need to do genealogically. The first post covers those topics. Research is the fun part of genealogy (if you didn't think so, you wouldn't do genealogy at all). Failing at resolutions is awful so I want you to make the right resolution for YOU. "Do more research" just isn't actionable enough. Here's a "secret." If you do the right non-research tasks, you'll be so excited and prepared to do research, it will happen. Unfortunately, those "right" tasks are personal to you so I can't just hand you an easy list to get you to that magic point wher...

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