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Declutter Your Genealogy

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.
Declutter your genealogy to be more productive and more efficient. Both essential for Occasional Genealogists.


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.

That is the first thing you should start doing.

Are You Stuck in Your Research?


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?
Is your genealogy research going in circles? Learn a free and easy solution in this post. #genealogy #familyhistory

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 probably time to learn. #genealogy #familyhistory
When you hit a research plateau, it's probably time to learn.

To make the most of your limited research time, you should try and get as much education as possible.

To make the most of your limited research time, you should try and get as much education as possible.

How to Find "More" Genealogy

At some point, you're going to need to go beyond basic genealogy education and learn some more advanced techniques. Learning about new types of records is usually pretty easy and often quite fast.

Learning more advanced techniques is a different story. It can take much longer to learn a new technique. It's easier when you combine learning and application (i.e. use your new skills and get experience). But you're an Occasional Genealogist, how will you find the time?

A Fast and Free Solution to Genealogy Brickwalls

A great resource for bite-sized, but more advanced education, are the webinars from the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). If you're familiar with BCG and think their webinars aren't for you, stop! Think again.

These webinars are for any genealogists, whether they are certified, want to be certified, are just trying to improve their skills, are professionals, want to be professionals, or are just avid hobbyists.

That's right, these are webinars for hobbyists, too.

If you feel like you keep learning the same thing over and over again from magazines, online lectures, and even blog posts, give the BCG webinars a try.

The webinars are free when they're live. A few remain free as recordings. Previously the webinars were only accessible through the BCG website but now you can register (for free) for the live webinars and purchase recordings from Family Tree Webinars.

Family Tree Webinars offers many other webinars. The BCG Webinars are most likely the most advanced. If you find them too advanced, try and find another webinar on a similar topic to help you fill in the gap between your current education and the BCG webinar.

Genealogy Education

One of the great things about genealogy is it doesn't require formal schooling. If you don't want to find yourself permanently stuck, you need to self-educate, though.

You probably need some "formal" education in the sense you should learn from a teacher/instructor, not just by reading.

Reading is the primary way genealogists have always improved their knowledge. With the Internet, now we can conveniently learn from an instructor via live and recorded webinars, classes, and even on-going education.

If you're ready to move to another level but need some quicker options or a one-stop-shop for more advanced material, the BCG webinars are a great place to start.

Looking for other educational suggestions? Check out my Genealogy Education Pinterest boards.



Is your genealogy research stuck? Try this solution. | The Occasional Genealogist #genealogy #familyhistory

Why is my genealogy research stuck? It might be a simple solution you can start on tonight! Learn about this free and easy way to bust through more genealogy brick walls in this post. | The Occasional Genealogist #genealogy #familyhistory

Research stuck? Are you sure there's more out there? How do you find more genealogy? There's a surprisingly easy way to find more family history information. Learn more in this post. | The Occasional Genealogist #genealogy #familyhistory

Finding Female Ancestors: The Importance of Siblings

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.
Finding female ancestors is hard. Use all your genealogy tools like collateral research and reverse genealogy.

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 the social spectrum. A wife may be a paragon of female virtues (for the time) but she may need to apply to civil or religious authorities for help if her husband doesn't provide for the family.

This could be applying for money for food or schooling. It could also be taking advantage of a law that prevents all the family's assets (think not just a house but kitchen utensils, bedding, etc.) from being seized if the husband is in debt or owes taxes.

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