Tuesday’s Tip – Stop and Summarize

With the free access of Revolutionary War Records available recently on Ancestry.com as well as currently available on fold3.com,* I have been accumulating quite a bit of information and images.  It is a challenge in racing through to find records while the databases are available to strike a balance in using your time efficiently.  How much of the information do you need to incorporate into your own tree right now?  How much can wait for later?

With my journey in Genealogy without a Budget, I am still working to find that “perfect” balance.  I try to put the pieces together, at least in my mind, to figure out what additional information might be available from these free databases.  A Research Log would probably be helpful with this, but I have not been good about using them.  I am looking forward to the free Legacy webinar “Plan Your Way to Research Success” by Marian Pierre-Louis on Wednesday, July 18.

However you go about deciding what to look for in the free databases, at the end of each day, or each session, you need to summarize what you have done, what you have found, what you are still looking for.  When the free period has ended, summarize again.  This time, make sure that you have a to-do list of what you need to do with all the information you found.  For example, you may need transcribe the images, add dates and places to your tree, determine how this new information fits with what you already know, determine what information you still need.

At the very least, before you take a break to recover from your sprint through the free databases, make sure you know what you have found.  List the databases that you searched, list the records you found in each one, make sure you have the proper sourcing.  In Windows Explorer (Windows 7), look in your Recently Changed folder and make a list of images that you have saved and any documents that you may have created from the information.  Evernote is a good place to keep your lists.

It is tempting to say, wow, that was a lot of work, I need a break — and walk away from all of your new-found goodies.  But you’ll be glad that you took a little time to summarize your work.  Then when you come back to it, you will be ready to tackle your to-do list, find out what amazing breakthroughs you made and write a narrative about your ancestor.  Then those free databases will truly have been worth the wait!

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*Access to fold3.com’s Revolutionary War Collection is free through July 15.

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