Tuesday’s Tip — Forming a Research Plan for Little Eddy

The last two Mondays I have written about Edward Dwyer in the Civil War, Little Eddy the Drummer and Military Monday- Edward Dwyer in the Civil War, continued.  Yesterday I looked at Edward’s Missouri service, using the Civil War cards which I had downloaded from fold3.com when I had a subscription.  I didn’t do anything with the information then, but now I’m trying to use my time without subscriptions (this journey of Genealogy in the Recession) to further my research in other ways and to write my family history.  Last Friday, I highlighted some of the things that I learned in Marian Pierre-Louis’ webinar “”Plan Your Way to Research Success.”  Today, I’m going to begin work on creating a Research Plan for Edward Dwyer — feel free to add your comments or e-mail me at 1footplanted@gmail.com with any suggestions.

The first thing about a Research Plan is to focus on one person — Little Eddy — keep the focus narrow — find out about his military service — and write down what I know:

Edward Dwyer, born 22 May 1847, in Saint Louis, Missouri 1

In 1860 Jeremiah Dwyer and his family were living in St Louis Ward 7, St Louis (Independent City), Missouri.  The household included Jerry, 40, drayman, $3000, $400; Ann, 34; Edward, 12; Mary, 9; Laura, 2.  Edward and Mary attended school within the year. 2

8th Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company K
mustered in as a private 02 Jun 1862 [age 15]
promoted to musician
discharged 04 Jun 1863, Nashville [age 16]
Patrick Callahan, also resident of St. Louis, same dates 3

7th Regiment Missouri Infantry, Company F
enlisted 29 May 1864, St Louis, musician [age 17]
enrolled for a period of 3 years
bounty due $100, credited 8 ward St Louis
joined as recruit with consent of guardian
mustered in 25 Jun 1864, Memphis
Detached as musician at Gen. Hosp. Nashville Tenn
transfer 04 Dec 1864
to
11th Regiment Missouri Infantry, Company A
Deserted 30 Sep 1865
Returned from desertion 01 Dec 1865.  Stop one month pay sentence of a G.C.M.
Muster-out 15 Jan 1866, Memphis, Tenn
Clothing Account due soldier $11.77   Bounty paid $180; due $120.
Age 17
Stop one months pay proper sentence of Court Martial.
Stop $5.00 for one drum complete.
Reference to A.W. French 4

1866, Dwyer Edward, student Bryant, Stratton & Carpenter’s College, Olive, cor. 5th 5

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1 Baptism record from St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, on microfilm at the St. Louis County Library, Frontenac

2 U.S. Federal Census, 1860. St Louis Ward 7 , St Louis (Independent City), Missouri, page 169; Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: MyFamily.com, Inc., 2004.Original data – United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1860. M653, 1,438 rolls..  Accessed on Ancestry.com (date unknown).

3Extracted from Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kansas, Vol. 1. – 1861-1865.Leavenworth, Kansas: Bulletin Co-operative Printing Company, Chicago. 1867. http://skyways.lib.ks.us/genweb/archives/statewide/military/civilwar/adjutant/8/k.html Eighth Regiment Kansas Volunteers – Infantry, Company K

4 NARA M405 Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations From the State of Missouri, Record Group 94, State: Missouri, Roll 0473, Eleventh Infantry, Cr-D; Roll 0441, Military Unit Seventh Infantry, D-Fi. Accessed on fold3.com (date unknown).

5 City Directories for St. Louis, Missouri, 1866. Publisher Edwards Greenough & Deved. Page 340. Accessed fold3.com Sep 2011

Follow Friday – Follow-up on the Research Plan webinar, by Marian Pierre-Louis

This week’s Legacy Family Tree Webinar was “Plan Your Way to Research Success” by Marian Pierre Louis.   As usual, the topic was terrific, the host Geoff Rasmussen was great, the price was right (free!) — and the hour and a half with Marian flew by as she gave tips, examples, motivation and more on using research plans to make our genealogical searches more effective and more efficient.  Marian presented a wonderful webinar and I highly recommend it.

On Thursday Marian wrote about it in her blog Marian’s Roots and Rambles: Follow-up on the Research Plan webinar.  She includes a link to the archived webinar, which will be free for about ten days.  There are also links to purchase the CD or a bundle, and a coupon code for a discount good through Monday, July 23.

Here are some of the important points that I took away from the webinar:

  • Search only one person or one family unit (not extended)
  • Keep the focus narrow
  • Keep the focus more narrow the less you know (e.g., for a brick wall ancestor)
  • Writing your research plan necessitates writing what you do know
  • This will lead to what you don’t know
  • Go to FamilySearch wiki or something similar to find what records exist during the applicable time period and location
  • Create a plan to find the information, using research plan forms

Marian’s webinar gives examples of the forms she creates for some of her own research plans.  She uses Microsoft Word for these forms.  I would probably use a spreadsheet.  Marian stressed the importance of using whatever helps you — you need to make it work for the way you organize and think.  Don’t get hung up on the way other people make their research plans. The important thing is to take control of the research process and use forms to help identify what you know & what you don’t know to lead to what you WANT to know.

This webinar is what I needed to think through the use of a research plan.  It will help me focus on creating smaller research projects.  Another important thing that it reinforced is my need to write what I have found, including conclusions, reasons, next steps, stumbling blocks, and why I am perplexed about something.  Then when I come back to that family and that individual, it will be easy for me to remember what I learned and what else I need to search for.

I hope that you will check out Marian’s blog and her webinar.  She has lots of practical advice that you can use in your research.  Here is an example of what you will find.

Thank you, Marian, for a great webinar!

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You may also want to take a look at the list of Legacy’s upcoming webinars.  There are some great ones coming up in the next few weeks that I don’t want to miss.

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.

Evernote — a Great Organizational Tool

      Finding out about Evernote was another great thing that happened from one of Legacy’s webinars, this one the first I ever took, Digital Writing Tools for Genealogists, with Lisa Alzo.   She is a wonderful speaker and gives lots of good information and advice; I highly recommend your seeking her out.

     Evernote has changed my life.  I’m sure people say that about a lot of things (I probably do), but I am serious about Evernote.  This is a free program (with an upgrade available, of course) that lets you organize your life.  I am an organized person, but genealogy challenges that.  So much information of so many types on so many names, locations, events…
     I was guilty of the small scraps of paper that we all swear we won’t have.  And I often got so busy that I didn’t keep track of things (when, where, how, what still to do) the way I should.  And then there are those conversations with my parents, all the stories that I need to get down.  I was always going to do that sometime.
     Evernote has made it easier to do it now.
     When I hang up the phone with my parents, or end a Skype call, I go to Evernote and I type up the stories that we talked about.  I may not have all the details but I have most of them, and I can always ask for things I realize I didn’t quite remember, or understand.  It’s amazing how writing something down shows what we know — and what we don’t — about those family stories.
     So now I have all kinds of notebooks in Evernote.  My categories are still evolving.  I have journal entries where I talk about what I did that day, or my impressions of something, or what I want to do the next day.  I have all kinds of Genealogy notebooks:  Personal Stories, Searches, Software, Tips, To Dos, and even Wish Lists.
     My Tags are still evolving, too.  I think I probably have too many, but I’m sure that will work itself out.  At least I’m writing things down and I’m able to sort them in various ways — and I’m having fun with it.
     That’s one of the things I’m learning while I Survive the Recession:  you can still do genealogy and you can still have fun!
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See evernote.com for information about this product.  Their symbol is an elephant and their catch phrase is “Remember everything.”

Things To Do Without Those Subscription Sites

One advantage to being (temporarily) without a genealogy budget is the opportunity to be “unplugged” and look at tasks that may have been neglected while you were tracking down all the information on those subscription sites.

Here are some things you can work on:

· Organize your files, paper and computer
There are so many systems out there, but you have to find one that works for you.  Check your library for books with suggestions on organizing; you can find information online as well.  The main thing is to find a system that helps you find the things you need when you need them.

For example, in going through my computer files, I found that I had death certificates in documents and also in pictures.  This does not make them easy to find!  So I decided on a new system (death certificates in each surname folder) and am working on it.

· Scan photos and other documents
This is good as a backup to your hard copies as well as useful in your work.  Add them to the appropriate people in your tree(s).  I have a bunch of photos from an aunt that need to be scanned.  And, I’m pretty sure there are still documents from a research trip or two (pre-Recession) waiting for me.

· Organize your photos, real and digital
This is always a biggie on the to-do list!  I haven’t really come up with a system that I’m happy with, but I’m trying to at least keep everything sorted in my current one.

· Transcribe some of those documents
Do you have some documents from a research trip, or from a relative, that you haven’t quite gotten around to transcribing?  Do it now.  Or, if you have transcribed them, look at the originals again.  Did you really read the handwriting correctly?  Have you gotten everything out of that document that you can?  Do you agree with the conclusions you drew at the time and the direction it took you in your research?

· Read some of those reference books that you have on your shelf
I have quite a few genealogy reference books, and when I look through them I always find a suggestion I can use.  Books about locations and time periods are always a good refresher and might lead you to think about your ancestors in a new way.

· Go through your genealogy e-mail
I keep all of my e-mail correspondence, and I have quite a few in each surname folder.  I’m sure that I have more information now about these lines than I did – so going back and re-reading them may give me clues that I didn’t see before.  It also will let me know which cousins I need to follow up with.

· Make spreadsheets of the information you have on your ancestors
I love spreadsheets.   I use them for everything, not just genealogy (yes, I’m a bit compulsive).  There are so many ways to look at the information you have collected, and so many ways to sort it.  Presenting it in a different format can lead you to see something that you hadn’t noticed before.  Make a census spreadsheet to see which ones you have found for each ancestor and his/her family members.  Which ones do you still need to look for?  Make a spreadsheet for Cemeteries.  Make one for Vital Records.  You can create a spreadsheet for practically everything, and it will help you organize your information, analyze it, and make a plan for future research.

· Identify the holes in your research

· Make a research plan to fill the holes

· Write narratives
I am trying to do more writing.  I love the research, but it is hard to write the stories.  I seem to get caught up in the details, and I always seem to find something else I want to know.  So I am taking this “unplugged” time to work on writing, to focus on a family line, on each person, and to write what I have learned about them.  That is, after all, what family members are really interested in, the stories, not just the facts, so I’m making this a priority.

· Work on your sources and citations
Another biggie!  It seems that this is also an on-going struggle.  When I look at research I did when I was starting out, I wish that I had done a better job of documenting everything.  Doesn’t everyone?

· Sign up for a webinar, or a few
Take a fun class online.  I’ve learned so many great things from webinars:  websites, books, free software programs, and so much more.  Webinars are fun and inspirational!

·Google someone in your tree
There might be new information since the last time you tried it.  There are new documents being put online every day, and new people might be researching your lines.  I did this yesterday and found a whole new angle on my Iowa relatives.

·Go to Google Books
Search for some of the names in your tree; also try a county or other location.  Many of these books are free e-book downloads.  Some only offer previews, but this can be enough to help you make a breakthrough on someone in your family.

·Go to a cemetery
If you are lucky enough to live near a cemetery where family members are buried, take your camera and photograph gravestones.  Make a map of the location of the stones.  If you live away from your ancestor’s homes, consider taking photos for someone else; Find A Grave is a wonderful source for all of us who are far from home.

·Keep a running list of records that you discover on subscription sites.
Watch for specials offering free access and you will be ready to look at, and save, those images.  Check non-subscription sites, such as familysearch.org, to see if they have these records.  If a few genealogy dollars come your way, consider a short-term subscription and you’ll be ready with your to-do list.

·Identify research that will require a trip.
Make a list of all the things you would search for.  Determine where the documents are housed and find out the best way to obtain all the documents you want.  Dream about the end of your Genealogy Recession!