Wednesday, February 11, 2015

All in for Better Research

Well, it is already week 5 of the genealogy do-over. The topics this week are:
  • Building a Research Toolbox
  • Citing Sources

Building a Research Toolbox

What is a research toolbox? Why is it important? How do we build it?
These are the questions that popped into my mind this week.

A research toolbox is a compilation of links to a wide range of tools useful in genealogical research. Some of these could be historical newspapers, city directories, historical money calculators, deciphering old handwriting, etc. Almost anything you can think of to aid in your particular research should be included.

To build a toolbox requires a container. It could be a bookmark list in a browser, spreadsheet or word processor document, notebook in Evernote or One Note, or a special website like Draggo or Weebly.  It is important that it is useful for your particular style of researching.

 I initially decided to make a notebook in Evernote for this but after trying Draggo ( I was hooked.  After setting up a free account with Draggo, you can create sections such as Databases, surname sites, newspapers, etc. When you find a link that you want to access again, clink on the toolbar or copy the url to your draggo page.  As more links are added to your page and organized into sections, research becomes less time consuming and frustrating.

So make a toolbox, fill it with tools, and make researching more enjoyable.

Citing Sources

When it comes to citing sources, I was always hit or miss. I understood the importance of knowing where information came from but I didn't always cite the source in my family tree. Even though most genealogy software has templates for inputting sources and citations, I always put off actually doing the work.

This do-over has shown me how unreliable some of my previous work was. It would be helpful if I knew where information I relied on for years originated.  I have found discrepancies in some family tree work that was done by a cousin. It is important to have my work sourced in order to prove this new information. Other researchers need to be able to follow my research and understand my conclusions.

While most genealogy software packages come with source citation templates, it is important to understand the components of writing them without a template.  I have found some sites that are helpful in understanding how to write various citations.

Hopefully the following links will demystify writing citations:

Sourcing PDF at Geneabloggers    (this is a PDF file, it requires Adobe reader)

Happy hunting and sourcing!

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