|Introduction to Genealogy|
How many times have you grabbed a book from a library shelf, checked the index for your surname and then put it back without making any notes? Can you name all of the Internet databases that you have searched for your surname? If yes, then great! But if you are like the majority of us who have wasted time duplicating our own research then this lesson is for you.
It is very important in genealogy research to keep track of the resources you investigate, even those that yield nothing of value. A research log or research calendar can help you organize your finds, decide on the next steps and eliminate duplicated research. You can maintain your log by surname, by individual, by geographic area or whatever organizational method you find the most effective. Each log usually provides space for the date in which you searched the source, the location of the source, bibliographic information for the source and a small section for notes and/or results.
Here are several research calendars/logs to get you started. They are available for free download and each is in a different format, so if one will not open or print for you, then try another:
A Microsoft Word for Windows document file from Family Tree Magazine.
For Word Perfect versions 7.0 & 8.0 from Ancestor Detective.
An html version from the LDS Church.
Remember those letters and queries we discussed on the previous page? A correspondence log is a record of the letters you have written and the replies received. It typically includes a blank for the surname at the top and room to record information for each letter sent concerning that surname. You don't even have to use a fancy form to track your correspondence, but be sure that for each letter you write you make a note of the date sent, to whom it was sent and a summary of your request. Then, once you receive the reply, you can make a note of the date the reply was received and the results (positive or negative). It may seem easy enough to keep in your head as you are just getting started, but considering that replies to genealogy queries can take anywhere from a week to six months you will probably lose track over time.
Here are a few free examples of correspondence logs to get you started:
A nice PDF document file from amateur genealogists, Mary & Duane Bailey. Available in both English and Spanish.
This free form from Family Tree Magazine is compatible with Microsoft Word for Windows 97 and 2000 as well as WordPerfect
Another nice PDF format correspondence log from Ancestry.com.
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