Recently I stopped by our public library to pick up a book and took a few minutes to browse in the Tennessee Room, our library's genealogy collection. In the display of new materials, one book caught my eye,The Weekend Genealogist: Timesaving Techniques For Effective Research by Marcia Yannizze Melnyk. The title sounded interesting, and I ended up skimming through the entire book, kicking myself that I only had an old grocery list with me for taking a few notes on some of her practical tips.
Once home, I transcribed my notes, paying close attention to one part that really spoke to me. Melnyk had a very informational section about preparing to visit and utilize a research library, including a list of materials she carried in her research tote. Eureka! Based on her ideas, I've putting together a research tote to keep in my car. Right now I'm using one of the many tote bags I accumulated through years of teaching. My tote has my favorite writing paper (a blank legal pad), several pens and pencils, a bookmark that can also double as a ruler as I skim charts and lists, sticky notes for pages I want to copy, a list of my research goals or questions to help me focus, and some blank index cards just in case.
When I've been out of town doing research, I've meticulously carried things like this in my laptop bag, but now they will be with me everyday, placed underneath those other totes I carry into the grocery store each week. With my research tote, a small magnifying sheet stowed in my wallet, and my cell phone camera, I'll be ready for whatever I find.
I'm glad I spent some time looking at Marcia Yannize Melnyk's The Weekend Genealogist. Her book has a lot of helpful suggestions, all designed for helping us make the most of small or limited blocks of time available to research our families. It can be especially helpful to beginning family historians to see ways in which to work a little at a time and not be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task at hand. The research tote idea was just one of the many ideas she had so we can plan our work and work our plan.
(The book is available for purchase at Amazon.com as well as other bookstores. The cover image is from Amazon.com.)