Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wk#3GenealogyDoOver: Tracking My Research

"Deer Mouse Tracks in the Snow"
by Jomegat.Jomegat, from Wikimedia Commons

Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over is proving to be just the encouragement I needed to tweak some of my research habits.  Take "Tracking Research", one of the topics for this week.  Previously I had been fairly meticulous about recording where I found reliable information about a family member.  Not so, however, about where I had looked and not found anything of note.  Participating in the GD-O has changed that.

Some time back I had come up with a simple version of my Research Log as a Google Sheet to use during the GD-O time.  I showed a screen shot of it in a previous post.  Soon after I started using it, I added another column, Completed.  There is just something so satisfying about noting that a series of research tries finally has lead to success.  

Today, this is what my Research Log looks like as I am using it to learn more about my 4GreatGrandparents, Syver Syverson and Kari Gudbrandsdatter.  I'm finding that this Research Log is helping me stay more focused in my research.  

Prior to starting the Do-Over, I only knew that my 4GreatGrandparents were both alive at the time of the 1801 Norway Census.  Now I've started to use the Topic column as a To-Do List, indicating that I wanted to find Birth/Baptism, Marriage, and Death/Burial records for Syver and Kari.  Some of the information I have recently found through the record images available through the Digital Archives of Norway.  The items indicated in red show the things I still need to be seeking.  And that green box "DAofN Parish Register 4", that's where I will be starting to look for Kari's Death/Burial record once I finish writing this post.

Besides providing a focus for my research, tracking my research on this Research Log has proved helpful in other ways.  The Resource Used column lets me see where all I have looked for similar information about other family members.  I've also used the Date column several times to look for the name of a resource I remembered using at a specific time.  Now all my efforts to learn more about how my 2GreatUncle Siver Syverson came from Norway to Wisconsin has provided me with a list of places to look for records for other immigrant ancestors and relatives.

Sources of Emigration Records

Finally, I've discovered a great, unexpected benefit from using my Research Log so judiciously.  For the information I still have not been able to locate for a specific relative, I can do a quick copy of the topics and all six columns concerning that from the Research Log Google Sheet.  I then can paste it as a research note in Family Tree Maker so I can see sometime in the future where I have looked should I want to take another stab at locating an elusive record.

As Elizabeth McCracken said "if someone caught me when I was in the throes of tracking something elusive I would have told them: but it's out there.  I can feel it".(1)  And now I have the record to show my search for it.

(1)  "Elizabeth McCracken: Quotes".


  1. Great article about your Do-Over, Mary. My google spreadsheet is different but I like the way you did yours. I have a "source text" column ( where I basically transcribe the record found) column on the very end which is probably not necessary but convenient if I am away from home and need to check details of a record.

  2. I like your idea for "source text". That is something I would probably do if away from my computer when I was gathering data.