New Rules for Doing Genealogy Research

Just a peek at the photos I’ve been working on lately when tracking my family history

You know you’re a true genealogist when you suddenly realize you only meant to sit down for a minute to look something up and now it’s 3 AM and you’re pretty sure that you just found your great-great-great-uncle’s military unit and it only took you five hours of searching. And you’re happy about it.

I’ve set some new rules for myself when it comes to genealogy just to keep myself from going crazy. They are:

1 /// One family at a time. No more of this researching four different branches of the family in one night.

2 /// One family per research trip. I didn’t realize how ineffective my trips to the libraries and various used book stores were until I realized I would show up with only a vague idea of the eighty things I was looking for. Now I go with just a short list of really specific information I want to find (history of a particular town between the years of 1850 and 1910) which lets me use my time in a much smarter way.

3 /// One big project at a time. Big projects are the things you can’t nibble at to get finished because it would mean leaving stuff all over your house or spending an hour getting back into it every time you sat down. Digitizing all of the photos in your huge photo box is a big project. Transcribing a set of oral histories you’ve taken from your relatives is a big project. Right now, my big project involves writing edited transcriptions from all my old diaries so I can finally send the bulk of them to recycling. It will feel good to get through it and get that stuff out of our house.

And finally…

4 /// Even genealogists have to sleep. As a work-at-home mom, my free time starts around 8 PM and it includes doing things like sorting laundry, cleaning the playroom, finishing the dishes from dinner, and spending some time with my husband. My really and truly “free” time doesn’t start until closer to 10 PM and it was at this time that I was sitting down to do my genealogy, working until 2 or 3 and then waking up in a fog the next morning. Although I will indulge myself with the occasional late night, the new rule is that I can only do that once a week…even if it means my projects move a little slower. After all, it’s not like my ancestors are going anywhere!

I’ve really hit a good rhythm now and I’m excited to start sharing some of the things that I’ve discovered and created over the past few months including a few resources I hadn’t used before. For now, though, I just wanted to check back in and tell you to go to bed if it’s 2 AM and you’re reading this! It will keep, believe me!

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