Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday's Tip: Find a Process

Whenever I find a new name for my family database, I immediately begin the chicken-with-its-head-cut-off syndrome.  I gallop from Google to Ancestry to FamilySearch to USGenWeb.  And then back again because I notice something new and have to re-look.  And then again.  And then back again months later because I didn’t document anything during my manic romp through New-Name-Ville.

One day, in my workplace, I realized that I had the same reaction when I was given a particular kind of new project.  Since at work I’m process-oriented, I quickly analyzed why I had this reaction and I realized it’s because we didn’t have a process in place.  I created a process and now it’s all a piece of cake.  Cake without a lot of re-work.

So I made a process for genealogy, too.

I begin by printing a family group sheet (FGS), checklist and notes pages.  I find that I need to do it the old fashioned way- pen and paper; I just can’t do it on the computer.  It’s much easier for me to enter it all later, when I have everything at hand.

I gather the three printed sheets (mine are attached at GoogleDocs here), my Stuck-On-Sources (SOS) from www.svcgg.org, blank sheets of paper, and a pen (not pencil).  I begin by putting the surname at the top of the FGS.  I have binders for each of the main surnames I am researching, so this surname may not be the surname of the person I’m newly working on.

That main surname is the only item that I don’t have an SOS for.  For anything else that I write on the FGS, I have an SOS that I label at the top with the item (i.e. DOB), a number, and then I detail the source.  If more than one item is from this source, I still make an SOS for it, but I just number it the same as the other and skip all the other source crap writing.

Once I document what I just found, I then get to collect new stuff.  Rather than frolic through the internet, flippantly gathering cookies and bookmarks, I use the checklist and keep tabs, SOS-ing and jotting down as I go. 

When I’m bored of my new ancestor, I enter the data into my database and make a list of what else I can check on later on down the road.

I like to keep the original SOS and FGS all penned up and messy, though, as about 10 out of 5 times, I do forget to notice something really important when I enter it into the database…


  1. Debbie,

    Great post. Thanks for sharing your genealogy process, checklists via Google.docs, and the Stuck-on-Sources. Impressive. You are an inspiration.


  2. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have been trying to come up with something like this for myself, but it always kept getting pushed to the back burner for more pressing things (like Google Reader). I feel like someone just gave me a "Get Out of Jail Free" card! (By the way, those post-its are AWESOME! I'm ordering some today!)

  3. If anyone would like the Excel file so that you can fix it like you want it, just email me. debbie at mascotmanor dot org. It's really a working living document and is better in Excel than Google docs IMO.

  4. Love your checklist! Thanks for posting it. I prefer to take notes on my computer -- that's what a second monitor is for.

  5. Great post! Thank you so much for sharing those forms. I have been needing a research checklist and yours is perfect! Looks like you thought of everything!