Saturday, March 28, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 12

We are in week the home stretch for the first session of the Genealogy Do-Over and this is week twelve. Our topics this week are sharing research and reviewing research travel options.

Sharing Research

I have been very fortunate when asking for help from other researchers. I have also been given research done by other family members many years ago. However, regardless of this I do my due diligence and verify every scrap of information passed on to me. I am always happy to share my research and I will do whatever I can to help someone and it is sometimes a bright shining object (BSO) for me depending on the family involved. I also expect whoever I share my research to do the same with my research. I love being able to share my research efforts with someone new and I like to be able to pay it forward for those who have helped me too. 

All of the above being said, I have a few observations I would like to point out regarding my views about sharing research in general. I am big Ancestry user with multiple trees and not all of them are related to me. First, I have trees (15 to be exact) that are part of my volunteer research that I did for the upcoming Global Family Reunion in June. I am uncomfortable sharing this information because (1) it is not my family and (2) I feel that I should request permission to release this information from the coordinator of this project. Second, I have been helping several friends with their own personal trees and I do not release information without their consent. And finally I will not release any information regarding any living family members without consent of the person or persons involved.

Do's and Don'ts of Collaboration and Sharing

I agree always Be Nice! The genealogy community is a small world and with social media it maybe getting just a little bit larger. This means that how you answer queries from other researchers may be posted "everywhere" as a "beware of __________, they are _____.", I will let you fill in the blanks. Being kind and generous with those who  approach you and those you approach can make the world of difference to a new genealogist/researcher but also to the more experienced genealogist/researcher as well.

If you are going to share and/or collaborate with another researcher the work you have painstakingly done and vice versa, then Attribution should be given to all parties. I have not actively and/or directly collaborated with anyone in regards to my genealogy research in such a detailed endeavor, at least not that I am aware of anyway. I have however in the past received information that were given to me by other researchers which I used as a springboard to find other clues. None of the research I have been given had sources, only the name of the person who compiled the information. I have created source citations with the researchers name, the type of information shared & the family it pertains to, the date it was received and page number. When I share my research I usually do it in a report from Family Tree Maker which includes my name, contact information and sources.

My preferred way to get information is to reciprocate in kind, I don't just take it and run.  For example, when I ask someone to share information their research with me the first thing I do is to be sure that once I have finished with the said person and/or family I requested information on, I then forward a copy of an individual family report. This research will have all of my sources pertaining to the person and/or family I requested information about, my research notes regarding any information I disagree with if applicable, and if I have a picture then I include that as well. 

One thing I learned from Thomas MacEntee in a webinar titled, "Google for Genealogists" which he did for Legacy Family Tree in 2011 (year is from the CD I purchased) was to create an Alert using Google. However, until reading this I never thought to use it for my research or my blog. Thank you, Thomas, for the reminder and my new alerts have been set! I have two more things I would like to add to the Do's and Don'ts list. 

Provide Information When Asking for Help

When you are asking someone for help, Provide as much information as you can on the person or family you are seeking information on. For example if you are contacting me and you want information about William Williams please provide as much detail as you know. Here is what I want to know, since Williams is a popular name, I would want the person asking for the information to provided dates of birth and death, places of birth and death, parents if known and spouse(s) if known and any children that this person might have had. Finally, if you are contacting me through I will need you to tell me what tree you saw this person because I have more than one tree. So why do I want to know this? (1) I have multiple William Williamses in my tree, six of them to be exact. (2) I have multiple trees, (15 and 7 of those belong to friends) and not all of them are directly related to me.

Don't be a Bully! 

Whether you are asking for help or you find that someone has incorrect or outdated information do not Bully them! An excellent example of this would be a researcher who contacted me directly via Ancestry about six years ago and I was a newbie to Ancestry. He very rudely told me that if I could not spell his surname correctly I had no business doing family history. I didn't have it misspelled for my particular branch but it was a surname with more than four variations. I politely informed him of this and he verbally threatened me that if I did not fix my tree to the correct spelling he would be contacting Ancestry. Was I intimidated by this man, Yes, but I knew Ancestry would not do anything to me. However I was afraid that this man could post negative comments about me via message boards or perhaps to other researchers. So, I went in and changed the surname and listed every variation possible for every person with that surname. 

My plan for do's and don'ts for and with my genealogy research is simple, I will keep sharing my research via my blog, Facebook and I will make sure that my sources are accurate, I will ensure that my proven and unproven research is clear and concise enough for anyone to understand. When I have finished my new and improved trees, I will follow Thomas's recommendation about adding an unsourced tree with a clear description and disclaimer that I will provide my evidence, research methodology and sources upon request.

Reviewing Research Travel Options

I am very fortunate that a lot of my research is done within an eight to ten hour drive from my home. When I go to visit my parents, I try to do get in as much genealogy as I can by talking with my parents, looking for gravesites of my husband's family and sharing information with my niece who is interested in genealogy. Whenever, whereever and however I can I will always find something genealogy related to do. 

Sponsored Research Trips, Genealogy Cruises and More
  • Genealogy Society Trips
  • Individual or Vendor-Sponsored Trips
  • Individually Tailored Trips
  • Genealogy Cruises
Organized trips such as those sponsored by genealogical societies, vendor-sponsored, individual sponsors and genealogy cruises are great. Some of these trips may include transportation to and from the airport to the host hotel, a couple of breakfast and lunch seminars/meetings and there may be a dinner event sponsored by a genealogical society and/or vendor (or two) depending on the type and/or length of the event. One perk to consider is that you may be able to have a consultation with a professional genealogist who may have very specific areas of research which you do not. Genealogy cruises also have the perk of a vacation within the conference you are attending. Another perk to consider is that you may find a genealogy based trip that may take you close to an ancestral country and you might be able to book a few extra days at the beginning or end of your trip depending upon the vendor. The part of these types of trips are the connections you make whether they are personal or professional or perhaps both and it can all be a fabulous adventure.

Do-It-Yourself Research Trips

I consider myself to be a good traveler especially since I am a former travel agent with experience in traveling abroad. These are great things to consider when planning any trip.
  • What type of traveler are you?
  • Preparation & Packing
  • Preferred Mode of Transportation
  • Accomodations
  • Expenses
  • Emergencies and Last Minute Changes
What type of traveler are you?

I am a relaxed and easy traveler. I always bring a good book or two, magazines. I prefer to be at the airport at least 90 minutes early to determine if there are any delays or changes such a new gate assignment.

Preparation & Packing

It depends on where I am going, how long I will be gone and what I will be doing as to when I start my packing. As I travel agent I learned the secret of how to maximize my packing space! Regardless of how long the trip maybe, my packing starts as I do any necessary laundry. I start pulling together my genealogy materials at least a week before my scheduled trip so that I have the latest updated information at my fingertips. 

Preferred Mode of Transportation


I like traveling by plane. I find it relaxing and enjoyable. In my carry-on bag I keep a few things that I consider "must haves" if I am flying. My "must haves" are ear plugs (for crying babies and snoring passengers), lip balm and a pair of sandals or flip flops. Why sandals or flip flops? On long flights my feet sometimes swell so I keep these handy just in case because they are easy to slip on and off.

Have you had any surgeries that required "medical metal" as I call it, such as rods, plates and screws? I have and I tend to set off the scanning machines at the airport. If you are like me then you might want to see this link ( It does not exempt you from a search or screening by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) but it allows you to let them know without the entire area knowing your personal issues. I also recommend checking TSA's website ( for any recent changes before leaving home.

For me, traveling overseas means acclimating myself to the time difference before I leave so that the jet lag doesn't interfere too badly. The best piece of advice I ever received from a fellow travel agent is this, If you are going to being crossing the international date line, you may want to consider consulting your medical care provider for a short term prescription of sleeping medication (or if you prefer, use an over the counter product) to help you sleep on the plane in both directions. You will wake up much more refreshed!


I have always wanted to travel by train! However, living in the Carolina's are options are limited. Train travel in the south is not as prevalent as it is in other parts of the country. My sons traveled by train from Charlotte, NC to Greensboro, NC after moving in with their Dad and until they had obtained their driver's license. 


I also enjoy traveling by car and I have to be in the front seat for any trip over 2 or 3 hours otherwise I get quite car sick. I love the freedom that driving provides such as creating my own schedule, stopping when I want, the scenery and GPS. The only drawback is that I tend to pack much more than is really necessary. However, it does allow me to take more in terms of genealogy related items such as a large portable scanner, my cemetery kit and more files.


Now this is where I am picky!  

If I am lucky enough to be researching in area where I have family and/or friends living and it is not an inposition for them during those dates I plan to be in the area, then I prefer to stay with them because it will allow us to catch up. Hopefully, I will get a few family interviews in too. 

I don't need to stay at the most luxourious hotel with all the bells and whistles. What I do need is a hotel where I will feel comfortable, safe (doors accessible and no rooms with outside doors, I prefer hotels where all the doors are accessible from inside the hotel. No matter what chain of hotels you are staying at, they are not all equal. In some areas a Days Inn can be a 4 star property and in others you wouldn't even think of considering it. My wish list for a hotel room is a sitting area, desk, mini-fridge, a pool (indoor or outdoor), room service and/or at least have good eateries close by.


As noted abouve, if I can stay with family that is by far first preference. It will also help my budget too. Keeping expenses down while traveling is hard even with a budget because you never know what might happen. 

I am a change thief!! When my husband comes home from work he deposits his loose change on the bar. He also leaves it in the car too. My philosphy is once he goes to bed, it is mine! I also collect the change from pocketbook and wallet at the same time and keep it in a old cosmetics bag and carry it with me when I am researching in the respositories that I go to for making copies as well as feeding the parking meter. In a few months time I usually $30.00 to $50.00. I save my credit card for spurleges.

Emergencies and Last Minute Changes

I am a relatively calm person and react well in emergencies. I do have some first aid training, I know how to perform CPR, the Heimlech Manuever and I can tie a tourniquet if need be. Along with being a travel agent I was also a certified nursing assistant. 

As someone with a "colorful" medical history that includes multiple food and drug allergies I am always prepared for the worst. I never leave home without my medical history form that I prepared about 10 years ago and modify as needed. It includes my name, address, home and cell phone numbers, my insurance information, my emergency contacts, my blood type, a list of my medications both prescriptions and over the counter meds, a list of my medical issues, a list of all surgeries, and a list of any type of medical devices (like pins, rods, plates and screws) and where they are located. Here is a sample of what a demo of my medical history form looks like I would also include the hospitals, urgent care facilities and pharmacies near my hotel in whatever city I am visiting.

I never leave home without making sure that my family knows where I am going. As a young kid I started doing this and I made sure that my kids did it too. When Tommy and I traveling together I send our itinerary to our son David and my Mom that way there at least two people who know the details. When I am traveling by myself I leave my itinerary with Tommy, David and Mom. Some habits, whether good or bad never leave you!

Sources: Thomas MacEntee, "Google for Genealogists" recorded webinar for Legacy Family Tree and Millenia Corporation, 2011 "No Bully Zone", ( : accessed 26 March 2015) Original Source: Inquisition: The Debate Continues, blog ( : accessed 25 March 2015).
Copyright © Dawning Genealogy/Dawn M Kogutkiewicz 2014-2015, All rights reserved. 

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