Monday, November 23, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over ~ Cycle 4 ~ Week 8 ~

We are going to discuss and focus this week on Collateral Research and Reviewing Offline Education Options. This is my second round in the Genealogy Do-Over. I learned so much from Thomas MacEntee, from the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook Group and others during this time that some days, I felt like I was on information load. Since March, when the original group ended I started putting into practice the things I have learned and I can see major changes in how I approach my research now. 

Conducting Collateral Research 

When I began my genealogical research quest into my children's paternal line I was pregnant with my first child. We lived in Montgomery, Alabama back then and it was one of the hottest summers I have ever seen. I began going to the Alabama State Archives and trying to find records for the Kitts family of Grainger County, Tennessee. I had no clue to what I was doing but I gave it my best shot. I wrote down everything I found for anyone with the surname of Kitts (did I write down source info, ummm no!). I had a few generations written down courtesy of my children's 2nd great grandaunt, Betty, who had written down everything she had been told and remembered. Over time I learned by trial and error that (1) what I thought were good research practices and (2) what I thought were the right records but I didn't have a clue as to whether what I was doing was the right or wrong way of doing research. However, the one thing I did with every single family and continue to do so now is collateral research. 

When I began researching I started by doing collateral research. For me collateral research is paramount to my research of any family. How can you research a family and not research everyone in that family? I can't and it is my own personal bright shiny object (BSO) because I have this overwhelming need to know what happened to each member of the family. I believe this need comes from not only nosiness but also because I am adoptee. It is a powerful need in me to find out as much as possible for every member in the family I am researching. 

Of course, my parents come from small families. My Mom has two siblings while my Dad only has one. Researching their siblings and their respective spouses was an easy choice to make. I have included all of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren as well. I have also researched my three brother in laws and my sister in law's families as well. For me this is a labor of love for my family. My plan is continue doing collateral research within the main families of our tree and to scale  back on the extended family unless there is a story that peaks my interest and then I will follow it right down the rabbit hole and to see where it will take me.

After finishing the original cycle of the Genealogy Do-Over, I wanted some type of  a collateral research sheet to help me with my research. I call it, Who? What? When? Why? Where? and How? of Collateral Research, click here,  It is a really easy way to write out the information I have on ancestor and a way to track him through the available records. I have also found that it keeps on track when I am researching at libraries or archives 
because I can see what I have and don't have for this person.

Reviewing Offline Education Options

After the original cycle of the Genealogy Do-Over, I tried to see if the local community/technical college offered any type of computer course in hopes of finding a beginning Excel program, no luck. As a matter of fact they don't offer much for adults in the way of non-credit courses such as computer skills, cooking, crafts or genealogy. My only option is to continue with online webinars. I have tried contacting the local chapter of the South Carolina Genealogical Society but I am not getting a response back. 

For now I will continue with as many webinar classes as I can that are more advanced in nature. I am also going to see what is available online as far as improving my computer skills. I am looking at states where I do the bulk of my research who offer conferences to see if attending events next year might be a possibility. Next year isn't even here yet and already my calendar is looking very full! I am also going to begin the National Genealogical Society Home Study course working toward the goal of becoming a certified genealogist.

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