Discovering your family tree is an on-going process for many amateur genealogists, and there are always new things to learn about obtaining the information you need. Check out a handy little book called “Mastering Online Genealogy by W. Daniel Quillen. This little book is packed full of great ideas and examples of how to do your genealogy research online.
Mr. Quillen has many points that we should take into consideration. Keeping good notes is vital: no scrap of information is too small to be cast aside. If you have found something online, he suggests writing down the name of the site and the URL (uniform resource locator) which is the global address of documents on the World Wide Web. This helps you really keep track of valuable websites.
He suggests that you be specific when you are typing in a request for information. Instead of asking for all the information about the Smiths or Joneses that ever lived in the province, ask instead for all the Smiths or Joneses that farmed within 100 miles of Swift Current between 1840 and 1900. You will get information more suited to what you are looking for if you type in approximate years, and perhaps parents’ names, if you have them.
The next piece of advice Mr. Quillen suggests is to take your time and record all information accurately. If you are in a hurry, you could make a spelling error, and all genealogists know the frustration of different spelling when doing research. Be very careful as you record dates and locations. He also suggests that you record dates in the same way all the time: choose day/month/year , which seems to be the standard method of recording. Always record dates in the same way so that you don’t look at a date like 1/11/11 and wonder if it is January 1, 1911 or November 1, 1811.
And when you can’t seem to find what you are looking for, don’t give up, because the web is an ever-changing source of information, and just because something is not there today doesn’t mean it won’t be there next week. Set your search aside and look for something else instead. He also suggests that you don’t be too determined to find a certain piece of information only, because you might be missing a whole valuable side-track that might lead you to a lot of other interesting information. Be flexible.
Mr. Quillen says it is a good idea to have a research plan, listing the name of the person you are looking for; the infomration that you are looking for about them, such a birth or death date; and the are where you think or know they once lived.
The book contains many other pieces of valuable information to assist in genealogy research, such as telling us the difference between primary and secondary sources of information. Primary sources of information are those that are recorded when an event happens, such as an original birth certificate.
But a birth date recorded on a death certificate would be a secondary source of information, and possibly not always accurate.
He also mentions privacy laws, which as many of you know can be a challenge to research, and proper etiquette online. And we’d all find the section of “free services” very useful. It’s a great book that will give you more confidence to search the web for your information.
If you would like to talk to other people doing research, the Yorkton branch of the Saskatchewan Genealogy Society will be meeting on Tuesday, May 8 at 7:00 p.m. in the History Room at the Yorkton Public Library. Guest speaker Michelle Weston will be talking to the group about Useful Genealogy Websites. While some research might still be done “by hand”, there is much that can be obtained online, if we just know where to look. Everyone is welcome!
The Genealogy Society would like to take this opportunity to thank Melody Wood for all her assistance and support; the Society appreciates all your help! We wish you all the best in whatever the future brings, and we hope that you will now have the chance to make some of your “leisure” dreams come true. Thank you for everything, Melody!
Every family has a story: discover yours with the Yorkton branch of the Saskatchewan Genealogy Society!