Strategy for a Genealogical Project – Managing Research Results and Citations

genealogical project strategyIn an earlier post I talked about strategy, breaking it down into ten segments. Today I am going to write a about managing research results and citations which is essentially segment six. You can read the strategy series HERE

You are likely keen to get started with your project. But before you head off to set up spreadsheets and databases, consider what you want to achieve. By investing some time thinking about this, you will undoubtedly save time in the future.

What are the aims of your project? I have talked quite a lot about aims of a One-Name Study and you can read a number of posts HERE, in the Journal of One-Name Studies and not to mention my series in Family Tree Magazine (UK) during 2019. If you want to develop a website and use TNG then there is no point in creating a snazzy card index or spreadsheet, because you will waste time retyping your material. The best advice that I can give you is to select a piece of genealogical software and use that – Guild members tend to use one of the top three (in no particular order) – Roots Magic, Family Historian and Legacy. All of these have trial versions and I would recommend taking them all for a spin and seeing what fits with you. Spreadsheets do have a part to play and I personally add material to my spreadsheets and see them as a holding pen, before the individuals are added to my Roots Magic programme.

A number of Guild members add every individual to their genealogical program by fact, and then, as they confirm different elements merge the records into one. Some do not mind having rogue, unattached people in their database, whereas I prefer to have folk at least attached to someone else, either by a marriage or via their birth linked to the parents. None of these methods are right or wrong. It has to work for you and it is only by trial will you find what fits with your way of thinking.

As you will at some point be adding individuals to your genealogical programme you will be adding citations and sources to the records. You might find that you have more than one source per event, see this example:

  • Baptism record from the parish record
  • Birth record from the General Registrar Office (GRO) with the index available from any number of the subscription sites or Family Search or FreeBMD
  • Other factors, such as you might provide the source as a link to another study – my own Grandmother’s birth in 1912 will have the both the baptism and birth recorded and I will also link the Matthews One-Name Study as another source, that way we can “cross pollinate” with other studies

The same applies to marriages and perhaps more so, as each marriage has at least two surnames (unless the bride marries someone of the same surname) and therefore can perhaps link into another study. I have a number of Butcher & Howes marriages for example. Of course, it is not necessarily an event linking to another study. Perhaps there is a link to another Guild member rather than a study, an event from a Guild member’s own family history or a recorded submitted to the Guild indexes.

You might decide to keep, as I do a master file of material. I hold my master file in Evernote, but may well move it across to One-Note in the future. I also have a file in Google drive and as I add material to my website I add the images to the file in Google drive with the intention of adding these to the Guild library for safe keeping. I also keep a back up in Dropbox and on a separate hard drive.

When you are researching and gathering material, ensure that you note or record the citation for the record, especially if you are using the web clipper in Chrome for adding material into Evernote. You might recall what you were looking at four hours later, but not perhaps four years later! and there is nothing worse than having to revisit sites because you did not record the citation appropriately. It is also worth mentioning that some indexes are updated from time to time and therefore might need more than one visit.

Again the best advice I can give to someone starting out is do not drown in research material. All the records will still be there in the future, so try and avoid data overload and focus on working on the material you have. However, Guild members are very good at sharing material with others, certainly for my Butcher study not a week goes by when I do not receive an obituary or other communication and it has been known that I have stopped my current work to focus on whatever I have been sent. Nothing wrong with that, but remember to document your sources and research.

I will be back tomorrow with segment seven, chatting about connecting with others and spreading the word about your study. In fact there is some overlap with the last four segments, but think of it as a tapestry, gathering the strands together to make a fantastic picture.

About Julie Goucher

Genealogist, Author, Presenter, native Guildfordian, avid note taker and journal writer. Lover of Books, Stationery & History; Surnames, Butcher & Orlando One-Name Studies. Pharos Tutor for all One-Name Studies/surname courses as well as Researching Ancestors from Continental Europe.
This entry was posted in Genealogy, Introduction to One-Name Studies (Pharos course 901), One-Name Studies, One-Place Studies, Strategy for a Genealogical Project. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Strategy for a Genealogical Project – Managing Research Results and Citations

  1. fhtess65 says:

    Just wondering how you format your citations – always curious to see how others do it.


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