Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolution - Research Log

I have enjoyed reading the blog conversation discussing the paradigm shift taking place in genealogy in the last couple of weeks.  Michael Hait began the discussion with The Genealogy Paradigm Shift: Are bloggers the new "experts"?.  There was a wonderful discussion that followed in the comments section.  Marian Pierre-Louis wrote a great reply in Are Bloggers Really the New Experts? , Are Bloggers Really the New Experts Part 2 and Genre and Genealogy

The discussion really got me to thinking about how I fit into this picture.  I am a thirty three year old mother of two young children.  I have been researching my family since my junior year of college.  I am a member of my local genealogy society.  And I have been writing this blog for about 10 months.

I consider myself to be an intermediate level researcher.  I do not have aspirations to become a professional genealogist.  I am just as comfortable on the internet as in an courthouse or archive library.  I have taken a genealogy vacation and believe in the importance of correctly citing your sources.

One of the biggest points I have taken away from the discussion is the importance to be aware that others are reading my blog.  I know that the list of people on my blog as followers are not my family so I am assuming that you are a fellow genealogist.  I do not know why you have chosen to read my blog but I would like to keep you as a reader.  I do not plan on my blog being written at a professional level.  My style of writing is basically the conversation I have with myself in my head.  If you want to know more about my research, including citations, I would love for you to email me.

I have mentioned several times this year how this blog has changed my research.  Some of the changes have come from the focus writing brings.  Other changes have come from being a part of the blogging community and reading other genealogy blogs.  Genealogy blogs have opened my eyes to the educational opportunities out there.  In the last year, I have learned from individual blog posts, watched genealogy webinars, listened to genealogy radio and to genealogy pod casts, and read case studies that are posted online.

I do not consider myself perfect by any means.  In fact, I have a dirty little genealogy secret.  While I am careful to cite everything, I have never really kept a research log.  I have kept some to-do lists but they in no way cut it.  Over the years I have read over and over that research logs are one of the fundamentals of genealogy research.  I have always looked at a research log as an extra step that just takes too much time and impeds any forward momentum when pausing to document the steps.  I am learning this is not so.

I have recently watched Research Logs: Part 1 and Research Logs: Part 2 available on  I have also looked at the research logs available on Google Docs in the forms section.  I have taken parts of each to create my own digital research log in excel.

So by this time I am sure that you are wondering how on earth this is all going to tie in to my New Year's Resolution.  I just want to say that I am listening to the call to "lead by example" as Marian Pierre-Louis says or "put your best face forward" as Michael Hait commented.  I am going to start keeping a detailed research log as my New Year's resolution.  I am going to be a better genealogist and hopefully help influence someone else who is reading my blog to be a better researcher too.


  1. I think you will be well served by a Research Log - I also listened to the FHL lectures on this topic. I revamped it a bit in light of the fact that I use my computer much more than paper and pen. You will find a method that works for you and you will be amazed at how your methodology improves. All the best in 2012.

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  3. I've never kept a research log. My work doesn't fit into the little boxes. I always think things like "When you drill down into a website, how do you record it? Name all the steps? How about when you branch out in a different direction?"

    I watched David Dilt's lesson on research logs, which was as much about organizing your research as tracking it on a log. I think every log-challenged and paper-challenged researcher can learn a lot from these two videos.

  4. JG - I put together my own research log in an excel sheet. I do not plan on keeping my family lines separate since the sort function is so great in excel. If you would like to see what I put together, I would be happy to email it to you.