Last month I attended the Michigan Genealogical Council’s annual Abram’s Genealogy Seminar and Jan Alpert, in the intro for her presentation “How My Michigan Ancestors Have Made Me a Better Genealogist,” hit solidly on one of my largest problems in researching… Coming home and not effectively working through the information I find. So many of us are always on the go and only able to catch time for the trip itself and we forget about the important follow-up–cleaning up those notes, making photocopies understandable when you come back to them, and generally pulling the new information into your research.

So, as I mentioned before, I had been effectively away from my research for almost two full years and the interruption came after a really frenzied period of trying to collect data from my local Family History Center, the Library of Michigan and Allen County Public Library. Evidently in my rushing around and as life took a turn away from genealogy the most I had done was folder the found materials. 

Imagine my surprise two years later when I start going through folders and realize… foolishly… that I had a military service record for my 4th great grandfather Lieutenant Hugh Massy who served in the 90th Light Infantry and 33rd Regiments of the British Army (from Record of officers services, 1770-1919).  It included date and place of birth, marriage information, and birth information for 5 of their children. Not one bit of it had made it into my database. I remember being thrilled at finding the record but I’m not sure if even then I had time to really look at all the fabulous detail in it. So on the one hand it was like Christmas in July but on the other hand I was mortified. Hence my post to twitter. 

So, two important things are changing in my research:

  1. I’m doing a massive clean-up to see what I have and hopefully I will avoid totally repeating steps
  2. I am scheduling time to sort out my finds as soon as I get home–while I still know what I have and why it’s relevant.

Both very basic, but both easy to forget in any projects you have to work on part-time.

Learn from my mistakes,

Jess

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