Well, this teacher is looking at the end of final exam week at school and she can’t WAIT for summer and it’s opportunity for full time genealogy research!

In anticipation of this, I’ve spent some time in the evenings updating my files and notes for each family that I research.  While I’m far from finished, I’ve already added information to my tree just by updating with information that I forgot that I had!  I definately need to come up with a better way of keeping track of what I’ve gathered.  Over and over, I’ve read about the use of research logs, but I just can’t get enthused about them, mainly because I can’t see the usefulness of having a log based on the date that I research.  For me to find something in my log, I’d have to know the date that I was researching and I don’t have that good of a memory!  There are gaps of months, or even years, between doing serious research on a specific line.  (Last summer was all about my husband’s line, but this summer will be all about my mother’s line!)

I’ve thought of the way I’d like to design my own research log – using Excel, of course.  I’d like to have an Excel page for each source that I look at.  The top of the page would have the title of the source and then the correct source citation that I could copy and paste into my documentation.  Where was the source located?  What did I look for?  What was there?  What was NOT there?  Did I make a paper copy or a digital copy?  Where did I store my copy?  Was this source identical to another source?  Do I want to come back to the source or was it useless?

My biggest obstacle to this project is the sheer volume of sources that I’ve looked at.  And I know that the best way to do this is just to start.  Little by little, it will be completed.  I’m also still very much a novice in the area of citation.  The sheer size of “Evidence Explained” scares me to death!

Another obstacle is knowing my own research habits.  I’m a “jumper”.  I start looking for one thing, but when I find information, it usually leads to other questions, which I gallop off in search of!  I cringe at the idea of taking time to write down every thought and conclusion.  My time is usually limited and I don’t want to do “simple bookkeeping” when I could be researching!  I’m very undisciplined this way – rather like the teenagers that I teach!

So I call on voices from the past to give myself a little kick in the backside.  My high school band teacher told us, “Practice makes perfect”.  I know that’s true for citations as well.  My mother said, “Slow and steady wins the race”.  I know that’s true for my “simple bookkeeping”.  And Nike told us, “Just do it”.  I need to stop waiting for the perfect time, the perfect format, or whatever, and just do it!  Starting next week!

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