The week-end is coming quickly (yeah!) and now is the time to make your plan. I’m sure that every genealogist knows the feeling of frustration that comes when you finally have time to do some research, but you have a hard time getting started because you haven’t made a plan.  Who will I research?  What question would I like to focus on?  What resources are available?  Are there new records at the library that I haven’t noticed before?

When you create a database of all known resources for a particular county, you will know immediately what types of records you can find and where to find them.  Knowing exactly what’s available can help you narrow down your research options so you don’t waste time looking for information in the wrong place.  And if you get a last minute chance to take a research trip, you’ll immediately know about resources will be available that you can’t access anywhere else.

Once again, my mind went right to Excel for this so that I can have a worksheet for each county I do research in.  Think about books, newsletters, newspapers, microfilm, and files.  When you’re making your database, look to see what’s available at:

  1. The local library where you live
  2. The state library or archives for the area you research
  3. The county library for the area you research
  4. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City (remember, you can order those microfilms!)
  5. Archives.gov (again, you can rent or purchase these microfilms)
  6. The Allen County Library (2nd largest genealogy collection in the U.S.)
  7. PERSI (Genealogy related periodicals available at ACPL)
  8. University Libraries
  9. Web sites with free record access like usgenweb.org
  10. Web sites with timelines, histories, and maps of the area you are researching
  11. Subscription websites like Ancestry.com, Footnote.com or WorldVitalRecords.com

Do a search on Worldcat.org to see what books are available and which libraries have them.  Some of the most helpful books are only available at the library IN that county or at a University library, and we’ll never know that they are available without doing a search like this.

As I built my database, I decided to have a column for “Category”, “Title”, “Author”, “Call Number” and “Location”.  The tabs along the bottom show the counties that I have added information for. I can sort based on the entries in each column so that I can have all of the resources grouped by category type, or author or location, etc.

I intend to add another column for citation information.  I cheat a bit on this one.  For book citations, I find the book on Worldcat and then click the “Cite/Export” button near the upper right corner.  You can choose the format that you prefer for your citation and then copy and paste the citation into the spreadsheet. Then you can copy and paste (with necessary modifications) into your notes whenever you use the source.

If a book or microfilm that might contain information on YOUR ancestor is available through the Allen County Public Library, I’d be happy to assist with your research!  I can make digital copies of the Table of Contents or Index so that you can see if the book merits further review.  Or I can go through to find pages with the surname you are researching.  If you’ve seen the TOC or Index and have specific pages you’d like to see, I can get those for you as well.  The sooner you make your request, the more likely you’ll be to have those available for your research this week-end!  Click on the “Personal Assistant” tab at the top of the page to see the details.

I hope to be working with you soon!

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