Yesterday was my first opportunity to use the research log I had created for Joseph Scott and I loved it! It kept me on task and helped me to keep track of what I was looking at. I quickly found a couple of mistakes between my database information and notes I keep in the folder. I could have spent quite a bit of time searching for records that didn’t exist. And it’s great to have all of my thoughts in one place. I used to spend alot of time thinking “I’ve looked at this before, but was it for THIS surname?” and I can see that the log will save me time there. It’s great to know that the document will continue to be updated and to grow because it’s an Excel file and is easily updated. I was able to write information all over the log sheet (both successful AND unsuccessful searches) and then when I updated my log back at home, I was able to think about other sources to search and additional questions to follow up on.
I’ve added a “wish list” of documents to the end of my log because sometimes, I have information on a date or location, but not a scan of an original document. That’s not immediately evident to me just by looking at my group sheet. And while I’m waiting on the machine to scan a microfilm image, I can also be looking up film numbers for Family History Center films. As I create these logs for each individual or family, I can keep a master list of films so that when I do get them, I can be sure to specifically look for every family name possible. If the FHL doesn’t have a microfilm of a record, I can research online to find out where the records are kept. I’ve done this in the past, but usually on scraps of paper or post-it notes. And it’s not uncommon to find a note with a film number and title, but with no name to show who I was planning to look up. All of my scribbled notes make sense to me at the time, but sometimes not when I get home! The log is a bit of a reminder to be thorough in my thoughts since it could be weeks before I get back to it again.
Because my research time during the school year, is so sporadic, I am looking forward to picking up a folder with the printed research log inside so that I know exactly where I left off and what I’d like to look for next! I won’t feel like I have to wait to research only when I have big chunks of time. And I’m also enjoying creating additional logs because it forces me to examine a family thoroughly and often gives me questions for another related family that I hadn’t considered before. So I began with Joseph Scott and am now moving on to his parents and his wife’s parents. Research logs will be my new “take along” project when I know I will have little or no internet access. I’ll just grab a folder and my laptop and I’ll be ready to work!