Recently, I was presented with a glorious gift!  A new friend is allowing me to borrow a whole box of various microfilms for Russell County!  I decided to begin with the Marriage Bonds Books.  I began by using FTM to make a list of all married individuals along with the marriage dates, if known.

I then transferred those names into an Excel file with columns for Males, Marriage Date, County and Females.  I wanted to be able to sort by chronological order of marriage date, or alphabetically by men or women.  Then, because I was missing some marriage dates, I added a column for birth dates so that I could make an estimate of marriage dates – guessing men were married around age 20.

I printed 3 versions of the list – Chronologically by marriage date, alphabetical men, and alphabetical women.  I took the lists to the library with the microfilm and began by looking for the men’s names in the indexes (which I discovered are pretty inaccurate).  I looked for permission slips, bonds and certificates for every couple on my list.  Some were easy to find.  Some were surprisingly different from the dates I had in my database.  And some were like finding Easter Eggs.  I discovered some middle names and maiden names that I didn’t have before.  I was able to find just about all of the ones I was looking for.  I also found potential records for names that I had approximate birth dates based on census records that “dropped out of site” once they moved away from home.  More clues to follow up on! The ones that I couldn’t find will be first on my list for surrounding counties. (After I look  just one more time….)

I’m now in the process of entering/correcting dates along with sources into my Family Tree Maker, Ancestry, Groups Sheets and Notes.  I don’t know what I’d do if I had trees in several internet sites to update!  As I am updating group sheets, I’m seeing additional names that didn’t show up in my original FTM report because I didn’t have a spouse listed, but I can add those names to look for potential matches.

I’m also happy that I have the beginnings of an Excel database with all of my Russell County names that I can add too.  I did end up adding a column for notes so that I could indicate if a record was a POSSIBLE match or if I came across a clue to follow up on.  I can add death dates and burial locations so that I can sort based on that information as well.  I like the idea of sorting males based on birth dates so that I’ll know when they turned 21 and should start appearing in tax lists.  When men or women are sorted alphabetically, it keeps family groups together as well so that I can look for other patterns.  When visiting cemeteries, I can sort so that all names from the same cemetery are together.

The only drawback that I can see to this “batch researching” is that I have a feeling that I’m missing clues by not taking the time to work on one specific family at a time.  I’ll have to be sure that as I put this information into each set of notes, that I’m thinking through what I’m reading and what the next step would be.  All questions or trains of thought should be writing into my Research Log as I go along.