Learning What To Do Next

Can you believe that RootsTech 2015 was a month ago? I am certainly not ready to forget all the things I learned. This post might be followed up with a few other reviews of seminars presented.

Karen Auman presented, “You’ve Mastered the Census Basic Search, Now What?” She was easy to listen to for this hearing impaired learner. Her presentation was well organized and thought out. If Karen was in my area, I would take another workshop from her.

Karen’s organized approach introduced four areas to answer the “Now What?” portion of her topic.

The first step was to make a plan.

I cringe whenever I hear the need to plan. It’s a weakness of mine when I’m in a curious mode. When I’m in a ‘formal research mindset’, I’m a champion of planning. I’ll admit that the curiosity research is more frequent than the formal.

While attending a local workshop at a library, I asked the presenter if she ever got to a point where she didn’t ‘plan’ her research. Did she just do what needed to be done?  She said that in some cases, yes, but she preferred to plan things out.

When I’m looking for something, I just go look for it. Sometimes I’ll document when I strike out. Sometimes, I won’t. However, I have seen the value of starting some To Do Lists as I worked on my Narrative Project. Perhaps that’s my plan.

I know specific questions, gaps, and holes I have and I make a note to research how I can resolve said issues. I can see the benefit in a formal research project the idea to plan the question you’re trying to answer.

If you’re driven primarily by curiosity, planning may just happen naturally and fluidly. When curiosity strikes, I often go where the paper trail takes me, attaching sources to my online trees along the way. I also leave reason statements as to why I attached said sources (especially in FamilySearch). It’s not planned but it is documented.

Now… despite my internal conflict, I continued to listen to Karen and benefited greatly. I won’t go into too much details because you should listen to her rather reading my post. (Plus, I don’t want to violate copyright. )

Karen had some wonderful nuggets sprinkled throughout her class.  One statement was “Rivers were the roads in America.”

I have often wondered about why my ancestors settled where they did in Gainsboro, Ontario, Canada and in Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. Karen suggested looking at topographical maps for a similar, yet different end purpose. Knowing the geography might help me understand the area better. Add to that local histories, which I have dabbled a little into, and I may come to understand my ancestors and the places they called home. I suppose I need to add maps and local histories to my To Do list.

Karen descried a detailed method for discovering what records to look for, if they exist, that could help you answer questions you may have (your plan). Reviewing her presentation will certainly remind me of underutilized resources when I become stumped.

At one point, Karen displayed a small sample of the variations of her Auman last name. I certainly need to follow her advice to make a similar list with my Geiszler, Hoppe, and Zumstein names. Perhaps some of my brick walls are there because I haven’t compiled a similiar alternate name spelling list.

One more great tip was to use Google Search as a ‘wild card’ to just she what you may find.

She emphasizes this to take place after you have searched methodically. What a great tip!

I hadn’t embraced Googling my family history because I am so frequently unsuccessful. In considering her advise, perhaps I’ll add a Google challenge occasionally for fun.

I do hope I haven’t given away all of Karen’s tips. She’s a gem of a presenter and gave me much to think about. Thank you so much!

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Are you utilizing the best online genealogy research tools?
Sign up for our newsletter and receive our free guide
10 Online Genealogy Resource You Have to Try.

We take your privacy seriously! See our privacy policy click here.