26 January 2011

Wisdom Wednesday - Online Research

We all do it at some point - online research.  I've met very few researchers who don't research online anymore. It seems that everyone is using the internet for researching.  But are your searches fruitful?  Are you getting anywhere?

Here's some tips to help you be more successful with your online searches!

  1. Don't go in blind.  I encourage my class attendees to print out a group sheet set on one family.  I find when you just go in blind with no real idea of who or what you are chasing you end up really accomplishing nothing.  Sure you may find one or two tidbits but by limiting the family you are working on I feel you stay more focused on the hunt.
  2. Get to know your search engine.  Experiment using +/- and ( ) .  Also try different spellings - remember spelling doesn't count when doing genealogy.  When I research the line of Hershey's I have in Pennsylvania I use  Hershey -candy  or Hershey - Chocolate and I have very good luck. 
  3. Everything is not on the big paid sites.  Alot of state & local agencies are putting their information on line as well.  So try searching on state agency sites like archives, health departements and public libraries.  Things I have found by using local agencies in the area's my ancestors lived include pensions, wills, obits and more. Even if you don't find the exact item you are searching for, the site may have indexes that make it possible for you to order the things you are seeking. 
  4. Keep a word doc open so that you can record the Url's that you use.  There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to go back to a site and then you figure out you closed it and have no idea how you got there in the first place. Copy & paste the Url, add a few notes abt what was found there.  With the word doc you can ALWAYS go back. 
  5. Don't be afraid to ask for sources.  You may find things that don't agree with what you already have on your family.  So ask the webmaster for his sources.  If he doesn't answer then I would consider his dates suspect. Make notes and then prove or disprove the data. 
  6. Look for search engines on the site and use it.  If they don't have a search engine control F on your keyboard will do. 
  7.  Remember that not everything you find in your online searches will be correct, however, all things you find you must document using primary & secondary sources.  Never assume that anything found online is true until it is proven by you.  Your family history is too important to take chances with unproven material.
  8. Last but not least, Don't give up.  If you don't find what you were looking for today, remember the old adage - If at first you don't succeed, Try Try Again.  With the rate new material is coming online, the stuff you didn't find today may surely show up another day.  Make good notes, keep your "worksheet" and try again in a few weeks or a month.  You might just be surprised!
Happy Researching!

1 comment:

Carol said...

Great list, well written.