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Weekly Tip: 5 Tips to Get Your Genealogy Back on Track

By Gena Philibert Ortega

Sometimes, genealogy can lose its luster. Like with any activity, a researcher may feel burned out after having faced brick walls, uncooperative relatives, little time to devote to research and lack of resources. This genealogical burnout doesn’t have to mean the end of your being your family’s historian. Rather it can be a signal that it’s time to try something new to bring the excitement back to your research.

1. Reevaluate your Genealogical Goals

Sometimes in the rush and excitement of finding documents that help us learn about our ancestor’s story, we get so caught up that we forget what our original genealogy goal was. Maybe your goal was too big, a mistake many genealogists make. Thinking you want to trace your paternal line back to 1500 might be a little much to accomplish. When you get stuck, it’s a good idea to go back and reevaluate your goal and recommit yourself or make a new updated goal.

Think about your family tree. Who do you want to learn more about? Do you need to do some work on more recent generations? Maybe it’s time to put away your current project and begin a new one that you will be more excited about.

2. Take a Break

As with anything you pursue, sometimes you just need to take a break. A break can mean something different for each researcher. Maybe it’s not doing any genealogy for a few weeks. I know some researchers that do no genealogy for the summer in order to enjoy activities in the warmer weather. However you want to define a break for yourself, it can provide you with some time away from a research problem to renew yourself. Sometimes a break from the problem is just what you need in order to accomplish more.

3. Go Back to School

You don’t literally have to go back to school, but that is one option. Consider an ongoing genealogy education plan that incorporates educational activities you would enjoy. Blogs, podcasts, seminars, webinars, online classes and conferences all help to introduce researchers to new research methodologies, websites and ideas. Check out the updated list of Expos for 2011 and make a plan to attend one. Everyone should be taking advantage of the online courses available from FamilySearch . These recorded presentations span international and American record topics and provide an easy way for a researcher to learn more about genealogy.

There are always so many new things going on in the genealogy world that this pursuit requires ongoing education. Consider some ways that you can add to your education, which in turn will help you bust down those brick walls.

4. Try Something Different

Have you tried something different lately? I read quite a few British genealogy magazines and I am currently doing no English research. So why do I do this? It gives me ideas that I can incorporate into my American research. It’s nice to read a different take on research than what I am accustomed to.

Consider trying something different with your research. If you only use the genealogy subscription sites, try a source like WorldCat , look up some books in your ancestor’s locality and acquire them through interlibrary loan at your local library. Find out what the state archives have for your genealogy research. Read a book about the history of your ancestor’s locality.

Considering something different will assist you in thinking about your research in a different way, and finding solutions you wouldn’t have normally considered.

5. Work With a Genealogy Partner

We’ve all heard that two heads are better than one and in many cases that can be true. Working with a relative on your research problem can not only get you more excited about the research but also help you come up with more ideas and some help with the workload. Don’t live near your genealogy partner? No problem, use a collaborative editing program like Google Docs to share your findings, write research plans, and keep track of research that has been done. Google Docs allows you to create word processing documents and spreadsheets and then to share them with another person or persons who can then can edit and read them. To use Google Docs you will need a Google account, which is free.


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