Wintertime Research

written December 13, 2013

For many researchers, the days and nights are now cold and snowy. We cannot get out in the sunshine to walk among the cemeteries as we like to do.

Now there are a few things that must be done first in order to do this "Winter Research" properly.

First you must make certain that your time will be uninterrupted for the most part.

Grab a large cup of coffee or cocoa (whichever you prefer) make sure that you can hear the wind blowing outside (for that cozy feeling) and come to terms with the fact that you will need to be discerning and ruthless about getting rid of items no longer needed.

This is the time that I like to conduct what I like to call "Snow Research". That is when I look through and sort out all the data that I collected on those sunny days of spring and summer. It is now time to enter the data in my family file system...or to discard them...or to file them away for a time that the data "fits".

As I start this process, I like to begin with a brand new spiral notebook that I have entitled "IN SEARCH OF". In this notebook, I make various pages of either the different counties I look in (such as Morgan, Owen and Putnam) OR page after page of the various TYPES of documents such as "DEATH CERTIFICATES", "OBITUARIES", "MARRIAGE RECORDS", "LAND RECORDS". Just basically any category that my data comes under. This could include "MILITARY RECORDS" or maybe "CHURCH RECORDS" or "CEMETERIES"..just about anything. Now as I enter my data I can readily see what information I don't have and still need to acquire. I find that since I am just sitting there and already have the page pulled up on this or that person, it only makes sense to make note of what I still need.

I take the spiral notebook and simply record a person's name under the appropriate page for the data. In the end I have made huge strides in my lists for next spring and summer. When the time comes for the library or cemetery visits, I simply grab my spiral notebook and go.

I also have a page that is entitled "QUESTIONS"...this is a page that I use to jot down some inane question that I have regarding this or that person. I use this to remind me when I am surfing that web that I want to look this or that up. This comes in handy more then you would think.

The great thing about using this spiral notebook is that you can just set it aside and pick it up next time and by the time that spring should have a pretty good idea of what you need. This notebook can also be used to enter your postings to the mailing list in search of information.

The most difficult thing about this "Winter Research" is that you have to discipline yourself to toss out those random pieces of paper that are no longer of any use. Your file box must periodically be cleaned out in preparation for next years new batch of stuff. (Well, either that or just keep buying a new file cabinet).