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Happy Holiday’s from Genealogy TV!

Official Contest Rules

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  • Enter by joining the Genealogy TV newsletter email list. Click the link or cut & paste it into your browser. Go here to subscribe. http://eepurl.com/dJpXAQ.  Fill out the form and click “Subscribe to List.” You should get a verification email. Once you’ve verified your subscription, you’re entered in the contest.
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Interviewing Family, Part Two – Recording Your Interviews

Here in Part two, we’re talking about how to record an interview with a family member.  For information the questions you should ask, please see Interviewing Family, Part One – The Interview. To jump straight to my favorite video gear, go here.

You’ll want to record your family interviews or perhaps just the conversation around the dinner table at Thanksgiving.  This is where the family stories come to life. In today’s world, the easiest way to accomplish this is with a smartphone, but any digital video camera will work. I don’t recommend the old videotape cameras these days. Transferring those files needs to be an entirely different post.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to record these conversations.  95% of what you hear during these conversations, you will not remember when you get back home!  Seriously, you won’t remember… or you’ll miss a little comment or gesture that may be very important.  Every time I’ve recorded an interview, no matter how casual it was, I was so grateful I took a few minutes to record, because when I played it back, my notes were not complete, I misunderstood what was said, or I just didn’t catch it the first time.

Taking a few extra minutes to set up any kind of camera to record, will become a cherished video or audio recording for generations to come. Additionally, you can replay it over and over to get every little tidbit of juicy genealogical information out if it. It’s the little stuff, you’ll find later, to be a huge clue in your research.

Prepare in advance of your family reunion or interview with the family.  Make sure you have plenty of storage memory on your device… Ideally for a couple of hours of video.

Position Your Subject Close in a Comfortable Environment

Whenever possible, position yourself near your interviewee.  I recommend using a microphone attached to whatever recording device you have, be it a cell phone or camera.  Unless you’re within arms length of the subject with the camera, a built-in camera mic will not be sufficient to hear the interview.  Having a camera that close to someone might be a little intrusive.  Therefore, I recommend connecting an external microphone.  They’re really affordable and very useful.

I use two different types of mics depending on the situation.  I use a lavalier microphone (some good ones are under $17, clips to your clothing), or a mini shotgun microphone by Rode (under $60, stays on the camera and usually used outdoors). These microphones are very affordable and worth every penny.

A side note: My full-time job for the last nearly 40 years as been in the television broadcasting business. I can tell you these mics really are decent mics for the price. Just make sure they’re fully seated in the mini port on your phone or camera.  Also, make sure the mic plug is compatible with your device before purchasing. Check the specifications on your phone and the mic to be sure they match.

Using the built-in microphone on cameras are for the birds… literally… it’s only good for recording the birds chirping in the outdoors, it will not pick up the sound of voice very well, unless it’s within arm’s length of the person speaking.  Even when doing selfies, I use a mini shot gun or lav mic for better sound.  See my demonstration on microphones.

For multiple subjects, use a splitter (under $12) and two lavalier microphones to record both the interviewee and the interviewer. Or perhaps a couple like a husband and wife sitting side-by-side.

I can’t emphasize enough how important quality audio is for genealogy.  You can mess up video all day long and people will tolerate less than perfect video, but without good audio… the entire project is toast.

Test your equipment in advance for both audio and video.  While at your location, do a little testing recording with the microphone clipped on your family member and ask them for just a little “testing 1-2-3.”  Then a quick playback of the video to ensure that you have good video and audio.

Today cell phone technology has gotten so good that many interviews can be shot on them, provided they have enough memory.

Don’t Hold Cell Phones Vertically
This is what video looks like when shooting with a phone vertically.

Make sure that if you’re using a cell phone for video, that your recording in a horizontal format and not vertical. You’ll want to record horizontally, so that playback on a TV or computer matches the format of the screen and you won’t have giant black bars on the sides of your screen (as shown above).  Test your cell phone first to make sure it will shoot horizontally.  Almost all phones these days do.

Hold Your Cell Phone Horizontally

Without being too intrusive, position the camera reasonably close to your subject. Please don’t try to make this a full broadcast style made-for-TV movie.  You don’t want to overwhelm your subject with bright lights, as if they were in a Hollywood studio. It is very intimidating and can make your subject nervous, uncomfortable and thus unwilling to share. You’ll want to be as low-key as possible.

Once you have a microphone clipped on your subject, after about 30 seconds they’ll forget it’s there.  Just caution them in the beginning to not pat themselves on the chest, as it will cause the mic to pop.

Do your best to avoid questions that can be answered with yes or no… but instead ask open-ended questions like “tell me about a time when…” Use historical or family events help prompt memory.

If recording at a family reunion, try to find a quiet location where you can conduct the interview. Try not to exhaust your elders, they’ll want time with the rest of the family too.  If you’re at a family reunion, consider setting up your camera on a tripod in a quiet location and rotate various family members for multiple interviews. Consider arranging with key elders to arrive extra early so you can interview them before the rest of the family arrives.

Again, be aware of how much memory you have for recording and your camera’s battery life.  Check you camera specs, your settings or Google your camera for how much video record time you’ll have.

A Pro Tip:  To save as much memory as possible, when anticipating longer interviews, change the video settings on your camera, prior to shooting, to a lower resolution video. Most newer digital video cameras have HD resolution sizes of 480p, 720p, 1080p and 4K (4000).  The smaller the number, the lower the resolution, and potential graininess you’ll see (but don’t worry about this too much unless you’re in low light).

Lower the video settings to save storage space.

To save memory, set your camera to one of the lower settings and make sure you’re frame rate is 30 frames per second or less.  For example, setting your camera on 720p at 30 frames per second, will save you a lot of storage over a longer interview. Setting your camera at 720p as opposed to 1080p will save you more than twice the storage space (see screenshot from iPhone 6 Plus video settings).  At 720p, you’re likely not going to see a difference from 1080p, and for family interviews, this is just fine for most applications.  Check your camera manual for specifics settings for your camera, well before the interview.

If you have, for example, 32 GB (gigabytes) of storage, equals 32,000 MB (megabytes).  Therefore, on my cell phone, shooting at 720p (30 fps), should get 533 minutes or 8 hours of video (32,000 / 60 MB per minute =533 minutes / 60 minutes per hour). Shooting at 1080p (30 fps) gives 246 minutes or about 4 hours of video.

I shoot on both my iPhone 6 Plus and a Canon digital SLR camera when I can.  I do this for two reasons, 1) I like to have two angles of my interview and 2) if one camera fails (runs out of storage or battery) then the other usually has the rest of the interview.

If you have a digital SLR camera, you can change batteries and storage cards as needed.  However, cell phones are so easy to shoot with, it’s hard not to grab them and just start recording. However, when shooting interviews, they can run long…sometimes hours and you can’t change the storage card on most cell phones.

Tablets are another option for recording, such as an iPad or Surface Pro.  All of these devices these days do an amazing job with great video quality.

If you have the charge cable with you, most cell phones can be plugged in while shooting to save battery. In a pinch, you may be able to borrow another family members phone if you’re unable to record on yours.

Pro Tip: Test the audio. Wear earbuds or headphones to check your mics before recording your interview to make sure the audio is clear.  You may need to record a test and play it back to hear the audio, since you may be using the audio port for the mics.

I recommend a tripod or table top tripod.  Your arms will get tired.  When without a tripod, I’ve propped up my cell phone on a stack of books or whatever is handy.  It also makes for a much steadier shot and more pleasing to watch later.

Lastly, you might be able to solicit the help of a younger member of the family to help shoot the video. The benefits are, it frees you up to ask questions and the young person might just become interested in the family genealogy.

I’d like to preface this next section by saying not only am I a genealogist, but a life long video professional working in all aspects of television production and management.  I’m amazed at how affordable and easy video gear is today.  Gear that used to cost us tens of thousands of dollars, is a thing of the past.  Most of today’s gear is very affordable for everyone and works really well.

Connie’s Favorite Gear for Interviewing

Depending on the situation I will typically use the least amount of gear, but might grab any or all of these.

Tripods

Affordable Tripod

Small tripod with cell phone grip  Make sure it fits your cell phone.

Mini Table Top Tripod by Manfrotto.  Manfrotto has great gear and reasonably priced. Most of my tripods are Manfrotto’s.

Joby Grip for smaller phones and great for the kitchen table conversations.

Joby Grip that Bends, can be wrapped around anything.  Just remember you’ll need a way to mount the camera with this one.  See the cell phone mounts below to add to this bendable tripod.  They have the same quarter-twenty socket that mates with this tripod.

Selfie Stick

Selfie Stick – This is my favorite selfie stick.  It’s sturdy, lightweight, long extension, can get above crowds, and has a rechargeable remote trigger.  The only downside is the trigger will not start and stop video.  It will only trigger still photos. That’s okay with me, I love this selfie stick. If you’re using it with a cell phone, you’ll need to buy the cell phone holder separately.

Cell Phone Holders –  I like the threaded kind of holders as opposed to the elastic holders.  I have a larger phone with a rubber case on my phone and find these threaded holders work a lot better and last longer.  They have a quarter-twenty size threaded socket on the bottom that will mount on any standard size tripod.

Ailun Cell Phone Holder $5.99 (at the time of this writing).  I have both the Ailun and Neewer (below) phone holders. Go for the cheaper one.  They’re almost identical.  Event the art and packaging is the same.  The units are slightly different in shape but both work equally well to me.

Neewer Smart Phone Holder $9.99 (at the time of this writing).

Digital SLR Cameras (a.k.a. DSLR’s) There are hundreds on the market.  These are mine.

Canon 7D DSLR Camera You’ll need to use a tripod with this camera, when shooting family interviews.  Holding this camera for a long time will be tiring.

Or Canon 5D Mark III You’ll need to use a tripod with this camera when shooting interviews. This is a great camera if you’re into photography too!  I love my 5D!!!  Love, love, love!

Shot Gun Mic’s (Directional Microphone, Mounts on Camera)

Rode VideoMic Me Directional Microphone for Smart Phones.  I love this mic.  It is shockingly good for the price.  Also it’s easy, there is no clipping a mic on someone or dealing with cables.  However, for interviews, you’ll get a little better result pinning a lav mic on your subject.

Rode VideoMic Directional Video Condenser Microphone with Mount is a good camera to mount on a Digital SLR camera like the Canon 5D MIV I wrote about.  The mic mounts on the hot shoe of the camera (where the flash mounts). It’s very directional and will pick up sound in the direction it’s pointed and will eliminate most sound coming from the rear.  If your camera is noisy, it might pick up sound either from the camera or you, so shhhh… be very quiet when shooting.

Lav’s or Lavalier Micrphones clip on a persons shirt, ideally withing about  6 – 8 inches of a persons mouth.  Make sure they’re pointed up and not sideways.  The clips rotate. I’ve tested these and are great for the price.

BOYA BY-M1 3.5mm Electret Condenser Microphone with 1/4″ adapter for Smartphones iPhone DSLR Cameras PC  I own a pair of these, they work great for family interviews.

Have you recorded family interviews?  What gear do you use?  Tell us in the comment section below.

Comments are welcome below.

Following this blog at the link above.

Subscribe to the NCAncestry YouTube Channel.

Subscribe to my Learn Genealogy YouTube Channel.

12 Tips for Interviewing Family Part One – The Interview

Interviewing family, in my opinion, is one of the best parts of genealogy. It’s fun and rewarding. You, as the interviewer are like a reporter.  You’ll research your subject, do some background investigation, do the interview and report the results. Please keep in mind that there are two posts here, part one is about how to conduct the interview and part two is about how to record the interview.  Both are equally important, please review both.

Here are 12 TIPS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR FAMILY INTERVIEWS.

  1. Start with your eldest family members first!
  2. Find a quiet place to talk. I can’t emphasize this enough. You’ll want a quiet space without the television, screaming kids, lawn mowers, or other distractions.
  3. You’ll want to record audio and/or video of the interview. However, you’ll also want to take notes!  Many times, your recording will not be clear, someone interrupted the interview, or you ran out of memory on your camera /phone and you didn’t realize it. A host of technical problems can happen, and worst of all the audio was unintelligible.  We’ll talk about the technical side of recording an interview easily, in part two.
  4. Take your family member to a brightly lit space so that photos and documents you’re reviewing can be easily seen and video quality is good (if you’re recording).
  5. Do some homework before your interview. Research where the interviewee(s) lived, when they lived there. Learn about local events or history that took place there. Create a list of questions that inquire about the places in your family member’s life.
  6. Prioritize your questions, in case time or energy runs out before the interview is over.  This is especially important for elderly family. In some cases, you may only get a few minutes with them. Start with your top five most important questions first.
  7. Consider the historical events happening during a person’s life time.  For example, a question might be… “Where were you when John Kennedy was shot?” or “Do you remember your thoughts when you first heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor?”  This can open up a lot of great conversations.
  8. Avoid questions that can be answered with just “yes” or “no” answers.  Use open-ended questions that start with “Tell me about a time…” or “How did you feel when…” or “What was it like growing up in…”. Use the five senses as a lead in your questions (sight, smell, sounds, touch, taste).  What is your favorite desert? (taste)… What were the mornings like growing up in the mountains? (sights and sounds)
  9. Bring printouts from your family tree and ask family members to help fill in the blanks. Doing this will also inspire stories and conversation.
  10. Bring photos and ask to help identify people in them.  Be sure to use pencil and write in the back the photos who are in the images, before you forget. Again, this is so important.
  11. Ask about family heirlooms, photos, memorabilia that they might want to share. There’s always a story behind their favorite family heirloom.
  12. Lastly, if nothing else, keep your camera or smart phone handy at family reunions.  Conversations pop up around the dinner table or out on the back deck.  Go ahead and start recording video, while the stories are being told, even if it’s not in the ideal setting.  Go for it. Get it while you can.

Bonus Tips

DNA Test? Ask (in advance of the interview) if they’ll consider doing a DNA test.  Depending on the research needed, I usually recommend all males do both YDNA and Autosomal DNA (atDNA) tests and that women do at least an Autosomal DNA test.

If you need answers on the maternal line, then a Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) test might be appropriate too.  The mtDNA test looks only at the mothers, mother’s, mother (and so on) direct line. It’s always good to test the elders DNA while you can.

Get their permission before you buy the test and then administer the test during your visit, while your there interviewing your family members.  Don’t leave the test behind, it will never get done. Trust me, get them do cheek swab or spit in the tube while you’re there.

Where to do a DNA test?  AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), 23andMe, and MyHeritage are popular testing companies. No matter where you test, read the disclaimers so you understand the privacy policy. Also, be prepared for surprises. You never know what you’ll find using DNA as evidence.

What to ask? Prepare in advance of your interview your goals and questions. Refer to the blog post “Learn Genealogy – Kick Start” for the type of information you need to collect.  Also…

Here are a list of questions and topics you can choose, that may inspire questions to ask:

  • Tell me about your parents? Grandparents?  Where were they born? When?
  • Where you in the military? Were other family members in the military? If so, when?
  • What religion or church did your parents/grandparent belong, growing up?
  • What do you remember about your childhood home? Where was it exactly?
  • Do you have copies of family birth, marriage, death certificates you can share?
  • What were the (pick a season) like growing up?
  • How did you feel when you graduated from school?
  • Did you have a favorite pet growing up?
  • What was your father’s occupation?
  • What was school like?  Where did you go to school?
  • Tell me about a time when life was hard?
  • Tell me about a time when you felt appreciated?
  • Tell me about your greatest achievement?
  • Close your eyes and go back to a favorite time as a child.  What do you see, smell, feel? Where are you?
  • Who was/is your favorite president? Why?
  • What do you remember about the great depression (or insert historical event here)?
  • Did you have a pet growing up?
  • What do you want to talk about?
  • What was your favorite television/radio show?  Do you remember your first television (depending on age of the person)?
  • What is the oldest item you own?

Be careful about subjects causing concern, stress, and prying into family secrets. etc.  If family wants you to know, they’ll tell you.  You can always end your conversation with “Is there anything else you want to talk about?”  If they say no, respect them and move on.

Don’t try to ask all of these questions, you’ll exhaust yourself and others.  But use them as inspiration to create your own list. Once the conversation starts to flow, the ideas and follow up questions will come to mind.
Lastly, try not to have more than one or two spectators while doing the interview.  I prefer to interview people alone.

Most of all, have fun. Enjoy the conversation!  Take notes, and polish them up immediately after the interview before memory fades.

For more on recording the interviews, please see Interviewing Family Part Two – Recording The InterviewDon’t skip this post thinking you won’t need it, because you don’t plan to record the interview. Trust me, at least read the post.

Have you conducted family interviews?  Tell us in the comment section below.

Comments are welcome below.

Following this blog at the link above.

Subscribe to the NCAncestry YouTube Channel.

Subscribe to my Learn Genealogy YouTube Channel.

Learn Genealogy – Software vs. Online Services

If you’re new to genealogy you may be asking yourself, how do I get started, what do I collect, where do I find this stuff, and how do I keep it all organized?

Today let’s talk about the basic differences between online services and software on your computer.  Both online and software programs will allow you to keep family trees, ancestry data including vital statistics, records found, photos, documents, newspaper articles, and more.  They also have enormous search engines to help you find evidence for your family trees, as wall as serving up hints where were to look.

Online Services

Online services like Ancestry and FamilySearch are great for keeping your data, researching your ancestors, and collaborating with others… all in one place. However, at these services, all your research is online and does not reside on your computer, unless you’re keeping personal document files and/or using software.

Ancestry.com

With Ancestry.com, you can keep your own family tree and set to be private or public or share it with specific people.

By sharing your tree with specific people, you can set the specific user rights within your tree. For example, you can share your Ancestry tree with anyone by giving them the right to view only, edit, or have full administrative rights (like you, the owner).

Additionally, at Ancestry.com, you can keep private Notes or public Comments. Keeping public Comments, is great for collaborating, sharing your hypothesis and information with others. With Notes, on Ancestry, only you can see the Notes and those you have invited to view your tree. With Comments, if your tree is public, anyone can view your Comments.

FamilySearch.org

FamilySearch.org is a free online service where you can create an account, contribute to the world family tree, research, and share information all in one place. Keep in mind, with FamilySearch, your tree is a collaborative tree world tree where others may update, with good evidence and reasoning, the ancestors or information you put

online.

This can have its advantages and disadvantages. With your FamilySearch account, you can adjust your settings to notify you when changes happen by others on ancestors you’ve marked for notification.  I use this with key ancestors.

The advantages are people can work together on the same line, can share information they discover, and you can find new cousins, when you’re notified of changes (as I have).

The disadvantages are that you may not agree with someone’s changes to the world tree.  But these aren’t really disadvantages at all, if the facts entered are correctly.  The intent is for everyone to provide accurate and proven data.  Look at it as an opportunity for collaboration and conversation.  It might be that the information you entered was incorrect, and someone else has additional evidence you should consider.  Additionally, FamilySearch feels that a collaborative world tree allows for future generations to continue with the research we’ve started.  Keep an open mind when working with the FamilySearch data and you’ll find the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Free vs. Paid Subscriptions

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org both have free member options. (Free Ancestry Instructions) FamilySearch.org (FamilySearch Registration) will always be free, while Ancestry.com has subscription levels for greater access to record groups that they had purchased. On Ancestry, all information that is uploaded by its users will always remain free to its members. Record groups that Ancestry has purchased, will be available to members through the various subscription levels. These levels currently are U.S. Discovery (U.S. records only), World Explorer (U.S. + International Records), and All Access (All records including their other branded companies).

Take note of online services sister companies. For example, Ancestry now owns many companies that tied together with the Ancestry.com research resources.  This helps with searching your ancestors as Ancestry will search their other brands as well. Examples are, Newspapers.com, Fold3.com (military records), Archives.com, Find-A-Grave, AncestryDNA and more.

Ancestry and FamilySearch are two of the biggest online genealogy services for maintaining your family tree, but there are hundreds of various online resources for researching.

What about family tree software?

Genealogical Software

Software, on the other hand, resides on your computer.  Examples of genealogical software are Family Tree Maker, RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Brother’s Keeper, and the list goes on and on.

While this is not the software review, I will tell you that I used Family Tree Maker and have for many years. Family Tree Maker (as well as many other fine programs) links with my Ancestry.com account and synchronizes my online family trees.

Additionally, with Family Tree Maker (like many genealogy programs that synchronize with online accounts), you can set specific documents to be private. Thus, documents, photos, notes, and facts you choose, can be set to private and will not upload to the online services. This can be a huge advantage when researching your hypothesis, or you have research that you’re not ready to release to the public.

Additional advantages to having software on your computer is greater flexibility of data management, additional charts, printing and publishing your family history.

Switching Software or Services

Gedcom exports from your service or software allows for the transfer of your data between services or genealogy programs. The Gedcom format was invented years ago and is still used today to export and import your family tree data from one service or software to another.

While this is a great advantage and will save a lot of time (so that you don’t have to retype all your data), one should be mindful that it is possible that not all information will be transferred. Depending on the software and depending on the service some notes or unique fields, may not be transfer.

What do I use?

My primary family tree is contained on Family Tree Maker and Ancestry.com. I also back up regularly to a cloud service.

While I have an account and have uploaded my tree to FamilySearch.org, I primarily use the service for research. This is just a personal choice that I started years ago. All the services have their advantages and unique opportunities.

For online research FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com are excellent places to start. They both have an enormous amount of records online, you’ll want to use them both for research. Even though online research is a great way to start, keep in mind that many records, valuable to genealogists, are still not digitized or available online.  A research trip may be in order.

I recommend using both online services and software on your computer that can synchronize together. Software is affordable and has advantages over online services alone.  Whatever you choose, your primary goal should be to share the most accurate information possible (and its sources).

What should information you collect? 

For information on what kind of information you should seek, see my post called Learn Genealogy – Kick Start.

If you found this helpful…

Comments are welcome at the bottom of the page.  Tell me in the comments section, what software and or online services you use?

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Learn Genealogy – Research Logs & Research Planning

Research Logs (as opposed to Research Notes) are often the most underutilized task in our research tool kit.  I myself am guilty of not documenting every place I’ve looked.  However, Research Logs are a vital part of our research and is a huge time saver.

What is it?  A Research Log is a list of places researchers have looked for evidence and facts to answer a specific research questions, including where and when the research was conducted, whether on location or online. 

Let’s face it, we love genealogy and we spend hours digging around for our ancestors, but how many times do we write down every record group, every book, every cemetery we’ve researched. So how do we keep a good Research Log and keep it handy when we need it?

I keep a Research Log for each ancestor or family group I’m investigating.  If you want a format of what you should have in your Research Log, you can find a free Research Log at FamilySearch.org or many other locations.  Just Google “Research Log for Genealogy” and find a variety of choices to fit your needs.

You should be documenting every place you’ve searched, to answer your research question, and when you did the research.  Why record when we did the research?  Because things change, records may have been added later, history may have been rewritten due to better evidence and conclusions.  Years later, you or your descendants may want to know when you did that research.

Free Research Log from FamilySearch.org

A side note: I have a confession to make… I’m addicted… to software… to saving time… to making my job easier.  I will take EXTRA TIME to learn software that will ultimately save me tons of time. I’m a huge believer in making the software do the work for me. Therefore, learn the basics of spreadsheets.  You don’t have to do math for this, I promise.

So here’s my… “kill-two-birds-with-one-stone” research tip.   Use your Research Planning in combination with your Research Log … by using spreadsheets Especially when researching on location, time always seems to be in short supply.

As long as you need to keep a Research Log… and you need to properly and strategically plan your research, why not do them both in one document.  This is especially helpful when planning for research trips.

Here’s how: Use your favorite spreadsheet (like Excel or Google Sheets) and create a Research Log and Research Plan on one page.  Next, develop a research question for a given ancestor or family group, then create a prioritized plan in your spreadsheet that looks like a Research Log except it doesn’t have the results yet.  However, with advanced planning, it should already have the item… say a book, the author, the location, etc. in the Research Plan/Log in advance of your actual research.  Then when you’re at the library, archive you can follow the prioritized plan and save valuable time, by not having to write down every detail when time is short.  You should do this at home too.

Research Plan and Research Log in One Document

By doing this, you can also embed web links to the source with one click, you’ll have the start of a source citations, and the results you found collectively in one place.

In this example, I used different tabs across the bottom for different counties, I was researching on a trip to Salt Lake City.

You can store the spreadsheet on your computer or use a cloud service like Google Sheets for easy access anywhere.

Keep in mind, that web links and cloud based documents will need access to the internet while researching on location.  Most libraries, archives and, public locations have free access to the internet.  I prefer to use my “Personal Hotspot” found in the Settings on my cell phone, because its private and I find it to be faster than most public wifi services. However, cell phone “Hotspots” are only as good as the cell service at the location.

With Research Logs, the results (positive or negative), the facts found, the source information, are all in one place.  From here you can cut and paste your positive finding and source information into your Research Notes.   All of this is a vital time saver, helps prevent repeating the same research, and will help you to accurately prove your lineage.

I’ve created a free Excel template you can download here. Research Log Template

I hope this helps you as much as it has for me. I was not a fan of keeping Research Logs in the past.  But when you’re out at the library or on a trip, time is always in short supply. Once I started really making good research plans in an effort to save time, I realized that I could keep the results on the same page. Then I started doing all of that on my little Surface Pro (which I absolutely love for genealogy), my research techniques drastically improved.  

Now, not only do I have a detailed research plan, and research log, I have the beginnings of my next step to write my research notes and source citations. Many times, if I write the positive findings clearly in my research log, I simply cut and paste them into my research notes.

Make sure you reference that you have a research log in your research notes, so you can continue on for the next trip.

Lastly, I file them just like I do for my research notes… SURNAME, First Name and Research Log.  I preface also preface it with a 2 so that that file rises to 2nd place in that person’s electronic folder.

Another tip: I’ve started using Google Drive, Docs and Sheets so that I can access these documents on any device. That may or may not be an option for you, but I’ve found the Google Docs and Google Sheets to be the most reliable of the cloud based document sharing.  

Sometimes, before a big trip to say… Salt Lake City… I’ll upload my family files to Google Docs so I can access and edit them from anywhere on any device (as long as you have your login).

If you found this helpful…

Comments are welcome at the bottom of the page.  How do you use research logs?

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