Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday's Tip -- Do Your Homework

Do you remember back in college that the gurus said to spend three hours on studying for every hour in class? Did we do it? I sure didn't!

The gurus of family history research have been known to say the same. For every hour in the field or in a library, we should spend three hours absorbing the information gathered, comparing it to what we know, updating databases, updating files, etc. Have I done it? Of course not!

It's so easy to sit down and search records on the internet for hours at a time. So why should I go back to look at research done yesterday or last week or even last year?

Back in 2002-2003, a cousin and I made two quick field trips to four counties just west of Springfield, Illinois. We moved fast, copying books, gathering papers, ordering files, snapping photos. I divided the results based on surname. The Maddox files became my close friends as I continued to research the family murder. But the Lake papers went into file folders after a quick glance.

This weekend I made a connection with another researcher that caused me to pull out the Lake family folders. I flipped through a file and took a good look at a marriage license from 1834. For the first time, I stopped and read through the old handwriting. For the first time, I saw that the father of the bride, my 4th-great-grandmother, had consented to her marriage. She is no longer my end-of-line person. With her father's name, entirely new research avenues lie ahead. For ten years I have had this piece of paper and had never taken the time to examine it!

I've learned my lesson. It's time to study my files and see what else I don't know. It's time to do my homework.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tuesday's Tip -- Testing, One, Two, Three

Time to get this show on the road again, and what better way than admitting to a mistake. Would you believe my scanner failed to work when I needed it? Because scanning heritage photos is the key to my sharing and scrapping philosophy, that's an embarrassing admission. Fortunately I was not sitting at a cousin's house, trying to scan photos.

Sometime over the past few months, an upgrade caused a problem with my favorite little flatbed scanner. It's about 9 years old, but a great travel scanner. I think it was the most recent upgrade of Photoshop Elements that was incompatible with the scanner. But I had never even thought about testing any of my equipment after the upgrade.

I now have a new little flatbed scanner to tuck in my travel case. And I also have a new tip for you and for me: test your computer equipment a couple of weeks before you need to use it on a trip!