Thursday, December 30, 2010

Genealogy Goals for 2011 - Research and Writing

Research is the basis for everything else when it comes to genealogy so setting a few solid research goals should be a no-brainer. I have to admit that I've never really done this before - at least not in writing. Since I've never set research goals, you know I've never set writing goals either. There are several ideas floating around in my head (some of them have even been started) so maybe writing it all down will actually result in, well, results. 

Research Goals:
1. Find Theodocia and the child - at least continue searching.
My grandfather married Theodocia Smith on 13 Jan 1897 in St. Clair County, Alabama. They had one child and were no longer together by 1902. I have no idea what happened to her or their child. I don't even know if the child was a boy or girl. Now I have many direct line brick walls and Theodocia isn't even related to me but this is still the #1 mystery I'd like to solve.      

2. Review direct line families to identity missing information.
You can't research unless you know what you need to find. Blogging has helped me to find some of the holes in my research. Something as simple as writing a Surname Saturday post about a particular family shows not only what dates, places, documents and records I have for that family it also shows what I don't have. Rather than waiting to simply run across the holes, I'm planning to review each direct line family starting with my parents and working back. The result of this exercise should be an actual research plan for each family. The goal for 2011 is to complete this process for each direct line family through my great-great grandparents. That will be 15 total families for the year.

3. Order FHL microfilm for places I'm unlikely to visit anytime soon.
Here's another confession - I've never ordered one single roll of Family History Library microfilm. This can now be done through the library at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort so that's the facility I will use. They are basically closed until March but that should give me time to make some progress on item #2 which will identify the records I need.

4. Hit the road for research.
Who doesn't love a research trip? There are several places I'd like to go this year but the top three are: the Georgia Archives, Laurens County, South Carolina and the North Carolina Archives. Of course, I'd really like to visit the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne but, realistically, 2011 may not be the year I can work those trips into the schedule.

Writing Goals
1. Write research reports for brick wall ancestors.
How many times this year did I hear a speaker recommend writing research reports to yourself? I've lost count but it's finally sinking in that having the details of every place I've looked, every possibility I've ruled out and every lead that still needs to be followed all in one document would be a valuable tool in trying to get past a brick wall. It's not that I don't have this information. It's that it is scattered all over the place from notes in my database to digital copies of records to scraps of paper. I have some brief overviews posted on my website under Most Wanted but they don't include the level of detail that's really needed. The goal  is to complete 6 brick wall research reports.

2. Write bios for direct line ancestors.
I've started doing a short version of this as Surname Saturday posts but they are more of a summary than a complete bio. These can at least be outlined as the review listed as item #2 under research is done but I doubt 15 can be completed. Six seems like a more realistic goal for the year.

3. Blog more about research challenges and successes.
Writing about research was one of the main things I had in mind when I started blogging but I just haven't done much of it.

4. Write a book.
Don't get too excited. I'm not going completely crazy. I've intended for a long time to do a mostly photographic book on the Ramsey Taylor Cemetery in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. Most of the people buried in this small family cemetery  were descendants and relatives of my gg-grandparents, James F. Taylor and Margaret Ramsey. I actually made the pictures two years ago but there are a few that need to be redone and there is also some research to be done on the few non-relatives buried there. Some of the headstones are already really hard to read and it won't be long before many more are in that shape so I'd like to preserve the information before it's too late.

As I was writing this, it occurred to me why I've had trouble finishing projects like these in the past. I have always felt like everything had to be done at once - like with reviewing families to see what is missing or writing the brick wall research reports. Having so many individual items to do made it seem impossible to complete everything. Here's hoping that setting goals to finish just a small number of them during 2011 will be the key to actually making progress.

Poster by footnoteMaven

This segment of my Genealogy Goals for 2011 was written for the 101st Carnival of Genealogy - "My genealogy research/writing plan for 2011" hosted by Creative Gene.

Genealogy Goals for 2011 is a series. Other posts in the series are:
Genealogy Goals for 2011 - Overview
Genealogy Goals for 2011 - Education
Genealogy Goals for 2011 - Maintenance


  1. Great list, Linda. I like the idea of using your review as a starting point for the bios.

    With luck we can meet up in Springfield and compare successes - or drown our sorrows.

  2. Good luck to you in 2011. Hope to see you in Fort Wayne or at FGS.

  3. Linda,

    I think you stumbled upon the answer--by breaking down what you need to do into smaller sections, and just working on one, you are bound to get them done. I like your cemetery project!

    J at Cow Hampshire

  4. NR & Tina - FGS is looking better. The conflict I thought I had has cleared up so hopefully will see you both there.

    Janice - Thanks.

  5. I especially like the review direct line families to identify missing information and write bios for direct line ancestors. I'm going to add these to my list of things I need to do in 2011.