Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tools Of The Trade

I am a photographer and when going out to take pictures there is no way that I would leave without my camera, batteries, and flash card. Genealogy is the same way. Once you really get started there are things you find that you must have with you whenever you are doing research. They are simple things and you probably have them around your house but they aren't always the things that you would think that you need.

  1. NOTEBOOK: Once you start interviewing people you are going to be getting information left and right and you are going to need something to keep all that information in. A notebook is the easiest option. A lot of websites will recommend a tape recorder and that too can come in handy but you still are going to want to take notes and that is where paper becomes your friend. Plus with a notebook all the information is right there so when you start looking other places than your family you have what you need at your fingertips.
  2. PENCIL: This was a lesson learned for me. I have a slight pen addiction and I go nowhere with out at least three or five pens with me ranging in color, tip and usefulness. But after scratching out seven or eight pages worth of information and writing over top of what I already thought I had it became somewhat insane. Therefore, I recommend a pencil. You have a eraser if you get it wrong and if you still feel the need to scratch out anything it's not going through to the next page.
  3. CALCULATOR: This one you probably never thought about but trust me it is needed. When you run across a 1920 census where your relative is 27 and you are trying to calculate back to get an approximate date of birth you will thank me for this. Yes, we all took math and we can all add and subtract in our heads but at midnight why would you want to? And you will be up at midnight or later if you really get into it.
  4. FILE FOLDERS: There will be copies, printouts, and faxed pages as you go along and keeping them organized is important. You don't want to be looking for grandpa Peterson and find that you have put all your information on him in the file for grandma Thomas. You'll end up starting all over when you already have everything you need. This will drive you crazy and almost get you to stop.
  5. LAPTOP: Okay this one is a luxury but if you can manage then I would recommend it. If you start going out of town and to libraries to research the last thing you are going to want is to be waiting to use their computers if you don't have to. Not to mention that there are a number of softwares out there that will help with you put together your family tree and you might want to have that close by. It isn't a necessity but it will help.

There are other odds and ends but those are the ones that I fully recommend. Like I said they are simple but very important and like my camera; I wouldn't leave home without them.

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