Developing a Research Plan for the New Year

A Genealogy Tip By Joan Young

Genealogists have been commenting as long as I’ve been online that activity always drops off dramatically near the end of the year as the holiday season approaches. Each new year brings with it renewed interest in posting on mailing lists and message boards and updating family trees. Families traditionally gather over the holidays. This instills renewed interest for many family historians. Researchers receive holiday gifts of new computers and software and become eager to make use of it. This year will, undoubtedly, be no different. We can all benefit by approaching this new year with a plan of action rather than diving in unprepared.

Developing a Plan
First, take inventory. Make an outline of what you know and have learned over the past year (or decade) and what you hope to learn this year. Make a list of all documents you have obtained (wills, vital records, deeds, for example).

Next, make a list of your goals for the new year. What are you looking for and what do you hope to accomplish? Be specific when writing down your plans. Make note of the online resources at your disposal to help you reach your goals. Web sites such as Cyndi’s List and Linkpendium can prove invaluable for locating online resources.

Finally, do a search for your previous archived mailing list and message board posts as well as any family trees and data you have placed online. You may use a site such as Google or search the specific archives or board systems. If you have a genealogy Web site, review your pages and pinpoint corrections and additions you need to incorporate. Review posts and existing trees. Is your e-mail contact information still valid and is your online data still accurate and complete in view of what you learned over the past year? Make a list of necessary updates and corrections.

Getting Started
For posts and submissions that are still current but have outdated contact information, edit your e-mail address where possible. Even the most complete and well-written list or board post or family tree will serve no purpose to help you connect with your cousins if your e-mail address is invalid. You can update your e-mail address for the RootsWeb/Ancestry message boards and WorldConnect trees at: ( ) or by following the masthead links at the top of the main Ancestry page . Click on COLLABORATE, then PUBLIC PROFILE, and then MY SITE PREFERENCES. You will see a link for changing your e-mail address on the MY SITE PREFERENCES page as well as options for its display.

For mailing list archives where editing your address isn’t possible, post a new message with your current contact information. Remember that mailing list archives such as those at RootsWeb are merely a record of what took place on a given date. You can provide updated information and queries as well as a current e-mail address in your new posts.

If an online tree needs attention, download a GEDCOM file of the old tree and import it into your genealogy program on your computer. After you have made all necessary additions and corrections, create a new GEDCOM and upload it to replace your outdated tree.

If you have gathered public documents, perhaps a pension file or deed, over the past year consider transcribing them and placing the data online. RootsWeb/Ancestry message boards are a perfect place to post your finds. Choose the appropriate data classification when posting so that others may easily find the documents.

Get the new year off on the right foot by making a resolution to establish a plan. Follow through with your plan and your efforts will surely be rewarded.

Permission to reprint articles from RootsWeb Review is granted unless specifically stated otherwise, provided:
the reprint is used for non-commercial, educational purposes; and
the following notice appears at the end of the article:

Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 13 January 2010, Vol. 13, No. 1

Caution About Census Records

Kathy Gunter Sullivan of the Rootsweb North Carolina Lincoln County Mailing List in describing errors she found in listing in an online census database provided a caution we all should think about in our census research.

Unfortunately, the original Lincoln County 1810 census returns were
recopied into an “official” version. So what we have today is a
third-hand derivative source for Lincoln County’s 1810 census. The first
version was in original order by household visitation. The second
version was rewritten into semi-alphabetical order by the census
enumerator. The third version was rewritten by the Lincoln County Clerk
of Court as a final “official” record. Obviously, the final version,
having passed through many reincarnations, reflects human error. The
result today is at least a third-hand derivative source for Lincoln
County’s 1810 census. The bottom line is that we are long way removed from the original 1810 census information.

We should all question whether such things might have happened in our own counties of research interest.

There were other concerns she found in her research concerning the census of that county. The full posting is available for reading at the Rootsweb Archives at

Some Genealogical Education Opportunities

Here are some opportunities for study and workshops that have come in this week — one in March and one in the fall of this year.

***** The 10th Annual Family History Fair sponsored by the East Texas Genealogical Society and the Tyler Family History Center is Saturday, March 13 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 1617 Shiloh Road in Tyler.

Morning sessions will be presented by David Rencher, Chief Genealogical Officer of FamilySearch. One morning session will be on “What FamilySearch can do for you” and the other on “Effective Use of the Family History Library Catalog.” Both of these are free online resources.

Like the morning and afternoon sessions, the lunch provided at 11:30 a.m. is free. There will also be displays during lunch.

Breakout sessions after lunch include presentations on Newspaper Researching, Dating and Preserving Old Photos, Irish Research, Organizing Research, Deciphering Old Handwriting, Family History Center Tour, Displaying Your Family Tree, Artifacts of By-Gone eras, Cemetery Research, and Virtual World Researching.

Contact for more information: June Everhart at 903-877-4501 or or

This might make a fun group field trip for members living in East Texas near Tyler.

***** The annual meeting of the Texas Genealogical Society, our state-affiliated association, is November 4-6 in Waco. Start saving your loose change in your old Mason jar because this one is not free. It would make a cool group field trip, also.

New Daily Feature Added To WCGS Bulletin

A feature, Thought For The Day, has been added to the Bulletin at Look for it each day in the upper left column of the page. To get you started, the first TFTD is this: It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. . . . There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power. — Alan Cohen

This is an attempt to get more members checking out the Bulletin web page on a regular basis, so this will not be delivered to your email box like regular posts (if you have signed up for that automatic service).

February Meeting To Be About Spain

Member Nita Munoz will present the program for the February 15 meeting at the Shamburger Room at the Quitman Public Library at 7 p.m. Be sure to mark your calendars for what should be a very interesting program.

Family Histories In Genealogy Research Room

The listing of Family Histories available in the Genealogy Research Center at the Quitman Public Library has been uploaded. They are found on the Quitman – Family Histories page. Follow the link there from this post or in the pages listing in the left hand column of this Bulletin page.

Thanks to many who have donated family histories over the years and those who have made lists of our holdings. Member Sally Allcorn provided the latest and up-to-date list which she worked on last year while volunteering in the Genealogy Research Center.

C & D Surnames In Vertical Files Added

Surnames beginning with the letters C and D are now listed on the page: Surnames In Vertical Files.


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