“Family History When the Power Is Out”

By Ancestry Weekly Discovery 29 July 2011
Editor: Juliana Smith

While my job is to share my experience in family history with you through this newsletter, I’ve learned much from you over the years as well. So to continue this newsletter in the spirit of sharing experiences, here are a few more tips that you sent in.

Family History When the Power Is Out
We have come to depend more and more on our computers for doing genealogy. We get online to find our information. We use our word processors to create timelines, lists, and indexes that capture that information.

But what to do when those severe summer thunderstorms or winter snowfalls deprive us of power? It was during a period of this forced downtime that I was prompted to make a folder in my filing cabinet titled “Projects That Need No Computer” after an outage when I was alone in the house and there was no one to annoy with suggestions of playing Yahtzee or Rummy. When my power goes out, I can pull out the folder and choose from the following tasks:

Filing is always first on the list. I tend to let things stack up when I’m in the middle of a project, so this is the perfect time to file away those items that I’ve printed out.

Labeling photos. I have a lot of photos that I need to label, but compared to the stuff I do on the computer, photo labeling seems like drudgery. This is the time to get some of it done!

Organizing research logs and notes. I am always scribbling down or printing out research suggestions and notes from various online sources. These usually get shoved into a research file in my filing cabinet for whatever county they pertain to. I use this time to organize those notes. My research logs can also get rather haphazard, so I use this time to organize them as well.

Timelines. I often create my timelines during this downtime. It forces me to use the information that I have at hand; no getting sidetracked by trying to find more information to fill in the blanks right then and there. It also forces me to make more concise lists of what I need for each person.

Organize my wish-list of books. I have a file folder of book titles that I long to have. I go through this folder and see what books I still want, what books I have obtained and didn’t bother to mark off the list, and what books no longer have the significance I thought they would.

Transcribing census records. I pull out family binders to see if there are any census records that I was remiss in transcribing. I can usually find one or two.

Reading over archived information. I’ve come across information that “didn’t quite fit” into my family lines, but I printed and saved them because you never know what will turn up. I take this file out and read over the pages again. Sometimes I find something buried in the lines that resonates with new information I’ve uncovered.

This list sure helps the time pass more quickly!

Jolynn Noel Winland

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