Avoid Scraps of Paper

Some regular readers know that I spend a week in Salt Lake City at the Family History Library every year. The one thing to avoid are the small pieces of paper for research notes.

Don’t take notes on small scaps of paper–they will get lost.

A research log is best, or some notes on a printout from the catalog listing the material that you are searching. If you must get a small notebook and keep notes. At least that way you’ve got your notes, unless you lose your notebook.

Just Set A Deadline

If you are writing a family history (even a brief one), set yourself a deadline. While there are frequently new sources or items that can be discovered, if you wait until you are totally “finished” you may never get any writing done.

That doesn’t mean you do shoddy work or create compilations that are incomplete. But sometimes a person has to write what they have. And any compilation can acknowledge that there are still stones left to turn over.

Webinar Half-Off Problem?

Apparently a Tip fan had difficulty using the code “half” to purchase webinars at 1/2 off. If you had issues with the coupon, email me or try it again at:


We’re wrapping a great 7 days in Salt Lake and hoping to have new research experiences to generate tips.

How Do You Know It?

Are you stuck on a problem? Get off the computer. Write down everything you think you know about an ancestor. Don’t refer to your records or materials—write from memory.

Why? Because that’s often how people research–from what they think they know, not what they actually know.

Now go and look at the records you have on this ancestor. How much of what you thought you knew did you really know?

Find All Your Ancestor’s Siblings in Every Census?

I’ll admit it. The man that I’m 99% certain is my ancestor’s brother had not been located in every census in which he should be enumerated. When going back and finding him in every census, I discovered that in 1870 he had a nephew living with him. A nephew with the same last name–meaning that this nephew is either a son of my ancestor or another brother.

A good clue obtained from going through the every census for the brother of my ancestor.

Join Me in Ft. Wayne–August 1-5

In August, I’ll be leading a small research group at the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Our trip runs from 1-5 August. The Allen County Public Library has one of the largest genealogical research collections in the United States.

We stay at the Ft. Wayne Hilton at a negotiated special rate. For additional details about the trip see this earlier blog post

Token Value On That Deed

If the amount of “consideration,” or what was given for the real estate (often cash) is a token amount, determine if there was a relationship among the people involved.

Transfers of significant pieces of real estate for token amounts are often done to clear up title among relatives. Not always, but frequently.

Check out the relationships among those who transfer land for little to no cash.

Scan Or Copy When You Can

I was working with some deeds at the Family History Library in Salt Lake and for some reason instead of taking notes with the deed volumes and page numbers as indicated in the index, I made scans of the index entries.

It was a good thing I did. What I thought was volume “C” was actually volume “E.” When I didn’t find the desired entry, I quickly went back to my scan and realized what I thought was a “C” was really an “E.” If I had to go back to the index it would have wasted time.

Always Include the Citation

When transcribing a document–even in your software program–consider including a quick citation in brackets at the beginning of the transcription. The brackets will tell readers that the information is not part of the transcription. It will also tell your readers where you obtained the material in case the citation in your database doesn’t get printed out with the transcription. Something like [Coshocton County, Ohio, Will Book C, page 212] is better than nothing.

Speaking from personal experience.