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Have you planned out your Genealogy Research Strategies?

By James W. Petty, AG®, CGRSSM, BS (Genealogy), BA (History)

If you are lost in a forest, or in a big city, or in the 18th Century, it is the same thing. To find your way, you need information; and you need a plan.

In the Forest, or in the Big City, you ask these questions: Where Am I? Where Am I Going? How Can I Get There? Then prepare your Plan.

In the 18th Century, the questions are similar, but a little different: Who Am I Looking For? Where Were They? What Was Happening At That Time? What Records Were There? How Can I Find That Information? Then prepare your Plan.

This approach may seem simple, and sometimes it is; but often, just like in a forest, there are obstacles in the way; rivers to cross, cliffs to climb, and so forth. Sometime the trail disappears, and sometimes you have to backtrack and take a different route, or even start over. Not to worry; as long as you can determine a new way, or devise a new plan, you can succeed in your goal.

In genealogy, we depend on records to learn about ancestors. Always keep in mind the fact that there are more records than you know about. The key to successful genealogy research is a good imagination, and the willingness to keep on searching.

“Thinking Outside of The Box” is a phrase that means when most people are stuck, there is another solution, if you can find new ideas to follow. Some records may be lost, but there are other records. Keep your mind and options open.

It’s said: “If There’s A Will, There’s A Way”, but in genealogy we say “If there isn’t a Will, there are other probate records, deeds, court minutes, and other sources.”

To know where you are going, you have to know the lay of the land. Learn to use maps in your research.

Do you know how to eat an Elephant? Cut it into little pieces, and eat it one piece at a time. Don’t ever be afraid of BIG problems. Just break it down into smaller problems and solve them one at a time.