Getting Out of My Habits

All of us have research habits based upon previous experience. Those habits often stem from where our relatives lived (and what records were generally kept and are accessible) and what has worked for us in the past. It is important to get beyond  some of those habits so that we do not overlook sources that can be helpful. It’s imperative we get beyond those habits if our research journeys into a new location or time period.clickhere

My own bad habit of sorts is how I search the Family History Library card catalog. I have to force myself to look at records created at the town level. Most of my ancestors I researched early in my research lived in areas of the United States where there really are not records kept at any level of jurisdiction smaller than the county. Those who did attend church went to churches that generally did not keep any sort of record or, if they did, did not allow those records to be microfilmed. Since records and published materials cataloged at the town level either weren’t helpful or weren’t often in the catalog, I didn’t always think to look for them in the catalog.

When my research transitioned to my New England ancestors and some of my children’s French-Canadian ancestors in upstate New York, I had to change that approach. There are records in New England at the town level and the individual churches attended by many of my children’s ancestors have records that have either been microfilmed or published in some sort of extracted form.

Habits such as citing sources, taking more-than-adequate notes, researching the entire family, etc. are good habits to be in.

Other research habits, even if they’ve been developed over time and seem to work, may not be ones that are “good to be in.”

Do you have any research habits it is time to get out of?


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