Thursday, December 15, 2011
You're Researching but Are You Reading?
You may be a beginning researcher or you may have over twenty years of experience. If you don't learn the best methods for researching (so that you can get beyond searching) you will get stuck and spin your wheels. It will still be fun, but you have a limited time, so why not make the most of it and accomplish as much as possible?
The best method for becoming a better researcher is to read. Can you remember the first genealogical book you have ever read? If so, leave me a comment and tell me what it was. If haven't ready any books on genealogy then it's time to head straight to the library.
The only way to become a better researcher is to read and learn from genealogical books. For those of you who are saying you can learn from institutes and classes too, well, that's true. But those classes are going to make you read some books.
I would encourage to read actual books. I love genealogical magazines and journals but the real transformation in your research skills is going to happen reading books on methodology or specific topics such as ethnic research.
If you're a brand new researcher perhaps you want to check out Megan Smolenyak's Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History, A Companion to the NBC Series. This is a fun, easy read that will give you a broad introduction to genealogy.
If you've been researching for awhile and you're doing mostly American research then you should definitely read The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy (2nd Edition) by Val D. Greenwood. I'm reading this now and I learn something new in every chapter.
Then there are the books that all American researchers should read like Courthouse Research for Family Historians by Christine Rose, Locating Your Roots: Discover Your Ancestors Using Land Records by Patricia Law Hatcher or the Marsha Hoffman Rising book mentioned above.
No matter how much I think I know about doing genealogical research, these books prove to me that I have more to learn. I typically have three books in progress all the time. Some books help me more than others but they all combine to make me a better researcher.
If you're doing genealogical research and you're not reading while conducting research then stop what you're doing. Assess how successful your research has been and seek out some books to help you improve. Books are some of the simplest tools you can use to help your reach your goals.
Posted by Marian Pierre-Louis at 12:45 PM