Sunday, May 23, 2010

Save every scrap, every clue, every article

Several months ago I came across a lengthy obituary of a man with the surname of one of my relatives who was from the same county as the relatives. His name wasn't familiar, nor did any of the people in the obituary match any of the names I was researching.

Last weekend, I visited the cemetery in the town where this family had lived and photographed the tombstones of everyone with that surname. The man in the obituary turned out to be buried in this cemetery. I wasn't sure how any of these people were connected.

As I started to review the information from the tombstones, I discovered that the man in the obituary was the grandson of one of the people I had been researching. After making that discovery, all sorts of family connections began to appear and I was able to add more members to that branch of the family tree.

Tucking away these bits and pieces of information is something that took me a while to realize was an essential part of genealogical research. Last year, I discovered some newspaper articles about a California judge with the same surname as one I'm researching. Unfortunately for me, I tossed it off thinking, "no one in my family ever became a Judge!" Wrong! Several months later, I made the connection of this individual to my family. I definitely could have saved a lot of time back-tracking to locate all of the newspaper articles I had seen about the Judge.

Tip - make a file folder (paper or electronic) with the surname of the potential relative. Save all of those scraps, clues, articles and other documents you discover. Make sure your source citations are there. And just tuck it away for the future. You just never know when a connection will lead you back to this person.

It was a lesson well worth learning for me!

1 comment:

  1. This is great advice! I have stuck things in files in my computer for 15 years and now and then I start thinking I need to organize my files and delete any "junk". I usually end up finding old stuff that didn't mean anything when I found it but sure the heck means a LOT now! A great way to discover new leads is to look through your old files!