Set Out on the Road to Genealogy Success with Research Like a Pro: A Genealogist’s Guide
[Editor’s Note: This review was originally published at Abundant Genealogy on 2 August 2018 – LINK]
I’m always on the hunt for good research guides that focus on genealogy research methodology and I’ve found another worthy title: Research Like a Pro: A Genealogist’s Guide by Diana Elder, AG with Nicole Dyer. While this guide has been available since March 2018, only now have I been able to sit down and make a careful review of everything it has to offer. Even though I’ve been doing genealogy research for over 40 years now, I was impressed by the methodology used by the authors and how they are able to easily explain it to the reader.
Why I Think Research Like a Pro Works for ALL Genealogists and Family Historians
The authors, Diane Elder, AG and Nicole Dyer, approach genealogy research from the point of being “stuck” – a perfect scenario for most of us who have been searching for our ancestors for years.
And the format for many of these sections is PERFECT! There is a “lesson” explaining why the reader should follow a specific approach recommended by the authors, then there is an “assignment” in the form of a task, and finally, there are questions that a typical reader would ask . . . and the authors offer practical step-by-step advice.
- Research Objectives: Right away you can tell that the authors mean BUSINESS! They tell the honest truth about how many of us research: wandering aimlessly on sites like Ancestry.com and FamilySearch clicking and not having an objective. In this section you’ll discover why your research needs structure!
- Source Evaluation: Evidence evaluation is an area often neglected by genealogists, new and intermediate. The authors have taken the time to help the reader understand why this part of establishing genealogical proof is so crucial. You can have all the objectives, plans, and source citations in the world but if you don’t know how to tell if a record is reliable or not, then the entire house of cards representing your research will fall and tumble.
- Locality Research: This section intrigued me when I saw the chapter title and once I read it, I got it. The authors stress to the reader that in order to research a location with which you are unfamiliar, you need to take the “how do I know what I don’t know” approach. The authors offer great advice on getting up to speed on where and how your ancestors lived and with that firm foundation, you can then set objectives and find relevant records.
- Source Citations: The authors present a case where a family story has no underlying proof. We’ve all seen this, right? This section shows how to write a source citation for that family story, and then progress to documenting supporting evidence (or a lack of supporting evidence) through solid source citations.
- Research Logs and Report Writing: The very unglamorous parts of genealogy research – using a research log and writing a report – are covered in a straight-forward fashion with a common sense approach. The authors are able to show that these two components are vital parts of the research process and the time invested in their use pays great dividends.
- Templates, Work Samples and More! What good is a guide if you aren’t provided the tools with which to start the research in the way recommended by the authors? In the appendices you’ll find a variety of useful templates available for download including Research Project Template, Timeline Analysis Template and more. In addition there are over 100 pages of Work Samples for two case studies, in which the authors actually put the templates to work and show you how specific proofs were made!
Research Like a Pro: A Genealogist’s Guide will give you the tools to:
- Form an objective focusing your research for an entire project.
- Review your research with new eyes by creating your own timeline analysis.
- Construct a locality guide to direct your research.
- Create a plan to keep your research on track.
- Style source citations, giving your work credibility.
- Set up a research log to organize and track your searches.
- Write a report detailing your findings and ideas for future research.
Links to templates give you the tools you need to get started and work samples illustrate each step. You’ll learn to execute a research project from start to finish, then start again with the new information discovered.
If you are looking to improve the way in which you pursue genealogical research, and need a more disciplined method, then Research Like a Pro: A Genealogist’s Guide is a necessary tool. By putting this easy-to-follow research approach to use, along with the templates, you’ll be on your way to making new progress with your family history. The authors provide you with advice and tools based on their own research experiences and it is clear that they want you to succeed with your genealogy as much as they have.
About the Authors
Diana Elder is a professional genealogist, teacher, writer, and speaker. She holds a credential for genealogy research through the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen) in the United States Gulf South Region.
Nicole Dyer is the creator of FamilyLocket.com where she and her mother, Diana, collaborate to share family history tips and ideas for keeping ancestors close to the heart. She is a genealogist, writer, and speaker.
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