“I Will Come Back to It” Is NOT a Good Plan

It’s a terrific feeling to find a newspaper article on a relative. It’s exciting and triumphant and all kinds of wonderful genealogy things!

Today I was working on a biographical sketch on my maternal grandfather. I got together all of my research notes and sources and Ancestry.com tree and time line to organize it. My grandfather had been a sea captain. Because the industry is regulated I was able to find a number of sources for his whereabouts over the years. He and my uncle had the same name and same profession, so years ago when I was looking for my grandfather; Google gave me an article about my uncle. I loved my uncle. He passed away in 1996 so information is a treasure.   At the time, I read the article, sent it to my cousin (I think maybe not sure) and made a mental note to “come back to it later” (this is NOT a good plan). While I was happy to have found it and thought I was a genealogical rock star, I did NOT:

  • Save it
  • Print it out
  • Copy and paste into any kind of document
  • Put any retrievable information into a subject line of ANY emails
  • Make any kind of notes at all about what I found or where I found it.
  • Enter it into my Ancestry.com tree for either my grandfather or my uncle!
  • Write down any source information anywhere!

 

I remembered the article was out there and today I wanted to use it for my sketch. What might have taken me five to ten minutes took me an hour or so trying to find the article on Google again. This next part is completely ridiculous and not my finest research moment, but I am sharing because “what not to do” can be educational and because I am able to laugh at myself. I have an excuse though. I have a cold and may not be thinking clearly.

Now for the silly part. As I was looking for the article on my uncle, I came across a very small four-line notice about my uncle and his wife visiting her mother in December of 1969. “Wow,” I thought. “That’s interesting. I will come back to it.” This was not a good plan because by the time I found the first article I was looking for; I had lost the second one!   I did NOT:

  • Save it
  • Print it out
  • Copy and paste into any kind of document
  • Put any retrievable information into a subject line of ANY emails
  • Make any kind of notes at all about what I found or where I found it.
  • Enter it into my Ancestry.com tree for either my grandfather or my uncle!
  • Write down any source information anywhere!

 

After 20-30 minutes of searching my history and backtracking, I was able to find the second article as well.   I have now copied and pasted into a document the articles WITH source information and access dates AND emailed a copy of the articles with a helpful subject line.

I was lucky to have been able to find the articles a second time. The Internet is a wonderful repository of so much information, but there is no guaranty that after a period of time the same information would pop up in a search.

Any educational work I have done has stressed the discipline of citing sources fully, of documenting information. This was a perfect reminder for me of how something might be lost.

 


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