Thursday, January 22, 2015

A History of My Research Goals - Genealogy Do-Over Week 2

After more than eight years of searching for my ancestors I still often feel like a novice.  All I've learned has come from reading books, watching webinars, and perusing websites.  I've had no formal education on how to research ancestors.  Even so, I know more than I did when I began.

To prove my progress to myself I've compiled a few past (undated) research goals.
  • Find a death record for my paternal grandmother, Beulah Mae (Gerner) Doyle.
  • What can I find out about my maternal grandfather's parents in Steubenville, Ohio?
  • Maybe there's a newspaper article about their marriage?  (Asked pre-OCR online images.)
  • What were the names of my maternal grandfather's siblings?
  • What other ancestors lived in Jefferson County, Ohio, at the time my maternal and paternal grand- and great-grandparents lived there?
  • Search for Fred Gerner's will. 
  • Find John Froman.  When did he die and how?  Where is he buried?

Despite the broadness of some of these goals there were purposes behind each of them.  But with research goals like these it's easy to see why my progress is so slow.  Several were so broad that it was hard to decide where and how to begin.

This is one of my current research goals:
  • Determine whether Martha (Redick/Reddick) Smith could be the mother of Rebecca (Smith) Bartley by using census records to approximate the date of Martha's birth and compare the ages of Martha and Thomas Smith's known children.  (If Martha and Rebecca are less than about 16 years apart, there's a good chance Martha is not Rebecca's mother.)

Perhaps it's still too broad but I think it's more specific and will tell me whether to continue researching Martha Redick/Reddick or seek a different mother for Rebecca and previous wife for Thomas Smith.

Looking online for more about genealogy research goals led me to Decide What You Want to Learn, a section of FamilySearch's Principles of Family History Research.  It mentions objectives, questions, and goals and gives examples of goals.

Genealogy Research Goals chart

I like the simple, forthright goals suggested in this chart.  Each piece of information or document can be carefully considered, analyzed, and evaluated.  After completing many small goals the results can be evaluated together, individuals can be added to family trees, and sources can be cited.

I'm determined to clarify my research goals.  Perhaps doing that will help me stay focused and make better progress.

This post was prompted by Genealogy Do-Over Week 2.  Learn the steps others are taking to either do-over or do better at Genealogy Do-Over at


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