Strategies can also be repeated and transferred to new enquiries, a key aspect of information literacy. The Genetic Genealogy Standartds. D11 found it frustrating having to consult different sources; many participants preferred to stick to sources they were familiar with, liking a one-stop shop approach S4. China Ching, Frank Researchers described not really stopping after a find, just carrying straight on to the next problem.
You may be enjoying researching your family tree, but are stuck. If so, you can hire me to try to overcome a particular problem. You might want to know all about your family but lack the necessary time or knowledge of the sources, or the ability to travel. If so, you can hire me to plan, organise, impliment and sort out the research for you.
I have been a freelance professional genealogist since Getting to grips with life as a nineteenth century soldier whilst filming at Chester with Melanie Sykes and Albert Charlotte. My work bringing family history to TV and radio has also given me a very broad view of genealogy worldwide, from Lithuanian Jews to Jamaican slaves and in the course of filming I have been able to visit and undertake research in places as far apart as Albert Square in Elstree Studios to Spanish Town in Jamaica. In writing books and articles, I am able to revisit topics and revise, correct, update and improve my knowledge of them, and I am convinced this has made me a far better genealogist than I would have been otherwise.
Having worked in this field for over twenty years, I have established a formidable network of research contacts all over Great Britain, Ireland and overseas, including the United States, Canada, the Antipodes and many other countries. I know how best to use the resources available on the Internet, and understand the many pitfalls that beset genealogy on the web: there are still many cases where it is best to switch off the computer and open an original register.
Indeed, in my reports, nothing is presented as fact unless it has been professionally checked in an original source. Besides being able to organise and implement research, my work in TV and also writing articles and books has taught me how to communicate the results in a clear, logical and — I hope — interesting way. Indeed, writing up and explaining the results of research is one of the most rewarding parts of my work — apart of course from making incredible discoveries and cracking long-standing mysteries.
As a freelance professional I have none of the substantial overheads that the large research firms incorporate into their charges. This freedom enables me to devote much more of your money to original research. Please send me whatever information you know about the line or lines, or the particular problem, that you would like me to research. Please write down whatever names, dates, places and occupations you know, and details of any family stories or traditions. If you have the chance to ask any elderly relatives what they can remember, I would recommend doing so, as they can be goldmines of information.
It does not matter how much or how little you can tell me — your date of birth would be enough. If you already have a large family tree but want to work back from the earliest ancestor, it will only really be necessary for me to know about the earliest couple of generations. You can send the details by e-mail or post them to me. It is useful — and interesting — if you can send copies of any relevant documents — please do not send original documents in the post. Having assessed your information I will send you a quote.
If you have no experience of family history research, we recommend you read one of the B. W. Christmas, Sources for one-name studies and for other family. British Library's collections to help you research your family history and genealogy. We provide primary materials such as public records and private papers.
You can ask me to research anything you like. There are no rules as to what you should or should not have researched first. Many people are most interested in the male line of their family, down which their present, family surname has come. Maybe there is a particular surname, or a story further back in the family tree that fascinates you both. Most research budgets can be sent either in one go or by smaller monthly instalments, to suit all pockets. I will report back to you by letter or e-mail as you prefer, telling you exactly what research has been undertaken, what the results were, and what they mean, enclosing copies of any documents obtained in the process.
The clearest and most efficient method of reporting back is to do so in one go, on completion of the project. Allied to this is locating records themselves. The Internet has been particularly effective at facilitating communications with other researchers, enabling the formation of a virtual social community. This can spur on and influence the direction of research. Communications can take place either privately, or in a public forum, e.
Although not exclusively an online activity, managing of personal information management was also observed. Online, this was mainly in terms of personal trees on the site Genes Reunited. This management does not all take place online; the use of genealogical family tree software follows a similar process. Participants also discussed researching for others, which can encompass any of the other above actions. More than one strategy could be simultaneously applied, or repeated subsequently.
Combining online sources, a common strategy used by participants, could be facilitated in two ways: two or more different sources, or multiple versions of the same source. D11 found it frustrating having to consult different sources; many participants preferred to stick to sources they were familiar with, liking a one-stop shop approach S4. Combining multiple versions of the same source i. Others combined two providers' versions of the census, for example with different search options. Source knowledge is one area where participants demonstrated high levels of information literacy, knowing quirks, and any gaps of information.
S3 said of Ancestry 's search, ' sometimes, the more information you put in, it just confuses it '. This is one example of a strategy that demonstrates the sophisticated knowledge and understanding of most researchers. An example of narrowing or widening searches is searching the census in a wider geographical area to catch any confusion over the recording of place names S3. Another example is adjusting the age or year range in the search. Researchers also had to be aware of the spelling and use or inclusion of initials of names, as these too were subject to inconsistent recording, and of possible mis-transcriptions or indexing errors, in addition to errors in the original recording.
They used Soundex, a system for classifying names that sound the same, but spelled differently. Knowledge of local history or family circumstances also contributed new leads in the hunt for further ancestors. Evaluating and verifying information was also very important, dictating how information fits in to current research. This happens whenever new information was uncovered.
Verifying could also occur with research thought to be already confirmed. Browsing could identify relevant material for future use.
Revision and re-evaluation of research already done could spark new directions of enquiry, for example the same Google search might be repeated on multiple occasions a few months apart, checking for new resources. Researchers also checked sources for new data that may have been added since a previous visit. Monitoring of brick walls, revisiting lines of enquiry that could not be taken forward at a particular time, also occurred. This could be incorporated as a combination of revision and checking sources for new data, but the term is significant for researchers.
Outcomes and research directions are less concrete than actions and strategies, and not absolutely defined.
They are extremely personal to individual researchers and more difficult to code accurately, as they rely on the diarists stating their results to a particular level of specificity. Diarists are reflecting on their session, considering how they think they will move forward with their research.
In addition to these reflections on the results of their planned enquiries, they might comment on serendipitous information found whilst either not looking for anything, or seeking entirely unrelated information. D14, although finding nothing of what she was specifically seeking, 'found a great site for a part of my husband's family in Manitoba and back to Europe'. Such interesting discoveries or unexpected information can often take researchers off on a tangent. In addition to the reflections discussed above, some diarists indicated the next steps to be taken in their research.
Indications could be to: continue with this enquiry with either specific or non-specific actions , or take no further action. When relevant information was given, researchers' subsequent direction could be traced in four ways: following their identified next steps, not following their identified next steps; following steps identified from a previous session, or pursuing an apparently tangential or distinctly new enquiry. The diary sessions cannot provide full descriptions of this process, since only a snapshot was taken of the research process.
Something appearing tangential may have in fact have been identified as a future line of enquiry; only the individual researcher would know. However, from those identified here, researchers often followed a predominantly different direction when they started a new session. Some participants described themselves as going off on tangents, or 'easily led astray' S9 :. Despite the common stereotype in the library literature Howells, , researchers generally displayed high levels of information literacy.
This was particularly demonstrated in relation to the strategies used within their research, and their capability of reframing searches. They searched for ancestors in likely places within records:. They were often extremely sophisticated in their defined information needs; this may result from the need to reframe a search to locate a genealogical fact. Also evident was the consistent application of existing knowledge, and stashing away of information for later use both resources and individual strands of information, both in bookmarks or favourites in web browsers, or in their memories.
Shadowing participants demonstrated the transference of search knowledge from earlier experience in their session into later searches for photographs S11 and maps S2 within their own research.
Most employed deductive reasoning abilities; for example, D02 established the timeframe of a particular ancestor by the type ' Ambrotype ' of a photograph. There were some areas where participants' information literacy was not so strong. Some e. S4 in particular showed an over-reliance on one resource only, unaware of its content limitations.
Sometimes, they did not examine search results. Many who had come to technology later in life had a lack of confidence in computing and Internet abilities, and subsequent frustration with their inability to find what they wanted. Nearly all the participants had a lack of awareness of research techniques, particularly in regard to the use and handling of civil registration records in unfamiliar parts of UK.
However, in such cases, all participants attempted to apply prior knowledge in approaching unknown queries. Finding information or ancestors was mostly associated with positive emotions, often delight and excitement. Other positive emotions encountered included surprise.
D09 was surprised to find her Aunt Louie was actually born Louisa. Satisfaction was also present, 'when a discovery instantly eliminates the hours of futile frustration' D14 , or 'solves an enigma' D These positive emotions were often qualified with wariness, again demonstrating a sophisticated information literate group. There was frustration; both at brick walls and other non-progression, and with resources themselves:. What was very clear, however, were high levels of perseverance from researchers despite disappointment with results.
What was very striking, particularly from conversations with the shadowing participants, was their attempts to 'personalise places'; trying to establish a personal connection with places discussed or virtually encountered. Proving connections to royalty or an important family is not important for the majority of researchers, but it still occurs.
Researchers described not really stopping after a find, just carrying straight on to the next problem. This demonstrated their commitment, determination, and also the addictive qualities of the hobby.
They were keen to interact with like-minded researchers and share information, which could be positive and productive. S1 described a researcher where 'we've been emailing each other and sending each other our bits and pieces. They were across here two years ago! It's a very small world this'.
On some occasions however, some, but not all, information was shared, and was unlikely to continue unless the sharing was reciprocated. The search for genealogical facts Friday, , one of the most prominent actions undertaken by researchers, follows from Duff and Johnson's reframing of a ' request for information about people to a request for information about record forms and creators It is of interest that the process of researching for others still harbours a comparable level of enthusiasm from researchers, despite not investigating their own family.
Some authors, such as academic and historian Williams say that it is the personal connection to ancestors that drives positive affect in family history, but this indicates that researchers take as much pleasure in the process of their hobby as they do from the outcome of the resultant family tree or history. The strategies employed by researchers in this study echo the findings of Duff and Johnson ; specifically their description of research as iterative, and observation that strategies in their searching could be altered when when required.
Mansourian described search coping strategies as both passive and active those identified in the present research are predominantly active , and suggested that the level of importance or interest level of the search to a user impacts on the level of effort involved, and the number of coping strategies employed in order to ensure success. Perseverance is one of the indicators of serious leisure activity Stebbins, Researchers' high level of commitment to their search Williams, may instil the ability to change or alter strategies when a tactic is not working or appears to be producing the wrong results; this may make the difference between success and failure for researchers as Williams observes: 'a personal connection drives us on' , p.
Background knowledge and contextual information were also considered vital by Duff and Johnston , and knowledge of local history and family circumstances. This source awareness informs search modifications, or tactics researchers can employ to improve retrieval of information; showing awareness of the age and place name irregularities that can exist in the original sources, which have therefore transferred to online versions Reid, The well-defined information needs of researchers seen here are echoed by Skov and Butterworth in studies of other leisure researchers.
Could researchers' well-developed information literacy competencies relate to the methodical nature of the practice of family history? The most commonly stated information need of a person or name was highlighted by Duff and Duff and Johnson , who identified names in particular along with places and dates as common search terms; Duff recommended these fields for inclusion in information systems potentially used as sources of genealogical information.
This study confirms the importance of largely positive affect, highlighted previously by Fulton a. Umfleet also observed that the positive feelings induced by research increased self-esteem, and positive support from friends and family induced positive feelings in researchers. Family historians' interactions with a community, whether for information exchange, as distant relatives, or just as like-minded researchers Fulton, b ; Yakel, ; Yakel and Torres, was visible here.
Fulton suggests that these interactions and subsequent information sharing, where successful, can induce positive feelings; this was also confirmed in the present research. More recent literature has discussed negative emotions which can be encountered in the research process.
However, feelings found in this study were largely positive. Drawing the identified research patterns and discussion together, the following model of family historian online research behaviour is proposed. You can search from home with a subscription, or go to your local library to search the Ancestry Library Edition for free. The Society's Library in Madison, Wisconsin, has hundreds of family history resources. Our staff of experts is available to help you with any challenges, questions, or "brick walls" you may have.
In addition, the bright, airy, 5, square-feet, 2-story high Library Reading Room offers you a comfortable place to do your research. Genealogy workshops and webinars. Offered in the spring and fall of each year, programs are geared to all levels of experience and offer something for everyone, from beginners to veterans.
Register early — space is limited. Visit our other Wisconsin Historical Society websites!
Print Email a friend Facebook Twitter More Search the vital records online index, print the index page containing the information about your ancestor, and then view the actual record on microfilm. Learn more about our Pre Wisconsin Vital Records. Most North American censuses are available on Ancestry. Learn more about our Census Records. Or see Census Records Research Tips.
County histories include pioneer recollections, biographical sketches and other local data not recorded anywhere else. Learn more about our Local and County Histories Collection. Newspapers are a good source for obituaries and other family news and events. The Society owns newspapers from the 17th century to the present for over 1, Wisconsin newspapers and 2, out-of-state newspapers.