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            June, 2005

      Carol Sanderson,
      Charles Hansen, Technical Advisor

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 Preparing for a Research Trip
- by Charles Hansen

        June is the month when most working people can start their vacations and what better than a genealogical vacation? What do you néed to do to make the trip a success? .

        First define the problem, decide what you are looking for when you get to where you are going. Are you looking for a certain ancestor, maiden name of the wife, ages, places of burials, or are you just looking for the place where your ancestor lived or worked?

        Second study the time when your ancestor was at this location, study the place. At recent seminar I attended, the speaker was talking about an ancestor who died in October of 1861 in Kansas. Her research found when he was born, his family, occupation and where he had lived as a youngster. Years later, she found an article by his son which said he had been killed by bushwhackers. What was a bushwhacker? Why was he killed? It turns out that Kansas was fighting the Civil War, and her ancestor was in uniform escorting a farmer home. Bushwhackers were there trying to get Kansas into the Union as a slave state, while her ancestor had been an abolitionist trying to get Kansas in the Union as a free state. She had just gone straight on back on his research and never even checked to see if he had been in the Civil War or a soldier. Knowing the time and area history would have been a great help.

        Third find out what records are available to research. With so many online catalogs it is easier than ever to find what is available and what records may solve the problem you defined. Federal records, state records, county records, town records, church, funeral home, lodge records, local histories, and compiled genealogies. Which record will have the best chance of solving your problem? Search the catalogs from home, copy and paste catalog entries that may solve your problem. Arrange them chronologically. Do as much research locally before you go. Do only the research on the trip that can not be done at home. For example census can be done at your Family History Center, or online, so don't waste your trip time by researching census on your trip

        Fourth find out when the library, courthouse, or archives are open. Where can you park? Where can you eat? How much are copies? Can you copy, or do you have to transcribe the data? Can you take a digital photo? When are the copy machines available? Is there a time when the photocopy or microfilm machines are very busy? Can you go to lunch when there is a long line at the photocopy machine and come back later when there is no line? I printed out a book of my ancestors in the area I was researching with all the data I had on my ancestors and left the copy at the library. It has my name and address in case someone wants to contact me about our common ancestors.

        Fifth be sure to prepare at least two different problems and maybe some easy lookups. It is possible you will solve your brick wall quickly, and have nothing to do the rest of the time at the library, so you néed a backup problem to work on.

        Sixth remember this is a fun trip for you and hopefully your traveling companions will be interested in researching also. If not, plan something for them to do while you are researching.

        Last when you get home go through all the copies sorting and typing them into your database while they are still fresh in your mind. Do this even if you are busy catching up on everything that happened while you were gone. Hope you have a wonderful trip.

Recommended Reading

Planning for a Successful Genealogy Research Trip, by Kip Sperry, online column at February 6, 2001

Along Those Lines, by George G. Morgan, online column at March 4, 2005.

 Genetics in Genealogy
- by Carol Sanderson

        Sounds like a strange pair. Perhaps but a lot of people today don't think so.This is coming into the public eye more every day.

        There are two ways that this bears on every genealogist's life. Some of us ignore it but it will get your interest eventually. There are two kinds of searches that are used a lot today. They are our medical history health charts or genograms and the YDNA testing.

        I want to discuss both at some time but will start with what should be the easier one to write about and to understand. We make sure that our children have all their shots and then boosters but we very easily forget to make a family history health chart. This usually covers four generations but as our record keeping gets better, it can and probably should encompass as many generations as possible.

        Genograms have special symbols to show sex and various relationships. These are:

  • A circle indicates a female
  • A square indicates a male
  • An X through one of the above symbols indicates the person is dead
  • A horizontal line between two people shows a commitment such aa a marriage.
  • A horizontal line with a slash in it shows a divorce or non-committed relationship.
  • A vertical or diagonal solid line indicatesa a biological connection
  • A vertical or diagonal dashed line indicates a special relationship such as adoption.

        In doing the genogram, you begin with with yourself and your siblings. Some of the charts I have seen show only you but the way I was taught was that your siblings should be included. I think the reason for starting with just you is that it doesn't take long for the chart to get very crowded. Names are not so necessary in this kind of chart but they help. You might list the illnesses that you have to one side of the synbol or if you want, trace just one or two of the illnesses that seem to be prevalent or worrisime to you. You can code part of the symbol to represent an illness. After you have done you and your siblings, then go on to your parents doing the same sort of thing. By the time I got to my great grandparents the information was getting hard to find or obtain.

        At this point, you might see a pattern developing and if so, you may want to include siblings in all generations too.This would give you a better picture of risk factors for a certain illness. Couples would do one for each partner. This would give your children a picture of what they might expect. For instance, I am a diabetic and so is my brother; both of us having developed it as adults. My father was an adult onset diabetic too as was his mother. By the time I got to wondering about her mother or father and diabetes, there was nobody to talk to about it. Of the six children between my brother and me, two of them have developed adult onset diabetes and one has juvenile diabetes. That is four generations in which it appears...definitely a pattern.

        There is also heart disease in three gernerations on my father's side and in three generations on my mother's side of the family. This shows two areas of which my children and grandchidlren should be aware. If they are...and I have talked about it enough so that they should be. Perhaps by trying to be aware and use preventative actions, they may avoid these.

        Having things like this are good and valuable tools for you and for your physician to have to use for guidance in your health care.

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