Staying focused and keeping your records organized are two tough tasks for genealogists. Most professionals advise family historians to focus on one family line rather than flitting from one branch of the tree to another.
That's easy to say; not always so easy to do. If you are concentrating on one line and inadvertently find a plum of a clue on an unrelated line, who among us doesn't want to give chase immediately?
Online research tempts with many distractions. A hyperlink looks promising so you click on it. A dozen clicks later and you're miles from where you began - you've lost your place, focus and time. Shame on us (yup, I confess I lose focus, too!).
One piece of advice I regularly offer my students, and which I faithfully follow, is to subscribe to mailing lists. Each of us can learn from others researching common lines, geographic areas or ethnic groups.
I recently gleaned an administrative tidbit from one of my professional researcher groups that should help me stay focused and organized.
Here's the scenario:
You're on a site, researching the Smith line of your family, and you click on a hyperlink. The site to which you travel is fascinating. You quickly realize it isn't relevant to your Smith search but might hold gold on your Jones line.
Rather than chasing the link, let's learn to save that Web site. Set up an electronic folder with a logical label such as "Future Jones Online Research." Create a PDF of the Web page, or cut and paste the address onto a document, and file it in the new folder. It only takes a few seconds. When you get ready to research the Jones line, open the folder and you can read the PDF without going online, or use the saved Web address to return to the site. (The PDF document will include the name of the Web site, its URL, and the date and time you accessed it.)
Creating a PDF is easy. Depending upon your computer system you may be able to go to your browser, select "File" and then "Print." Look closely to see if "Save to PDF" is one of your options.
If you click this option you then can name your file.
If you can't find "Save to PDF" as a print option, reliable free software will allow you to write a file to PDF. Check out www.cutepdf.com and www.pdf995.com.
Another research source that can get away from you is e-mail from people sharing data. You should save each e-mail in which someone offers a clue or piece of evidence. You may need it to write a proof argument on a research case.
Keeping the incoming materials in a general e-mail inbox can get unwieldy and also eats up storage space. Elsewhere on your computer, create something like "Master Mail File." Inside that, create individual folders for each of the lines, or each of the individuals with whom you exchange information.
When you receive an e-mail, read it and then click on "File" and "Save As" in your mail browser. Create a logical name for the e-mail, perhaps using the sender's name and the date you received it. Into your Master Mail File it goes, and you can delete it from your e-mail system.
Confederate Group Meeting
Bob Yarnell will present a program on Tampa's history at the next meeting of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Tampa Chapter 113. The group will meet at 10:45 a.m. Saturday at Perkins Restaurant, 12650 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa.
To attend, call June Bolen at (813) 685-4026 by Tuesday to make your lunch reservation.
South Bay Meeting
South Hillsborough County genealogist Harold Youmans will lecture on "Finding your War of 1812 Relative" at the March 17 meeting of the South Bay Genealogical Society.
The group will meet at noon for lunch, and Youmans will speak at 1 p.m. The $13 registration fee, which includes lunch and lecture, must be paid at least seven days before the meeting. Send checks to the society at P.O. Box 5202, Sun City Center FL 33571. After you mail your check, call Rose Huggard at (813) 633-0868 to make your meal selection.
The society will meet at the SouthShore Regional Library, 15816 Beth Shields Way, Ruskin.
Hillsborough County Medical Examiner Vernard Adams will speak to the Florida Genealogical Society on March 21. His topic will be "Unclaimed Persons and How Next of Kin Have Been Located."
The lecture will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the auditorium of the John F. Germany library, 900 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa.