Is your research on track for autumn?


12 August 2022
Let’s use this phase of the year for a fresh start to our genealogy learning. It’s time to check in with yourself!

As summer draws to a close, now is a great time to refocus our research to make sure we are making the most of our genealogy moments. Here are some ideas that you may like to follow. 

Getting organised 

The holy grail of many family historians is ‘getting organised’. Whether you are thinking of a full-blown research re-do, or simply to focus on a particular aspect of your research, time spent getting organised is usually always satisfying. 

Perhaps you are wishing to, for instance: 

  • get to grips with (a new to you) piece of family history software; 
  • go (a little more) paperless (replacing print outs with digital copies, or writing scribbled notes up into your research); 
  • ensure you’ve added sources to your research (and if you wish also adding ‘media’, i.e. copies of original document too); 
  • use (or start) a research log; 
  • write up a list of all your research road blocks, so that you can methodically tackle them one by one. 
  • write a research plan for a family history problem you are working on, to help you work through it. 
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Learning & skills 

As ever with family history, each question begs another question. Perhaps some of the bullet points above have made you realise that you would find it valuable to develop your learning about a particular topic. This may be a subject area (such as Nonconformist records, or military ones) or it may require you to enhance your research skills (e.g. learning how to cite sources or how to use your family history software more effectively). 

Ideas for finding answers to your problems include: 

Take a course (see the options available from course providers, such as: 

University of Strathclyde

Pharos Tutors


Society of Genealogists

If DNA is your dilemma, don’t miss Family Tree’s DNA Bootcamp, starting 28 September too. Details here.

Trips & visits 

Even if your time and/or budget don’t allow for a full-blown genealogy road trip, day trips to archives and localities important to your ancestors reap rich rewards. As you go about your research online, at home, be sure to make a note of records that you would like to follow up on your next archive visit. These details could form part of your research log, enabling you to look back over your work, and draw up a list relatively easily. 

Perhaps you would now like to take the opportunity to get away from your screen a little more; you may like to ‘give something back’ too. While we are confined to our homes due to Covid, the online resources available at our fingertips were a much-needed tonic. Now you may wish to join a project transcribing, for instance, memorial inscriptions in your local area, or simply use Findagrave to upload photos of gravestones in your nearby churchyard, to help family historians unable to travel there to find information. 

Text extracted from Family Tree checklist by Helen Tovey in the September 2022 issue of Family Tree magazine. Get your copy here.