November 12, 2015

Genealogy Research Can Become a Book

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

Last Saturday, I spent the day learning aspects of genealogy research from renowned genealogist and author, D. Joshua Taylor. Taylor is one of the hosts on the PBS series Genealogy Roadshow. and appears on episodes of Who Do You Think You Are?  The energized seminar's four sessions included: The Modern Genealogist: Timesaving Tips for Every GenealogistNewspapers in Your ResearchBridging the Gap: Tracing Families in the U.S. between 1780 and 1830 and The Web, the World and You giving his tips and tricks of internet searching. 

The seminar provided a perfect crossover to help amateur and professional genealogists become authors. You may only want to publish your genealogical findings for your own family as the target audience. Josh advised to write your book as you're researching. Build in your research the time to include writing your book. This makes perfect sense. You would then glean the research and write with the same time block which would mean you deal with the research once. However, I came away with my mind spinning with several fractured fictional plots based on Josh's seminar tidbits of research and stories he shared.

Josh is a strong proponent of organizing your research and creating logs to keeping your research organized and documented. If found via an Internet search save your items that resulted in success and log the exact Internet address. Like Hansel and Gretel he said leaving "a breadcrumb trail will help you go back to the exact information you discovered." You can screen shot the information and file with your research. Excellent technique for authors.

He suggests using smartphone cameras to document items quickly and then file in your research files. He suggested a separate email for all of your genealogy correspondence. This tip is important for authors too, separate your personal email correspondence from your author correspondence. Otherwise you may miss an author opportunity, request, research responds, etc. I learned that TIFF files have the longest lifespan stability. TIFF's are easily converted to other formats. This becomes important on anything you are saving. Over time files may suffer from "bit rot, " over time files can "drop" bytes corrupting your saved data. Who knew? 

Delving into newspapers of the historical era of various time periods would be valuable to all authors in their research. Of course, you can buy newspaper subscriptions, giving you the ability to access their archives. However, Josh advised of a free online tool, a searchable free newspaper.

Josh advised of a unique free search engine, it "categorizes your search results,” eliminating your normal need to scroll through thousands of results. This will help all authors with manageable search results.

The seminar was invaluable to me as a history buff and author. Thank you, D. Joshua Taylor for your professional, informative and fun presentation. The seminar gave this author plot ideas, search tips, organizational ideas and new research techniques. 

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