Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG
Starting All Over Again
The last column provided twelve tips for problem solving. When all your problems are solved and you have nothing to do, it's time to start all over again with another branch of the family.
The beauty of genealogy is that you're never done. Every ancestor found provides you with two more ancestors to pursue, as well as a number of siblings. None of us could research our entire ancestry if we lived to be 200 years old and that's not about to happen.
When you begin to work on a new family surname, start by doing a literature survey to learn whether anything has previously been published about your family. Today the Internet makes it much easier than years ago when you actually had to be in the library to use a card catalog. The following major catalogs should be checked: Library of Congress, http://catalog.loc.gov/; Family History Library, http://www.familysearch.org/; and WorldCat, http://www.worldcat.org/.
It's also wise to look at the catalogs of libraries or historical societies in the area where your family lived. While most larger library are members of WorldCat, often unique family records, photos or even a genealogy may have been deposited locally and is found in no other location.
Not every library has digitized their catalog and placed it online, but it's surprising how many have including some very small local libraries with comprehensive Web sites. If you find your surname listed in a catalog in a distant place, contact them and see what they charge to search the index and send you copies of any relevant pages found.
Another option is interlibrary loan. While many genealogies do not circulate, some do. I located a typed genealogy of part of my Bly family in a community college in South Dakota. I requested it by interlibrary loan and was able to have it sent to our Green Valley library for my use.
When doing a literature survey, don't forget about PERSI. This index to genealogical periodicals is available online http://www.library.pima.gov/research/databases/ as part of the HeritageQuest database. It's also available to subscribers of Ancestry.com.
PERSI formerly indexed surnames only if they appeared in an article's title. In recent years, however, PERSI often contains entries for a surname prominent within an article. For instance, surnames in many, but not all, of the "Research Success Stories" published in our Green Valley Genealogical Society newsletter are found in PERSI.
If you don't find your family by surname, search PERSI for articles about the area in which they lived. References to a family may appear in informational articles about their town or county. Local and regional periodicals often publish transcribed cemetery, probate and church records for their area. For instance, the Huron County (Ohio) Historical Society has transcribed school records in its publication. You never know what you may find until you look.
Locating a published genealogy about your family is just the first step in the search. It may or may not include source citations, accurate facts, and information about every family member. It's your job to evaluate what you find, verify the facts, and decide whether to accept it as truth or only as clues to direct further research.
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