Don’t let it get away

You just received an email with an attachment. That attachment is a copy of your great grandparents marriage certificate. Maybe tomorrow you will find an online obituary that has some neat family details.

As you look at the item your mind fills with ideas on research possibilities that flow from the details on the record. Maybe you have 3 questions based on what you just read. The dryer buzzes and you are off to hang up those permanent press shirts. Then off to the hardware store or to choir rehearsal. By the next time you have the time to look at those documents again, those first research ideas or questions to ask may not pop back into your mind. You remember that you had a wonderful idea on what to look for but it just won’t come back into your thoughts.

Put it in writing
We have all been at that place and hopefully learned a lesson. Immediately jot down the ideas and questions that pop into your mind. Those first impressions are important. That’s why I have paper and pencils/pens in many places in my home. It’s much easier to write down my first thoughts. In some ways, this is the beginning of your research plan.

This can also be the start of a list of questions to ask Aunt Mary the next time the two of you have a cup of coffee and talk about the family.

Don’t lose these notes — keep them with the document or in a folder or computer file with your other “to do” items.

These may be the best impressions
Often those ideas that first appear are among the best ones. Get them down in writing, but don’t let that be the end of your analyzing and planning process.

© 2009 – 2014, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

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