Monday, July 23, 2012

A Tangential Genealogist

In a post on Google+ recently  Kathy Reed and Susan Clark were talking about the temptation to go off on tangents when doing genealogy research.

It's true confessions time - I am a tangential genealogist. When I told her recently that I was going to spend a few hours at our State Library one of my very interested non/genealogy friends (a rare bird) asked how I go about my research. This caused me to reflect on my practice. Now, when I am planning a trip to a distant city or repository I am the model of organisation. I refer to my research planning spreadsheet (yes I have one), work out some goals for my trip, check catalogues and, where possible, pre-order resources.

When I just have a few spare hours I practice Tangential Genealogy, so my answer to my friend was "I don't know, I haven't a plan." I told her that I may start to look at a database that I can't access from home and probably get sidetracked when I come across someone or something interesting. I may decide to look at a particular surname in my database and methodically go through the people one by one checking on facts (!) I added years ago and adding sources where applicable. My last effort with this took me as far as someone with a given name starting with C, I found something juicy so the poor D-Zs  were ditched as I set off on a chase. I may just browse the shelves in the library until I come across an unfamiliar resource (as I did last week) and thumb through its pages to see if I could find something relevant to my research (and I found a few gems). I may see a name in my database and, like I did this morning, put it into Google to see what I could find. This morning I found a treasure written in November, 2011 for someone I hadn't researched for a few years. 

While I am very serious about my family history research the bottom line is that is is my hobby. I like to have fun so, when I tire of a task or get a whiff of a scandal I may go off on a tangent.  

I make no apology for being a Tangential Genealogist.


Mel said...

You are not the only one. I'm very organized when I do a research project whether online or in the real world. But, I can be distracted easily. You find the most interesting things that you didn't expect to come across. And, then you are off on who different trail.

Celia said...

Wonderful! I love researching by the seat of my pants... who knows what or whom I'll find!! Got to love tangents on the fly.

Helen Smith said...

Serendipity is when you are going off on a tangent and find pure gold!

Grant Davis said...

I'm always going off on tangents and then they become projects and I don't finish the project as soon that I'm working on. started as a tangent but now is another project of mine.


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