Photo by Bram Naus on Unsplash

Normally I’d be excited to have some time off work because I’d be at the Archives or Historical Society. But, of course, like most of us I can’t do that.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of things we can do to further our research. In this stressful time, when many of us must find ways to keep our mind and spirit occupied, here are a few ideas from the Reclaiming Kin archives. The included post has more detail about each suggestion:

  1. Extracting Every Clue from the Census
    For each line of your family, review every census record to ensure you haven’t missed an important clue buried in one of the census columns.
  2. Do You Use a Census Tracker?
    For each line, create a census tracker that puts information from each census into a table. Be sure to add the information so that you can cite the record properly such as page number, enumeration district, household, etc. This a great tool to help organize your research.
  3. Always Check the Original
    Pick a family line and write down all the dates from vital records (birth, marriage, death) records that you have accumulated. Review and make sure you have the original record for each one.

     If not, request a copy of the original record from the Vital Records Bureau or Archives of the state. This uses good-fashioned snail mail and I do it all the time.

  4. Understanding the Slave Community
    Do you have any African-American lines back to 1870? Take your ancestor’s 1870 household, and create a table that lists each African-American household at least 15 pages before and after your ancestor. Be sure to include any whites  on those pages with large landholdings, say over $1500. This will be a valuable tool in your research!
  5. Collateral Research: Research All the Siblings
    Go through each family line and ensure you have thoroughly researched all known siblings. That means tracking each sibling through death. It’s easy to lose sisters when we don’t know who they married, so use the time to try to find them.
  6. Formulating Research Questions
    Think about where you are in your research and what you still want to discover. For each family line, create distinct answerable questions to guide your future research. Take it a step further by writing a list of sources you’d need to search that might contain the answers.
  7. Ideas for Writing Your Family History
    Writing is often the hard part for many people, but if you don’t write up your research and publish it somewhere, how will it survive you? Get started today. I have a link to articles here at Reclaiming Kin that you can download for inspiration and more ideas. No time like the present to at least start.
  8. Tips for Family Photographs and Dating Family Photographs
    Have you properly scanned in all your important family photos? Use some of the tips provided to scan them in at the proper size and format (which is .TIFF). You can also try to date some of the pictures that might be unknown.

    Be sure to back your pictures (and your genealogy research in general) onto an external harddrive or use a Cloud backup service like Backblaze. I scanned all our family photos, copied them to DVD, and gave a DVD to each family member.

This won’t be an easy time for any of us, but making a little progress in our research might help ease the pain just a bit. I hope everyone is staying safe at home.

By the way, if you have any toilet paper, can you send me roll?







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