Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Historical Research and your Genealogy

One of the ideas I have been harping about in my presentations, is that as genealogists we are historians. We care about history, but more specifically about history as experienced by individuals, usually our family members or ancestors. As historians, we should think about increasing our research tool box to include some of the techniques that historians use.

We are lucky in that genealogy really encompasses many fields. History, geography, social sciences, geology, real estate, medicine, law and so on all provide us with information that can help us learn about our ancestors.

The website, Research and Documentation Online, http://www.dianahacker.com/resdoc/home.html, has some great tips and small articles about researching in the humanities, social sciences, history and science. In the history section there is information about researching historical facts, places to find sources and how to document sources. There is even a sample paper.

Now, I know that you are not writing a history paper for a class, you are documenting your family history. However, this information can assist you in researching, documenting, and learning more about your ancestor. Making your ancestor more interesting than just some names and dates.

One of my favorite websites is DoHistory at http://dohistory.org/home.html. The article, Stages of a Historical Research Project, http://dohistory.org/on_your_own/toolkit/research.html is a great way to help you plan your next research project and get ideas for learning more about your ancestor.

Another website that I like, that has absolutely nothing to do with genealogy is William Cronon’s, Learning Historical Research at http://www.williamcronon.net/researching/. He provides an excellent basic introduction for anyone to use who wants to learn about the past. He also provides information on the research process and research sources. This is a great website with ideas that will help you in your genealogical research.

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