I know I posted about research logs last fall, but I had an interesting experience last week while working on one of my lines in FamilyTree. The line was back in the 1600′s. It was the early New England line of John Ingalls, and there was conflicting information which had migrated onto his page. Children had been incorrectly added , and some of his children had been added to other Ingalls/Ingals/Ingols families. I had researched this family in the 1966, [I know that is scary to contemplate] and abstracted his will, which named his children. I also kept a log of my research, which I was amazingly enough, able to locate. What I found was a bit of a surprise. I had logged the name of the book, call number, and page number – but neglected to indicate the Library. Since I had been in College in I did this research I went, online, to the college library to search for the book- it wasn’t found. Maybe, I though, I borrowed it from another library, but I couldn’t remember. I “Googled” the book - again with no success. Apparently I copied the title incorrectly. I was able to document what I had abstracted, including my obviously incomplete source, but I wasn’t happy. I have gotten better keeping research logs, and sourcing as I’ve gotten more experienced. My logs now probably have more information than they need, and I don’t have to abstract records anymore because I can keep a digital copy of what I find.
Research logs are not difficult to keep. It takes only a minute to record; the complete title of the record you found, the day you searched, the call number or url, or the name of the Library, plus the information that you found. Your goal is to be able to locate the record again. Genealogy Programs, allow you to keep your logs connected to your ancestor and let you attach a copy of what you found. I have an earlier post that goes into detail on how to keep a research log so I won’t cover it again. If you aren’t keeping logs of your research- just do it. If your logs aren’t complete – do it better.