Structure is Everything

One of the biggest issues that I have personally is being able to consolidate research into easy to find dynamics. This is strange as I have no problem when I come to producing a dossier for paying research clients. This is I guess much the same as many of us, I have a career in pharmacy, yet rarely take tablets unless I need to and finding a plaster might be tricky!

So what do I do differently? Was a question I asked myself recently as I found myself not quite literally buried under paper, but it was being to feel like it.

I opened a recent set of papers relating to a client and then gathered my information into exactly the same format, although there were some differences.  It took several hours, but was definitely time well spent. This gave me an opportunity to:

  1. Look through the data I had already assembled
  2. File those papers into a logical and sensible order
  3. Assess what items I still needed to research
  4. Feel in control again - this was probably the most important to me.


Structure & Sources

In my case I have a large A4 ring binder with 10 dividers.

The file represents the specific family I am researching and the dividers represent each child within that family. Yes there were 10 children!

The dividers are placed in the order of the child’s birth and then that section contains all the data I have researched and gathered. Each piece has the source of the data and the location. This is important as it gives the research provenance and enables me to retrace my steps if I need to.


Final Thoughts

Whilst we live in an on-line and social media driven world and I love it, I still love the feel of paper, the visual and physical assessment that actually I am making progress on my quest, whatever that quest may be.

At some point in the future the file that now exists, sub-divided as it needs to be will be typed up into a manuscript, because that is how the work needs to be, but for now it feels controlled, organised and managed.

It does not matter how experienced you are at writing or researching sometimes you have to go back to basics and regain your focus and equilibrium.

Until next time,


About Julie Goucher

Genealogist Julie Goucher sets to explore all aspects of researching ancestry and the lives of our ancestors in the United Kingdom in her monthly column for IDG, “Across the Pond.” Each month we will explore the lives of our forebears and seek to understand the Society they lived in through the obvious and not so obvious research opportunities. You can find Julie blogging at Anglers Rest:

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